Welcome to our live coverage of Steve Austin's interview with Vince McMahon. Please find below comprehensive coverage of the "live podcast" from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was broadcast on the WWE Network.
"Stone Cold" Podcast featuring Vince McMahon
Monday, December 1, 2014
Report by Sean Hopkins of WrestlingNewsWorld.com
Steve Austin is shown recording asking fans to give a 'hell yeah' if they're ready for a live interview with Vince McMahon. This transitions into a video package showing some of the highlights of the Austin/McMahon rivalry before heading into the studio where Austin welcomes the fans and Vince McMahon to the show.
Austin asks how the Network is doing right off the bat. Vince says it's doing great. Subscriptions are good, 90% satisfaction level. Austin asks specifically about the UK. Vince says he hopes to have it settled by the 1st of the year, but he doesn't want to say too much too soon.
Austin talks about being asked to debut the Network, and he asks if it'll ultimately meet McMahon's high expectations. McMahon says it'll take a bit of time to build some content and give them exactly what they want, which they're doing right now.
Austin asks how in tune McMahon is with the crowd. McMahon says Pro Wrestling is where his dad came from, and Sports entertainment is about telling a story. Some of the matches don't hit, and Steve knows that. McMahon thought Wyatt and Ambrose looked good tonight, and the six man match was also good.
Austin brings up the three hour length of Raw. McMahon says no one does that, and they've been doing it for many years. They're all over the world, and when you're traveling every week, they do magic with a lot of help and a lot of people behind the scenes. Performers have to be right, whether they're hurt, or haven't had sleep, they have to be at their best.
Austin talks about enjoying his run, but when he watches the show, he wants more wrestling. He understands there's not to many guys and girls, but he thinks the first segment takes too long to build up to the hook. McMahon says you can't have two guys wrestling for wrestling's sake, you have to have guys who are adversaries and that'll make you want to see the outcome.
Austin talks about the change in atmosphere in the locker room, and that there's guys and girls walking on eggshells because there's no other options, Austin even name checks TNA. McMahon says not to piss anyone off. Austin says he pissed a lot of people off. McMahon says they're millenials, and there are a lot who don't want to grab the brass ring. He talks about Wyatt, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns as those who might change that. He says there's not enough laughter and shenanigans as back in Austin's day.
McMahon continues talking about millenials fear of failing, and being exposed. He says he's given everyone opportunities, and things from a social media standpoint. It helps talent, and gives them tools that people like Austin didn't have, and they use it, but not in the way Austin did.
Austin issues a challenge to the WWE Superstars, to go out on a limb. Austin says McMahon needs more depth on the roster, and McMahon agrees. Austin says you have to go on a limb to get over, and Vince agrees.
Austin says he always gets questions about getting to the top and getting into the business. McMahon says he's looking for someone with charisma and innate skills. Someone who learns every day. Verbal skills, physical skills, and a passion for the business. Then you give them the tools, you build, and you've got a star.
Austin talks about watching matches backstage at Madison Square Garden, and Austin hearing a good pop, and McMahon saying that he hoped the guy gets over. Austin said a lightbulb went off, and he figured that you couldn't make someone over, but you have to bring something. McMahon says the audience makes a star. If they don't believe, it won't happen.
Austin asks where Cesaro isn't connecting. McMahon says not quite with the charisma or verbal skills, and he's not sure about the Swiss style. Cesaro needs to be able to project his presence. He's got a great physical presence, but lacks 'it'. Austin says he likes Cesaro after the split with Swagger, and the pairing with Heyman. He says he may have gotten lost in the shuffle because of lost momentum. He asks what he can do to further his cause. McMahon says he's not so certain, but he's not giving up. He's a great in ring talent, and there's something missing, and he can't put his finger on when to go to the dance.
Austin brings up the writing staff, then brings up the old days when Vince and Pat Patterson would sit around Vince's pool and book the territory. He asks how it's gotten so complicated. When he left, there were a couple of writers. Vince says it's grown by leaps and bounds, and it's a different company today, so having a bunch of writers is crucial. It's not a one man show. It's grown into an extraordinary organization and he can't do it all. Vince worked Pat to the bone, as he does with everyone, himself first. Vince says they'd work for hours, until someone would come along, and they'd push them in the pool. Nick Bockwinkle, Dusty Rhodes. Vince talks about the look on people's faces when they get tossed into the pool, and how it's one of the funniest things in the world.
Vince says the business is about fun, and you have to have fun, making fun. Austin talks about Shane McMahon pushing Vince into the pool, Vince dropping some four letter words, and the water beginning to boil. Vince says he couldn't wait to get his hands on Shane, but he was able to get away.
