The Steve Austin Show – Unleashed!
Release Date: 6/1/2017
Recap by: Chris Gaspare
Top Newsworthy Items
– Kendrick says most stars don’t seek advice anymore and only look for validation on social media.
– Kendrick claims William Regal as his biggest influence in wrestling outside his trainer, Shawn Michaels.
– Kendrick takes full responsibility for his first release from the company.
00:00: Introduction to the show, The Brian Kendrick’s hobbies and childhood
09:18: Kendrick on falling in love with the business
12:58: Kendrick’s time training in Texas and what he learned from Shawn Michaels
21:08: Kendrick on learning logic from William Regal
25:34: Kendrick’s street fight with Akira Tozawa and the (lost) art of rest holds
30:12: Kendrick and Austin discuss learning the business by asking advice and listening and how the culture has changed
38:46: Kendrick on the motivation of his current gimmick
42:07: Sponsor Ads
44:11: Kendrick’s WWE debut, release, and return
50:48: Kendrick on working in Japan, working babyface, similarities between wrestling and music, and lessons learned
1:00:50: Kendrick dishes on staying in shape and his wife
1:05:58: Kendrick’s advice on getting into the business and discussion about his fandom and the Monday Night Wars
Introduction to the show, The Brian Kendrick’s hobbies and childhood
Austin jumped right into the interview with The Brian Kendrick. Kendrick lives a stone’s throw away and walked over to 316 Gimmick Street with a gift of whiskey and Broken Skull IPAs. Austin wondered how they had never ran into each other ever living so close by, but Kendrick explained he’s mostly a hermit when at home. He only leaves his house to eat, tan, go to the gym, or buy groceries. Otherwise, he spends time with his wife. He also reads about conspiracy theories such as the Mandela Effect, which he explains to Austin is about physical realities blended into each other and people remembering the other realities. Austin laughed and told him that Kendrick “called a high spot I can’t understand.” They moved onto talking about Kendrick’s childhood. Kendrick moved around a lot in his life: Virginia to Canada to Washington State to Texas to Memphis to Los Angeles after his WWE release to Cincinnati to Florida and back to Los Angeles for his wife to pursue a career in makeup. He was a C- student in school and not much of an athlete. His saving grace was that he tried not to let anybody outwork him, and he was fortunate enough to have Daniel Bryan training with him in the same class in Shawn Michaels’ school. “I was a terrible athlete,” he said, “but I pushed myself to make it.”
Kendrick on falling in love with the business
Kendrick fell in love with the business with Wrestlemania VI when he walked into his friend’s house and saw the Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior match. He wanted to be the Warrior. Quickly, he sought out VHS tapes to watch and still watches clips online and the Network to watch footage. He called wrestling “the best art on the planet” and he “consumes as much as” he can. He brought up just watching Austin/Hart at Wrestlemania 13 a couple hours before coming over for the interview. Austin asked him what he thought; Kendrick said it was “one of the greatest of all-time.” Austin was gracious about his fortune in the business, but Kendrick praised Austin’s energy and character. He said that even though the product has changed (e.g. moving to PG, trying to sell to India and China), if there were people were as “genuine” as Austin today, houses would be selling out.
Kendrick’s time training in Texas and what he learned from Shawn Michaels
Kendrick started training in Texas with NWA Southwest, which was run by Chris Germany, who coincidentally was in Austin’s wrestling school class with “Gentleman” Chris Adams. He said it was a good school, but he wanted to find Jose Lothario because he had trained Shawn Michaels, which was a “dumb kid” move on his part. He ended up in Shawn Michaels’s school, however, from his search. The school was run by Michaels and Rudy Boy Gonzalez. Michaels had a “lot of hungry people from all over the world” come to his school. Kendrick would show up 90 minutes early and stay two hours late, and Rudy would allow him to. The training was three hours for three days per week when Michaels would come in. He would tell Rudy what to do, and Rudy would demonstrate. Kendrick learned mechanics from Rudy and psychology from Michaels. Kendrick said that Daniel Bryan was a “driving force” for him in the school as his classmate because they were “always in competition.” Austin brought up Kendrick’s school, which isn’t currently taking new students. The school still exists but is only for graduates right now, about eight or nine guys that train in a 16×16 foot ring. Some of his students recently went to Mexico, and he told them to listen, be polite, and learn the lucha style because that is what they were there for.
