Steve Austin interviewed Triple H in a live podcast on the WWE Network following the February 2, 2015 episode of Monday Night Raw. Please find our comprehensive coverage of the interview below...
Stone Cold Steve Austin is back on the WWE Network for a live podcast, this time with WWE COO Triple H. Austin welcomes everyone to the show and lets us know he's going to open up a can of audio whoop ass. Austin introduces Triple H and says the entire month of February on the WWE Network is free. Hunter confirms this and says February is quite a month. This podcast is worth the price of admission alone. There will also be an NXT show this month.
Austin says he's been digging NXT. He's gone through some of the content and he wants to get to it, but he says right now is a discombobulating time. He says he got at least 3,000 e-mails after the Royal Rumble for questions for this podcast. Austin talks about Reigns winning, but the crowd being behind Daniel Bryan. Austin says it's like kayfabe has died. He asks Hunter how to book this in this day and age. Now if the story doesn't go the way people want, people get mad at the writers. Hunter says it's tough. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what's going on, there's a different component of the internet, and the inner workings of the business. As soon as fans identify someone being pushed, there's a vocal minority. Hunter says back in the day, with the exception of a few guys in the upper echelon, there were towns that you went to that were heel towns, who wouldn't like a babyface. The days of people accepting a storyline for a storyline are done. A portion of the audience does, but there's another portion that are smart, and they want to go the opposite direction, or see something else.
Hunter says there are towns that boo Roman out of the building, but then other live events where there's not a single boo. Austin compares Reigns' Rumble win to his own King of the Ring win, noting Hunter was originally slated to win the tournament. When Austin was told he was going to win, he didn't try to say someone else deserved it. Sometimes you put your big boy britches on to go to work. Austin says maybe the finish could have been booked better to make Reigns work more to earn it, and Reigns got the heat for the writing staff. Hunter says the beauty of what makes WWE work, is there's one man making the call, Vince. When you have one guy calling the shots, Hunter says that Royal Rumble was debated and poured over, and there were lots of suggestions. One guy took those, distilled them, and gave us what we got, and that's Vince. No one's perfect, there's a lot of ideas. Vince doesn't always make a good call, but he's got a good track record.
Austin asks if we saw that tonight with Bryan going over Rollins. Vince took the pulse at the Rumble, Austin asks about smart marks, and asks if Vince is reacting. Hunter says you can look at it however you want. The business hasn't changed, a smart booker reacts. Austin and Hunter did it in the ring every night.
Hunter says we can change direction at the drop of the hat, but they can also work with it. Hunter says it's always been that way. If they don't cheer for Hulk Hogan in Minneapolis, Vince doesn't bring them here to make Hulkamania happen, same with Austin. Austin said watching the crowd tonight, both guys got strong reactions. He was in the back and couldn't hear the full reaction. He calls it supply and demand. People went from asking for Roman to asking for Bryan, and Reigns took the resentment for that. Hunter says it's a tough environment, and he feels that way with Cena. There was a really long time when half the crowd was booing Cena, but he was still packing arena, and still ahead of the roster in every area. It didn't matter how many people liked and hated him. It's impossible to find that person everyone will like.
In the Attitude era, they had a tighter demographic. Nowadays, they're catering to a much larger audience across every age group, religion, race, it's hard to find the guy who everyone will like.
Hunter says the worst thing you can do is make someone a good guy. Austin goes back to the Attitude era, telling Hunter he's got a few good years left in him. Austin talks about the sense of urgency in the Attitude era. He talks about this as the reality era, and asks what that means. Hunter says kayfabe's dead. You don't have to go to dirt sheets anymore. It used to be a hard to find thing, and now it's Grantland. Major newspapers have reporters giving the story. The reality is the business now. It crosses over so much you can't deny the behind the scenes. When the company doesn't tell the story well, whether it's the writing or execution, when it's not told well, people don't buy it.
When people know the reality, and you try to write something that goes against that, people don't buy it. The reality era, fans want to say that the people in the back are pushing Reigns, and holding back Daniel Bryan. He says last year, they changed things along the way to WrestleMania, and there were times when Daniel was in the back saying he couldn't succeed, and he needed to be beaten again. Hunter says it's working the work of reality. Hunter says it's like the Terminator timeline, it doesn't make sense.
Austin says Reigns had a good showing tonight, and he shined. The way the finish went down helped him, and he needed that. Hunter agrees and says that's putting your finger on it. The business is like a puzzle. He hears people say Roman isn't ready, but to him, no one's ever ready for that. You think you know what that spot is, and then it's a totally different world when it's on you. You put a whole different world of pressure on yourself. Hunter says once people see what direction you're going, everyone wants to be in your ear and give their suggestion, and very few are qualified. As a talent, you have to find what's meaningful to you, and trust your guts. But when you haven't been doing it long, it's hard to trust your guts, then you get mixed up and start being your own worst enemy.
