In 2006, the wrestling world was put on notice when Kurt Angle signed with TNA Wrestling and left WWE after spending eight years with the company.
The former Olympic Gold Medalist signed with the WWE in August of 1998, and started his rookie year with the company in 1999. There, the star made a million dollars in his first year.
Fast forward to 2006, Angle was dealing with a pain killer addiction due to several injuries he had suffered in WWE and was moved to ECW to be the face of that brand. The WWE Hall of Famer revealed on a previous episode of The Kurt Angle Show Podcast that he would leave Vince McMahon threatening voicemails and text messages during his time in ECW, which ultimately led to a face off with McMahon in his office where Angle told him he needed to leave the company.
On the latest episode of his podcast, Angle revealed why he ultimately chose TNA after leaving the WWE, stating he wanted to carry a product and have a bigger purpose than what he had while in WWE.
“The reason I signed with TNA, and there’s nothing wrong with this, but when you’re in WWE, it’s a huge company,” Angle mentioned. “It’s bigger than you. There’s nothing you can do. You can have the greatest career of all time, you’re not going to make a bigger impression on the company itself. TNA, it’s a smaller company and you’re the bigger name in the company. You’re carrying the company on your back and making it into a WWE. You have a purpose that way. When you’re in WWE, you’re never bigger than the product. When you’re in TNA, you are bigger than the product and what’s carrying that product to another level. There’s a bigger purpose in it.”
Angle continued to talk about how he was able to help TNA reach a new level of stardom that they never had prior to him signing. The Olympic Gold Medalist even spoke about how good it made him feel to represent a company that was having success.
“It was about me proving myself that I could be a formidable player and make a company grow bigger than it was,” Angle said. “I think I did a good job of that, it wasn’t just me. There were a lot of other wrestlers in that company but I wanted to show that I had a purpose in my life and that purpose was TNA. And I could make this company grow that never became as big as WWE, but there were times where the ratings started getting fairly close. We were doing two million viewers a week, 2.1 million viewers a week, which was a big deal for TNA at the time. It made me feel very good as a representative of the company that I was one of the main reasons for it.”
When Angle first debuted, the company pitted him against Samoa Joe, who was holding a very long undefeated streak at the time. The former WWE Champion said he didn’t like the creative choice from TNA to have Angle face Joe in his first match with the company because he knew it would mean he was going over.
“I don’t know. I did not like that because Samoa Joe was undefeated,” Angle mentioned. “I felt like if I came into the company and started out with someone else, Joe and I could work up to each other in six months to a year. Really build our program, but they wanted to slingshot this thing and do it really quickly. Unfortunately, I ended Joe’s undefeated streak the first pay per view I wrestled. It made no sense at all. I just felt like we could’ve built this up, done a lot more pay per view buys if we built it the correct way instead of slingshotting it. That’s what the company wanted, so that’s what I did.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Kurt Angle Show Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.