Kendrick on learning logic from William Regal
Austin asked about learning from William Regal, who Austin first saw in WCW “selling his a** off” and showing a mean streak in a match on the Saturday night show tapings. They became travel partners and lifelong friends. Regal taught Kendrick to look at every action logically. For instance, rather than shooting someone into the ropes, shoot them into the turnbuckle because that’s what would hurt. Regal showed him how to “pick apart everything” and that has been the biggest influence on his career. Austin countered that sometimes you want to throw logic out and work off emotion. The example he gives is that someone in a headlock might do something illogical because they are angry that they are not in control. Austin compared the logic and strategy of a match to a football game – every move should have a counter move and clear rationale. Ultimately, Kendrick’s style is a mish-mash. He learned psychology from Regal, storytelling from Michaels, making moves look like they hurt from Japanese matches. He said even Koko B. Ware influenced him and Koko shows “how varied the art is.”
Kendrick’s street fight with Akira Tozawa and the (lost) art of rest holds
Austin asked about last week’s street fight match with Akira Tozawa. Kendrick said they were a bit limited in what they could do. Chairs are out in the PG era, and they couldn’t use kendo sticks because of Bayley’s upcoming match. Instead, he chose to utilize duct tape to tape over Tozawa’s mouth, tie his hands, and used his belt to whip him. He asked Tozawa to hit him in the face with the belt because it was a street fight, which he doesn’t do often. He doesn’t generally like to do too many hardcore matches, but it was fitting since they had been doing this three-month feud. Austin complimented Kendrick’s rest holds and how Kendrick continues to work the ear or nose of his opponent during the hold. “You don’t see everyone trying to do that,” he said. Kendrick thinks it’s “a shame it got to the point when we call it a rest hold,” but that’s on the performers. They need to make a decision – are they trying to catch their breath, or are they trying to hurt? Austin insisted it should be a workhold, not a rest hold. He told a story about being out of shape when he came into WWF and using rest holds on Savio Vega. He said the wrestler must look like he or she is trying to punish.
Kendrick and Austin discuss learning the business by asking advice and listening and how the culture has changed
Austin asked a fairly simple question about whether the boys still watch each other’s matches and discuss them. Kendrick said that the “old man” in him will come out in the answer. He still harasses agents backstage like Dean Malenko or whoever is around like Paul Heyman. However, many of the younger guys “don’t ask for advice.” Years ago, he would ask guys like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero to watch his matches for their advice. He said, “They would scream at me…‘You’re doing a Tornado DDT, that’s not a finish – you’re killing the business.’” That mentality is “gone” now though. He can pick the mind of veterans such as Goldust or Rhyno. The young guys instead are “looking their name up on Twitter” as soon as they come backstage. This gives them positive feedback from their fans, “so who cares what Dean Malenko has to say.”
Austin tells the story of his first match in Tennessee where he thought he knew what he was doing two months into the business. After the match, Dutch Mantell told him it was “the drizzling sh**s” and told Austin to sit in a chair and watch all the matches until he learned how to wrestle. He started riding with Matt Borne and Gary Young and absorbed what they said in the car. He summarized, “As soon as you think you know it all, you don’t.” Kendrick laments, “You’re an artist, and you’re sitting with Picasso, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, and I’m not gonna ask what inspired [them] to do this?” The other night, Kendrick was drinking with guys from 205 Live, and John Cena came over to talk to him, wanting to know how things were going this run. He complained that about “guys leaving before the show even starts.” He paraphrased Cena saying, “It’s a different era. Let’em hang themselves.” Kendrick said that since there is nobody there to give advice and it’s not being sought that it’s “detrimental” to the business, but good for individuals that do wanna ask and learn…With the Undertaker, JBL, and Eddie, you’d be terrified not to watch the matches.” Instead, the boys simply want to leave and go back to the hotel.