Austin says it's got to come naturally. He asks about Hunter not being ready to win King of the Ring in 96. Hunter says he would have been, but when the curtain call happened, and when Hunter was taken out and Austin was put into the spot, in hindsight, Hunter can say that Austin was ready, and he wasn't. Hunter says he would have failed and dropped the ball in 96. Hunter says when he got the chance, he was more ready, and had developed much more of the skill to run with that ball.
Austin says he's looking forward to watching the story unfold. Hunter says they're the book that never ends. There's always another chapter. Fans don't know where they're going tomorrow, so they can't knock today. Even when they get to WrestleMania, there's no off season, they get up and do Raw the next day. They couldn't predict Daniel getting injured, they had to react.
Austin says he watched the Triple H documentary King of Kings on the Network. Austin talks about how they met in 92 or 93 and were fast friends. He says when Hunter was 5 years old, he fell in love with the business, and he talks about Hunter studying cameras and monitors. He says Hunter leaves behind a legacy that many would be proud of. He talks about Hunter marrying Stephanie, and asks what his exit strategy would have been. Hunter says if none of the stuff with Steph happened, and he hadn't met her, then trails off and starts talking about something that bothers him when people criticize him for his relationship with Steph, and that he wouldn't have earned what he did in his career. He says Undertaker told him once, 'what do you care, the truth is the truth and none of the people know'. Hunter says he thinks he's still be here behind the scenes, helping people work.
Hunter says when you get into the business, it's so you don't have to have a job, and you can make some money, maybe open a gym. Hunter says he fell in love with creative though, and the process. The cameras, the making of the product, even coming up with guy's entrances. Helping with music, set design, Hunter fell in love with all of that, and Vince saw that and gave Hunter an opportunity to explore that. He remembers being invited to a production meeting, then sitting in a room with Vince and Pat Patterson, and Vince pitching crazy angles, then bouncing ideas back and forth with Pat. Hunter says there's nothing like being in the ring with 15,000 people going crazy, but now, Hunter gets a lot out of going to Florida to NXT and watching the lightbulb going off when he's teaching someone something. Hunter thanks Vince for the chance to sink or swim on his own without a net, and says it's been great for him. Sometimes he doesn't ask things of Vince because he wants to prove to himself that he can do it.
Hunter says he thrives on creativity. As far as an exit plan though, no. Hunter says when you retire, passion of what you do with your days, Vince used to say he never worked a day in his life, but he's a workaholic. Vince means that though, he loves it so much, it's not work. He's the same way, when he goes to Florida, you forget to eat, and the whole day goes by because you're so into it.
We get the first Twitter question about the Performance Center vs. the indies. Hunter says it depends on the guy. Guys like Kurt Angle picked things up incredibly fast because he was a phenomenal athlete and had the aptitude for it. Sometimes it's harder to knock the bad habits out of indy guys. Some indy guys are sponges, and some are set in their ways.
Hunter says football's football, but if he's the Patriots, he wants you to run his playbook, regardless of what you might have played in the past. It's not up for debate. At the end of the day, they know what their fans like, and as long as indy guys are open to that, and are willing to do things that way WWE fans love, it'll work. There's a reason WWE is the #1 company in the world.
Austin goes back to NXT, and says they're accomplishing great things. Austin loves the show, the lighting, the organic feel, the wrestling, the promos. It's not always a 20-30 minute promo. Hunter says it's a one hour show. Austin asks how he makes a winner. Hunter says he does what he'd like, and he listens. He also knows the audience. It's on the Network, where you get hardcore fans, younger fans. Hunter tries to script things less, promo wise, and let the talent make their own mistakes. Hunter has the luxury of doing it with a much smaller microscope. In the WWE, there's much more pressure. Down there, it can be looser and more playful.
Hunter talks about the way they shoot the show, and how he had to learn all that. He says when you go to Full Sail, the setup is the same, so when you come to the WWE, it's the same, just scaled up. Austin asks if it's a developmental territory, and Hunter says yeah. Everyone wants to be up here, but at the same time, they've made an alternative brand. Hunter wants to take it out on the road. Some of the guys have done that on the indies.
