Kurt Angle is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Friday, March 31st. It’s a bit surprising to see Angle back at the WWE over 10 years after he left the company for one of its competitors, Total Nonstop Action. So what’s the story behind Angle’s decision to leave the WWE?
At the time of Angle’s departure, it was said that he was granted early release from his contract due to health concerns. Angle has since said that a big part of the reason was because he didn’t feel that he could work a full time schedule anymore, whereas Vince McMahon wanted him to keep up the same schedule.
“I didn’t have a choice,” Angle told WrestleTalk TV. “Vince McMahon wanted me to continue to go full time, and I couldn’t do the full time anymore. I look at John Cena now, and I don’t know how he’s done it for 11 years. I did it for six and a half.”
On the other hand, at Total Nonstop Action, Angle was able to make his own schedule.
He also said in 2016 that another part of the reason was that he was addicted to Vicodin at the time and felt like a liability for Vince McMahon; at one point, he was taking 65 extra strength Vicodin per day.
“Before I knew it, I was knee deep (more like shoulder deep) into my addiction,” Angle wrote on his website last year. “I was hiding it from WWE, and at that time they weren’t drug testing for medication like they do now. I then broke my neck 2 more times over the next 2 years, and the bad relationship/marriage I was in made me feel more alone than ever. I decided that I could not handle the rigorous schedule of WWE and I felt guilty about being a liability to Vince McMahon. So I asked for my release and I swore I’d get my life together.”
The WWE has since introduced a “wellness policy,” and they frequently administer random drug tests to their wrestlers.
When Kurt Angle moved to TNA, his life didn’t totally turn around, as he received four DUIs in the next five years. In 2013, he was admitted to rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, and he has now been sober for the past three years.
There are now rumors that Kurt Angle may return to the WWE, serving as the general manger of Monday Night Raw and replacing Mick Foley.