When you’re dealing with the greats--the Legends and future Hall of Famers of World Wrestling Entertainment--one can’t simply pop in a disc or two into their DVD player and expect to relive every defining moment of a Superstar’s career. Therefore, it should be no surprise that “The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin” (WWE Home Video, MSRP: $34.95) is just the latest title in the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin WWE video library, following such other stunning DVDs as “The Stone Cold Truth,” “Stone Cold Steve Austin: What?,” “Hell Yeah: Stone Cold’s Saga Continues,” “Austin 3:16 Uncensored,” “’Cause Stone Cold Said So” and more.
The three-disc set sheds light on some of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s most memorable moments inside the squared circle, from his days in WCW with the Hollywood Blondes and as Stunning Steve Austin to “The Most Important Match” of his career against the Undertaker at 1997’s Cold Day in Hell. It also features various extras covering everything from the name Steve Austin to his relationship with Mr. McMahon. Still, no matter how much of Austin’s career is covered on the release, even “Stone Cold” himself knows that if fans want to know his whole story, they can’t just watch “The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin.”
“It’s a good attempt--it fills in the gaps the other five or six DVDs didn’t cover, but there’s so much material we didn’t put on the DVD because we had already put it on the other releases,” Austin said. “It seems like there’s a new ‘Stone Cold’ DVD every year, year-and-a-half. There’s some good material on the DVD, but you would have to have them all to put the whole [story of ‘Stone Cold’] together.”
Though Austin had a hand in picking out some of the matches on the DVD, he admits he remembers more about other wrestlers’ careers than his own at times. Still, Austin knows there are plenty of moments that haven’t been covered on any “Stone Cold” DVD release--some good and some bad.
“There should have been more extras on this DVD, I’ll say that,” Austin said. “But I’m happy it came out. I just think there could have been more music between segments and more comments from other WWE personalities.”
Although today Austin is known more for his brief appearances on “Raw” or at WWE pay-per-views, “The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin” takes a look at the man who helped define the Attitude Era of professional wrestling, which is something Austin takes very seriously.
“Whenever I make an appearance now it’s very light-hearted,” Austin said. “I come out, slap a few beers together and give someone the Stunner. But I don’t want to be remembered for that. I want to be remembered as the guy who brought a gray area to a black-and-white business. Even though I was never a good guy, I ended up becoming the biggest babyface in the business. Some might argue that Hulk Hogan was the biggest babyface, but I was a different kind of babyface. At the height of Hulkamania, Hogan was telling kids to say their prayers and eat their vitamins. But ‘Stone Cold,’ you never knew what he stood for besides ‘Stone Cold.’”
Austin knows that part of the reason fans favored “Stone Cold” so much was because of his never-ending feud with WWE’s Chairman of the Board, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Even after Austin left the ring, the two’s boss-versus-employee feud lived on, eventually leading to last year’s Battle of the Billionaires Hair vs. Hair Match at WrestleMania 23 where Austin served as the special guest referee.
“I’ve had some great opponents over the years, but nothing compares to Vince,” Austin said. “Everyone wants to do things to their boss and he allowed me to do them to him. People got to live vicariously through me. I’ve even heard of some reports where I inspired an employee to do some good [in their professional lives].”
There’s no doubt Austin’s inspired millions of fans outside of the ring, but he’s also inspired some of WWE’s biggest Superstars today. In particular, one Superstar who Austin’s had a profound affect on is Ken Kennedy, who Austin called up out of the blue one day to congratulate on a match.
“I saw Kennedy versus Batista on TV,” Austin recalled. “Now, Batista is a good big man, but he can be off at times. That particular night, though, the match kicked ass. I called Ken up and told him that was one hell of a match. He appreciated that and we started being friends. He was a big fan of ‘Stone Cold,’ so we had that common ground and started talking more and more. He would call me and present me with ideas and questions and I gave him my thoughts.”
“I just think there are too many voices, too many people in his head right now with WWE,” Austin continued. “He needs to go back to his OVW style; he was better back then. But he's gonna be a big star. They just need to stop messin' with him.”
Austin credits part of his success with the fact that he never tried to be anything he wasn’t.
