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Adam Kelly of Rolling Stone magazine recently spoke with WWE Hall of Famer Steve Austin. Below are some highlights:
Whose idea was it to do a live WWE Network interview with Vince McMahon?
Back in the day I'd reached out to him just in passing about being on the show. A couple of months ago [WWE] came to L.A. for SummerSlam and we were trying to put it together then, but he didn't have the time to fit me in. Then they were going to fly me to Stamford but I didn't want to go all that way to do a podcast [laughs]. So we've wanted to do this thing for a while. I guess timing is everything and so someone from WWE reached out to me and said, "Hey, what do you think about doing your podcast live on the WWE Network?" and I said, "Man, that would be awesome." It's a win-win for both parties.
Any time you go live with Vince McMahon it's going to be a very interesting experience. To me this is a conversation between us about the wrestling business and the direction the WWE's headed in. There's a few key talent I'd like to ask specific questions about. In doing my research, I've started watching some of the old videos of the work we did as far as angles go and the chemistry we had in the ring, so I'm not there to be Howard Stern. My podcast is a conversation, it's basically a bullshit session: two guys shooting the breeze talking about the business. At the end of the day, Vince McMahon is in the entertainment business, as am I, so I want it to be entertaining and engaging. I'm looking forward to it.
What did you make of Sting's debut at Survivor Series?
I saw him at the WWE 2K15 panel that I hosted and I was excited to see him there because I'm a big fan. He's had a hellacious run. Some people didn't consider him to be Hall of Fame worthy because of the fact that he'd never been in WWE before. To me it's a no-brainer. When I came to WCW he had been there for several years and was the top guy, so to finally see him come in, dressed in the black and white, I was blown away.
The face-to-face with him and Triple H, they just let it build and build. Triple H tried to sell the big right hand, block, there's the kick and the damage is done, then he hits his finish. I loved it. I'm a fan of good stuff inside the squared circle and it was a good story. The Authority had really built how they needed to win that night in a really long-winded promo by Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. They were setting the table for Sting. All of the guys in that match worked their asses off, and I really enjoyed the work between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler as they went into the finish.
What are your thoughts on NXT? I think that show harkens back to wrestling's past in terms of style and presentation.
You hit the nail right on the head. I haven't watched a whole lot of it but what I have seen I liked. I like the lighting, I like the action and it just feels different. I understand what WWE's trying to do with Monday Night Raw, they want it to look like it's the slickest production in the world, but sometimes it's too slick. When everyone's got a scripted promo, it doesn't breed the same spontaneity that the Attitude Era had. You had a lot of guys out there grabbing a microphone where they might have a bullet point or two, but their words – you can't write that stuff.
Are there any wrestlers on the current WWE roster who you see a little of the "Stone Cold" spirit in?
No, not really, just because I think they're running a pretty tight program and no one has been willing to go out on a limb. They're walking on eggshells a little bit as far as how aggressive they can be. They have a roster that's full of talent, no doubt, but it's about guys getting enough time in the ring, going through the maturation process, learning the system, becoming very mechanically proficient and learning more and more about their character. That will allow them to go out on a limb.
When I came to WWE back in the day I'd been working seven-and-a-half years and I was very frustrated. I started getting some momentum and my work was very vicious and it was very believable. Once I came up with the "Stone Cold" thing it was like a snowball rolling down a hill; it just kept getting larger and larger, and I wasn't afraid to push the envelope. It's not about the four-letter words; it's about taking the ball and making things happen with it. We'll see as the future unfolds who that guy is and what his approach will be.