Kurt Angle: A Shakespearean Tragedy
by, 10-03-2010 at 06:52 PM (8194 Views)
Once upon a time, Kurt Angle was the crown jewel of sports entertainment. He was the total package; an ultra-talented in-ring performer, a bedazzler on the microphone and a dependable company man. His ties to the attitude-era drove up his stock within pro wrestling, and his reputation as an Olympic athlete lent credibility to the entire WWE. During his tenure in WWE Angle put on some of the greatest matches of recent history while working with the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels and Brock Lesnar.
Today, the Kurt Angle of TNA is a shadow of his former self. The quality of his matches has dropped considerably and he resides on a roster that is bloated with egomaniacs and WWE outcasts. Outside of the ring, his personal life has fallen into a Lohan-esque downward spiral. His use of both performance enhancing drugs and narcotics has been well documented. Angle's wife and the mother of his two children left him for his boss and former friend Jeff Jarrett. Additionally, Angle has recently been involved in several run-ins with the law including a somewhat disturbing stalking allegation.
How did Angle fall this far? TNA enabled him to.
TNA lacks the willingness to take a hard stance against its performers who conduct themselves unprofessionally. This is especially true when it involves a top draw such as Angle. TNA's decision to turn a blind eye to Angle's bad behavior outside the ring and allow him to continue to collect paychecks has allowed them to retain their top star at the expense of his wellbeing. Essentially, TNA has taken the easy way out. Rather than taking a proactive approach and having a tough conversation with their star, TNA chose to pretend that the problem didn't exist. With no incentive not to engage in these self-destructive behaviors, Angle began falling apart at the seams.
TNA's most glaring and inexcusable action here is their failure to institute an effective wellness policy. It's no secret that over the last few years Kurt Angle hasn't quite been sober as a bird. In fact, in a recent interview Angle mentioned that his drug use was a large factor in the collapse of his marriage. It is reasonable to think that if TNA had a system of drug testing in place, Angle's problem with substance abuse could have been nipped in the bud and many of the issues in his personal life could have been averted. Beyond that, it should be mentioned how grossly irresponsible it is that TNA puts such little effort into protecting the health of its performers in an industry that has been plagued by premature deaths over recent years.
Where does Kurt Angle go from here? With his recent contract extension it's safe to say that Angle will remain at TNA for the near future. Kurt has stated that he wants to retire from professional wrestling in the near future to pursue an acting career. Unfortunately for Angle this is a rather far fetched plan. Angle isn't the household name that The Rock and Steve Austin were which opened the doors for them into acting, and he will never achieve that sort of stature working in TNA. Given the recent push by the WWE into the film industry it's a bit surprising Kurt hasn't shown any interesting in returning to the company that launched his career. Kurt and Vince might not have parted ways on the best of terms, but Vince is known for letting bygones be bygones in the name of good business, and Angle returning to the WWE would be great business for both parties. I would speculate that Angle's lack of desire to return to the WWE is him not wanting to swallow his pride.
Every tragic hero has a tragic flaw. In the case of Kurt Angle that tragic flaw is certainly his decision to sign with TNA. However, every tragic figure also has the opportunity to redeem itself and make things right. As Kurt approaches the twilight of his career, here's to hoping he hasn't missed that opportunity.