New documentary chronicles wrestler Kurt Angle’s triumphs and trials

a photo of Kurt Angle with lights shining on him with the name "Angle" in a silver font next to him
Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle is the subject of a new documentary.

Mt. Lebanon’s Kurt Angle achieved his Olympic dream in 1996 by winning a gold medal for freestyle wrestling. Shockingly, he reminds us in the documentary ANGLE, he did it with a “broken freaking neck,” one of five major neck injuries suffered over the course of his storied career.

Alex Perry’s independently produced documentary streaming on Peacock is an emotional and eye-opening look at Angle’s triumphs and tragedies. Angle’s life story is told through archival footage, interviews with friends, family members, wrestling legends and by the Olympic champ himself. Perry spent almost 20 hours interviewing Angle over three days. The result is a candid chronicle of Angle’s journey from Mt. Lebanon to Olympic hero to a pro wrestler with attitude.

“I was a huge pro wrestling fan when I was a kid. It spiked when I was 13 and 14 and Kurt was my favorite wrestler in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment),” Perry said. “I found his Olympic story very fascinating, but the second act of his story was fascinating as well,” he added.

Perry and Angle became friends in 2012, while making a comedy video called Olympic Trials with Kurt Angle for the Funny or Die website. In 2016, they began discussing a documentary on Angle’s life. The WWE greenlit the project two years later, purchased the documentary in 2020 and released it on Peacock in 2023. “I just really love Kurt’s story,” Perry said.

Angle has seen his share of tragedy over the years, and wasn’t afraid to bare his soul to Perry. When he was 16, the death of his father in a tragic accident had a profound effect. He opens up to Perry about the murder of his mentor, David Schultz, at the hands of millionaire wrestling enthusiast John du Pont at the Foxcatcher wrestling camp and training facility; his sister’s drug overdose death; and his own descent into painkiller addiction, multiple DUIs and subsequent rehab.

“I started this project knowing he had a lot of pain, but I finished the project completely in awe of the amount of pain he had—physical, mental and emotional,” Perry pointed out.

Born on December 9, 1968, Angle was the youngest of five children. His family’s move from Dormont to Mt. Lebanon had a big impact on him.

“If I never would have moved to Mt. Lebo, I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am today,” he said. “Mt. Lebanon had the reputation of not only being one of the best academic institutions in the USA, but they excelled in sports.”

Filmmaker Alex Perry, pictured here with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
Filmmaker Alex Perry, pictured at right with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has been a professional wrestling fan since childhood. Perry originally worked with Kurt Angle on a short comedy video, and the two began collaborating on the documentary.

The documentary includes footage of him playing football at Mt. Lebanon High School, where he was an All-State linebacker. He also wrestled under the tutelage of legendary coach George Lamprinakos. “Mr. Lamprinakos was the head wrestling coach, and I could not have asked for a better coach than him,” said Angle. After placing first in the 1987 Pennsylvania State Wrestling Championship during his senior year, Angle went on to become a  star at Clarion University and won more than 20 professional championships.

“There was a certain expectation that comes with being a Mt. Lebanon student athlete,” he said. “You’re expected to excel no matter the cost. Everyone was either supportive or competitive but it worked really well for me.”

Overcoming seemingly overwhelming odds throughout his career and in his personal life, Angle is now 12 years sober and a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

But, you don’t have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy the documentary ANGLE. “I believe this documentary really is for everybody. It can inspire someone who’s young to try to reach a height of Kurt’s athletic accomplishment. It can potentially inspire an addict to reach out for help, like Kurt did, after so, so many times he didn’t,” Perry said.


Highlights of Angle’s career at Mt. Lebanon High School. Video courtesy: Alex Perry