The sounds of body slams and steel chairs will soon fill the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex as Impact Wrestling will present Total Nonstop Action Wrestling live on Thursday.
Along with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Sting and the familiar faces of professional wrestling, TNA is also bringing one of Pittsburgh’s favorite sons along for the ride.
Kurt Angle, Olympic gold-medalist, professional wrestling veteran and western Pennsylvania native, will bring his talents to the ring in what he guarantees “will be a great show.”
“Being from around here, I’m not just a Pittsburgh boy, I’m a western Pennsylvania boy,” Angle said in a phone interview. “This is my homecoming. I’m really excited about the show.”
A Mount Lebanon High School and Clarion University of Pennsylvania graduate, Angle expressed how great it felt to be in a familiar area.
“It’s really cool. I get the same feeling anytime I come around here,” he said. “It’s good to be back and know that the fans are going to be cheering me. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope we get a great response and get a lot of people there.”
Angle explained that he has spent the last two months on the road, and it has taken its toll. Despite having appearances in Pittsburgh, Indiana and eventually Erie, work consumes a majority of his time.
“Life on the road sucks,” he confessed. “Even when I’m home, I’m not home. I’m in Pittsburgh, but I’m not in Pittsburgh.”
Angle couldn’t go into too much detail on what fans can expect from him or the show on Thursday, just that fans should expect to see a great show.
“I used to have a little more creative say,” he laughed, “but now I just do whatever I’m told and hope the company does the right thing.”
Angle took touched on some of his career highlights, indicating that he does take things a little slower now that his career has advanced so far.
“I’m a better wrestler than I’ve ever been, but I can’t do the 250-300 days a year anymore,” he said. “It’s good that if I’m utilized properly and not overworked, as long as I have that, I’ve got longevity. I can go a lot longer with this type of schedule.”
He said he typically wrestles closer to 80 to 100 days a year now, an average of seven to eight days a month. In his off time, he keeps busy with growing careers in nutrition and film. Angle is the spokesman for BarnDad nutrition and endorses his own line of high protein, high fiber pizzas through Angle Foods.
Angle’s film career is also steadily growing. He can be seen in such Hollywood blockbusters as “Warrior” with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton and the upcoming Michael Bay flick “Pain and Gain” with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Angle’s former WWE co-star.
“‘Pain and Gain,’ I had a little part, but it was fun to have a fight scene with Dwayne,” he said. “It’s been a while since he and I locked horns, so it was a lot of fun.”
Angle explained the significant difference between performing before a crowd of wrestling fans and performing before a movie camera.
“It’s different cutting a promo for thousands of fans where you only have one shot and that’s it,” he said. “I can’t say which one’s more difficult, but it comes down to when you’re doing movies, you can always do a second take, third take, fourth and so on.”
Angle recently became involved in the bid to save wrestling in the Olympics. In February, the International Olympic Committee voted to drop wrestling from its schedule for the 2020 games. Angle explained that the then-current president of FILA, the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, wasn’t present at the meeting to defend wrestling’s place in the tradition of the Olympics.
“We dropped the ball,” he said, “but I think FILA realized it. We hired a new president, and he’s meeting with the president of IOC next month. So in September, God-willing, they’ll add wrestling back in.
“I believe they will, but it just shows you have to keep your eyes peeled all the time. You can’t rely on them having a big meeting like that and no one showing up and standing up for your sport — especially a sport like us. It’s such a tradition. You’ve got over 100 countries that participated.”
Angle does believe, however, that some changes must be made to the sport in order to keep viewers tuned in.
“We need to simplify the sport,” he said. “It seems every two to four years they change the rules. So when the average person at home is watching the Olympics and doesn’t understand the rules, they won’t watch.
“I believe we need to go back and simplify everything and keep it the same way so that everyone understands it who watches it.”
Angle closed by remarking how he’s looking forward to Thursday’s show and the fans’ response to it.
“I want to make sure this is a very successful venture for both the fans and Impact Wrestling,” he said. “I’m really excited and I hope everyone in Indiana comes to see Impact Wrestling. And if they do, we’re going to be back soon.”