This past week at SDCC 2011, Jakks and TNA teamed up with the Wounded Warriors project to create a special edition Kurt Angle figure in US camouflage. The figure was designed to raise awareness to the Wounded Warriors’ cause as well as donate all the proceeds to the Wounded Warriors foundation in order to help US Soliders who return home from action with injuries. It was a very personal project for Kurt Angle, who conducted this interview:
Pro wrestler Kurt Angle always has been a warrior. And he’s dealt with his own personal demons from arrests to divorce. But he’s fought through all of this and, now with a new fiancee and the birth of his daughter this spring, he’s in a better place mentally and physically. That’s why he’s taken on “Warrior” as his nickname.
“I think I have a purpose in life and that’s to serve the wrestling fans,” said Angle, who started wrestling at the age of 6. “I love the live events and signing autographs and taking photos. To be honest, that really motivates me to entertain them. Those fans are so grateful.”
And this weekend, TNA Entertainment and JAKKS will announce the Kurt Angle action figure to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project, a charity that helps raise awareness and funds for the needs of injured service members. All the proceeds from the sale of the action figure will go toward the charity.
“I met a soldier who was a pastor who helped me recently through the difficult times in my life,” Angle said. “So I wear to the ring this dog tag he gave me. I’m a very patriotic guy and not just because I was in the Olympics.”
On Friday, Angle is heading to a military base outside San Diego to talk with the troops and watch a screening of his movie “The Warrior”, which is about mixed martial arts. And, this weekend, Angle will be at Comic-Con in San Diego for the trade show highlighting comics, toys, video games and movies. His action figure will be on display.
“Most people still don’t understand how dangerous life in the military is until you head overseas to see it first-hand,” said Angle, who has been to Iraq twice and also Afghanistan. “I have so much respect for the soldiers. I’m so honored to be helping this project.”
This sounds great, right? TNA Wrestling fans were excited for the figure and preorders were already preparing to go underway… Enter WWE’s The Rock. The Rock announced on Twitter back in May that sales of his “Team Bring It” t-shirts would see a portion of the proceeds donated to the Wounded Warriors Project. This week however, things went sour.
Someone in the WWE got word that TNA was also running a promotion with the Wounded Warriors and called up the folks at Wounded Warriors, basically threatening to take away their commitment of proceeds from the Rock’s t-shirts. Wounded Warriors quickly pulled out of their campaign with TNA (after having Jakks produce figures and doing a huge press conference at SDCC 2011) and left TNA and Jakks holding the bag.
Wounded Warriors claims that their mission is to:
1. Raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members.
2. Help injured service members aid and assist each other.
3. Provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.
Apparently that mission statement is only good, so long as rival wrestling promotions don’t offer to donate. Personally I am blown away that WWE would stoop this low and that the Wounded Warriors Project would rather kowtow to politics, than receive donations from both wrestling companies. Shame on the WWE and shame on the Wounded Warriors Project, for putting needless politics and money first, instead of focusing on helping our armed service men and women.
Hopefully Jakks and TNA can find another outlet to release this Kurt Angle figure and find an actual worthwhile charity to accept the donations. Clearly the Wounded Warriors Project is not what it promotes itself to be. If they were, they would have no problems accepting donations from BOTH wrestling promotions.