When you hear the name of Daniel Puder, you most likely immediately think of his in-ring shoot with Kurt Angle in 2004. Puder, who won Tough Enough season 4, tangled with Angle in an unscripted segment on SmackDown in which he locked Angle in the kimura lock.
With Puder having the upper hand, and with the ability to either snap Angle’s arm or make him tap, one of the refs quickly counted 1-2-3 and claimed Angle pinned Puder, even though Puder’s shoulders weren’t down on the mat. The count saved face for Angle, but everyone clearly saw that Puder was the one in control of the Olympic gold medalist.
That incident followed Puder throughout his entire wrestling and MMA career, and he was asked about the chances of having a UFC match with Angle when he joined The Chris Van Vliet Show.
“I never got a contract on that one. There were minor discussions, but I never talked to – did I talk to Dana [White] about that? I think I might have. I think somebody might have talked to me,” Puder said of the potential fight in 2006. “I don’t think I had a conversation with Dana. I think he had a conversation with Dana about it. I would have taken the fight, but at the end of the day, if he’s taken that much Vicodin that he says he takes in another interview, I don’t think he would pass a drug test.”
After the SmackDown incident, Angle was not happy being made to look like a fool on television. Puder talked about his relationship with Angle after nearly snapping his arm in the ring.
“Here’s the thing – people have grudges. It’s a reflection of inside. At the end of the day, I don’t hate anybody. Did I make an opportunity for what was given? Sure. Did I follow the rules? Yes. Did they say no striking? Yes. You can listen to the ref’s interview [Jimmy Korderas], you can listen to Al Snow’s interview. If anybody’s real enough and authentic, they’re going to tell you what really happened. And at the end of the day, I’ve never had a problem with him per se,” stated Puder.
“Besides that, he came up and congratulated me after I won [Tough Enough]. He knows I put in the work; he knows that. Everybody saw, even after I won Tough Enough, I was going out and building the ring. I was doing things to be a part of the organization, and some people maybe didn’t like me in the position, but at the end of the day, the people in my life know they can depend on it. And the people that doubt things like that, maybe they don’t depend on themselves.”
Angle retired at WrestleMania 35 last year, but Puder says he would still like to work with Angle in some capacity in wrestling.
“I would love to have him involved. I’d love to do some stuff with him on a final match. I’d love to be coached by him at the end of the day. I would definitely love to have something like that,” stated Puder. “Fighting? I don’t know if he can get approved in any state with what’s going on. I’m drug-free, so that’s positive, but I think that I would love to do some wrestling stuff at some point. I don’t think he would do it anymore. If he would, I would do it for sure.”
Puder had just three matches in WWE before being sent down to OVW for a few months. He never returned to the main roster, and took part in a dozen or so matches with Ring of Honor and New Japan following his departure. He also went undefeated in eight MMA bouts, but his combat career is always linked back to that Angle incident.
Despite his ventures outside of WWE as well as starting his own businesses, Puder discussed the name of Kurt Angle always being brought up whenever his is mentioned.
“Hey, you know what? Everybody’s got their first, their second, their third. I mean, I had a couple of really great moments on media that’s added a ton of value,” said Puder. “What other pro wrestler has their name or has its own school system? What other pro wrestler has ever impacted with the accreditation of a school district? They might have an after-school program, have a little non-profit, but what’s the sustainability of that long-term? How many millions do they have to go raise? How much time do they actually spend with the kids? I look at all this stuff and the impact that Kurt Angle and WWE gave me in that two, three, four, five minutes. I was ready for the experience and I took advantage of it.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Chris Van Vliet Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.