On a recent episode of his The Kurt Angle Show, WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle reflected on his first meeting with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as well as their history of neck injuries.
Angle was days away from experimental neck infusion surgery and was absolutely unfit for competition, much less headlining WrestleMania. However, the Olympic Gold Medalist discovered an alternative method to neck surgery through Pittsburgh-based Dr. Hae Dong Jho.
You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:
On first seeing Austin on TV: “ Oh God, 1998, I remember it. Never watched the WWE. I would catch things growing up and I wasn’t really that interested, because I always shied away from it. Because I was in amateur wrestling and a lot of the amateur wrestling community felt it was a slap in the face that pro wrestling was considered above amateur wrestling, which it’s not it’s a completely different career. But, I remember seeing him in 1998. I started watching RAW, and he was the reason I started getting interested. He was my motivation. He’s the guy I wanted to be when I came to WWE. I wanted to be ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. I even had a leather jacket down in Memphis when I was training in Memphis. So, seeing him on TV inspired me to become a pro wrestler.”
On first meeting Austin: “I was doing dark matches for WWE. I was about six months in the training. They had me doing dark matches in mid-1999, and Austin surprisingly came up to me and introduced himself. I’d — he did that because he was impressed with my past accomplishments in sports, and Stone Cold was a division one football player. So, I think he related and he came up he said, ‘Hey Kurt, how you doing? I’m Stone Cold.’ I said ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, you’ve inspired me to be a pro wrestler and I just hope that I’m half as good as you are.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry brother, you will be.’ It was the first time I met him and he actually introduced himself to me. I should have introduced myself to him — that’s what you usually do, but I think that Stone Cold wanted to break the ice with me and introduced himself. I’ll never forget it was in Orlando, Florida.”
On if he was intimated by Austin: “Yes, I think everyone was. He and the Undertaker are the two most intimidating guys I’ve ever met.”
On Austin giving him advice on his neck injury: “Yeah, actually Steve’s the one I went to and he said, ‘Listen, you got to go see I believe it was Dr. Armstrong in Texas.’ So, I went down there and Dr. Armstrong said ‘Listen, we got to fuse three vertebrae.’ I said ‘What does that mean?’ He said ‘Your career’s over.’ If you fuse more than two your career’s over. So, you can’t wrestle anymore. I was like ‘Oh, s***.’ So, now I have to make a decision. Am I going to have neck fusion and retire or am I going to try to do something else. Thank God, for some strange reason this doctor I guess, he saw an article in the paper that I broke my neck and I’m gonna have to have surgery. And he calls my former father-in-law and says, ‘Hey, I know that Kurt broke his neck and he’s having problems, but I think I can fix him.’
“I thought when my ex father-in-law told me that I thought this guy must be a crazy chiropractor. He was Korean and he didn’t speak English very well. I decided to go see him and he saved my career. What he did he wouldn’t do the fusion. He would do quick fixits. So, if you have broken vertebrae he’d let those vertebrae heal and your discs that were sticking into your spinal cord or blocking you nerves from going down your arms if they were bothering you he would cutoff part of the disc that was blocking the nerve and then you’d be fine. But, you wouldn’t have a full disc in between your vertebrae anymore the disc would be a lot smaller. Eventually, your neck’s gonna get worse and worse. So, it was a quick fix. I did three of those already throughout my career by this doctor. It worked extremely well, but here I am with my neck in pain again and I’m gonna have to eventually have fusion.”