On Smackdown in 2006, Kurt Angle broke Randy Orton’s ankle with his deadly “Angle Lock” submission. He twisted the young stars foot so much that snapped in his hand, keeping Orton out for months and making Angle look like an absolute murderer in the ring.
However, within the year he would be out of the WWE completely and Orton would be fully healed and on top of the company as the WWE Champion. So what really happened? Why did Kurt Angle break Randy Orton’s ankle and was was the real story behind writing him off TV this way?
Kurt Angle Broke Randy Orton’s Ankle
The pair were known friends behind the scenes, despite their battles inside the ring. They feuded over the World Heavyweight Championship in 2006 as they battled each other at Wrestlemania 22, in a match ultimately won by Rey Mysterio. It was a huge match and helped raise Orton’s star power in the company, although he would sabotage his reputation backstage, leading to his ankle being broken.
Well, it wasn’t really broken. This is pro-wrestling after all. Kurt Angle is a model professional and in winning the gold medal in amateur wrestling proved his dedication and discipline. Even if he did have a problem with Orton (he didn’t) then he still would have not taken liberties and injured him on purpose.
WWE did present Kurt Angle as breaking Randy Orton’s ankle on the 14 April, 2006 episode of Smackdown. After winning the match between the pair, the Olympic Gold Medallist refused to release the hold until he heard the crack of ankle bone from The Legend Killer.
This was done to write Randy Orton of TV. The former World Champion had failed another drug test, the second of his WWE career. The first time he had been sentence to a 30 day suspension, with this next offence earning him a 60 day suspension, without pay. Even before Chris Benoit’s death WWE took a serious stance to failed drugs testing, mainly due to the steroid trial scandal of the 1990s.
Randy Orton had to be written off Smackdown for his suspension. Fans would know what was up if he was just removed without any fanfare and it would have drawn even more attention to his indiscretions. He served his time off and was back after 60 days, but still struggled with his demons. It was a further year until he was back at his best and raring to go in the WWE.
Speaking with Steve Austin on The Broken Skull Sessions, Randy Orton revealed he got into even worse things during his suspension and needed even more help than before he began.
That 60 days happened for reasons. During that 60 days, I did some other shit that landed me a spot where I needed some help. I got the help, I came back, and I still wasn’t right. About a year, in the middle of 2007 where I was working with Edge and I think [John] Cena, where I came out of that funk and luckily everything was alright,”
“I attended an anger management clinic in Atlanta. It cost $15,000 for a four-week stay. I had to live down there on the campus. The first week I was there, I was like, OK, I’ll do what I have to do to get out of here.” But then I started to realize, wow, I was wrong in a lot of these situations. I just got this reputation of being hard to work with, being a dick, and everything in the book. But the truth is, I don’t flip out anymore.”
Kurt Angle has also recently spoken about breaking The Legend Killer’s ankle. Talking on an episode of the Kurt Angle Show, the former WWE Champion confirmed the “ankle breaking” spot was to write Orton off TV for his suspension and to start a big push for Angle and to make him “look like a monster”.
“I mean, Randy was getting suspended; he needed a storyline to take him out. And you know the injury thing worked, so it made me look like an animal, like a monster, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted a push and you know that’s what the company gave me. I think they were trying to keep me happy at the time.”
However, Kurt Angle would also have his own demons and leave the company soon after. He was drafted to ECW after his feud with Orton, where he would challenge Rob Van Dam (unsuccessfully) for the ECW Championship. His pain pill addiction became too much however and he was working hurt so much that he asked Vince McMahon for his release in mid 2006. Initially rejected, Angle said if he kept wrestling for the WWE he’d be dead soon, which convinced McMahon to let him go.
He would return to the company a decade later, being revealed as Jason Jordan’s father.
Randy Orton and Kurt Angle remain friends to this day and didn’t let the ankle-breaking angle come between them.