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PODCAST RECAP AND REVIEW: The Steve Austin Show with Justin Credible on his struggles with substance abuse, WWE’s Wellness Program saving his life, how DDP has helped him, looking back on his career

The Steve Austin Show

Release Date: March 20th, 2018

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

0:00 – Intro (The podcast starts at 2:34. The first 2:33 are sponsor reads)

Steve is at 317 Gimmick Street and will be talking to P.J Polaco aka Justin Credible. Steve knew him from his days in WWE and ECW. He says P.J was a great worker and gave Steve a lot of his material early in his Stone Cold days. P.J was a vital part of the beginning of the Stone Cold character.

While they did not run in the same circles, they always got along well and were on the same page with respect to the business. He was on the podcast a few years ago talking about some of his demons. Currently, P.J is in the process of working on a documentary about his struggles with addictions. On this podcast, Steve will be catching up with P.J talking about a variety of topics such as his relapse, getting clean, and the business of pro wrestling.

Before getting to P.J, Steve talks about his vacation with his nephew and nieces in Nevada. They decided to come back to LA early due to the weather in Nevada. This is where the story gets fun as Steve talks about his experiences trying to find a golf course with his nephew and going to the driving range (6:38 into the podcast). Steve hadn’t hit a golf ball in about ten years and admits to being ‘a complete effin rookie’. He talks about his experience at the driving range and how well (or not well) he hit the ball. This was a fun story, definitely take listen to that one.

14:46 – P.J Polaco aka Justin Credible

Steve welcomes P.J to the show. They shoot the breeze about Steve’s vacation with his nephew and niece and how bad his golf game is. P.J talks about his golf game as well but like Steve, wasn’t very good.

Steve mentions P.J is working on a documentary and asks him how he’s been doing (19:00 into the podcast). P.J had a history of substance abuse but got off opioids 5 or 6 years ago. Since then, P.J hasn’t been happy with who he was and was trying to find a life outside of the business. This caused him to start casually drinking which snowballed into drinking up to 750 litres of vodka a day. At one point, his weight ballooned up to almost 300 lbs. He says he was on the verge of death with his liver failing and thought he might lose his legs. He realized he needed help and reached out to the WWE (Wellness Program).

In December, he suffered a relapse which happened publicly at a show in Connecticut (there was video of the incident that went viral). From that incident, he met two people in the movie business and they put him together with Diamond Dallas Page to start filming a documentary of P.J’s journey to get his life back on track. They are not trying to do a wrestling movie but more of a human story. It is currently in production and while they have some ideas, they don’t know where it’s going to end up nor do they have a big finish line yet. They are keeping the camera’s rolling and P.J has a camera that he keeps on at his house which he says can be weird. Netflix and iTunes are already on board to distribute the documentary and they are hoping to finish shooting in late spring. P.J says it’s been a good experience and hopes this will be good for people in his situation who have had substance abuse issues.

At the time of this podcast, P.J has been sober for 90 days and two weeks (excellent job P.J).

Steve brings up ‘The Resurrection of Jake Roberts’ documentary and says DDP and his team have become great storytellers being able to capture everything. Steve also talks about how DDP was always working on DDP Yoga and says he still has that drive. A lot of people wrestlers lose focus once they get out of the business but DDP has been able to keep his drive and focus.

Steve asks what started P.J’s issues with substance abuse (25:29 into the podcast). P.J says his issues started with pills. Back in the early to mid 90s, it was easy to get pills. He attributes being on the road for long periods, being new to the business and trying to fit in as a reason why he started taking pills. It started with pain pills but in ECW, oxycontin was everywhere. His abuse continued when he came to the WWE for a short stint as X-Pac’s tag team partner and when he was out of work and the money ran dry, he started using IV heroin because it was cheaper. He says unfortunately, this is the story of a lot of men, women and kids who get hooked on this stuff. P.J credits the first time he was in the WWE wellness program and suboxone for saving his life. P.J talks about booze being difficult to stop because it’s so culturally available. He says he can’t have just one glass of wine because he doesn’t have that kind of control.

Steve brings up the peer pressure in pro wrestling. P.J says he wanted to fit in and went above and beyond because he was young and impressionable. He tells a story about going on vacation with his family and not refilling his vicodin prescription. When they got to their hotel, he started going through massive withdrawal systems (although he didn’t know that’s what it was). To go through that kind of withdrawal, he was taking 5 or 6 vics a day 4 times a day on top of other drugs such as Tylenol. P.J said  they would make him feel good and he’d want to go workout and train.

