Before “Stone Cold” Steve Austin became one of the biggest stars in WWE history, he was “Stunning” Steve Austin in WCW. Austin was fired by WCW in June of 1995 while he was off suffering from a triceps injury.
During his 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed the reasons why WCW fired Austin and told the story of a phone call that sealed the deal for Bischoff and the company.
“We were paying Steve a lot of money,” Bischoff said. “It was a guarantee. And that was a consideration, not the most important consideration. My goal, knowing that Steve was going to be injured and going to be back eventually was to keep his character alive and not just let it disappear like it fell off the face of the earth. We were producing a show, WCW Saturday Night, and I thought, I know he can’t wrestle but let’s get at least a backstage promo on Steve Austin just to keep him visible so he didn’t fall into that out of sight out of mind category.
“I told Tony Schiavone to give Steve a call, it was early enough in the afternoon, he could’ve driven in and shot the promo and been back home by 7 o’clock that night. Should’ve been no big deal right? Tony didn’t want to bury Steve, I put Tony in a tough spot. Tony called Steve and Steve’s wife answered the phone, and the way it was reported back to me from Tony was that Steve’s wife said ‘Hey Steve, Tony Schiavone is on the phone he wants to talk to you’, and Tony could hear Steve yelling back to his wife, ‘Tell them sons of b—–s I’m not here.’
“Well, that’s pretty bulls–t right? Thats bulls–t. He was there, he just didn’t want to have a conversation. He didn’t want to hear anything I had to say, or maybe he was in pain, I don’t know. Tony comes back to me and says ‘Yeah I called Steve’s house and spoke to his wife and I hate to say this but I could hear Steves wife in the background telling his wife to tell me he wasn’t there.’ There’s certain things that just f–kin’ trigger me, and dishonesty is one of them.”
Bischoff talked about that phone call being the moment he was done with Steve Austin in WCW.
“To me, in that moment and in that time, that was very dishonest,” Bischoff said. “Now had Steve picked up the phone and said to Tony ‘Tell Eric to go f–k himself, I’m not in the mood to come in or I’m in pain’ or whatever, I could’ve lived with that. That’s the truth, that’s a fact. The slight of hand for Steve to tell his wife to tell Tony that he wasn’t home, that fell into a different category for me.
“I become irrational sometimes once I feel like someones being dishonest or not being transparent. I can deal with it most of the time, but there are certain times when I just feel like if I can’t trust you, look I don’t have to like you, I don’t have to agree with you, we don’t have to hangout, as long as I can trust you. Even if I can trust that you’re going to be consistently dishonest, generally okay with that because now I’m making a decision based on that. But if all of a sudden, somebody that I trust and thought was pretty much honest with me and I find out that their not, then s–t starts to get irrational on my half. That was why I made the decision I made. There was no politics, there was no salesman ship, I wasn’t trying to mitigate the situation, I was like this is what we’re doing, we’re moving on.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.