On the latest episode of Talk Is Jericho, Chris Jericho brought on WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin after their discussion on Broken Skull Sessions. Jericho and Austin spoke on Austin’s early career in WCW, and when they got to his time in the then WWF, Austin spoke on his feud with Bret Hart that helped launch him into stardom.
“It was really interesting because Bret had seen me coming in WCW as he always says, and I’ve been an admirer of Bret Hart’s work,” Austin said. “I was a big into Hart Foundation. Him and Anvil (Jim Neidhart), I loved them as a tag team. I’ve been watching Bret for a long time because got to Vince [McMahon] before I did, and I remember he was going to do a surgery to get his hip cleaned up. And he needed an opponent for Survivor Series, and he told Vince, ‘Hey, I can make money with this guy,’ and I get a phone call from Bret. He wants to work with me, and so he hand-picked me to come back from his surgery.
“And we would go out there, and it’s an old-school match. It’s kind of classic pro wrestling style. We went out there and just turned in an instant classic, and Bret was coming back. And if you go back, and you watch that match and you watch the finish with that gimmick roll up off a Million Dollar Dream, then as I roll out, because he’s outsmarted me, if you watch his face and it’s a shoot, he mouths ‘f**k because he’s dead-dog tired. And he was blown up because he’d been at the house healing up, and it was that grueling of a match.
“Bret Hart is one of the greatest of all time so the fact that he hadn’t done a whole lot of in-ring work or none really and had to knock a little bit of ring rust off, he was gassed. To that note, Bret was always great 30 minutes into a match of just looking dead-dog tired but fresh as a daisy, but on this occasion, because it was a comeback, he was actually tired after the match because it was that grueling. It was a classic style match that I was very proud of, and at that time, putting in a match like that Vince started to see who and what I could do as a performer, as Stone Cold Steve Austin.”
Austin and Hart’s feud would culminate at WrestleMania 13. The most iconic moment of the match was the double turn as Austin passes out with blood over his face while in Hart’s Sharpshooter. Austin spoke about Hart’s impact on his career.
“That match at WrestleMania 13 in Chicago, Rosemont, Bret Hart put me on the map,” Austin admitted. “He made Stone Cold Steve Austin, and I had to do a lot myself obviously, but that’s how important Bret Hart was to my career.”
As for the finish of Austin in the Sharpshooter, Austin revealed who came up with that finish. He also revealed who was calling the match in the ring and how much he and Hart spoke before the match.
“I kind of knew a start, kind of knew a heat spot, kind of knew a few things were going to happen,” Austin revealed. “Then we just filled in the gaps out there, and if you go back and watch that match, if you watch me, I’ve got my head down, and everything is protected, but you can see who’s calling the match. I’m calling it. We had already talked. Bret said a few things, but I was kind of calling the match, and we just went out there and I’ll never forget, we went into the finish with Vince.
“We sat down, and Vince says, ‘You guys go do whatever you want to do. You got about this amount of time, but what I’m seeing Steve is you passing out in the Sharpshooter from Bret.’ Bret was down with it because it was his finish He was going over. Bret went over every single match I wrestled him, and I’m cool with it. I’ve never beaten Bret in my entire career, and I’m not going to make a comeback to beat him. Me and Bret go out to the ring. We’re just kind of standing there on the apron talking, and I said, I’ll be right back. And I went back into Vince’s office because I’m willing to do business with Bret.
“No problem but I’m a little worried about that finish. I go back into Vince’s office, and I still don’t know him that well at this time. And I said, God dang, Vince, are you sure about that finish?’ And you know how Vince talks. He looks at you. He goes, ‘Oh goddamn. Oh God damn Steve, I’m telling you. It’ll work.’ That’s exactly what he said, and if Vince gives me that reassurance and he’s the guy, so I said, okay, I’m down with it.
As for he blood, Austin also revealed whose idea it was to have him bleed during the match. He noted Hart’s experience helped him give him an “insurance policy.”
“Go back out there and me and Bret are talking,” Austin stated. “And he goes, ‘Steve, if you’re going to pass out in the Sharpshooter, we need to have some color.’ I said, ‘You think?’ He goes, ‘Yeah,’ and at the time, there’s a no color policy. I’m the newer guy. I ain’t got no tenure, and Bret offers up. I’d done the business plenty, but under this new place I’m in, I ain’t got no stroke. He goes, ‘Hey man, if you want, I’ll get it for you.’ That’s insurance policy. He just put me under his umbrella.”
Austin admitted he sold the Sharpshooter “like a motherf**ker.” He also talked about why the finish was more impactful with him bleeding.
“I’m so glad he did because if I would have done the same exact thing, the way I sold that, I guess I’ll blow smoke up my ass, I sold that like a motherf**ker,” Austin expressed. “But had I not had all that red s**t on my face screaming through my teeth and then you see how much blood actually lost, and it wasn’t one of those gore fests because you can go too hard and get too much and it becomes distracting and just hard to watch.
“This was not hard to watch. This just added so much level to the struggle that I was going through but was not just a turn-off, and so it became, as you said, one of the most iconic images, in my opinion, in the history of the wrestling business. I’m going to say the most but one of the most.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.