“Even when I was Stunning Steve Austin, I was comfortable being that guy,” he said. “And when I turned into ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, I just let it all hang out. I’m usually a quiet guy in my everyday life, but ‘Stone Cold’ was me turned up to volume 10. People just need to remember to be who they are. I listen to these wrestlers cut a promo that’s written for them and they don‘t believe what they’re reading. I listen to their delivery and look into their eyes and I can tell it’s not coming from their gut or heart or their brain. People need to be something; don’t try to be something.”
While Austin admits he doesn’t watch wrestling as much as he used to, he’s still familiar with what’s going on inside of the ring--even if it’s not WWE related. When asked about TNA’s “Stone Cold” gimmick with Shark Boy, Austin replied that he hadn’t seen the wrestler’s impersonation of him, but that he had heard about it.
“It doesn’t anger me,” Austin said. “If he can make a livin’ doing ‘Stone Cold,’ more power to him. I could care less.”
Austin’s even been spotted outside of the Octagon recently, watching former WWE Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar make his UFC debut at the February pay-per-view in Las Vegas.
“It was a wonderful night of fights,” Austin said. “I met [UFC President] Dana White and he was an extremely nice guy. UFC’s just on fire right now and the Lesnar fight was an outstanding fight. I think Brock would have won if they didn’t stop it (after Lesnar hit his opponent, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir, in the back of the head). I think he has a bright future with the promotion.”
Despite his appreciation for the sport, fans shouldn’t count on Austin following in Lesnar’s footsteps and pursuing a new career in mixed martial arts. In fact, at this stage in his career, Austin said he’s pretty much done competing in any sport--wrestling included.
“Maybe if I really needed the money,” Austin replied when asked about returning to the ring full-time. “But I’ve been pretty conservative with my money and I’ve invested in wisely. Honestly, I don’t miss it. I have fond memories, but life goes on, and mine doesn’t revolve around wrestling anymore.”
Part of the reason Austin’s moved forward with his life and left wrestling behind is because of the injuries he’s sustained throughout his career. Austin said that no matter how loud a pop he gets whenever he returns to WWE, he feels like he’s “ripping off” his longtime fans.
“I wish I could give the fans more, but I can’t,” Austin said. “I can’t be that old ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin anymore. But I still do what I have to do. And when I’m walking to the ring, I'm saying thank you very much to the fans the whole way down the ramp. That's the truth. I can't really say it when I'm going to the ring because that's not ‘Stone Cold,’ but I'm thinking it. I always say WWE has the greatest fans in the world, but ‘Stone Cold’ fans are even better because they’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. I appreciate them more than anything.”
When asked if fans can expect to see the return of the Texas Rattlesnake at WrestleMania XXIV, Austin admitted he had been pitched a storyline but that he “wasn’t keen on it” and turned it down.
“I love the wrestling business and I’m still part of WWE, but a bad idea is a bad idea,” Austin said. “I don’t need for a storyline to be grandiose, I just want it to be good. But they have enough talent that they don’t need me for WrestleMania. I’d like to go to the Hall of Fame see the guys get inducted, but it’s time to let these other guys and girls have the spotlight.”
Of course, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will never fully step out of the limelight: the Texas native now lives in L.A. and is busy with his movie career. Austin said he was in talks to star in two action films before the writers strike hit and is now waiting to hear the status of those projects since the strike is over (“I don't like to talk about it much until I know it is happening,” he said. “I didn't even believe I was doin' The Condemned until I landed in Australia [to shoot the movie]”). Austin said he would also like to do some “light-hearted” films in the future, though for now he’s going to stick with what people expect to see him in.
Beyond that, though, Austin’s just happy to be able to pursue a career in Hollywood and is enjoying living life to its fullest.
“I'm livin' an active life, hunting and fishing,” he said. “And I feel real good right now; my past injuries don't affect me filming movies. I can do what I need to do and it doesn't hold me back at all.”
And even though Austin is keeping busy with his movie deals and his occasional WWE appearances, after spending so much time on the road, it shouldn’t surprise fans that the Rattlesnake is finding himself with some time to spare. But don’t worry; he’s already got his next business venture all planned out.
“I would love to do a part-time hunting show,” Austin concluded. “I think that would be a great side project.”
“The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin” is now available on DVD.