Steve Austin Talks Over-Use Of Clothesline Comebacks

From time to time, Steve Austin takes questions from listeners on his podcast, The Steve Austin Show.

One fan inquiry about one of the most prevalent tropes in wrestling sparked a rant about psychology from "Stone Cold." The fan was asking about how, frequently at the start of the comeback portion of a match, the heel will bump and feed into three consecutive clotheslines.

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Austin responded as follows:

"What's happening is, you're probably talking about the specific part of the match known as the comeback, where all of a sudden, the babyface coms to life and all of a sudden, for some reason unbeknowst to man, the heel feeds for three clotheslines because that's the way it's been done for years and years and years. At that point in the match, for some reason, because the heel has been fresh and has been grinding the babyface down, it's theoretically OK for him to feed the comeback of the babyface and incite the crowd to a riot, because they're happy he's finally getting his comeuppance on this heel who's been kicking his ass and cheating for so long, and you just want him to hand him his ass, Katie bar the door, fists flying and he's feeding that comeback. The problem is, it's turned into a cliche—a cliché that actively goes on inside the squared circle, 20 by 20, which is a wrestling ring."

Austin went on to note how the comeback formula was altered from time to time, citing Jerry Lawler as a specific example and issued a challenge to the wrestlers of today.

"Jerry Lawler would pull down that strap, and then he would start throwing right hands. It all wasn't about feeding the three clotheslines. Guys and gals in the ring today need to start rethinking the comeback. Go to something else. It ain't always about the three clotheslines. Don't get me wrong, have I done them back in the day? Yeah. But there's a very fine art to taking and giving those clotheslines and when it's OK to go down that road, but these days, everybody's doing it. To your point, it's just part of the comeback and the art of it has kind of got lost a little bit in transition. Guys and girls out there who are in the ring right now, whether you're in the big leagues of WWE or you're in the bush leagues trying to make it up, think about your clothesline. Go back to some of those matches I talked about … rethink the comeback. Think outside the box. Reinvent it."

Elaborating, Austin urged wrestlers to consider the psychology of the comeback and how, at times, the three clothesline trope just does not make sense.

"Understand the reason a heel feeds a babyface, Understand the way the babyface needs to fire up and make that comeback. It isn't always about three clotheslines to get the crowd into a cadence or state of euphoria, because you're finally making a comeback," he said. "You've got to make that babyface earn that comeback. You've got to make the fans want that babyface to make a comeback. Sometimes it's easier said than done, because neither of the guys are over and the crowd is flat."

Click here to check out past episodes of Austin's podcast.

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