WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin recently spoke to Ring Rust Radio to promote the upcoming season of Broken Skull Ranch. You can see the full interview at this link, and submitted highlights below.
Ring Rust Radio: There's been a lot of rumors and speculation recently surrounding Neville about him walking out on WWE due to creative differences and/or unhappiness regarding his pay. Having been in a similar situation before yourself, what advice would you give Neville if he has, in fact, decided to leave WWE?
Steve Austin: Well, my situation when I walked out, I wasn’t on board with the direction creative wanted to go. I was working my ass off and I just was not happy with that decision. So, I could have made a better decision with how I handled it. Just walking away like I did was a bad idea. I don’t know specifically what Neville’s business deal is or what his contract is or the circumstances under which he left. I know that any time you walk away from something and you don’t have that meeting or that one-on-one time with Vince or Paul or whoever it may be, but that’s the most prudent decision to make. By the same token, I can respect the guy that has enough balls to walk away just because he had a gut feeling like I did. I just wish him all the best in the world. In my opinion, he is an outstanding talent, he was really coming around with his gimmick and character, and he was a guy that I really liked watching. I’m sure a lot of people in the WWE Universe fell the same way. Hopefully he gets past this and whether he goes back to WWE or goes somewhere else, I hope he continues to have a successful career and have fun. At the end of the day, pro-wrestling, to be able to get paid to do that, it’s a fun job but it is a business and you need to get paid accordingly. I want the kid to have a great career, make his money and go on to the next phase of his life when it’s time to do that.
Ring Rust Radio: Recently we lost one of the greatest wrestling personalities ever, Bobby The Brain Heenan. What was your relationship like with Heenan and what are your thoughts on the legendary commentator and manager?
Steve Austin: I barely knew Bobby because he was a generation and half before me. I was a huge fan because I was watching WWF back in the day. Watching his commentary with Gorilla Monsoon, his interactions with Vince or whoever it was, that guy was absolute gold on the microphone, a premier entertainer. If he had to put on the tights to wrestle or put on that weasel outfit, the guy knew how to entertain people. If he hadn’t gotten into the pro-wrestling business, he would have been a stand-up comedian or something, Bobby was going to be successful in whatever he did because that’s how talented he was. A lot of times, when you are on the road and sitting around at the show, one of our agents was Blackjack Lanza. Blackjack is in the Hall of Fame and he is a great story teller. He and Bobby used to travel together back in the day. A bunch of guys and myself would be gathered around Blackjack while he is telling Bobby Heenan stories. Whether they were at the bar doing this or that, the shenanigans they got involved in, so I felt like I knew Bobby a lot more than I did just because I heard so many stories from Blackjack. The guy was a premiere, Grade A, awesome performer. I loved it, I didn’t know him, but I loved it.
Ring Rust Radio: One of your peers, Kurt Angle, made his in-ring return to WWE on Sunday at TLC, wrestling in his first match for the company in 11 years. As someone who worked with Kurt on numerous occasions, where do you place him among the all-time greats, and what would you like to see WWE do with him now that he's back in the fold as a wrestler?
Steve Austin: I don’t know what I want them to do with him because I don’t know Kurt’s physical capacity with what he can do in the squared circle from a performers stand point. As far as I would rank him as an all-time great, with what he can do in the ring and character standpoint, let’s talk about his in-ring work: off the charts. When this guy came in, I know he won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics, he comes in to the company and I see this raw talent. He is having these fast-paced wrestling matches, and I was like, holy smokes, this guy is catching onto this like no one I have ever seen in my life. So as a performer, so far ahead of his time and probably the fastest guy in the history of the business to pick it up at the level he picked it up at and just lights out. It didn’t matter who he was getting in the ring with, anybody who got in the ring with him they got a chance to steal the show. His work ethic and desire to be the best was among the highest I have ever known in the history of that business. As a character and persona, some of the backstage stuff we were doing because he was injured and I had three broken bones in my lower back, that comedy stuff we did was mostly adlibbed. The guy was a once in a generation talent. I love him as a person and I love his work in the ring. He was an absolute, true warrior and a bad ass in that ring. Not everybody can keep up with him.
Ring Rust Radio: You have been adamant that you will not return to in-ring competition, but when you see contemporaries like Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon and others making an impact on the product today, do you ever get that itch to be in front of the WWE Universe again?
Steve Austin: No, man. I got a fire in my belly for the business because I love pro-wrestling. I have zero desire to ever try to get back in the ring. I have so many great memories and I look back on those times fondly. It’s the young guy’s time to shine and I am enjoying seeing what they are coming up with. I like seeing the old school guys like myself still in there and doing their thing. When people decide to step away from the ring like I did or the guys that decide to step back in, it’s on a case-by-case, person-by-person basis. Some guys just like to hang on for as long as they can. For a while there, I didn’t understand why guys would do that. When I really thought about it, it’s because they love being in that god-dang ring so much that they just can’t get away from it. I had that neck injury and I needed to get out of the business so I did. I can understand that mindset now. I am done, I am happy being done, I wish I could of stayed in the ring a little bit longer, I rode off into the sunset a little bit sooner rather than I would of like, but it is what it is. I have come to terms with that and I have moved down the road. I am still a fan of the business and watching the men and women do what they do in the business and on Raw and SmackDown and the pay-per-views on the network.