The following is Alex Marvez's latest column, which touches on the Kurt Angle/UFC rumors with comments from president Dana White himself.
Alex Marvez's weekly look at professional wrestling
By ALEX MARVEZ
October 4, 2006
It's one or the other for Ultimate Fighting Championships President Dana White – even if that stance means losing the chance to book former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Kurt Angle.
After being released by WWE in August reportedly because of wellness issues both inside and outside the ring, Angle spoke with UFC about the possibility of making his mixed martial arts debut. Representing the U.S. as a heavyweight, Angle won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics.
White considered matching Angle against Daniel Puder in a UFC bout stemming from a legitimate altercation between the two while both were in WWE in 2004. As part of the Tough Enough competition for aspiring wrestlers that he ultimately won, Puder caught Angle off-guard with a submission maneuver during a wrestling challenge.
White, though, said he lost interest when Angle signed a contract to remain a pro wrestler with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (11 p.m. Eastern, Thursdays and Saturdays, Spike).
“I wouldn't hire someone who is doing both,” White said last week in a telephone interview. “I would never blow that line. You're either a fighter or an actor.”
Angle's final months in WWE were marred by a slew of injuries that ultimately led to significant problems with pain medication abuse, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
“Injuries have always been a natural part of the business and my life,” Angle said last month in a statement released on his web site (kurtanglewwe.com). “Where I have failed is not taking the time off to recover.
“When I'm off, the mental stress sitting back becomes worse than the physical pain. Something tells my inner soul to go back regardless of the condition. The funny thing is, this obsession is what the industry loves, but this obsession can also be my destruction.”
Despite Angle's deteriorating physical condition – his surgically repaired neck remains a mess structurally – there remains strong interest in working an MMA match. While it would be difficult, Angle could theoretically train for a sporadic MMA fight – and receive a significant payday in the process – while working limited matches for TNA.
White said he was surprised Angle, 37, decided to resume his pro wrestling career.
“He's one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and he's done well,” White said. “He keeps coming out publicly about how much wrestling wore him down and he's going back to wrestling again. I don't know.
“It's interesting, but I want guys who want to be real fighters.”
White isn't hurting for marquee talent. The Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz headline match on Tuesday night's UFC special airing live from 8-10 p.m. (Eastern) on Spike.
The Ortiz-Shamrock clash is a rematch from their controversial June bout on the UFC 61 pay-per-view show. Ortiz defeated Shamrock – who, like Angle, is a former WWE star – in just 1:18 after what many believe was a premature referee stoppage.
White said he booked Ortiz-Shamrock on Spike because the UFC 61 ending marred a show that generated a company-record 775,000 pay-per-view orders from fans wanting to see a resolution to their long-standing feud.
“This thing is giving back to the fans,” White said. “I feel like so many times when I was growing up, me and my buddies couldn't wait for the big fight and then we ended up disappointed. I don't want people who waited … to see the end of this (Ortiz-Shamrock feud) feel like that.”
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Where is Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake? – Kenneth Poole, Bakersfield, Calif.
A: Ed Leslie – whose 30 years in wrestling were highlighted by his 1980s stint as the “cuttin' and struttin'” Beefcake – still works sporadically for independent promotions. Leslie, 49, reportedly will appear during the upcoming season of VH1's Hogan Knows Best reality show stemming from his real-life friendship with Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea).
More of the White interview can be found at www.wrestlingobserver.com.
Questions can be sent to Alex Marvez c/o the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 33301, or e-mailed to email@example.com. Please include your full name and city of residence. Because of volume, no phone calls will be accepted and letters will not receive a written reply.