Of all the people in TNA Wrestling who could have made headlines in the last few weeks, Kurt Angle was probably low on the list. For a company that employs desperate attention whore Hulk Hogan, the drug-addled Hardy brothers, Ric Flair and his propensity to melt down in his personal life and Sting, their Champion, being held together with rubber bands and duct tape it seems, Angle’s profile had been kept low. Hell, he had seemed like a model citizen in some respects, and in others, he’d become a sympathetic figure with his divorce and cuckolding at the hands of Jeff Jarrett being made into an on-camera angle.
That veneer of respectability took a backseat to the old Angle we’ve come to know over the last five or so years. The former Olympian was found behind the wheel of his car, disoriented and intoxicated on the side of the road near Grand Forks, ND. His story was that he hit an ice patch and swerved into the median, even though the police report noted otherwise.
Two incidents in two weeks is a bit on the troubling side. Granted, it’s not the reckless behavior that got him fired from WWE and made everyone believe that he’d be dead within a year of signing with TNA, but it’s a red flag. I don’t know whether he was behaving himself and just relapsed or whether he was continually abusing substances. Either way, it should be a big warning sign that TNA needs to take action.
With Jeff Hardy, they took too long before they acted on his erratic behavior. He was showing up to events “in no condition to perform” MONTHS before his drug abuse forced management’s hand. In my mind, the first time he showed up all cracked out, he should have been sent to rehab, storyline implications be damned. Now, the cycle’s beginning anew with Angle, or at least the public signs are coming out anew. TNA needs to nip this in the bud, especially since I think they could be culpable for this in part.
I hate blaming other people for the addictions of the individual, but how much mental anguish has TNA put on Angle by worked-shooting his divorce and subsequent relationship between Jarrett and his ex-wife coming into the fray as an on-screen couple? Again, Angle had to sign off on it, but at the same time, no man is going to sit there and be 100% comfortable while his boss is flaunting his relationship with his ex-wife. No one, unless you’ve totally suppressed your humanity and become a soulless automaton like the aliens in V.
Even if they weren’t culpable at all though, they need to take care of their employee here. For too long, TNA has gone too soft on their recidivist substance abusers. I cite their lack of a tangible drug policy, and in 2011, a lack of a drug policy is a no-no for a major wrestling company. Especially with a guy who has a history of drug use, they need to have more than a passing interest in the safety of their workers.
TNA needs to start getting serious about its stars and their problems with substance abuse. Angle is having problems and he needs help. He doesn’t need to be on the road. He doesn’t need to be left to his own devices. He needs structure, guidance and people who care enough for him that they stop letting TNA be the party house of the wrestling world and start conducting business like a real company.
A real company would fire Kurt Angle or send him to rehab. What will TNA do? If the answer is nothing, then if Angle’s next misstep proves to cause more than just PR damage, the blame at least partially falls on their hands.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com