Hunter brings up Finn Balor, and his history in Japan. Hunter says when they were working on his entrance, Finn was a bit shell shocked, since no one explained things to him in terms of where the cameras are, and how to play to them. Austin brings up coming into the WWE as the Ringmaster, then talks about Hunter coming into the WWE as the Blue Blood, then evolving to what he is now. He asks if the guys in NXT have those opportunities. Hunter says they definitely have it. They're teaching everything now, camera guys, etc. Dusty Rhodes teaches promos, and he's got a feed in his office to the Performance Center. When someone wants to try something new, he's got the chance to check it out. Hunter says he wants people to believe what they're doing, not a bunch of people playing wrestler.
Austin says you have to believe in yourself before throwing it to another Twitter question asking if anyone has the potential to be the next Cena/Hogan/Austin. Hunter says he sees a lot of guys with 'something'. A lot of people have the X factor, but it's what you do with it. You can't be just a promo guy, or a good wrestler, you've got to be a bit of everything. Austin says it's all pieces of the puzzle, and the more pieces, the clearer the picture. There are a lot of guys putting puzzles together, but it's not the best picture in terms of drawing.
Hunter says there's only so far you can lead a talent. Hunter gives Undertaker as an example. It was Vince's concept and creation. You could have given the Taker character to 100 different guys, and they would have died a miserable death. But Mark took a concept, and became that, taking it to something no one would have ever imagined. Even today, it's still the most awesome character there has ever been in the business. That's on Mark. There's only so far you can lead the horse before it has to drink on its own. There are things the guys do well, but when it's getting over the hump, that's on those guys.
Austin says people seem to think Hunter is handing the brass ring to Reigns, or dangling it in front of Bryan. Hunter says everyone here works hard. Hunter met Roman in developmental and he was busting his ass, as hard as anyone else does. This business is not about deserve, or work hard. It's got nothing to do with nice guys. Should the guy on the top work harder than everyone else? Hunter thinks so. Cena is criticized a lot, but he's the first in, last out, hardest worker. But there's no one in the business that's done everything right.
Austin talks about wrestling Triple H in Germany, and a fan attacking him after a match. Hunter suplexed the guy off of Austin and started calling for security. Austin asks about Chyna, and asks if she'll go in the Hall of Fame. Hunter says she deserves to, but it's a bit of a double sided edge. It's not as easy as 'should this person go into the Hall of Fame'. Chyna changed the business and did something no woman did before, and was a phenomenal talent. Hunter doesn't want to get into any of the other stuff, and there's no beef on his side of things. Hunter says she should be in the Hall of Fame, but it's a bit difficult. When his eight year old kid sees the Hall of Fame, and sees Chyna, then looks her up on the internet, what comes up? He's not criticizing lifestyle choices, or anything, it is what it is, and it's a difficult choice. The Hall of Fame isn't as simple as a legendary career. There are legal reasons, or sometimes people could refuse.
Hunter says he's a big fan of the history of the business, and to go back and get Bruno, and Warrior. Austin says he's mending fences. Hunter says with Bruno, he went to Vince one day and asked. Vince said Bruno should be in, but he'd never agree. Hunter asks if it was ok to call. He talks about Bruno and Vince falling out, and Bruno not agreeing with the direction of the business. Hunter says everyone builds things up in their mind. Vince thought Bruno would never come back, but Hunter worked and worked.
Austin asks if Bruno or Warrior was harder to get. Hunter says it was about earning trust. Bruno was different because he had met him once, then called him cold. At Bruno's age, it was a trust issue. Warrior was different because there was no trust. Hunter says both of them said during the process 'you live, you learn, you grow'. Hunter says he was in a different place in his WrestleMania match. Hunter had a bad personal experience with the guy, at the moment. Hunter got to work his first WrestleMania with the Ultimate Warrior. It was mind boggling and awesome, but Hunter and Warrior had a rough time then. Things were said, and they had to get past that, and a whole lot of stuff between Warrior and Vince, but as Hunter stayed open to the process, he realized Warrior was misunderstood.
Austin says it was a miscommunication, and he's had issues in the past with that as well. Hunter says they got past that. Austin asks if DX or NWO was more influential. Hunter says the NWO at first was massively influential, but the massive impact they had quickly dissipated due to too many guys being added. DX did more things in various incarnations over a longer period of time, and make goofy things serious. DX changed stuff over the course of time more, but the NWO shifted the business.
Austin asks if Hunter could wrestle anyone, who would it be. Hunter immediately says Buddy Rodgers, because he was the first guy to Hunter that transcended. He wasn't just a shooter. He had a look, he was tan, had the hair, talked the talk, walked the walk. Buddy was a guy who could manipulate the crowd. He was larger than life. He was the first character.
