Stone Cold Steve Austin Interview Transcript

Steve Austin interviewThe following interview with WWE Hall of Fame wrestler and former WWE champion Stone Cold Steve Austin! The interview was taped October 03, 2003. This interview was previously broadcast on Pro Wrestling Radio.

Eric Gargiulo: Was it hard to open up about your relationships for millions of readers to read?

Steve Austin: (laughs) I have been asked that quite a few times because I think many people, especially in the business you know, know that I live a pretty private life. When I was first approached to do a book four, five years ago I said, “No.” After I took my hiatus from the company Jim Ross asked me if I felt like doing a book now and I felt that we had a little bit more to talk about, there was a lot of stuff that needed to be covered just for my fans’ perspective, and I felt like communicating with them and it is not something you can openly do on a Monday Night Raw. I decided to go ahead and tell the story. Through it all as far as the relationships went, no I did not have any problem with it all. One of the things I found out most writing the book was that it was therapeutic. You get a lot of stuff off of your chest that you have all bottled up inside of you. I enjoyed doing it to tell you the truth.

Eric: Talk about what you wrote about wrestlers today, “cheapening the fans,” in your book.

Steve: Well, you know we came out of the closet so to speak as far as wrestling goes several years ago. We said, “Ok we are not a sport, we’re not wrestling, we are sports entertainment.” Everybody knows what pro wrestling is now. Back in the old days it was protected, even when I broke in back in 1989 I did not even know if it was real or fake. Just right when I thought it was real it turned into entertainment and right when I thought it was entertainment it turned real. That is a deal where you have guys going out there and they are in the back setting up a match with all of this elaborate stuff going in, you know back in the old days when a champion would come into a new territory, he’d have the belt and they would just go out there in the ring, they knew the finish, and that was all they knew. The thing about it is you are going out there and say you have 15,000 people in an arena. You do something to your opponent or a series of moves to your opponent to elicit response. Based on that response you form your next decision on what to do next, and then from then on, and it just follows like that. It is one thing for me to sit here and say that, but when you are out there working a crowd, and it is not like you can just sit there and take all whole day to think about what you are going to do, it has got to happen now, now now, and you are thinking several moves ahead. Classic example of a great worker who could go out there every night with anybody in the world would be, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. These days if you watch some matches they move so fast, and I hate to be real critical of the business because I still love it. But matches move so fast, and they are so technical, and they are so advanced, that there is no way that a human being could come up with all of that stuff in the ring. You’d see his mouth moving every two seconds and the other guy would be going, “What, what what,” because there is no way you could understand all of the stuff that happens in a match these days. It is a different system, but wrestling is still big, I think it is a little bit of a down time right now, the business always goes in cycles, but also we are just looking for the next guy to come down the pike like I did, like Rock did, or like Hogan did, or Flair, and not really saying, “I’m next,” but there is just no denying him, you have got to run with him. You have to understand also that most of these kids coming in these days do not have any experience. When I got hot I had already been in the business seven or eight years, I just never had an opportunity, but when I came in with WWE I got an opportunity. They are trying to depend on guys, who have literally no time in the ring, and the crowds these days are so tough, and so educated to everything, just not any green rookie can fly.

Eric: Has generation gap been hard for over the last few years working with guys that were taught differently from your era? For example, when a new guy off of the independents comes to WWE?

Steve: When I went out of the business for my year with the neck surgery prior to that, when I went to the ring I had a skeleton. One of my classic matches of all time, and one of my favorite guys to work with is Bret “The Hit Man” Hart. The match we had at Wrestlemania XIII in Chicago, IL when I passed out with the blood. That was a deal where I was sitting on my couch at the house with a busted knee and I am watching Monday Night Raw, and I am hearing Vince McMahon saying, “Yeah, at Wrestlemania XIII in a Submissions Match, Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin.” And I am thinking, “What the hell! I ‘m not a submission wrestle, and I am in this match?” And we went out there and we talked briefly and we had a skeleton of a match. We had a start, mid point like a heat point, one other spot, and pretty much the go home, that was it. We thought that we were going to stink the joint out, and we went out there and tore the place down. I guess in some of those deals it was called, “Match Of The Year,” it was one of my favorite matches of my life, you know? After my neck surgery coming back I started relying on what a lot of guys do now, as far as kind of stringing things together because when I came back off after a year’s absence I was so worried and insecure that the people would not take me back, I was going to rely on a formula, like a hypothesis, because I had been there so many times in my career, and just through things together and memorize them, and because of the cobwebs in my brain, I could not think about them, because I have been out of the ring so long. So, you know guys come in these days and they do not even learn how to work. They learn a series of moves and then everything else is talking about it and thinking about it, and you know before the shows it is a little haywire when you see all of these guys just doing motions in the air and talking to each other, telling the other guy to, “Come on,” like that is going to be a part of a match, it is ok and you see right through it. If you are going to do that at least make it real or believe it is real, you know what I am saying. God, I get all excited about it. Sorry about that.

Eric: I comment on his passion for the business, and the chapter, which outlines what he, would do to change things.