Austin asks about Shane. Vince says he's busy, and enjoying his family. Leaving WWE was a mutual decision, and family doesn't always get along all the time, and it's difficult in business. He talks about working with Linda as well. He tries to do what's right for business in the end.
Austin asks if Vince wanted Shane and Stephanie to work in the business. Vince says he wanted them to do what they wanted to do. He talks about them working growing up, and Shane working in a warehouse. Shane asked for a raise, and Vince told him if he could do better, go someplace else. Shane left and got a job making double the money.
Austin talks about Vince getting into the business when his dad was held up by an announcer for a raise. Vince talks about loving to be around his dad, asking him a lot of questions, and being a good listener. He wasn't always privy for talks with talent, but he was this night. The announcer wanted a raise, and he said to Vince's dad that he wouldn't go out unless he was given what he wanted. Vince Sr. said he wouldn't give him the raise, and the announcer left. Vince was sitting in the cloak room and he was excited to hear, and proud of his dad. A couple of minutes later, Vince asked what his dad would do. Vince Sr. looked at Jr. and said he'd be the announcer, and he'd do a good job. He said he'd give him someone to help, and that way if he asks a question, it'll be entertaining.
The first person they gave Vince was Arnold Skoland, who would answer everything with 'yep' or 'nope'. Vince went back and asked for someone else to help. Patterson helped, Antonio Rocca was also difficult to understand. Vince talks about having fun and playing ribs.
Austin asks if Vince would like to talk about Punk. Vince says he'd like to apologize. Sometimes talent relations don't talk to legal, and he apologizes for Punk getting release papers on his wedding day. A lot of talents have been disgruntled, and he thinks Punk may regret what he said someday, but he hopes they'll be able to get together again. Austin, Hogan, Warrior, and Vince all made up. Vince tries to take his ego and put it aside, and really think about what's best for business. He's hoping they'll get back together. Austin asks if Vince listened to the podcast. Vince says he didn't, and he doesn't want to speak for Punk. Vince says there's always two sides to every story.
Austin talks about being in a similar position, being burned out, wrestling Ric Flair in a cage in Georgia, and Jim Ross told him he'd be doing the honors for Brock Lesnar. Austin talks about being impressed by Lesnar, but unhappy to do the job with no build. He says he's a pretty hard to find guy. Vince says hard to work with too. Austin asks how hard. Vince says sometimes it was so tough, it'd be not to be believed. Sometimes he'd argue the creative so hard. Austin says sometimes he'd just not have an alternative and say 'no' because he was a horse's ass. Vince says usually after some digging, they'd come up with something, it'd just take some work.
Austin talks about being burned out when he was asked to do the job to Lesnar, and Austin walking out. Austin talks about calling Vince at 2 in the morning to talk about the storyline. Austin says no-showing was the worst decision of his life. He says he was watching the Austin vs. McMahon DVD and it reminded him of so much. McMahon asks if he was the best athlete he was ever in the ring with. Austin says it was off the charts. Austin talks about being mad in the past, and not returning phone calls. He talks about getting a card from JR and how that sparked him calling JR, and leading to a meeting with Vince in a high-rise hotel in Houston. Austin talks about being the first guy in the room, joking that he thought it was a hit, but they got everything settled. He credits that to JR.
Austin asks if there's someone to bridge the gap like that with Punk. Vince says there was, but Punk is a bit of a loner. Vince thinks if there was someone like JR, they'd be able to work it out, and once you get attorneys involved, it goes to hell in a handbasket. Austin talks about being out of work, and Vince threatening to fine him $650,000. Austin talks about how unreasonable it was, and how he talked Vince down to $250,000. Austin asks if he'd get away with $125,000. Vince says he couldn't say.
Vince says when you walk out, it's not just on the job, it's on the company and fans. You have to try and do something to avoid that in the future and keep the inmates from running the asylum. Austin talks about coming back and letting the guys in the back down. Vince says Austin deserved the fine, jokingly.
Vince talks about Austin's relations with talents, and that he was a bit more open with talent that Punk. Austin's a loner, and Vince is sometimes too. He says he's introverted and shy. You won't see it in front of 10,000 people, but at a party, or with 6 or 7 people, it's bad. During his wife's senate run, he was very uncomfortable and would usually be hanging out with the bartender. Vince says he'd rather be invisible than be with a small group of people.
Austin says when he was making his rounds, he talked with Undertaker. He remembers being at WM30, watching the match with two beers in his hands, and the Undertaker losing. Austin couldn't believe his eyes. How, when, and why was the decision made.
