Detailed Recap of the Austin-McMahon podcast
Credit: Adam Martin @ Wrestleview.com
The following aired live on the WWE Network following RAW on 12/1.
* WWE Network Exclusive graphic hits the screen.
* We get a video introduction from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
* We go live to Steve Austin who introduces his guest Vince McMahon from Tulsa. He asks him how the WWE Network is doing. “Subscriptions are good,” said McMahon. Austin asks about the headaches and hassles, specifically the UK. McMahon described it as a start/stop thing and is hoping to have it solved by the first of the year. He didn’t want to make any promises considering how things have gone so far.
* Austin talks about being asked to be part of the WWE Network announcement and asks if it will meet his expectations. “It takes a little time. It’s a subscription model, much like Netflix.” McMahon said he thinks they are giving them exactly what they want including this live podcast tonight after RAW in Tulsa.
* Austin asks how in tune he is right now with the WWE Universe, a three hour pro wrestling/sports entertainment show that just finished. McMahon immediately tells Austin it is sports entertainment. Austin retorts that he may have done some entertaining, but he did wrestling in the ring. McMahon said he thought Bray Wyatt was good tonight and thought it started off good with a bang.
* McMahon talks about RAW being a three hour show and how “no one does that.” He talks about WWE being all over the world and traveling every week. “We do magic with a lot of help with a lot of people behind the scenes to make this happen.” McMahon said the performers get that adrenaline even if they are lacking sleep and have been on the road for a long time.
* Austin said he wants to see more in-ring action under the sports entertainment umbrella. “Am I wrong in wanting more wrestling? That first segment seems to take a little too long to set the hook,” added Austin. McMahon said you have to build up to something and creating that story is what they did tonight and have done before.
* Austin said the locker room feels different right now and how not many other options exist in wrestling (Austin mentioned TNA). He asks about performers being worried about pissing someone off to lose a gig with a lack of options. “Well don’t piss anyone off,” said McMahon. McMahon talks about younger performs like Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt wanting to make a difference. He talked about how this era was different from Austin’s era. “It’s millennials,” said McMahon saying the talent now didn’t have the tools Austin had.
* Austin said he is issuing a challenge to the roster and asks if McMahon agrees they need more depth on the roster. McMahon agrees. Austin talks about how guys need to take a chance and how he fields questions from people wanting to know how they can climb the ladder of success in WWE. McMahon said he is looking for someone with charisma, physical skills and the passion for the business.
* Austin brings up watching a match backstage at Madison Square Garden with Vince and how a performer got a good pop and McMahon said he hoped he got over. He talked about how Vince doesn’t have a magic want to get someone over – he provide tools – yet he can’t control it. McMahon said if the audience doesn’t believe in a character, they won’t get over.
* Austin brings up Cesaro. McMahon said he isn’t quite connecting and he lacks in some verbal skills. “The audience needs to care about you. They need to feel your presence. You need to project that. At the moment, he lacks ‘it'”, said McMahon. Austin brings up pairing Cesaro with Jack Swagger, pairing him up with Paul Heyman and then getting put back by himself again. He said Cesaro seemed to lose momentum and asks what can be done to fix that. “I’m not certain. I listen to a lot of people’s advice. I’m not so sure I have that answer. I’m not giving up. But something is missing,” said McMahon.
* Austin talks about back in the old days Vince would sit by his swimming pool with others to book the territory. “How did it get so complicated?” Austin asks how things changed from a creative standpoint. McMahon talked about how the company went public. “It’s a different company today and things have changed. You have to change with the times. It’s not a one man show. It grew into this extraordinary organization. It’s a huge mammoth organization. I can’t do it all,” said McMahon.
* Austin tells a story about Shane pushing Vince into a swimming pool during a private booking session meeting. Vince, laughing, said how the story has been told is that the water started to boiling. Austin asks where Shane is. Vince said Shane is busy and doing things in Japan. Austin asked why he left WWE. “It was sort of a mutual feeling,” McMahon said. “Family businesses are very difficult. My wife was at one time in the business and Shane. We don’t all get along at times. Being a son or dad, it’s difficult in business. Having your wife working with you. That’s not a piece of cake either. You have to do what is right for business.”
