Pro wrestling legends Steve Austin and Chris Jericho recently conversed at 317 Gimmick Street for an episode of The Steve Austin Show. Among other things, Austin shared his qualms over awkward WWE backstage interviews, current WWE talents being scared of losing their jobs, transitioning from 'The Ringmaster' to 'Stone Cold', and whether 'Stone Cold' would get over in the modern era. Jericho weighed in on his recent Japanese excursion and whether WWE holds back talents.
In Austin's learned opinion, backstage interviews should generally conclude with the backstage correspondent throwing it back to the announcer desk rather than staring off vacantly into space.
"One of my big pet peeves is when the announcer backstage, whether it is male or female, talking to the talent, asks the talent a question, talent gives the answer, if there's an interrupt, there's an interrupt, but the talent gives their answer, and it's an awkward feeling, and then, all-of-a-sudden, it's back to Michael [Cole] and the guys at the [announce] desk. And the camera stays on the interviewer who got this awkward answer. You want there to be some heat there, and all-of-a-sudden, it's an awkward reaction to the person that's a part of the broadcast team." Austin added, "I think whether it's a male or a female, they should throw it back to the announce team because I don't think heat, the point, or anything goes anywhere because I'm so focused on that weird look that the interview has on her face!"
Jericho noted that backstage interviewers need to show more personality.
"I think the backstage interviewers now, could they be, and I say this respectfully because they're just doing what they're told, could they be more robotic?" Jericho observed, "there's a lack of energy sometimes to the show when you don't let people be themselves."
According to Austin, WWE performers are afraid to lose their jobs because there is nowhere else to go.
"Everybody's walking on eggshells these days just because there's nowhere else to go," Austin professed. "Everyone's just micromanaged to a degree and I'm not indicting the system."
This is contrasted to Austin's pro wrestling career, where he pushed the envelope even more when he had nothing to lose as 'The Ringmaster'. Austin signed with WWE because he needed a job. Austin knew his pairing with 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase would not work after six months, but Austin also knew he would be out of a job again if he did not come up with something different.
"From when I came in as 'The Ringmaster' and I knew it was a suck ass gimmick, right? But I had a wife, and two kids, and a log cabin on 10 acres. s--t, I've got to pay my bills or they're going to take all my s--t from me, so I'll go up there! I'd already been up to visit Vince twice. I knew they didn't have anything planned for me and they were just bringing me in as a mechanic. s--t, that's why I never came!" Austin recalled, "I knew that wasn't going to work after six months and so, whatever, I started to think about it, drinking beer, whiskey, watching television, and I came up with the 'Stone Cold' persona."
Additionally, Jericho divulged that he came up with his 'Y2J' character on his own; however, McMahon made a couple of invaluable modifications.
"I invented air, Steve. I'll tell you that right now," Jericho joked. "I came up with the Millennium Man with the countdown. Vince's contributions to it were, it was my idea that the countdown would end at the beginning of RAW. I think it was August 9, 1999. Vince's idea was that it would end right in the middle of The Rock's promo, which, classic Vince, come in as high as you can possibly get. His other idea was, he was like, 'what's your finish called and what it is?' I said, 'well, it's a Boston Crab and it's called 'Y2J Problem'. He goes, 'no, no, no, that's not the name of your finish. Your finish isn't 'Y2J', you're 'Y2J' and that was his monicker and for the first year or two, I'm sure [Austin] got this too, it was never 'Chris' or 'Chris Jericho'. It was always 'Y2J, how are you? Good to see you, Y2J.' because that was his creation. Even though it was my idea, he took it and that's what he called me. I'm sure it was the same with 'Stone Cold'. I'm sure he called [Austin] 'Stone Cold' all the time."
On the subject of headlining NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom pay-per-view, Jericho said it was "liberating" to have no restrictions.
"It was really gratifying and there was this freedom after 17 years of having to have things approved by Vince or agents or whatever." Jericho stated, "I didn't have to get anything approved. I could do anything I wanted! What a cool feeling that was!"
Jericho went on to say that there is a misconception that certain talents are held back in WWE, but in reality there are just more or different rules that have to be observed.
"There's kind of a misconception in WWE that you get held back. It's not getting held back, but there [are] certain rules you have to abide by because it's a corporate company now. There's no juice allowed and no chair shots and thank goodness for that." Jericho explained, "there [are] just certain things you can't do in WWE."
Additionally, Austin claimed that the 'Stone Cold' gimmick could have gotten over in today's reality era.
"With the rule system that is in place there now, there were rules back when I was running wild there, right? But you just push the envelope due to whatever the rule structure is." Austin continued, "people say, 'could 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin get over in today's WWE?' Hell yeah, I could. Same rules, same guy."
Check out the show here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: The Steve Austin Show