P.J brings up Brian James (Road Dogg) who he talks to on Twitter and who has helped him with his recovery. P.J says even though there are some really good people in recovery, there are very few who have the same experiences as a wrestler. He also says X-Pac has also been very helpful.

P.J also talks about coming back to the WWE and felt he was still ‘Aldo’ (32:03 into the podcast). He felt like he was a kid even though no one made him feel that way and wasn’t ready to grab the brass ring (shout out to Vince). He wasn’t Justin Credible who was respected in the ECW dressing room and commanded respect. Because he felt this way, he would let people take advantage of him.

P.J mentions he has been diagnosed with depression, which is a reason he self medicated. He brings up DDP who has helped him through some of these issues by getting him motivated. DDP is also trying to get P.J certified to teach some DDP yoga sessions and says yoga has helped him physically and mentally. P.J says he isolates a lot and the more he talks the easier it is for him. He is not taking any medication for his depression however his psychiatrist doesn’t feel his depression is a chemical issue but rather his day to day routine. P.J says a lot of his issues are because of him and always felt he would be wrestling for a long time. When he left the business, he admits to not being mature enough to handle being out of the business which added to his issues.

They talk briefly about Suboxone and how it helps with addictions. He takes small doses of it and while he no longer craves pills, he still craves booze which is the main reason he still takes it.

Steve asks about how his wife has been while P.J has been dealing with his issues. P.J has been with his wife for 23 years and she had an alcohol and opioid addiction as well. They were both fighting substance abuse issues at the same time which was difficult. Thankfully they are in a good place today but he almost lost her to a seizure when she tried going cold turkey from alcohol. At the time he was an in-patient with the WWE wellness program and couldn’t get to his wife. His mother and father ended up taking care of her while he was away.

Steve asks about the process of getting into the WWE Wellness Program (39:36 into the podcast). P.J says he called the office and they put him in touch with someone who was also in recovery himself. There are a network of people who are your support team and they set him up in a facility which was dependent on what P.J used. He mentions that drugs are great until they stop being great and turn on you to where it’s not fun anymore. They make you do shady things such as forging prescriptions (which P.J was arrested for) and being an addict becomes a full time job. The program taught him how to deal with his emotions as best as you can which can be difficult for guys to do. P.J was an in-patient for 30 days. They offered to have him stay longer but he had to go home to help take care of his family.

P.J was in such bad shape, that if he didn’t have a drink, he would start shaking and have the dry heaves. When he landed at the airport, the driver asked P.J if he wanted a drink before getting to the facility so he wouldn’t seize. When he got to the facility, they gave him something to help with the shakes and detoxing. They took inventory of what he was taking and for the first couple of weeks it was a rough experience. P.J says he does not remember walking in the door and taking inventory. He also says he didn’t make it on the plane the first night because he was trying to time his flight so he wouldn’t be sick, he was drunk and generally was in a bad state. He was physically in rough shape as he was getting nose bleeds, his liver was failing and he was 300 lbs.

Steve asks if he socialized while in the facility. P.J tried to make friends and met the team doctor for the Boston Red Sox as well as one of the other wrestlers. He said it was cool but it was also information overload at that time.  

Steve asks if the facility were educating P.J and what kind of tactics do they use. P.J says in some ways it is scare tactics but for the most part, they would be straight up and tell them drug addicts and alcoholics either end up in an institution like the one he was in, jail or dead. P.J says he’s experienced all three. He was in an institution, he has been in jail and he was close to death. The program gives people tools to wrap your head around some happiness and identify what makes you tick. Additionally, they teach you how to look in the mirror, face and own what you’ve done and give you the tools to move forward and be a better person.

Steve asks P.J what led him to picking vodka as his alcohol of choice (53:22 into the podcast). P.J says he started with drinking beer. At the time he was broke and would buy Natty Ice. Eventually, his tolerance started to build causing him to drink more however he didn’t like the heaviness or bloating. He started drinking vodka mixed with Coke because he didn’t like the taste of vodka. P.J wasn’t drinking to enjoy it but rather to get messed up. He would start drinking first thing in the morning and would have a bottle with him all the time. He even admits to driving while drinking which he knows was absolutely wrong.

