Donald Wood: Let’s talk about Olympic wrestling. You fought for its reinstatement as an Olympic event and the IOC has ensured it will be part of the 2020 Games. As one of the greatest wrestlers in Team USA history, what does wrestling mean to the Olympics and do you think the focus on the sport will help build an even stronger American wrestling program moving forward?
Kurt Angle: Ya know it was shocking to everybody that wrestles, especially with the other sports that were considered in being dropped. Wrestling isn’t just an Olympic pastime, it’s as old as the Olympics, it’s the oldest sport in the world. There just is a lot of things that needed to be adjusted in the U.S.O.C. or I should say F.I.L.A., the World Governing Body of Wrestling. They always march to the beat of a different drum and they didn’t want to go to the meetings. The I.O.C. weren’t very cooperative, they did their own thing, and I think they did tick off a few people. They also have been changing the rules every four years. So even if you’re not an avid wrestling fan and you’re watching the Olympics on TV, and you remember four years ago you are wondering, “What’s going on? Why did this guy score a point? I don’t understand?” It’s very difficult to explain it when every four years you keep changing the rules. What the I.O.C. has considered with F.I.L.A. is to keep it consistent. I’ll give you an example: It used to be three-three minute periods, then it was three-two minute periods. Then it was just one five minute period, and then it was two-three minute periods again. Now its two rounds, now were into rounds. I don’t understand that if you win the first and second round there won’t be a third. You could score ten points in the first round and lose by one point in the second round it would go to the third round even though you were leading by ten points in the match. It’s just confusing to even tell you and but it’s even more confusing to watch. What they need to do is simplify it and to keep it that way and also to involve women. I believe that they are adding more women’s weight classes. They obviously brought women to the Olympics a few Olympics back and now they are adding more women’s weight classes but at the same time they are pulling back from the men’s weight classes and that’s gonna hurt a little bit. When I was there, there was ten men’s weight classes now I believe there are seven and they want to drop it to six. That’s gonna be very difficult to make the Olympic team. It’s difficult as it was and it was almost impossible back then when I wrestled now it’s even more impossible.
Mike Chiari: You previously said on Jim Ross’ podcast that your TNA contract expires on September 21, which is now less than two weeks away. At that point, you seemed open to exploring all options whether that’s re-signing with TNA or perhaps returning to WWE. Now that decision time is kind of on the horizon, where do things stand currently for you and what direction do you envision yourself going in?
Kurt Angle: Well right now I’m not at liberty to say where I’m going but I will tell you I’m going to do the right thing for me and my family. I am in the process of structuring a deal and I do have a company in mind. I haven’t said yes because I want to make it a public thing with the company and myself. I can’t really say who it is or where I’m going but I can tell you it’s going to happen in the next two weeks before my contract is even up. I won’t be wrestling until January but there will be a signing in the next couple of weeks.
Brandon Galvin: You’ve had so many incredible matches and feuds over the course of your career in both WWE and TNA, but if you had to choose one guy as your greatest all-time rival who would that be and why?
Kurt Angle: Well ya know a lot of people don’t get to see many of them. I wish I could’ve had a little more with Shawn Michaels. We had an amazing chemistry but we only had a few matches. The one I really, really meshed with very well was Chris Benoit. It’s hard for me to say that but it’s the truth. We were so equally matched with the intensity and the moves that we had and just our abilities, it was a downright war every time we wrestled. If you watch those matches, especially the match in Boston from Royal Rumble in 2003 there was maybe one punch the whole match. it was wrestling and submission trade off. That’s how you tell a story. When you can do that and you’re not running the ropes the whole time and throwing punches and doing high spots and you can wrestle in the middle of the ring and you have the fans in the palm of your hands that is magic. That’s what makes wrestling so great. When you can do that you know you’re one of the best.