Kendrick on the motivation of his current gimmick
Austin complimented Kendrick’s persona and promos, wanting to know their origin. Kendrick tries to be different. His wife asked him to thank Austin for the “What?” chants because typically guys watch wrestling promos and simply mimic them, which causes them to slip into a certain pattern. Kendrick attempts a different cadence and delivery outside of that. He will use big words “like [Nick] Bockwinkel” to go over the audience’s head. As for his current persona, the idea is anger. For instance, his first WrestleMania was WrestleMania 19, but he’s never been on one. There are men’s and women’s faces plastered on trucks, but he’s not one of them. This makes his character angry, and that anger comes from jealousy and envy. Austin was a particularly big fan of the pirate flag that Kendrick brings to the ring. Kendrick has always been a fan of pirates, but for this character, the idea is pirates “want gold and glory and they’re gonna take it from you,” which he believes fits his character well.
Kendrick’s WWE debut, release, and return
Kendrick’s debut came as he was a singing messenger to The Undertaker. He was 23 and didn’t realize the importance of being in an angle with a legend. He would do anything given to him now, he said, whether it was shaving his head or wearing women’s underwear. His philosophy is “just get me out there.” Before he was released in his first stint, he was getting a singles push but screwed it up by smoking weed. Johnny Ace called him in the office after being fined ten times for testing dirty for marijuana and told him, “you could have bought a car” with the money spent on fines. But he didn’t want a car, he wanted to get high. Kendrick admits, “I was an idiot.” He was always hungover and had a bad attitude. It took him years to stop blaming others and realize “it’s their company, not my company.” Regal pushed for him to return in the Cruiserweight tournament. He is happy with 205 Live. He said something everyone is “trying to get off the ground” so there is a communal feel among the wrestlers. They are also given more “freedom,” which is a word Austin said he liked to hear. Kendrick explained that in the first main event of 205 Live against Rich Swann, they gave them twenty minutes. He wanted to do fifteen minutes of false finishes in the match, and they agreed.
Kendrick on working in Japan, working babyface, similarities between wrestling and music, and lessons learned
Kendrick liked Japan because, as Austin said, it’s “more about the work.” Austin was there in 1993 or so, and the hardest thing for him was the reactions of the crowd. Wrestlers in America could lock up and have a strong takedown, and U.S. audiences might be involved then. Japanese audiences are calmer, and it takes more because he would be following someone like Benoit or Guerrero, and he couldn’t do what they could do. It took him a while to realize that you can’t follow, so “you do what you do do.” Kendrick “lucked out” because the promoter in Japan thought he looked like Leonardo DiCaprio, so he named him Leonardo Spanky (his indie name) and had him come out to music from Titanic. He also worked with “top notch” guys who he learned a lot from.
Kendrick was asked if he liked work heel or babyface more. Kendrick thinks he’s a good heel but a better babyface. He was blunt that there’s “not as many good wrestlers as there used to be.” A babyface should be “John Wayneing through pain” but nowadays, young wrestlers think “a springboard makes them care.” Austin agreed that there is a lost art to selling. Kendrick complimented Austin that the reason he wasn’t tapping to Bret’s Sharpshooter at Wrestlemania 13 is because he was selling. “You’re John Wayne.” He continued, “If more wrestlers felt instead of thought, I think it would be a different story.” He likened wrestling to music as having the same “emotional pulls.” For instance, false finishes are like jazz music as they “build expectation and it [then] changes the beat.”
