When word hit, both in the real world and the scripted reality of TNA Impact Wrestling, that Kurt Angle would require another surgery, many speculated that he was most likely done with Dixie Carter's company. The timing of the recovery, even for someone with a track record of quick returns like Angle, would put a comeback past what was believed to be the expiration of his TNA contract.
Combine that with tibdits such as WWE minority owner and Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon coyly leaving the door open in past interviews for a return to the biggest sports entertainment company in the world, and it seemed the time was right for the Olympic gold medalist to return to the pro wrestling giant for a career capping run.
Not so fast, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
The deal with Kurt Angle and WWE, and this is why there was no response from WWE to him the last time his contract was due, is that after being scared in 2006, Vince McMahon made the call that no matter what, there was not going to be an Olympic gold medalist dying on WWE's watch. It perhaps was overblown when people said he was on death watch, but even before Benoit, and far more since, the issue has been, even if the chance was slim, this, at least a few years ago, was simply a risk McMahon wasn't willing to take.
If Vince and company were willing to let Angle walk eight years ago, there probably isn't much that has happened since to change their minds. Yes, he did a stint in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program after the latest drunk driving charge. There haven't been any incidences with the law since, but he continues to push his body in the ring in ways that someone thinking about a healthy future might not - and that his string of medical procedures in the last year would indicate he shouldn't be.
So if the WWE brass ring is off the table for now, what's next for Angle? Again, the Observer:
They [TNA] were already starting to push Angle's comeback on Impact this week, saying it's a five month countdown which would be mid-October. That would be after his deal expires, so maybe they've made the call they'll keep him, figuring if they don't sign him he may end up with Jeff Jarrett. Then again, given how they pushed Hogan and Styles at the end and didn't sign them, especially Styles, what would be considered basic pro wrestling television logic doesn't exactly apply here.
Unless TNA is really TNA-ing it up here and not learning from past mistakes, it looks like they're making re-signing Angle a priority. There's also Jeff Jarrett's new Global Force promotion, too, so the Pittsburgh native probably has some leverage in negotiations even if it's true that Vince McMahon is keeping WWE away from the bidding for his services.
Unfortunately, the most valuable thing Angle offers right now is his name, as his wrestling comes with the risk of injury or worse that so scares Vince and can make many of his contests hard to watch for his fans.
Stay tuned to find out where Kurt continues his career, but it appears that a return to WWE isn't in the cards.