Austin wants to go into some word association. Before that, he talks about CM Punk. Hunter says he remembers hearing things about Punk when he was in OVW. Hunter says he didn't even know who Punk was at that time. He hadn't ever seen him. When Punk came to the WWE, somehow the belief that Hunter was trying to bury him carried over. When they got further in, and Punk first did the pipe bomb promo, things were done for the right reasons, but the decisions that were made were Vince's, and they didn't help Punk, and Punk held a grudge. Punk's hard to get to know, he doesn't talk, doesn't communicate well. Hunter would hear from everyone that Punk was livid, and he would ask, and Punk would say nothing's going on. Austin asks if Punk could come back. Hunter says never say never. Bruno's come back, Hogan came back. If the fans want it, and it's in the best interest, but if he didn't have passion for it, he shouldn't be here.
Word association time.
Shawn Michaels, Hunter says greatest in-ring performer. Ric Flair, best all around. Kevin Nash, underrated mind for the business. Scott Hall, one of the people he learned the most from walking into the door. Eddie Guerrero, awesome, so fun, when he could get out of his head, so much fun to watch. Goldberg, someone Hunter credits with changing the intensity of the business, a guy with explosive intensity. Brock Lesnar, freak straight-up. Paul Heyman, rides the line like a razor blade. Owen Hart, one of the nicest and funniest guys Hunter ever knew. Owen was a guy that was so good in the ring, he would go out and have the worst match ever for fun. Austin says when he would do that, it would make him madder than a hornet. Bret Hart, great technician, sometimes may take himself too seriously. Austin says he loves Hart. Undertaker, respect. Kane, underrated and the constant, Kane is always here, always great, always solid. Pat Patterson, genius for the business, one of the guys that when Hunter got here, Pat was the guy who Hunter always though said the smartest things ever. Michael Hayes, underrated for his contributions to the business. Austin talked about seeing the Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs in Dallas when he was in college, and they should be in the Hall of Fame.
Austin asks about pro wrestling vs. sports entertainment. Hunter says he loves wrestling, and at the end of the day, that's what they do. He also understands it's limiting. Anyone can play football, very few make it to the NFL. It's the same with WWE, very few get the distinction of superstar.
Before they wrap up, Austin wants to talk about Lesnar's contract status. Triple H says they're constantly working, but it all comes down to Brock. Hunter's not sure if Brock maybe has some unfinished business. There's a great working relationship. Austin says he'd like to see him more, but he is definitely a special attraction. Hunter says it comes down to Brock.
Austin asks about the streak, should it have remained unbroken. Hunter says he doesn't know. He can see the value of both. It's the home run record that should never be broken, and should last forever. On the other side, for Taker to give it all back, and let someone else benefit, he can see both sides.
Hunter says if you look at Brock, all that storyline stuff didn't happen by accident, and that was part of the plan.
Austin asks about the last play of the Superbowl. Hunter says when you're 'booking the finish' he can see how they were trying to surprise them. It was just poor execution.
Austin says they're wrapping things up, but Hunter says he's got the stroke to get ten more minutes.
Austin asks about promos, and how back in the day he got no notes. Today they're so tight and scripted. People are regurgitating, not saying something they believe in. Hunter says that's a product of time. There are some guys who want to be fully scripted, some who want bullet points, and some who change things into their own words. It's a different era, and they have to be careful with sponsors, and lots of other things to think about. You get into the groove of scripting things, and guys get used to it and it's hard to get out of. That's why he's hands-off in NXT, and he lets them do their thing, then comes in to guide them, so they can get used to the style.
If Hunter could change anything about Monday Night Raw, what would it be? Hunter says he wishes he could go back to two hours, because the third hour is exponentially harder to write. Austin asks if it could ever go back. Hunter says it's a Vince call, and he tries to avoid those meetings. It's just a difficult show to write. Austin asks about changing anything else. Hunter says he wishes they had longer to develop stories.
Hunter says he wishes they could do more slow burn, because the payoff is massive. There's a short attention span today, and everyone wants it now, and some do want to go longer. You can't please everyone. Hunter says he would like to see the women get more time. Austin says he's noticed that in NXT. Hunter says there's a large viewership of females watching, and the Divas are inspiring.
Austin asks about Hunter's last time in the ring. Hunter says it was the match with Evolution, and you'll see him back, but stay tuned. He doesn't want to give anything away.
Austin asks how the training's going. Hunter says it's going great. He's adapted how he trains, but he doesn't have aches and pains. He moves around and plays with his kids, everything's awesome.
Austin wraps things up, and Hunter says he'd like to do this again, but talk less about business, and more about how Austin used to potato him. Austin thanks us for watching, and closes the show.