His time on the indies wasn’t great, Kendrick admitted. He spent time blaming WWF for his release, but then he wanted nothing more than to get back there. He hears young wrestlers complaining about some of the things the company makes them do, he tells them, “Try getting fired for seven years and see how much you complain,” which Sami Zayn quotes to others all the time.
Kendrick dishes on staying in shape and his wife
Kendrick feels in good shape still. During the Cruiserweight tournament, he weighed 157 pounds, but he’s up in the 180s now as he started a hard gainer diet which focuses on all body parts. He has also sought advice from Jinder Mahal. Jinder eats seven meals, 40 grams of carbs, 40 grams of protein, and no added fats. He does cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and hits the weights an hour later. Austin said he couldn’t do fast and cardio diets because he’s not a morning person. Kendrick also said the hardest part of what Jinder is doing is that he has gone 14 weeks now without alcohol, which left Austin’s “brain spinning.”
Kendrick’s wife was on the first ever Tough Enough, and he met her in a show in Alaska. He met her again later when she was in a dojo in Japan. She was a “b**ch” when he first met her, and she would criticize him for not drinking at that time. But then one night, he “pushed her into a bathroom” and they ended up in love. She manages a dispensary in Los Angeles, which “as an ex-pothead, it’s a twist of the knife,” he told Austin. However, he has his love now, which is wrestling. His wife makes all his gear and jackets to help and support him.
Kendrick’s advice on getting into the business and discussion about his fandom and the Monday Night Wars
Kendrick’s advice on getting into pro wrestling was simple: find a school and don’t “allow yourself any excuses.” One must “fully commit” to the endeavor. He advised, “Your dreams are not gonna chase you, you gotta chase your dreams.” Austin brought up what, as a fan, inspired Kendrick when he was young. For Austin, it was NWA and Mid-South. Kendrick said that in Washington State it was all WWF. However, he would say the Ric Flair/Ricky Steamboat trilogy in 1989 was some of the most “real” drama he’s ever seen. He recently told Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari to watch it without the sound. He likes mid-1990s All Japan as well. In the Attitude Era, while it was Vince’s “vision,” he felt Austin was the key because of his believable character. He moved differently than others. Mr. Perfect he also said moved differently, but that Austin was “a gunslinger” and someone the crowd could relate to. Austin thanked him and credited the chemistry between him and Vince as the real selling point for fans. The feud “transcended the business.” During the Monday Night Wars, Kendrick was loyal to WWF. He would watch the first hour of Nitro and switch over to Nitro during commercials, but never missed “a minute” of WWF programming even if the Cruiserweights, which were an inspiration to him, were on Nitro. Austin recommended that Kendrick watch two Flair and Barry Windham matches from 1988. Kendrick already knew about them, and they marked out in discussing the finish and how much like a shoot it felt when Flair snuck away with the victory. Austin ended by telling the story, which has been told many times by him, of the beginnings of Austin 3:16 and his career. It seemed like he was telling Kendrick this because he was trying to get Kendrick to push the company to make a pirate-related shirt for him.
Score and Review (10/10)
Simply put, this was one of the better podcast interviews Austin has had recently between the Tuesday or Thursday show. This was two different generations sitting down and talking motivation, in-ring specifics, wrestling psychology and history, what is and isn’t right about the business, and much more. Kendrick is one of the most articulate, evenhanded, and humble wrestlers in the business, and his wealth of knowledge shines through in this interview. Almost every subject the two tackled was interesting and worth listening to. This is exactly the type of interviews with stars that most fans want from wrestling podcasts. If you only have limited time, check out the talk of rest holds, younger wrestlers not seeking advice, and Kendrick talking about babyfaces.
Chris Gaspare is a teacher from Maryland who has been watching wrestling since 1989 when he saw his first WCW Saturday Night episode and quickly rented as many NWA and WWF VHS tapes he could find in local stores. He also attended Tri-State Wrestling Alliance and early ECW shows in Philadelphia, which really kicked his fandom into high gear. He lapsed in the mid-2000s, but returned to the wrestling fold a few years ago.