Vince says no one wants to give back to the business more than the Undertaker, Mark Calloway. He says there comes a time to do that, and who else at that time could Undertaker possibly work with, and give back to make a star. There was no one on the roster the year before, and it was timing. The person Mark thought was Lesnar. Austin calls BS and says Vince made the decision, and Vince says of course he did. Vince says Taker loves to give back though, and it was a shock to everyone, but that was on him. Those decisions aren't easy to make, but that's his job, and he thinks he made the right call at the right time. Brock Lesnar couldn't be any hotter than he will be going into next year's Mania, reminding fans about beating the streak.
Austin asks why Brock's not on television more. Vince says you wouldn't want it, and he's a special attraction. He talks about Jake the Snake being special in the beginning, but not so much after he was on TV week after week. Also, Brock's got a contract with a certain amount of dates. Vince says that the show isn't just about the title. It helps sometimes, but it's not just about that. Also, how many people can Brock beat up.
And, it can't be about one match at WrestleMania, it's about lots of matches, and you have to appeal to different segments to draw.
Austin asks if we'll ever see Macho Man in the Hall of Fame, Vince says absolutely. He's not sure if it'll be this year, but it'll be soon. Austin confirms that it's a 'yes', and he stares down Vince for a bit.
Austin brings up Sting, and being at battle with WWE before asking what his role will be. Austin says he loved his piece of business with Triple H. Vince says we'll see some of Sting, but he can't be seen too much. He might show up at Mania though.
Vince says it's about contracts, and it can't be as magical as it was with Steve. It's a different time now. You have to change with the times, and they're doing that.
Austin brings up the Monday Night Wars and says it was everything but the kitchen sink. Austin talks about the infamous phone call with Ted Turner, the 'sports entertainment' phone call. Austin says after two years, they won. He asks if it was the mission to put them out of business. Vince says Ted's philosophy was to beat the competition, and Vince wanted to be the 'best for us'. Vince says even with the other guys going down, and Hall and Nash, and the NWO, for Vince, it was a matter of time before they'd win because they had passion. Any time you give talent creative control, it's not good. You can't let talents say 'no' because people in the company have to tow the line.
Austin says at the end of the day they weren't trying to put them out of business. Austin asks if that shot him in the foot as far as no competition. Vince says they compete with television. From a sports entertainment perspective, someone was going to burn out as fast as they were burning. They ran out of ideas, someone gave up.
Vince says when he took over the business, he didn't think about domination, he had a global vision. Austin says he put every territory out of business. Vince says they put themselves out of business.
Vince talks about trying to buy out Verne Gagne, and being willing to write a check if he could. All he had was creative skills, a lot of luck, and a set of grapefruits. He had nothing at the time. The other territory guys had money stashed away, but didn't put it into the business. He says Harley would probably agree. What Vince did was reinvest in the product. He talks about partnering with NBC, looking from the outside to bring them in. To this day, they're constantly investing.
Austin asks how you compete with yourself, and if they'll be able to create stars in Florida. Vince says absolutely. Vince says the old territory owners all washed their hands when they had their money, except for Bill Watts. He talks about running a live event, and Bill Watts running a free live event next door. Vince says Watts eventually sold to Jim Crockett, so McMahon knew where to go. Vince says everyone 'gave up the ship'. He says there's no one out there to compete with, but when you think of everything that's available on television, viewership is down 10% across the board, and it's not because people aren't watching television, they're watching other things. Their competition is concerts, Disney events, and that's tough.
Austin asks if there's heat with McMahon and JR. McMahon says there was an incident in LA, and he honestly doesn't want to talk about it. He says he likes Jim, and he hopes they'll get back together too. Austin says he talks to JR a lot, and they 'book the territory', Vince says he's got a lot of ideas, and Austin agrees. He talks about some of the great finish guys in the business, and how there aren't two guys with more knowledge than McMahon and JR. Vince talks about JR wanting to go back to Oklahoma, and Vince says he doesn't ask anyone to do anything in the ring or office that he wouldn't do. JR decided he wanted to go to Oklahoma, and it takes 24/7, and you can't do it half-assed. You have to be all in, and answer the phone when Stone Cold calls at 2 a.m.
Vince says JR performed very well, but was burned out.
Austin says that Vince has said in the past that the Stone Cold character is basically the Vince McMahon character. Austin says there was no greater reflection in the ring, and they had such great chemistry, why'd they have such great chemistry?
