Kurt Angle is a professional wrestler but he plays the ultimate MMA fighter in Warrior. Koba (Angle) is the reigning champion who enters a tournament that gives everyday fighters a chance. Angle continues to support the film be making time for an interview while he’s prepping for this weekend’s Impact Wresteling pay per view.
CraveOnline: Are you getting ready for a match today?
Kurt Angle: I do have a pay per view this Sunday called No Surrender which is for the world heavyweight title. I am now the champion of Impact wrestling so I am preparing for that match.
CraveOnline: But there’s not a road show tonight?
Kurt Angle: No, I’m actually going to be at the Warrior premiere, the red carpet tonight.
CraveOnline: Of course it’s Koba in the movie, but are you worried that people will think any schoolteacher with training can take you?
Kurt Angle: [Laughs] That’s good. That’s kind of funny you say that. Obviously you saw it and that was very sarcastic of course. I did love the flavor of it that they did have a guy that was a wrestler, that fought a little bit, he went to college and graduated, became a teacher. You know how teachers are, it’s hard to make a good buck teaching so a lot of teachers do other things on the side. He had to get by by fighting and I thought that was a really good twist.
CraveOnline: Do you think Koba could’ve taken Tommy?
Kurt Angle: [Laughs] You know what, I thought they both did a fantastic job, Joel [Edgerton] and Tom [Hardy]. They played their parts so well. I was really impressed by their acting skills and their fighting skills. I thought Tommy was a lot more aggressive than Joel but Joel played his part perfectly. He was a defensive fighter that went by submissions and Tommy was more of a brutal knockout guy. I believe that was meant to be in the writing, in the directing and the producing. I believe that’s what they intended on. Koba was just an all around overall mauler. He just killed people so the characters that were mixed were really good. I thought they were very true to the characters they played.
CraveOnline: Tommy was just an animal.
Kurt Angle: Yeah, he was. Very aggressive, he really displayed his anger on screen. He displayed that in the octagon as being an abused child. That was very true to the movie.
CraveOnline: Did you do any special training to make your body or style more like MMA?
Kurt Angle: Yes, I did. We had a two and a half month training camp. It was mandatory. Both Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy had to do it. I had to do it. Even the UFC and MMA fighters had to do it, and all the stunt guys who played the doubles for Tom and Joel. It was a good time of camaraderie. We practiced our moves, we did everything to make it really true to the sport of MMA and I thought the movie really proved itself as far as very realistic to the sport of MMA.
CraveOnline: Of course wrestling is a performance sport, so what was your adaptation to doing moves for a movie camera?
Kurt Angle: I told them because they were a little concerned for my wrestling schedule. They loved my look. They loved that I could do the part, thank God. But what they were concerned about is we’re not going to have you all the time, how are you going to learn these moves? I said, “You don’t realize who I am and what I do. I’m in professional wrestling which is what I do for a living. I coordinate stunts. I memorize them. Whatever you teach these guys in 30 days, I can learn in one day.” The director and producer, Gavin and Greg O’Connor said, “So you can guarantee us you can learn everything in one day.” I said yes, I can and fortunately I did. That’s when they said, “Okay, you’ve got the part.”
CraveOnline: Is that like 10,000 hours of training makes you a master? Once you know the basics you can learn that quickly?
Kurt Angle: Well, I trained for five months because I was ready to make the transition from pro wrestler to MMA. I was going to go to UFC so I did five months of training, learned a lot of striking techniques, learned how to perfect myself, learned some jujitsu, submission wrestling. So I added that to my repertoire of my Olympic training of wrestling. When I got in I was pretty much a natural when I did the movie. I was prepared for it because of the training I had prior to that.
CraveOnline: How did Olympic wrestling, WWE wrestling and TNA wrestling influence each other?
Kurt Angle: Well, they’re complete opposites. Amateur wrestling, you can go by instinct. Pro wrestling you have to memorize and you have to go by what moves you said you were going to do. Sometimes you have to feel the crowd and do the moves at the right time and know the timing and tell a good story. They’re two completely different things but both of them helped me in the movie. One, as a fighter, you go by instinct regardless of whether you’re going over the moves or not. Two, you have to memorize your moves so that you don’t miss anything as far as the choreography is. I say that both worlds, thank God, pro wrestling and amateur wrestling helped me dramatically in the film.
CraveOnline: How will it impact your storyline if you maintain the championship at No Surrender, or if there’s a new champion?
Kurt Angle: I expect to win. Our biggest event of the year is Bound for Glory in October. I am wrestling Sting and Mr. Anderson in a triple threat match at No Surrender this Sunday, but if I am to win, at Bound for Glory, whoever wins the Bound for Glory points tournament will be the number one contender for Bound for Glory. I believe the final four is Robert Roode, Bully Ray, Gunner and James Storm. I know that they’re looking for a big star to come out of there and I will wrestle that guy. Hopefully it’ll make him into a household name and a bigger star.
