We here at Still Real To Us have decided that the Kurt Angle episode of the Something to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard podcast was so great that it deserves two parts. If you want to read the second part before you take in part one of our coverage, then we commend you for being an outside the box thinker. If you would rather start from the beginning, you can do so via the link below.
The first half of the Kurt Angle podcast was filled with interesting information about Kurt’s rise to the top of WWE, and what went on behind the scenes. This half will look at Kurt’s feuds with names like Brock Lesnar, Eddie Guerrero and more. Let’s get down to it.
#9 – Creative Decisions
Bruce says that ‘making’ Jericho by having him become the first Unified Champion was a decision made not only because it was a surprise, but nobody else really needed it. Nothing was set in stone in the weeks to come as Kurt Angle has stated in the past when he said that he was told he would be winning. Everyone was in consideration to win, but Y2J eventually won. The choice was made during one of those “what if” sessions.
The decision to do the original draft was because the Alliance angle had failed, therefore Raw and Smackdown historically became separate brands with different rosters.
Kurt shaved his head in a ‘hair vs hair’ angle because Kurt was balding and besides, it was a better look. It wasn’t about making Angle look tougher, the old-school angle was about saving Angle’s image. It also provided a chance to use another old-school gimmick by placing a wig on his head securing it underneath something.
It was Hogan’s idea to tap out to Kurt at King of the Ring 2002. Hogan called Kurt, “Olympic boy” as a nickname.
John Cena’s debut during Kurt Angle’s open challenge happened the way it did because John was on his way up to the main roster anyway, they were just looking for something special for him. There was no program with Kurt planned, and everyone was an advocate of The Prototype, John Cena.
#10 – The WrestleMania 19 Match
The WrestleMania 19 match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar was a match everyone wanted to see. However, Kurt’s body was breaking down and WWE had even limited him to a much lighter house show schedule leading up to the big show. Creative contemplated having Kurt actually drop the title a few weeks before in a squash match that would have probably resembled what they pulled off with Goldberg and Lesnar at Survivor Series. But Kurt wanted to do the match and make it memorable.
Instead, they substituted Kurt’s brother Eric in the match and Kurt ran in for a cheap win. Bruce says that in reality, the match was going to happen because in the end they relied on what talent said they could do, and Kurt said he could go (He can still go in 2017, BTW).
Bruce says that they masked Kurt’s issues as best they could so they could do the match at Mania. Bruce says that if Angle would have gone to them in the weeks leading up to the show at Safeco Field, they would have changed their plans.
Conrad probes Bruce about how much money Kurt made from working WrestleMania 19, and although Bruce denies that it was a million-dollar payday for Angle, Bruce did say that “he probably had a very good day.”
Prichard says that the shooting star press during the closing moments of the match that rung Lesnar’s bell was probably a Paul Heyman idea. Brock had been pulling them off in OVW, but it was not successful that night.
Bruce says that the shooting star press spot was supposed to be the finish of the match, but an audible had to be called. Bruce said that he was not on the headset during the match, but he was in the Gorilla Position. Prichard says Kurt decided which way to go in regards to the finish.
Kurt would later claim that WWE knew he had a benign tumor in his head but didn’t tell him until after WrestleMania 19. Bruce denies ever knowing about any tumor. He said that it’s hard to stomach if it’s actually true, but he hadn’t heard about any tumor until Conrad brought up the rumor.
Bruce says that “as much of an a**hole Vince McMahon can be perceived to be, he would never do that.”
Kurt Had a rather risky new procedure instead of the traditional spinal fusion surgery which greatly reduced his recovery time. Bruce says that even if Kurt would have gone to them two weeks after his surgery and said he was ready to go they wouldn’t have let him.
He says that WWE was very nervous about this new procedure, as well as educated on the subject. Bruce says there hadn’t been another professional athlete to come back with this same procedure before, and the office didn’t want to rush it.
Kurt was back in three months and returned as a big babyface, three months is still incredible turnaround time for neck surgery. But, Bruce said that they wanted to be incredibly sure that Angle could go without hurting himself before they scheduled his return. Kurt’s re-debut as a face would spell the end of Team Angle.
