Source: The Steve Austin Show
On episode 333 of The Steve Austin Show, the titular podcast host and professional wrestling legend spoke about Damien Sandow's recent departure from WWE, the company's propensity of putting talents in so-called boxes, and Zack Ryder's attempts to escape his alleged box.
"I got a chance to talk to Damien Sandow on several occasions when I go to do the WWE Network 'Stone Cold' Podcast. And I remember when him and [The] Miz started doing that [stunt double] gimmick and I was thinking, 'man, this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen' and I told both guys this to their face. And I said, 'man, I appreciate you guys sticking with it'. And then, man, it started getting over and I was highly entertained by [it]." Austin added, "it was one of the best things on the show for a long time. And Damien Sandow was working his ass off to do what was asked of him and Miz really stepped up his game."
Austin professed that WWE did not do Sandow any favors by debuting him on TV in neon pink tights.
"When they first brought him in, and Damien Sandow, that's a cool name, but then they started him off in those sorry ass pink trunks. And I'm like, 'pink and black worked for Bret Hart, and [there is] nothing wrong with pink, but just the tone and the color it's in [did not work].' You brought this guy into the company [and] you handed him a 100-pound anchor just to get off jump street. You might as well have given him an anvil and told him to jump in the ocean and say, 'hey, swim back to the top'."
In Austin's view, it is difficult for talents to escape the label WWE brass puts on them and it is a real challenge for the company to know the difference between giving young performers opportunities and pushing people who are not ready.
"There [are] a couple of guys that they have high hope for right now that you can see they're not in a box. They're pushing them and when I'm looking at the guy, I'm thinking, 'man, we're going to see how this push goes because I don't know that they're ready for that push'. And they've already anointed as potentially one of the guys and they're pushing them at a pace where, man, if it's sink or swim, they're going to start sinking before they start swimming. But just because the [professional wrestling] business is moving so fast these days, the work style has changed, and so some of these kids are going to go out there and get an opportunity when they're the chosen one, but they can't perform at that level yet, so, again, it's almost like shooting yourself in the foot. On the other side of that, you've got to have some certain guys that you pick as blue chippers to give them that opportunity, but there's a fine line between getting a shove when you're not ready, and not even a fine line - a whole different thing of being stuck in a box."
On the subject of escaping labels prescribed for talents by WWE's braintrust, Austin pointed to Zack Ryder's efforts to get himself over and WWE's refusal to elevate him on the card.
"Look at poor Zack Ryder. That kid, he was kind of an early midcard guy and then he starts getting on YouTube. He creates the [Z! True Long Island Story] or whatever it's called. Man, I watched I don't know how many of those things. It was so damn entertaining. The kid got himself over. And then, they bring him back and here's a guy, okay, maybe he could have been like the equivalent of like a Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake. You know, similar type of role or maybe [a] midcarder or upper midcard or three-quarter card. The dude could have done something! But I don't know. For some reason, maybe some body types [or] some personalities, they just don't see any future in and they cut them down!"
Click here to listen to the show. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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