Kurt Angle’s new Kurt Angle Show podcast with Conrad Thompson has quickly become another welcome addition to Thompson’s wrestling podcast network.
This week, the WWE Hall of Famer got onto the subject of Kurt’s appearance at an ECW show in October 1996, not long after winning an Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta. Kurt had been approached by fellow Pittsburgh native Shane Douglas about appearing in Paul Heyman’s revolutionary company, with Angle led to believe it was more of an ‘amateur wrestling’ affair than ‘pro wrestling’.
“We’re good friends. Back then, he knew a friend of mine and got my number from a mutual friend. He called me and said, ‘Hey, we have this company that’s more geared toward your type of wrestling – your Olympic wrestling – than pro wrestling. It’s called ECW.’ He’s telling me this looks more like Olympic wrestling than pro wrestling. I was like, ‘So you’re starting a pro amateur wrestling league?’ He’s like no, it’s pro wrestling, but looks more like amateur wrestling. That’s why they put the Taz match in there just to make me happy – him and Guido did amateur wrestling at the show I went to.
“Shane asked me to be a part of it, and they were gonna pay me a good amount of money. I was excited because I thought it was geared more towards amateur wrestling. When I get there meeting the boys, they’re all tattooed up with long hair and got their gear on with torn jeans. Raven is holding a chair and Sandman is holding a kendo stick and someone else is holding a ladder. I’m like this is supposed to be amateur wrestling? This is worse than WWE. It was a very eye-opening experience to be a part of the show and what happened during the show was crazy.”
The show in question featured one of the most notorious angles in ECW history, where ECW Champion Raven crucified long-time rival The Sandman, complete with a crown of barbed wire. The spot led to Angle walking out there and then, and threatening Paul Heyman with legal action should Angle appear on the footage.
“You’ve got to understand that I’m a Christian kid from Pittsburgh, and to see the crucifixion, was really offensive. I do want to say this because I do want to get it off my chest – I didn’t understand the storytelling of pro wrestling and how you want to get the ‘wow’ factor. Surprise people and get them excited or pissed off. A lot of emotion is involved in pro wrestling in telling a story. I didn’t get all that and I didn’t understand it. When I saw it, I was like this is a crucifixion. It’s someone portraying Jesus on a cross, and I can’t believe I’m here. I was really upset.”
“I went to Paul Heyman and said, ‘I can’t be on the same show as this. You can’t air this show with me on it, and if you do, you’re gonna hear from my attorney.’ Paul said, ‘I didn’t even know it was gonna happen.’ I was like, he’s the promoter and it’s the main event, and he doesn’t know this is gonna happen? He’s full of shit. I love Paul, he’s a great guy, but he basically lied to me. I understand why. He was just trying to take the heat off of himself.
“I was serious. I told him I’m gonna sue you if I end up on the same show. I won that battle, but it definitely scared me away from pro wrestling. I was terrified. That was my last straw, and that was late 1996 or so. That was my introduction to pro wrestling. It was overwhelming.”
Angle later signed with WWE in August 1998, and quickly gained a reputation as one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Interestingly, Angle wound up as part of WWE's ECW in 2006.