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COMMENT





New Angle
By TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun


It's become one of the most celebrated and heated rivalries in the WWE: Big Brock Lesnar and your Olympic hero, Kurt Angle.

Both are former amateur wrestling stars -- Angle a double Olympic gold medallist -- and both are now two of the top superstars in the WWE.

The pair was expected to enter the squared circle as the feature bout with the WWE title on the line last night at the 'Dome. (The show was not over at press time.)

It's not the first time they've locked up and it certainly won't be the last.

The WWE Championship match between Lesnar and then-champion Angle at WrestleMania XIX has already taken its place among the all-time 'Mania classics. It was one of the greatest see-saw battles the sport had ever seen, with one of the most memorable endings in WWE history, courtesy of Lesnar's death-defying shooting-star press attempt.

And yet, it was flawed. Most notably, Angle was competing with a broken neck -- one of the greatest gut-check performances ever. Lesnar, even before knocking himself senseless with the shooting-star press and winning the match on pure toughness and courage alone, was nursing severe rib injuries.

"If Brock had known my neck was injured, he might have been able to take care of me a lot quicker than he did," Angle says.

"But he didn't know. I knew and I knew how to protect it. But I wasn't able to give my very best at WrestleMania. I don't know if the fans knew that. I don't know if Brock knew that. He knows it now, so he's going to have to question himself and wonder, 'How much of Kurt Angle did I really get at WrestleMania? Did I get 90, 95 or even 100 percent? Was he bluffing or was he seriously hurt?' "

Adds Lesnar: "I strongly believe that we haven't even reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can do in the ring."

- - -

RHYNO RECOVERED: For nearly 16 months, Rhyno sat on the sidelines, watching his fellow superstars compete and wondering if he would ever return to the ring to continue doing what he loves most.

Having undergone career-threatening neck surgery might have been the hardest thing Rhyno has ever had to do. Intially, his diagnosis predicted an almost complete recovery with a target return of one year -- but after Rhyno underwent the procedure, he encountered a few setbacks and realized returning to the ring was going to be a bigger struggle than he'd originally anticipated.

"The surgery went fine. I mean, pain is pain," says Rhyno. "The toughest part was just sitting around and waiting for the bones to fuse. There's no therapy. The doctor said I could do light weight training after three weeks but nothing over the head and I could only use about five pounds. But in the beginning, I was so depressed that I didn't take to it."

Two-and-a-half months after surgery, Rhyno recognized self-pity wasn't going to help him get back into the ring and he snapped out of his rut and began hitting the weights full time.

He had a lot of work to do.

His muscles shrank so much his 12-lb. dog would cause him excruciating pain just by standing on his chest.

However, Rhyno's now back in the ring plying his trade again, albeit a little more carefully, as per doctor's orders.

"He told me to steer clear of getting dropped on my head, so I'm going to try and stay away from piledrivers," says Rhyno. "But interestingly, he also cautioned me that I can't keep my shoulder blades flat on the mat for more than two seconds, which means I should avoid getting pinned."