Vince says he understood, Austin is a self-professed redneck, and Vince doesn't see himself that way. His background is different than he looks, he grew up in a trailer park, and Vince understands the common man. Vince says he's still the same guy, and that's an advantage in the company. Their audience is the common man, blue collar, minorities, kids, people Vince's age. It's a huge vast audience, and you have to have something for everyone. You have to have a degree of common sense to understand how people think. If someone thought they were better than Vince growing up, it drove him crazy, as did ideas of money. He knew who he was, and he's no better than anyone else, but no one's better than him. He's Austin's character on the inside. It's easy to do the reversal, because he can be the guy he despised growing up. Playing on the power, money, and influence. He understood because of his childhood, and he learned from it, and that's part of who he is today.
It's not just a guy in a suit.
Austin calls one minute left. Vince says they just got started. Vince says he looks forward to the next time. Austin says he's going to stay a bit longer and get an answer for his podcast. Austin talks about listening to a song, and hearing and song, and how it's different.
Vince says since he owns the network, he's going to extend the interview 15 minutes.
Austin talks about Vince slamming Austin into the cage at St. Valentine's Massacre, and how Vince blasted him into the cage. They joke that Vince took the worst stunner, and never took it the same way twice. Austin says he kicked Vince in the balls almost every time. Vince says he didn't care, it was magic and they entertained the audience.
Vince says to go out there and feel that magic, there's no way to describe it, and there's no feeling like it. Austin says once you get that feeling in your blood, it's like something you shoot in your veins, it's that addictive.
Austin says Vince always wanted to be a pro-wrestler, and Vince says yes, but his dad wouldn't let him be in the business. Austin says he loved Vince's announcing, even when he went off the rails. Austin says when he finally got in the ring with Austin, how was it, after dreaming about it. He switches gears, and talks about Vince learning about his dad later in life. Vince says his dad said he couldn't be a wrestler and businessman. Vince says it was a difference in opportunity, and it had always been his dream. He's happy he took it, and it was one of the greatest thrills of his life.
Austin talks about coming in and hearing about the Ringmaster idea, and Vince not seeing a Superstar in Austin. He goes back to telling the locker room to step up before turning to talking about loving to work heel, and having success as working baby. He asks what it was like for Vince. Austin says it's a thrill, Vince says it is. It's understanding psychology, and using the truth, and using it against the crowd. The ability to portray who he never wanted to be. It was beyond a thrill. Vince says Hogan, Bruno, all those guys made him want to be in the ring, so when he got the chance it was a dream come true.
Austin talks about gauging pops, and getting a double monster pop, and being off to the races. Austin goes back to St. Valentine's Massacre, and Vince taking a bump off the cage through the announcer's table. Vince talks about hitting the edge of the table, and he had a giant bruise from the small of his back to the back of his knees, but he wouldn't trade that either. Austin says they told the story that needed to be told.
Austin says speaking of bleeding, WM13, the match with Bret Hart. They walked into the office, and Bryan Pillman used to tell him all that time that he was a babyface, and it made Austin mad. Bret had been around for a long time, so when they went to execute the double turn, they went into the office and Vince gave him and Hart the finish. Austin says he thought that was cool, and Taker and Sid were the main event, and Austin found out about the match sitting on his couch at home. Austin says that Bret told him he thought he should bleed in the match. Austin talks about going back into the office and asking Vince if he was sure about the ending of the match. Austin talks about Chicago loving the Stone Cold run. Austin talks about bleeding during the match, and bleeding on Lawler's paperwork, and how Vince still has that paperwork to this day. Austin asks how mad Vince was with a 'no blood' policy. Vince says he's sure he was a little pissed off, and it's not about what he wants, it's about what the audience wants. When you're listening to the fans, and they're going crazy because of the blood, it's against policy, but you have to listen to what's happening. You broke the rules, but gave the audience what they wanted.
Austin asks if Vince is really listening, and how fans can give feedback. Vince says we have control of our own destiny. The future's good. Rating's aren't what they were when they were competing with WCW, but they're holding strong. Austin asks if you can go back to an older style, because it seems more segmented, and for shorter attention spans. Vince talks about how nowadays we text and tweet, and that is part of it. People tune in and tune out. They enjoy the product, it can always be better. He's not out of touch. He's 69 years old, but he can go the gym and kick butt.
Austin asks how people can send in feedback. Vince says he's sure social media, after talking generally about listening to the audience.
Vince says he works as much now as he always has, enjoys it as much as he always has. He doesn't think he's lost a step physically or mentally. He listens to the audience and tries a number of things. Guys from NXT are making some noise, and there might be the next Stone Cold, you never know.
Austin says there's so many things they could talk about, and hopefully they'll get the chance to talk about this again. Austin says it's been a blast, and the two shake hands. Austin says Vince is the best, and they both laugh as it fades to black.