Steve: Well, you know I pitch in my ideas but the system being what it is, it is not my company. On the one hand I think Vince would probably love to do that, but I do not think we have the luxury to do that, or the time to do that (referring to his ideas in his book). The system is what it is, they have the two shows, the Monday and Thursday show, Raw and Smackdown, you have all of the Saturday shows, I guess it is 6-9 hours of programming a week. It is a haywire system. You know you would just think there would be so many people out there that would be interested in wrestling, or there would be so many wrestlers out there that have such great depth. When they did the brand extension they split the company, even so I can understand the logic behind it after it had been said and done. The bottom line is there just is not a lot of people out there that are material or want to be pro wrestlers. To me it would seem like everyone in life would want to be a pro wrestler. You would think you would have guys coming from everywhere. The territories are gone, so you do not have the training grounds anymore for guys to get real deal experience in a territory working programs, you know heel and babyface, telling stories, so when they come here (WWE) they have already been in the business 4-5 years and they are ready at their prime. Because you remember back in the days when the USWA was around and you had Jake Roberts, your Macho Mans, your Rick Rudes, and they were great regional acts waiting to go national, and boy just Vince gave them a call and there it goes. They came into the company and they could be a champion from right off of the bat, because they had already been around the block a few times and knew what the hell they were doing.

Eric: How important to your career was your Survivor Series 96 match with Bret and was there a lot of pressure going into it?

Steve: No, I did not feel any pressure whatsoever going into that match. I remember I was working with Shawn Michaels when I first came in as, “The Ringmaster.” I was not marquee or headline material, but they just wanted Shawn to have a good match and they knew I was a good mechanic. So I was going around wrestling the Heartbreak Kid. We were in Houston, Texas one night and Bret “The Hitman” Hart watched my match with Shawn. I basically worked a headlock series with him where he would just keep going back to the headlock, and getting it again. After the match, of course Shawn beat me, kicked me in the chin (laughs), after the match is over and I am walking backstage, and Bret goes to me, “Hey man good match. I’ll work with you anytime.” So, I guess he is the one that told the office, “Hey, I can work with Austin.” He kept watching my matches, and I was hand picked by Bret for his comeback, because that was his comeback. Man, it was a blast. I don’t refer to that match a whole lot because I do not think a lot of people just in general don’t remember that match, but if you are a wrestling fan you do remember that match, and I have watched that match just as much as the Wrestlemania XIII match, and some of the other matches that I have had that were my favorites. We put in some time, it was a great story, there was nothing haywire, I just kept staying on Bret, kept staying on him, kept staying on him, I’d say, “Hey,” just to check on his wind. But Bret was Bret. He was methodical, he told a story, and he would get you every single time, and it was a real pleasure to work with him. I remember the Survivor Series match just as much as I remember the other one.

Eric: Rick Steamboat told some great stories on my radio show in the past about working tags with you, Pillman, and Shane Douglas. Do you have any memories of the matches?

Steve: Yeah I do, we would go out there and things would just start happening. It was a deal where Shane Douglas as a babyface, he could sell great. Of course Ricky Steamboat I think in the book it says that Ricky Steamboat was my favorite guy to wrestle of all time. You know Ricky Steamboat was a master of selling; he was a master of everything. Like a Ricky Morton was also a fantastic seller, so was Shane Douglas as a babyface. We’d go out there, Brian and I. The thing about it is we were not sitting around thinking of stuff to do, Brian had a catalog of stuff and I did too, and one of us would start the match and we would just go. Like grab an arm, or headlock, and start going from there. Me and Brian, or the guy standing on the apron watching on the other guy would say, “Ok, I see where Brian wants to go.” Or say, “Well I like that, but let’s do this.” We were just trying to one up each other on a good team-like basis in bringing out the best in those guys. I don’t care how many times I have seen Ricky Steamboat wrestle, he was never tired, he never looked green, all of the years that I watched him from when he first started out, he was always superb. I have never seen him tired, he was one of the best, and it did not matter how long you had been on the road, but you better be ready to work when you are working with Rick Steamboat.

Eric: I recount Rick’s stories on my show about going full throttle with Steve Austin with a broken back.

Steve: I know, when he hurt his back, I think it was a pay per view or whatever, it was just the deal where I had him in the corner, he was on the second turnbuckle, and I just shoved him off. I guess it was just too many landings or just too many whatever. He just kind of hit the wrong thing first. I did not know that he had actually hurt his back that night until later on because we had some other matches. Anyway, Ricky Steamboat is a class act.

Eric: You have been outspoken over your career about Hulk Hogan. Did you think at the time and now that it was a good decision to have brought him back?

Steve: Well, you know when Vince sees fit to bring somebody back for a little boost, a little gas in the tank, or whatever, he brings him back. He is a businessman. So, I think that things happened as they did, the fact that he was going to leave was not like the entire foundation was built on him. Vince is a very smart guy, and I am sure he saw what could potentially happen by bringing him back. But I think Vince probably saw that all in his blue print in his brain before he brought him back. It was an initial boost. I am not going to sit down here and run down Hulk Hogan. He had a great career, and he was very instrumental in the history of wrestling, and has maintained the top position for a long time. Have I seen eye to eye with him all of the time? No. I will say he had a fantastic career.

Eric: I want to wish you all of the success in the world with your book and your health.

Steve: That was great, let’s do it again sometime.

Listen to the Steve Austin interview here on Pro Wrestling Radio.

Check out the WWE – The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE – The Stone Cold Truth DVD

WWE – ‘Cause Stone Cold Said So DVD

WWE – Stone Cold Steve Austin – What? DVD

WWE – Hell Yeah: Stone Cold’s Saga Continues DVD

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