CraveOnline: What has it been like to watch TNA rise?
Kurt Angle: I don’t see the rise as much as everybody else because you’re going at it every day. You’re on the road quite a bit. If you just work hard at it, little by little, worldwide we’re doing phenomenally. In the United States we’ve done fairly well. We still have a lot of room to grow and God willing we get it. WWE’s a monster and they’re a great company. They really know how to market. It’s just about learning. The company’s only a little over nine years old and they’ve already got I believe 82 TV deals worldwide. That’s unheard of for a nine-year-old company. Internationally we’re doing phenomenally. We’re actually beating WWE in most countries in ratings. It’s just here, WWE’s a little bit more of a fan favorite, but they do watch both. It’s just a matter of time before we start competing against them but it’s going to take a little more time.
CraveOnline: Do you see a lot of room to still grow?
Kurt Angle: Oh, without a doubt. Signing Hulk Hogan last year and Eric Bischoff. They’re great additions as far as teaching the young talent. We’re in the right direction, thank God. A lot of people still love to see Hulk Hogan whether he wrestles or not. He’s just a big name and they’re loyal followers. There’s a lot of young talent, homegrown talent at TNA that are coming up who are going to be the future of the company. Myself and Sting and Ric Flair will only be there so long and somebody else has to step up and carry the company, guys like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Robert Roode and James Storm. So there are a lot of young talent that are going to take our place. That’s the way wrestling goes. It happens in the WWE, it’ll happen in Impact wrestling too.
CraveOnline: How closely do you follow MMA?
Kurt Angle: I love MMA. I haven’t watched a lot of fights lately because I’ve had so many things going on with movies and my Angle Food company and from professional wrestling and a lot of things I can’t really say right now. I haven’t seen a lot of the fights. The last fight I saw was Brock’s fight when he got knocked out, which I was very disappointed but I am a big fan. I’m going to start watching again. I just haven’t had the time to really get into it.
Crave Online: What other movies are we going to see you in?
Kurt Angle: I did a movie with Catch 22 called Beyond the Mat. It’s supposed to come out early next year. I’ve been doing a lot of reads for movies. I got a couple parts but they’ve been on hold due to obviously investors coming in, pulling out, going back in. Right now is a great time for movies, thank God, but at the same time a lot of investors get a little bit shaky. They look at things, they look at the economy and sometimes they’re in it for the long haul, sometimes they’re like, “Wait a minute, maybe I shouldn’t do it right now.” So some movies have been put on hold but it’s just a matter of time before I do them.
CraveOnline: Is Hollywood more receptive to looking at talent from the wrestling world?
Kurt Angle: They’re starting to and I think it has a lot to do with the MMA world. The cool thing about pro wrestling is we do a lot more acting as far as characters in general than MMA. I know a lot of people like the MMA fighters because they like the rugged look. They want the fighter’s name. They love the way the fighters look but in pro wrestling, they look like the fighters and they obviously know how to talk and they know how to play characters. I think it’s a better pick, but obviously Randy Couture’s had a lot of success in movies and I give him a lot of credit. He’s done really well but I think pro wrestlers have a little bit more talent.
CraveOnline: I always say wrestlers are the best interviews because you’re professional public speakers.
Kurt Angle: We have to be because we do it all year long. That is our job, especially when you make it to an elite level. You have to know what you’re talking about. You have to appease to the general population. It’s up to us to get the fans to watch and know what’s going on in our sport.
CraveOnline: And all the way up to the 10-20,000 seat arenas.
Kurt Angle: Without a doubt. I’m hoping that comes really soon for TNA. We just did a TV in Huntsville, Alabama and it felt like the WWE for the first time in a long time because we do a lot of our tapings in Orlando and that crowd gets to be a little stale. We’re starting to do TVs in different cities like the WWE does and it was a lot of fun. It was a really fresh crowd, a lot of people there so God willing we keep doing it and Spike TV and Impact wrestling keep doing what we’re doing.
CraveOnline: Is Beyond the Mat based on the documentary?
Kurt Angle: No, it isn’t. It’s a movie that has kind of a Karate Kid and Friday Night Lights feel. It was only a few million dollar budget but man, they really did an awesome job. I loved playing the wrestling coach. I got to be the guy like the Karate Kid, the sensei that told the kid to take the knee out. I played that kind of coach. They wanted a coach to coach the kid to see why he was such a bad seed. He was a really cruel kid and it was because of the coach.
CraveOnline: Does that go back to your Olympic wrestling days, the old school style?
Kurt Angle: Yeah, it was fun. The cool thing is I got to cheer my wrestler on and I knew what I was talking about. He’s attacking the guy with double legs and single legs, throwing the legs in and turning the guy. It was just natural for me. It was funny because the lead actors were like, “You’re stealing the show, Kurt.” And I said, “Well, I’m just doing what I would normally do as a coach.” It was just fun. Warrior, I just hope everybody comes out to see it this weekend.