WWE's decision to grant Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle an early release from his contract last August is real. That this was arguably the most shocking news reported by WWE.com last year is real. Beyond these sole indisputable facts, however, it's up to you to decide what else is real in our No. 4 story for 2006—a story that continues to unveil many "truths."
According to WWE.com's exclusive interview with Angle on August 26, the six-time World Champion and the company mutually agreed to part ways. Angle himself admitted to Michael Cole that the reason behind this decision was due to the wear-and-tear on his body after 30 years of non-stop wrestling, whether as an amateur, an Olympian, a WWE Superstar, or an ECW Extremist. "My body is so beat up and run down, I can't even think straight," he explained. "I have done this for too long without a break. I haven't seen my family, I've had problems with medication—I'm just fried, physically and mentally."
Throughout his seven-year tenure with WWE, Angle's long list of injuries had been well-documented—most notably, the recurring neck injuries that had plagued him even before winning his gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. Less than two weeks prior to his release, at his last ECW live event, the "Wrestling Machine" suffered a severely pulled groin, a blown hamstring, and pulling his lower abdominal muscle off his pelvic bone.
Responding to the widespread shock felt by fans and Superstars in the locker room, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon informed WWE.com on August 28 that Angle's release was indeed "unfortunate all the way around…but circumstances were such that Kurt should have been, and was, granted his release." Citing the "Wrestling Machine's" mounting health problems and personal well-being, McMahon added, "I think Kurt has some issues he has to face, as we all do from time to time."
Kurt Angle had seemingly taken a real step in addressing those issues, based on an official statement posted on his website in early September. He thanked WWE, its Chairman, and the fans for their support, then reiterated that it was time to rest and spend time with his family.
The rest period and quality family time lasted less than three weeks.