September 2, 2006
Angle battles demons after firing
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
Several weeks ago, the Pro Wrestling Torch reported a WWE wrestler had been put on an unofficial 'death watch.'
The wrestler's colleagues had become so concerned by his self-destructive behaviour they genuinely feared for his life. An intervention from WWE management was sought.
The wrestler wasn't named in the story but within a few days of the news item being published, Kurt Angle's agent issued an unsolicited statement claiming his client was in good health and was doing just fine.
People did the math.
And the general consensus seems to have been validated last weekend when, following an after-hours meeting at WWE headquarters, Angle was fired.
Actually, according to the official blurb on WWE's website, Angle has been granted an early release from his contract. Apparently, he is taking a break from the wrestling biz to let his burned-out body recover from a level of physical wear and tear that would put him on the disabled list in any other sport.
While no one doubts Angle's broken body played a big part in the events of last week, very few people believe that's the entire story.
First of all, it's widely known WWE made the decision to pull the plug on Angle's tenure with the company, not the other way around.
And given the circumstances -- the fact he's a bonafide wrestling legend and one of WWE's most recognisable franchise players -- it's unlikely WWE bosses let him go without a good reason.
Several of those good reasons have been plastered all over the internet for the past few months.
Angle suffered a groin injury in the ring last week, the latest on a laundry list of crippling injuries he continues to work through.
His alleged dependence on painkillers has become an open topic of discussion in grappling circles, with multiple wrestling insiders saying it is a more serious issue than most people realize.
Angle is just back from a 30-day suspension, alleged to be for a violation of WWE's wellness policy.
He is also going through a divorce with his wife, Karen, who is pregnant with the couple's first son.
With his personal and professional life seemingly coming apart at the seams, Angle appeared to be en route to a complete mental, physical and emotional breakdown.
And with Eddie Guerrero's tragic (and possibly preventable) death still fresh in everybody's minds, WWE made the right decision in letting Angle go.
"Kurt really needs this time off to get his life together," said Paul Heyman, the long time leader of ECW, in an interview with the Calgary Sun this week.
"Kurt is taking time to be honest with himself and to look himself in the mirror and say: 'These are the issues that I have.'
"I think Kurt has been crying out for help for a while now and, finally, I think people heard it."