‘…Alex Perry’s moving and detailed documentary currently streaming on Peacock delves deep into what makes Kurt Angle tick…’

That’s Kurt Angle to you, a man with more experience of wrestling than most. He’s a celebrated Olympic Gold medallist at the 1996 Atlanta games, but he’s also a Hall of Famer in the more financially lucrative WWE, where he became a household name of a different sort alongside such luminaries as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Ric Flair, The Undertaker and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. The athleticism of these entertainers is not in doubt, but it’s still a remarkable career swing and one achieved at some personal, physical and mental cost to Kurt Angle; Alex Perry’s moving and detailed documentary currently streaming on Peacock delves deep into what makes Kurt Angle tick.

‘You did not want to mess with the Angle boys,’ is an opening salvo that provides some insight into how Kurt Angle and his brothers started out in Pennsylvania; before there were any cameras, prizes or contracts around, the brothers used to fight for sport, with the physique of “Greek gods’ but no audience but each other. That changes as Angle’s physique and dedication thrust him towards representing his country; Angle’s arduous training regime makes Mark Wahlberg’s 3am chicken-burgers, gym and golf-fest look positively lightweight. With Angel’s father, ‘a very functional alcoholic’, dying young in a tragic accident, Angle has a lot to prove, to himself and the world.

As if that personal loss wasn’t enough to bear, Angle ends up training at the now-notorious Foxcatcher camp, overshadowed by John Du Pont’s murder of wrestler Dave Schultz, a narrative familiar from the Steve Carell/Channing Tatum movie of the same name. Nevertheless, despite such adversity, Angle somehow makes it to the Olympics, but has to compete with a broken neck, the first of four neck breaks over his career. It helps that Angle is in such great shape; ‘You have to have a neck to break it. He has no neck,’ is a particularly pithy comment here. Opponents on route to success are formidable, notably one described here as ‘a man who would take advantage of an injury’, but such tough guy competition isn’t enough to stop Angle finally winning gold in Atlanta.

But American lives CAN have second acts, and Kurt Angle heads from competitive wrestling to wrestling as entertainment, joining Vince McMahon and his merry crew on the lucrative WWE circuit. ‘What kind of guy has Kurt Angle become?’ asks a commentator, and it’s the right question to ask. In an arena stuffed with costumes (Triple H, The Undertaker!) and catchphrases (‘Can YOU smell what The Rock is cooking?’), Angle plays down the obvious patriotism that his winner’s medal allows and sells himself as a bad guy of the ring, and the crowds, plus viewers at home, love him for it. The notion that ‘they’d be buying into your story,’ gives Angle his own narrative, but as his injuries pile up, Angle finds himself like the protagonist of Darren Aronofksy’s The Wrestler, one injury from career-ending redundancy or even death. Not surprisingly, Angle develops an opioid addiction, over-medicated after his sister’s death, necking 65 pills a day and spinning out of control while managing his career and his responsibilities as a family man and father take a toll on his mental health.

With plentiful archive footage and fresh interviews, Angle is a serious documentary that touches on the hot topics of opioid addiction and the lack of support provided to athletes and performers, in professional sports or entertainment, and while the mood is upbeat, Angle’s story offers a scathing critique of the workings of the sports world. But the punch-line of Perry’s film is firmly positive, with Angle emerging as a winner on all counts, his hard-fought victory attested to by the likes of ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey, and celebrated with a breath-taking final shot that demonstrates just what an artist Angle was in his prime. Even at 55, he’s still a role model that shows that some players can play the game and come out on top, despite overwhelming odds.



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  1. Seriously? You’re giving him credit for going to the olympics with a broken neck? That’s nothing. I once competed with TWO broken necks. I won AND then nuked the entire area.

    I will say the various sports “doctors” are going to have a lot to answer for. They’re not really doctors but more like meat technicians, seeing how long they can make a particular meat machine last. Or if another roll of duct tape will get it through the next fight.

    You have 2 seconds to answer, Eddiegpt, or you will be exterminated…

  2. Sort of interested in this, but I don’t care for authorized biodocs of celebs much. You never feel like you’re getting a full or true story, however grimy parts of it may seem. Good for Angle though if he kicked the pill habit.


    • I hear this, but there’s a growing split between authorised and unauthorised docs. I like both, but in a case like this, we see Angle at his best and at his lowest point, and that provides its own inherent critique. There are docs to be made about sports after-care and opiates, but they’ll be unlikely to have the same participation levels. You certainly get the impression that kicking the pills was as tough as anything Angle achieved, and that makes a statement.

      Thanks for the typo, I’d made a last minute adjustment since I never tire of writing about Mark Wahlburger’s fitness routine.

        • I did say that this one was serious. But I was at the gym a couple of days ago and both the artists you mentioned were heavily featured. Do you have gyms in Guelph or do you pull sledges in the snow like Rocky?

          • We do have gyms, but I haven’t been inside one since before Covid. I don’t recall them playing much Survivor. Would you describe Frank Stallone as the Glasgow sound?

            • Sigh. I’m not playing motivational music as a DJ, these tunes are through my headphones on my phone! And music is a big part of what keeps me working out, you don’t get a body like mine for nothing! 150 neck crunches, 49 flute differentials, I keg press 4K per keg and still have tune to listen to Cher’s Greatest hits before I hit the showers. Can you match that?

                • Opining track: Anvil. Personal friends of mine. Introduced them live and interviewed them on stage. There’s no one more Metal than me, Bunty.

                  • Canadian band. Went to see them play in Guelph back in the day. Still have their Metal on Metal cassette around someplace. Probably worth a lot of money now.

                    • Great bunch of guys. Had to use a closet as a changing room and never complained. Screened their movie, then played Metal on Metal and more to a packed out auditorium. I enjoyed being the MC and doing all the crown baiting ‘ are you ready to rock? ….I can’t hear you, I said. ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?’

                      I think you will now know not to question my metal credentials, or I will see YOU at Summerslam VXIII and you will experience pain in the ring like never before!

                    • What does the number VXIII translate to?

                      I saw you at that Anvil show. You had black spandex pants, a studded vinyl belt, and a sleeveless zebra-print t-shirt. You also had huge hair that looked like you’d just stuck your finger in an electrical outlet. We all agreed that the Scottish guy was rocking.

                    • Haha, I was in a full suit, which I can tell you is not the usual gear for being on-stage with Anvil. What do you wear to your Anvil gig? Did they play Guelph library?

                    • Huh. Now that you mention it I don’t recall what the venue was. I think it must have been the old arena which got torn down decades ago. What I was wearing was almost certainly a concert shirt from some other band, probably Iron Maiden. I don’t know if you remember concert shirts. Black with white sleeves or white with black sleeves. Haven’t seen those in a while.

                    • So long ago I can’t remember. I’m pretty sure I saw Maiden twice. Van Halen’s 1984 tour. They were great. I seem to recall seeing The Scorpions with Quiet Riot opening for them. Hoo boy. Most of this is best forgotten now.

                    • Impressive CV. Enjoyed seeing Maiden. Would have liked to have seen Van Halen. Your rock credentials pass muster. Any pics of you in your full gear?

                    • Totally agree. Phones were better when you had to wind them up and request a number from the operator.

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