Kurt Angle vs. Daniel Puder: History of Pro Wrestling Shoots, Pt. 4
Daniel Puder bent Kurt Angle's arm so far backward that if the referee hadn't ended the match, the limb would have snapped.
On the Nov. 4, 2004 episode of SmackDown, Angle had challenged contestants from WWE reality show Tough Enough to best him in the ring. The probable narrative was big, bad Olympian destroys a handful of green upstarts.
Angle steamrolled through his first foe, Chris Nawrocki, breaking his ribs in the process.
Puder refused to be the next victim, to accept that storyline. He proceeded to write his own.
After tussling with Angle for a few moments, Puder gripped Angle's right arm, forced it into an awkward angle and by his own admission, tried to break it.
As reported by Wrestleshark.com (via wrestlinginc.com) Puder said, "I caught him in a key lock, pulled him into a kimura and tried to snap his arm off."
See the match here.
The referee watched as Angle's arm went further and further the wrong way.
He knew he had to do something. Disaster neared. He delivered a hurried three-count despite Puder's shoulders not being fully down on the mat.
Angle hopped up and shouted at his opponent.
He berated Puder who stood face to face with him, unmoving. To no one's surprise, Angle. as pwinsider.com wrote, "was less than happy backstage."
WWE had made Angle look dominant, a master mat-wrestler. What would it have done to his credibility to have some guy the majority of fans didn't know beat him decisively or even worse, shatter his arm?
Puder did his best to turn those few seconds into a name-making opportunity. Despite the noise he made, eventually his notoriety faded.
Who Hurt Kurt?
Puder was an unknown before the incident, and for the most part, he still is.
Having won Tough Enough, Puder earned him himself a WWE contract. It was a contract that Puder had a legitimate gripe over.
Promised as a million-dollar contract, it turned out to be non-guaranteed and the money came in slowly over time.
He only lasted with the company briefly, appearing at Armageddon 2004 and the 2005 Royal Rumble. WWE then gave him the choice of going down to a developmental territory or being released.
His moment of defiance likely wrecked his chances of making it with the company. Would WWE have made that ultimatum had he not done what he did on SmackDown?
WWE and pro wrestling in general is a business where performers must trust each other with their bodies, must protect each other.
The fact that Puder showed up Angle, coupled with his lack of remorse for the incident made him less valuable than the sum of his talents.
Paul Heyman was big on Puder. He told Irvin Muchnick of Slam! Sports, "Daniel is 6-3. Great genetics, great look, good athletic ability, kicks like a mule."
Despite all those attributes, Puder remains a WWE footnote.
How differently would his career have looked had he not tried to turn Kurt Angle's arm into the Thanksgiving wishbone?
After the 15 Minutes
After WWE released Puder in 2005, he wrestled briefly for both Ring of Honor and New Japan before entering the world of MMA.
Even when he left pro wrestling, when WWE should have been a blip in his rear-view, he clung to his moment of "triumph" against Angle.
He had "I Hurt Kurt" shirts made and wore them proudly. In interviews, he insulted Angle.
In the Wrestleshark.com article mentioned above, Puder called him a wimp. He went on to say, "I knew I had trained with guys that are as good as him. I wasn't really scared of him."
When speaking with Cindy Omatsu of Grappletv.com, he said that Angle "was a done amateur wrestler" when the locked up.
So many of Puder’s interviews after the incident have been Angle-centered. Angle on the other hand, has said very little about it.
Puder went undefeated in his MMA career. He amassed eight wins, three by submission.
For WWE fans he'll most remembered for the submission he would have had on Angle had a quick-thinking referee not intervened. Or perhaps, they won't remember him at all.
Had WWE turned the real-life tension between Puder and Angle into a storyline or had Angle accepted an MMA fight with Puder, their incident would have been the catalyst for something far more memorable.
As it stands, the Angle vs. Puder shoot remains an odd moment in time, a man trying to force the spotlight onto himself, only able to hold it there briefly.
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