By Brad Carroll
Over my years as a newspaper sports writer and editor, I've had the opportunity to interview some big names in the world of sports, and some of my most enjoyable and favorite interviews have come from the world of professional wrestling.
So, with WrestleMania 33 just days away, I thought it would be a good idea to look back on those interviews and let our loyal readers have a peak inside the world of professional wrestling from some of the biggest names ever. We're talking guys like Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, Jerry Lawler, Christian and Jimmy Hart.
We'll break it down into seven parts, each focusing on some interesting tidbits to come out of each interview subject, which for many was exclusives for the time.
Part 2: Kurt Angle
This was one interview I had to work for, as Angle looked as if he wanted to book it from the arena after his appearance instead of talking with me. But after he agreed to an interview, he couldn't have been more accommodating and forthcoming, including speaking about his use of painkillers for one of if not the first times ever on record. This was one interview that blew up nationwide at the time.
Here are some of the interview highlights:
Kurt Angle, a former Olympic gold medalist who left the WWE for TNA recently, said he fed off the enthusiasm of the crowd.
"I'd rather wrestle in front of those 1,500 fans, which had the charisma and created a hostile environment, than 32,000 people that don't do anything. The fans make the show and they make the wrestler. Wrestlers have to listen to the fans. That's the difference between a good wrestler and a not so good one."
One of the most popular wrestlers in the world, Angle injured his neck while in the WWE and later became addicted to painkillers, he said. He points to that problem, as well as his desire to perform despite the pain, as reason why he may be more popular now than ever before.
"I am human," Angle said. "I was addicted to painkillers because I had some serious issues with my neck. I think they appreciate someone who will go out there and perform even though he might kill himself."
The crowd's reaction was not lost on the master of the ankle lock.
"It is really special," Angle said. "I am very fortunate."
A year after interviewing Angle, who will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Friday, two more all-time greats shared their stories, starting with Jerry "The King" Lawler.