While NXT recently migrated away from Wednesday nights, All Elite Wrestling has still provided consistent competition to WWE. AEW is still a ways away from rivaling Vince McMahon’s ratings, but their impact on the professional wrestling industry cannot be understated.
Speaking with Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on the Wrestling Inc. Daily, WWE Hall of Famer ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin says he doesn’t see the two promotions as direct rivals, but rather in competition simply because they produce wrestling.
“Man, I love it,” Austin said. “I think it’s competition by proxy just because they’re wrestling, WWE’s wrestling, but I don’t think they’re directly trying to compete. But in essence, they are and I love it because it gives more people within any of this jobs. It gives more people a chance to work. And it makes WWE, you know, forces them to push the envelope rather than just sit back and push out content. Competition makes everybody better.”
As a pillar of the Attitude Era during the heights of the Monday Night Wars, Austin knows a thing or two about competing with a rival promotion. While the Texas Rattlesnake’s team obviously wanted to get the weekly ratings W’s, Austin says he saw the competition as means of encouragement.
“The product is better because you’re forced,” Austin said. “‘What are these cats doing over here? This friggin’ stuff, we gotta up it a little bit!’ There’s checks and balances. I remember when we put WCW out of business, I remember going up to Vince and saying, ‘Was it our mission to put them out of business?’ They kicked our a– for two years, you know, but I didn’t know that was the mission! We just wanted to win the ratings war. Of course, he ends up buying them for pennies on the dollar, that’s the genius of Vince McMahon. But to answer your question, yes, AEW is a good thing. It’s a good thing for everybody, including WWE.”
Austin admitted to Hausman that he does not recall McMahon’s exact reasoning for buying WCW, but he does remember the WWE Chairman referencing his rivals’ lack of “foresight” as to why they perished.
“Oh, I don’t know what kind of answer he gave me, it was so long ago,” Austin said. “It was like when I used to ask him about putting all these guys out of business and he goes, ‘Steve, I didn’t put everybody out of business. They simply didn’t have the foresight or the vision-’ and he goes on and on and on. Vince is the master of the Jedi mind tricks. Vince is a super interesting guy, you should talk to him one of these days. I have so much respect and love for that guy, it’s unbelievable.”
While the old rivals don’t keep in as consistent contact as they used to, Austin mentioned he does reach out to Vince every now and then.
“He don’t even take my phone calls but let me tell you, back when I was working on top, when I called Vince, that phone didn’t ring a half time before he picked it up,” Austin said. “Now I’ll send him a text message and I’ll get an answer back in a couple of days.”
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