In the first part of our interview trilogy, Kurt Angle shared his thoughts on TNA's network, the talent roster and more. In this second part he goes further, talking injuries, ECW, his legacy and those that have followed in his path. He talked to us as TNA announced that tickets for the promotion's UK tour in January 2016 will go on sale on May 29th (available here). Read on to learn more about the Olympic hero....
Mandrews, Spud, Bram and others have joined the TNA roster, as a veteran what's your perception of their impact so far?
Mandrews is starting to come along very well. He's a great talent and I'm really excited about his future, especially in the X-Divison. Spud's a different breed and I like him. He's the kind of talent that you can utilise anywhere. He's undersized but he has such a big heart. He doesn't wrestle like an X-Divison wrestler. He's an old school smaller wrestler that knows how to hold his ground against the bigger guys. I had a match with him on Impact where he was, WOW! It was that good. It just proved how talented he really is. He is going to be a big part of our future and I believe he's going to hold many titles and be the most undersized opponent to do so. He's got it all. He's got charisma, he knows how to talk and is great on the mic. He's great, no, he's extraordinary in the ring. When you're talking about Bram and Magnus. Those guys are going to be many-time world champions. I love Magnus and he's progressed a lot in the last few years. Bram came in and just stole the show right away. It just shows how great the British wrestlers have been since they all came here. It shows how much talent there is over there and why TNA continues to have the British Boot Camp.
You're wrestling every week, how are you holding up?
I'm fine. I've adapted. It's a tough schedule. Even though I have been reduced to a certain amount of dates a year, it's hard. When you're a world heavyweight champion, you're in demand to wrestle almost every single week on TV. And the way that we structure our TVs right now, there's a possibility of Kurt Angle wrestling eight main event matches in four days. That's hard on the body. Especially at my age and at this point in my career. I believe at the last sets of TVs, I did seven matches in four days and I was hurting for a few days. I think anybody would. However I do have the ability to have five or six weeks off when I don't have to wrestle. So there's a give and take but I rather enjoy it. The challenges of wrestling guys like Eric Young to Bobby Roode to Austin Aries, Spud, Bobby Lashley... it's been very challenging but I've had a lot of fun.
Might we see you in the WWE Hall of Fame?
I don't know. You never know what they're thinking. It would be nice. Would it kill me if I wasn't? No. I know who I am and I know what I was and I know the impact I made on wrestling. I don't need a WWE Hall of Fame to tell me what that is. It's not that important to me. What's important to me is I'm in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for Olympic wrestling and that's my legacy. But it's always nice to be recognised as a Hall of Famer. TNA Hall of Fame was great. WWE Hall of Fame would be great but if they decide not to, its not going to kill me. That's their option. I did leave them in 2006 and went to TNA and I don't know if that has any bearing but I've been happy with my career. I can tell you nobody made as much noise as I did, the six years I spent in WWE. Nobody did that in that short a period of time like I did. That legacy will be set in stone forever. I will tell you I had a better career in TNA than in WWE and that's scary. Im very grateful for that and at the same time it kind of sucks because the hardcore WWE fans that only watch that, won't see my best matches. They think they saw my best matches in WWE but they haven't seen TNA. I'm hoping more of them will turn on to it.
You were briefly in ECW, are you on an even keel with Paul Heyman?
I love Paul! He made some crazy-ass decisions but I love him! I enjoyed working with Paul when I did ECW in WWE. That was my favourite part of it. But at the same time, that's part of the reason I left WWE, was when they decided to put me in ECW. It was like, really? You're going to take your best guy and put him in ECW. And it wasn't that I didn't want the test of being in a smaller company in front of smaller crowds but that's kind of hard to swallow when you're in front of sell-out crowds all the time. It just kind of felt like a demotion to me and I didn't like that. I know that Vince was taking a chance with it. He wanted his workhorse in there but the hard part was, where do I go after RVD and Sandman. Well, sorry, Sandman's not really much of a wrestler. It's more like wrestling a kendo stick! I had to deal with RVD first though, then they had Sabu, who I loved working with. Then after that it was Sandman and Balls Mahoney. It was like "Oh my gosh! Are you serious Vince? What am I going to do with this?" So it was frustrating and that was kind of the reason that things died down with me in WWE - part of it but not all of it.
Jack Swagger has followed in your footsteps, are you upset he uses the Ankle Lock?
You know what, no. Because I didn't come up with the Ankle Lock. Ken Shamrock did. When he retired, I took it. And when I left WWE, Jack Swagger decided to take the Ankle Lock. And I'm sure it wasn't his idea. Someone went over and said "Hey, Kurt Angle wants to leave, we're going to replace him with this guy". And I think Jack Swagger's done a great job. I think he's a great talent. Is he a Kurt Angle? No, no I don't think he is but I think he's very good. I have a lot of respect for him, I think he's done a great job. I don't have any problem with him doing the Ankle Lock; I might have tweeted it five or six years ago, like "Hey! He stole my move" but it was meant in more of a jokey sense. He's a great talent and I like watching him wrestle. He's a big boy too!
Make sure to look out for the final part of our interview in which Kurt discusses TNA, GFW, the WWE Network, acting and more.