* Austin asks if he wanted his children in the business and mentioned his father didn’t want Vince in it. McMahon said he wanted them to do what they wanted to do and said they wanted to be part of the business.
* Austin brings up Vince working with his dad in the early days. McMahon said he was a good listener and wasn’t always privy to his conversations with talent. He brings up a story about a performer wanting a raise and cornering his dad before walking out. McMahon said his father denied the raise and what it was like to see that in person. He said two minutes later he asked his father what he was going to do. McMahon said his father told him he would be the announcer. He talks about one of his first interviews being with Arnold Skaaland and how Skaaland was man of few words.
* Austin wants him to answer yes or no to talking about topics. He brings up CM Punk. McMahon said he wants to apologize and describes Punk getting his severance papers the day of his wedding. He calls this a coincidence. McMahon said he has no reason to “wash the dirty laundry in public” and thinks he (Punk) will regret what he is saying right now in public. He hopes one day they can get back together again and brings up mending fences with others in the past including Austin. McMahon said he always tries to give the audience what they want. “I take my ego, which is sizeable, and put it over here. I’m hoping one day we can get back together.” Austin asked if he listened to the podcast. Vince said no, repeatedly. “He speaks for himself and it’s his point of view. There is always two sides to every story,” added McMahon.
* Austin said he was in a similar position like Punk where he was working his ass off and was burnt out. He brings up wrestling Ric Flair in a cage in Georgia and hearing the creative plans to lose to Brock Lesnar on RAW with no build up for the King of the Ring. Austin said quite frankly, guys like him are hard to find. McMahon said Austin was hard to work with and described Austin as “hard headed.” Austin talked about Triple H calling him a horse’s ass at times. McMahon said the hard part about Austin was he never had an alternative when something creative was given to him.
* Austin said Jim Ross was able to bridge the gap to ultimately come back to WWE. He asks if someone like that exists with Punk. McMahon described Punk as a “loner” and when attorneys get involved, things go to hell in a hand basket. He talked about it being a lack of communication. Austin brought up how McMahon thought it was only right to fine him $650,000 when he came back. McMahon talked about how he felt like he had to get a slap on the wrist for what he did in walking out on the company. Austin talked about disagreeing with the amount and suggesting $250,000 instead – to which McMahon agreed. Austin added that he never told that story publicly.
* Austin brings up making his rounds of apologizes when he came back including The Undertaker. He talks about watching The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 in the production truck with Kevin Dunn. Austin talked about being shocked at the streak ending and asks about the decision behind that. “No one wants to give back more to the business than Mark Calloway. There comes a time when it is time to do that. Why not then? Who else could possibly Undertaker work with and give back in the biggest possible way that he could to help someone be a star. When you look at that talent roster, it was no one. It was timing. The one person whose time was there at that moment, had to be Brock.” Austin doesn’t believe Undertaker made that decision. Vince quickly said he made that decision and said Undertaker was unselfish. McMahon admits it even came as a shock to Undertaker at the time and how it wasn’t an easy decision to make. “You have to make difficult decisions some times. That’s my job to do that. I think I made the right call at the right time.”
* Austin asks why we don’t see Brock Lesnar on television more. McMahon describes him as a special attraction. He said the contract they have with Lesnar only allows them to use him for a certain amount of dates. “It’s about the performer, the story and how they resolve that story. It’s not just about the title,” McMahon added. McMahon said you will see more of Brock in the future and how you have to appeal to different segments of the audience.
* Austin asks if we will ever see “Macho Man” Randy Savage get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. McMahon said, “Oh, absolutely. Not so sure if it is this year. But it will be soon.” When asked if that is a yes, McMahon says it is a yes. Austin wants him to reiterate and McMahon said it will indeed happen.
* Austin asks what Sting’s role in WWE will be. “He made a hell of an impression,” said McMahon. McMahon talked about how his character is one you don’t need to see a lot of and isn’t surprised if you don’t see him at WrestleMania.
* When asked about not seeing people very often, McMahon said it comes down to contracts and changing with the times.
