QUICK QUOTES: What was the feeling backstage following Steve Austin’s walkout?

Something To Wrestle With… Bruce Prichard (Episode 50: Austin Walks Out)

Air date: 6/9/17

The decision was made for Austin to put over Brock Lesnar in a King of the Ring qualifying match. This would be done on Raw with no build up. Austin would instead no-show that Raw and walk out of the company for an extended period. Here’s what Bruce Prichard had to say about the match being booked:

“I gotta tell you, I agree with everything as far as Steve’s philosophical point of view on this. Because it was a pitch that was made on a Friday night and it was like ‘ok, then what?’ ‘We’ll get there.’ So it was like, that was a money match that you could build to that we probably should’ve built to. So to throw it on TV without any promotion, again, what would’ve been wrong with promoting that on Monday, get a week out of it, get something out of it if you want to get the television rating. I get that. But you’re not going to get the rating by doing it out of the clear blue without any promotion. Vine felt that by doing it without any promotion, by announcing it on the show, making it happen that night that it made us ‘must watch TV.’ ‘If you don’t watch, you’re gonna miss something big.’ This was essentially that – ‘oh my god, Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar hooked up and Brock caught one on him. That was the creative philosophy behind it, which I also see. But the promoter in me is like ‘eh, there’s money there and I would save that.’ I see both sides of it.”

What was the feeling backstage following Austin’s walkout?

“I think it was disbelief. There was a consensus of, of everybody, the last person you would think that would leave was Steve. You kind of felt that he’s a lifer, he’s our guy and no matter what, good times and bad, he’s going to be there. It was shock. It was pure shock, not believing that this was really happening. And then the shock went to anger. ‘How can he do that?’ It was a whole range of emotions. Steve wasn’t taking anybody’s calls. I reached out to him, he didn’t take my call. He didn’t want to talk to anybody and I think there was a point that was the last straw with Vince in his mind at that time, that if he’s going to walk out ‘I won’t tolerate that.’”

Vince and JR did an interview on WWE Confidential a few days after the walkout where Vince said he couldn’t trust Austin and would not do business with him again:

“It’s that hurt animal that’s just fighting back any way he can. Had cooler heads prevailed, I don’t know. It’s business. I think Vince was putting his business hat on and saying ‘let me get my story out there, we’re going to take our stance. He walked out on all you fans’ and spin the story that way. JR hated it, he didn’t want anything to do with it, but Vince felt having JR there kind of softened it because of the relationship with Steve.

“I think Vince was legitimately sad from the get go. Then he’s got to put his business hat on to get through TV. Then he’s got to deal with the realization of ‘what’s next’ and the pissed off sets in. What do you do when somebody hurts you, you try to hurt them, and this was a little bit of that. ‘He’s going to walk out on us, well then f**k him.” It’s not ‘I quit’ it’s ‘you’re fired.’ And I think that’s what this was.”

(Recap and transcription by Jeff Rush)

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