#11 – The Brock Lesnar/Kurt Angle Shoot Fight
The rumor and innuendo is that there was a shoot match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar one day in the ring one day before the doors even opened for the crowd, but the only people in attendance were the ‘boys’ and the ring crew.
Before a WWE event takes place, once the ring crew gets the ring secured the wrestlers can come down to the squared circle hours beforehand in their workout gear and go over some spots in their match. Rumor is that during one of these occurrences, Brock and Angle allegedly started mouthing off to one another about who could do what to each other in a legit fight and things got heated, with the two men eventually coming to blows.
Bruce says that the legit face-off was due to weeks of the boys backstage stirring the pot. Bruce said that wrestlers would run to Brock and Kurt to tell them that the other man had said he could beat him legit in a fight as a rib.
Prichard says that Kurt and Brock didn’t say anything to each other about it until the two of them had their shoot fight. He said that the two didn’t have an argument in the ring, instead, they simply agreed to legit fight due to the things they had been told that were said to the both of them by their peers.
Bruce says that the fight lasted about 8 seconds before Vince McMahon broke it up.
The Lesnar/Angle Iron Man match on Smackdown was done out of laziness, although Bruce later recants that statement. Bruce said that it was produced as a little bit of a ratings push, also because they only had to book six segments for the night and that was their two-hour show. Bruce says that it was a way to try something different and it worked.
#12 – The Kurt Angle And Eddie Guerrero Shoot Fight
Bruce says that Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero got into a legit fight backstage. He says it was a “short skirmish.” Prichard explains that Eddie got heated with Kurt because of something that had happened in the ring earlier (probably during one of those spot rehearsals that he referenced before).
Bruce says that if Kurt wants to do something with you, he’s going to do it. Eddie was mad because Kurt wasn’t listening to him during one of their booking sessions and attacked Kurt by attempting a double leg take-down on the Olympian.
Kurt immediately countered Eddie’s move with a front face lock and held it tightly on Latino Heat.
The two were quickly separated and Bruce says that the funniest thing about it came afterward when JBL reminded Eddie that Angle is an Olympic gold medalist. Bruce’s spot on impression of Eddie’s answer is worth listing to the entire three-hour podcast.
#13 – The Tough Enough Segment… THAT Tough Enough Segment
Kurt Angle’s account of the Tough Enough segment on Smackdown when Daniel Puder almost broke Kurt’s arm is that Angle jammed his head while shoot wrestling his opponent prior to Puder, and his arms went numb.
Bruce says that when Puder took Kurt down legit, and got Kurt in an arm lock it, was a bad idea from the get-go, and he admits that he had a huge part in it. He says it was a very old-school influenced segment for the veteran to ‘stretch’ the new guys, but it was a terrible idea in hindsight.
Bruce says that you don’t mix work and shoot, and the segment went badly. Prichard says that the plans told to Kurt were that “you only do the one guy that wins the contest, and that’s it.” But when Kurt jammed his head, he thought that he might have looked bad so he decided to take on another Tough Enough contestant.
WWE knew what they had in Kurt Angle, but they really didn’t know what they had in the Tough Enough guys. Daniel Puder stepped up to take Kurt on next when Angle asked if there were any more volunteers.
Kurt was quickly locked in a kimura lock and Angle knew it, so Kurt’s amateur instinct took over, and he dropped Puder to his back and the referee made a quick count.
Bruce says that he wanted Big Show or Mark Henry out there because there isn’t a lot of things anyone could do with those massive men, but Kurt Angle won out because he volunteered to do it. Bruce says that Paul Heyman wanted to put Nunzio out there for the Tough Enough shoot fight segment.
There was a little heat on Puder from the more old-school boys in the back because he had the audacity to challenge such a veteran. If you want more of Bruce’s opinions on mixing work and shoot, listen to their episode about the Brawl For All.
There are many more subjects covered on this amazing three-hour podcast. Bruce and Conrad go into the WrestleMania match between Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels in great detail and Bruce caps it off by saying that if that match had taken place in the Tokyo Dome, then it would have gotten six stars.
Bruce and Conrad have an amazing argument surrounding Rey Mysterio’s debut. And, they go into Kurt Angle’s exit from the company and discuss all the dirty details surrounding that controversial time period including Angle’s personal demons in much detail.
The full episode is available below.