Vince Russo was the guest on The Steve Austin Show – Unleashed! this week. The two discussed their memories of working together.
Regarding the development of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin character:
“Vince never watched ECW, never. He didn’t know anything about ECW and he knew very little about ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin in WCW… I was a huge fan of ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin. I mean, the long blonde hair, the personality, the charisma was there. You had to be blind not to see it. When you came in and Vince wasn’t very familiar with what you were capable of, he put you with Ted Dibiase. ‘You’re going to be the Ringmaster.’
“Every time a new character would come in to play, he’d call me into his office and he would give me marching orders on those characters. So we get to the Ringmaster, and I’ll never forget it, he turned to me and goes ‘Vince, Steve Austin is to never say a word. Dibiase is to do all his talking.’ Now in the back of my mind, I’m thinking ‘Stunning Steve with that beautiful blonde hair’ and I’m like ‘Really Vince? Are you sure that’s what you want?’
“’Yup, that’s what we got Dibiase for, that’s what we want.’
“So I remember I had to come and relay that to you, and every week, non-stop, ‘Vince, you’ve got to find me a hole, I’ve got to get that opportunity, you’ve got to write something for me to talk…,’ I mean, non-stop, every single week. You were so much on my mind that there was one little tiny spot to put the Ringmaster on color commentary. Now, I knew by doing this, Dibiase’s not around, it is just Steve Austin on headsets. I made sure that I watched that from the back.
“I still train young kids today, I’m a character developing coach, I tell everybody, ‘Steve Austin was given a 90 second to two-minute window, and in that freaking window, he became a multimillionaire ten times over.’ And I’ll never forget watching you on the headsets and knowing the psychology, knowing that you knew ‘This was my shot, this was my opportunity,’ and I remember listening and I was just like ‘Holy shit.’ Like, that’s it. I mean, that’s it. Then from there obviously was the explosion, but that’s what I tell people all the time when they complain about TV time, or ‘They’re not giving me the push.’ I say ‘Push? Steve Austin was given 90 freaking seconds. That’s all the guy needed. Don’t talk to me about a push.’
“So when I go back to that time and I see the evolution. To this day it gives me goosebumps, because what you did with that opportunity, I never saw that again in wrestling.”
How The Rock’s name came to be:
“I didn’t find this out until almost a year ago. I was carrying around with me for a long time, in my head, I just had the name ‘The Rock, The Rock, The Rock.’ My right hand to god, I never told Rock, you know why? I didn’t want to disrespect Don Muraco. I was a huge Don Muraco fan. He was Don ‘The Rock’ Muraco. So for the longest time, I don’t know what it was, but I’m like ‘Oh my god, The Rock, The Rock, The Rock, The Rock.’ Finally we were at a live show and I was one-on-one with him, we were standing there in the back.
“My right hand to god, I said ‘Rock, do me a favor tonight. Go out there, cut your promo in the third person.’ And he looked at me and he goes ‘What do you mean by that?’ I said ‘Every time you talk, talk in the third person – “The Rock says this, The Rock says that,” you know? And he kind of looked at me like ‘Really?’ And I’m like, ‘Just go out there and give it a shot. Just try it.’
“Sure enough, I’m in the back, Rock goes out for his promo. It was the Steve Austin moment. I’m sitting there and I’m watching this, and I’m saying ‘Holy s**t, that’s it.’ Did I ever know he’d be applauding Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes? No, I didn’t know that, but I knew, like, forget it. He’s going to the moon.”
Taking issue with Bruce Prichard’s comments:
“About two years ago, and keep in mind, after my WWE run, my run was over in about 1999. In about 2000, I wrote a book, and all these stories were very, very fresh to my memory when I wrote the book.
“I’m going to be honest with you, and I don’t mean to throw him under the bus, but it really hurt me. Bruce Prichard does a podcast now, and I don’t know why Bruce decided he was going to do a podcast about Vince Russo, but he decided to dedicate an entire podcast to Vince Russo. Him and his buddy, they had my book, and they’re going through excerpts of my book.
“So they come across the excerpt where I tell the Rock story that I just told, and Bruce Prichard sits there and basically says ‘Vince is full of s**t, that never happened. He made all that up. Jim Ross was the one who gave the nickname “The Rock,” to The Rock.’
Steve, my right hand to god, I never heard that before. I never heard Jim Ross’s involvement or anything like that. But I’m saying to myself, ‘The Rock from Rocky isn’t rocket science.’ So is it very possible that Jim Ross and Vince Russo had the idea at the same time? Absolutely! I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Oh Jim Ross, never,’ I have no idea what conversations Jim Ross had with The Rock, none. I know the conversations I had with The Rock, but for Bruce to sit there and say I made that all up and it never happened… I mean, I know what happened.”
Rush’s Analysis: Full disclosure, for brevity’s sake, the word “Bro” was edited from this transcript. Apparently, it’s infectious, as Steve started off the interview dropping “Bro” several times, even prior to Russo’s first comments.
It was a fascinating listen, as Austin and Russo clearly have different opinions on pro wrestling in general. Each time Russo would offer his widely known opinion on something such as not enjoying long matches, Austin would express surprise and quickly move on. The two have a good chemistry, and Steve chose to maintain a positive flow to the interview over a couple hours of arguing, though it’s hard to say what would’ve made for a better episode.
Russo was outspoken with his opinion on the Something To Wrestle With episode about him on his own podcast at the time it dropped. It seemed out of left field for him to drudge the whole thing up a year after the fact, though Russo recognized the show he was on here and was careful not to disparage Jim Ross’s contribution to The Rock’s persona.
I love episodes of Austin’s show that focus on pro wrestling, so for me, this was a hit.
To check out the entire interview, visit The Steve Austin Show – Unleashed! at PodcastOne.
Please credit PWPodcasts.com when using any portion of this transcript.