* Austin brings up the Monday Night War and Vince’s infamous phone call with Ted Turner where Turner said he was getting in the “wrasslin’ business” and how Vince said he was in the entertainment business. McMahon said Turner’s business philosophy was to hurt the competition and his business philosophy was to improve the product. He said they always had more passion compared to WCW. McMahon said the goal wasn’t to put WCW out of business, but they ultimately did. Austin asked – with due respect to TNA – if he shot himself in the foot putting WCW out of business. McMahon brings up how much competition they truly have on television. Austin puts emphasis on sports entertainment, pro wrestling, this business – not others. McMahon talks about how the business was so hot and how it was more “who was going to burn out the quickest?”
* Austin brings up how Vince took the business from his father and drastically changed things by wanting to grow to a national scale. McMahon talks about having conversations with Verne Gagne, who he described was a millionaire and how he had nothing. He talked about constantly reinvesting in the product while the other territories relied on what had worked for a very long time. “You have to invest in your business. Otherwise it won’t grow,” said McMahon.
* Austin talks about the NXT developmental system in Florida and if they can truly build stars without a traditional territory system. McMahon talks about competition or lack thereof bringing up a story about competing with Bill Watts. He said people say he put people out of business where he sees it as them just giving up at times. McMahon talks about cable being down 10% in viewership from last year and the amount of entertainment they have to compete with.
* Austin asks if any heat exists with Jim Ross who is no longer with WWE. McMahon says no and brings up the incident in Los Angeles (SummerSlam weekend) mentioning he would rather not get into it. He said he likes Ross and isn’t so sure they won’t get back together to. McMahon said he wasn’t a big fan of how Ross acted that weekend. Austin said when it comes to basic logic to the wrestling business, Ross is one of the best in his opinion. McMahon talks about how Jim’s goal was to always leave Connecticut and get back to Oklahoma and how he helped him achieve that goal. He said Ross made that decision himself, not him. McMahon said you have to be all in, 24/7 with WWE and indicated that Ross didn’t want that kind of schedule anymore.
* Austin talks about all of his great opponents, but said no one was greater than his feud with Vince McMahon. McMahon thinks it worked because people were able to relate to the Austin vs. McMahon dynamic of the every day working man against his boss. He said in many ways he felt like Austin and knew exactly how to play the character he would even hate.
* Austin tries to wraps up. McMahon said he enjoyed it. Austin starts getting into the brutal things they did to each other. McMahon goes to start talking and Austin said he has 20 seconds. McMahon says he owns the network and they are going another 15 minutes. Austin brings up how uncoordinated McMahon was at times. McMahon laughs and said to feel that kind of magic they created was unlike anything he could ever describe.
* Austin gets back to Vince’s father. McMahon said his father wanted him to be a businessman. Austin transitions to their first pitch conversation for The Ringmaster and the boom of the Stone Cold era. McMahon talks about being able to use the psychology of truth on television with the Stone Cold character. He talked about it being a dream come true getting to be part of some amazing moments.
* Austin brings up the nasty table bump that McMahon took at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre PPV. “I had the biggest bruise over both cheeks and it came all the way back to my knee,” said McMahon.
* Austin talks about his match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 and the shift in the audience cheering him as a heel. He thought they would stink up the place with it being a submission match and how Hart suggested he bleed to get over the finish. Austin talked about asking McMahon if he thought the finish would work and McMahon said it would definitely work. He asks if McMahon was okay with the finish despite the no blood policy at the time. McMahon said he was probably a little pissed off at the time, but listen to the audience.
* Austin goes back to the WWE Universe asking Vince if he is really listening to them. McMahon thinks the future is good. He admits television ratings aren’t where they were when they were competing with WCW. McMahon feels they are still holding their own. He also admits that when you are putting on a show for three hours, you can’t always reach everyone in the audience and keep them always watching. McMahon said he doesn’t listen to critics.
* Austin asks when Vince is going to “ride off into the sunset.” McMahon said he is still enjoying the business. He said people may say he is out of touch and those people are generally critics. McMahon admits many things are a work in progress including talent coming from the current developmental system in NXT.
* The live podcast wraps up as both Austin and McMahon shake hands.