Kurt Angle returned to WWE in 2017 to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The night after WrestleMania 33, Angle was announced as the General Manager of Monday Night Raw. He remained in that role and did not wrestle until October of 2017 as a replacement for Roman Reigns in the Shield at the TLC PPV. During an interview on the Table Talk with D'Von and Mo podcast, Angle described his frustrations with only being able to wrestle twice that year and what he would've done differently with his return.
"I wanted to come back to WWE and wrestle right away, unfortunately that wasn't their plans for me, they wanted me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, then they wanted me to be the GM of Raw," Angle said. "By the time I had got to wrestling, I wasn't quite the same anymore. Just sitting out that year and a half, I probably only had one or two matches where they were special occasions. [TLC] in that tables ladders and chairs match where I substituted for Roman Reigns, that's all I did. When you get older and you're not active, your body gets arthritic and then you start slowing down. Your neck and knees and back start to get tighter. You start getting a lot more pain. I believe that if I would've stayed active, I'd still be wrestling right now.
"I'm not blaming the WWE. I don't blame Vince McMahon for doing what he did with me, because I was a liability coming back. I broke my neck four times in the WWE in the past, I had a pain killer addiction and the company wanted to tread lightly with me when I came back so I totally get it. I'm glad they brought me back to induct me into the Hall of Fame, I would've just done it differently, I would've wrestled right away. I was still wrestling pretty well at that point, I took a year off from TNA, I did the Indy circuit and I was wrestling extremely well. When I got to WWE they kind of pulled the reins on me and said well we're not going to have you wrestle right away. Taking that time off and sitting around really affected my body.
"The best thing for someone to do when they retire is you probably need to get away from it for a while, and I didn't," Angle said. "I stayed with the company, they offer me a job and I stuck with it and I had a hard time for about 6 months of being there and being around the guys and the girls and not being able to perform. You realize you're in a different stage in your life, the less selfish phase in your life where you enjoy your family a lot more than you enjoy competing or performing. I'm in a good place now, but for a while I was struggling."
During a recent interview with Joe TKO, Angle had talked about his quality of life "sucking". Angle was asked about his comments. Angle noted that the quotes were then taken out of context and blown up online.
"I was utterly surprised," Angle stated. "I competed from a very young age, from 7 years old all the way until I was 50, either amateur wrestling to pro wrestling, that's a lot of years, that's going to do a lot of damage to your body. My quality of life, it does suck, I'm not going to lie to you, especially staying clean, which I continue to do and always will. Your knees, your back, your neck, your shoulders, as you age and get older it catches up to you."
Angle was also asked about his injuries throughout his career, famously breaking his neck 4 times, and how the WWE doctors and medical staff have changed over the years.
"My perspective of the difference between now and then is back then, I only had to get cleared by my own personal doctor," Angle noted. "I literally went into my doctors office and said 'You're going to clear me today' and he was like I can't clear you you just had surgery three weeks ago, and I said you're clearing me and he's like alright I'll clear you. He contacts WWE and I'm cleared, I'm not ready to wrestle, I just had neck surgery, and I'm back in it again and I re-injure my neck again, and I did it two more times. In that two and a half year span I broke my neck four times and that's because I rushed back, WWE had nothing to do with it."
"Now, today, you have to be cleared by the WWE doctors. There's a huge difference, there's a different drug policy today, there's a different wellness policy today and everything's chartered towards the athlete. They have massage therapists, trainers, doctors even at the arena every night. They are making sure they don't do anything that's a liability for the athletes, if anything they're going to keep them out longer than they should be."
Angle also described the difference in today's performers compared to the past in regards to the ability to work through a serious injury.
"You know when something is wrong," Angle said. "In our era we worked through it and finished the match. If you ever watch Triple H when he blew out his quad, he finished the match, Chris Jericho got him in the Walls of Jericho, and I can't even imagine how that was stretching that quad muscle, but we work through it. I knew I broke my neck the first time when Brock Lesnar broke it. We were having a match and I knew right away, I knew something was wrong but we worked through it. That's not the smartest thing in the world to do. There's a big difference now and I think they're doing the right thing with that. Injuries occur, you can't pretend they never occur, they do."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Table Talk with D'Von and Mo with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.