P.J says cutting alcohol was harder than cutting pills. When he was doing pills, he was able to cut himself out. At rehab they told him to lose his cell phone because he had contacts who would provide him with drugs. Not having the cell phone made it harder to do get drugs as he could not call his contacts to buy any. Booze however, was easy to get as it was readily available.

Steve asks P.J about how he went from taking pills to IV heroin and what it was like. P.J says he and his wife were were sniffing. They were broke and only had enough money for two bags of dope (1 bag equates to 1 pill). They both knew that if they each had one bag and snorted it, they would would not get their fix and get sick. P.J asked his supplier to mix up the bags and inject him for his first time. P.J did not want to feel that withdrawal type of sick and says it’s amazing what you’ll do to not be sick. P.J says he was shooting up every 4 or 5 hours and that was just to feel normal. At the time he was not making a lot of money and was doing things like hustling family members to get money for drugs. P.J adds his addiction and the things he was doing were hidden from his family and lasted for six or seven years at least. It was hard to keep himself composed especially in front of his kids. It got to a point where you get scared and wanting to get off and figuring out how to get help.

P.J says he doesn’t think he hid his problem well and felt everyone who dealt with him at the period probably knew. Additionally, he wasn’t making a lot of money but was spending $500 to $600 every few days. In order to get money, they would ask family members or he would work wherever he could (not wrestling) and pawned almost everything he owned. He says talking about it now is OK because it was far enough in the past.

Steve asks about his relapse with alcohol. P.J says it was back in December and says it was a mental health or depression issue. He says when he’s on a roll doing things like Austin’s podcast, working a regular job and the documentary, he feels like he’s back in the community and feels OK. However the urge to drink is always there and trying to rear its ugly head.

At the show he was at in December, he thought he would have a couple of drinks and keep it hidden. However, he ended up drinking a lot and it came down to not being strong enough to resist. He brings up Brian Armstrong who said to him, that if he (Brian) could do it (recover) then anyone could do it. He stressed if P.J needed help to ask for it as men in generally keep things bottled up. He was told in rehab the importance of not bottling things up and let it out.

Steve asks about what happened to P.J when he relapsed and how he dealt with that. P.J says you have to ask yourself what do you want with your life. P.J himself doesn’t know what he wants but knows he doesn’t want to live that way or be that guy but unfortunately that guy is a part of him. While P.J is in a good place, there are hits and misses and sometimes it’s not about living day to day but trying to get through hour to hour. It comes down to how you feel about yourself in order to move forward. For P.J it’s simple, if he drinks, everything around him will crumble. He will either be dead or be ostracized from people he loves. He is trying to keep that as black as white as he can to move forward.

P.J brings up a convention at the ECW arena and Steve asks if that was a trigger as there were a lot of drugs in that building during the ECW days. P.J says it wasn’t much of a trigger because the place has changed into a multimedia centre.

This brings up a conversation about ECW and how P.J felt that promotion was like punk rock. He says ECW was right for him because it was a place where fans respected the business. He also says it was harder to get over in WWE than ECW. That said, it was a good place for him but he can’t live in the past anymore which is his biggest issue, hanging on. Physically he has nothing left in the tank to wrestle a regular schedule but it’s all he knows and what he’s put all his energy into since he was 15 years old. P.J says his biggest trigger is how does he detach himself completely. He knows he’s an extreme person and either needs to be in or out. P.J still does not have an idea of what is next for his future.

Steve asks about the documentary and P.J says they hope to have this done by end of Spring. He thinks they may end up finishing the documentary at the promotion he had his relapse at. P.J says he’s in good shape due to DDP Yoga and the documentary will be about what happened to P.J.

Steve asks if P.J ever wanted to do anything other than wrestle. P.J says no. He mentions how the wrestling business is going through a renaissance period. He doesn’t want to open a wrestling school as a lot of people have their hands in it but still loves the business and would love to be involved passing some knowledge to the younger generation. He feels he can offer something to the business but doesn’t know what it is. His long term goal as a family man is maybe to go back to school and keep wrestling as a side gig.

P.J says he wrestles a little bit but tries to do as little wrestling as possible. He will be at Wrestlecon during WrestleMania weekend and has a show coming up as well. He also plugs his twitter account (@pjpolaco).

Steve asks what P.J thinks when he looks back on his career (1:19:55 into the podcast). P.J says he feels huge disappointment because of drugs and alcohol. He says you have to be special to be up there (a top guy). P.J never thought he could be special but could be a good tag guy or good mechanic. He feels when he came back to the WWE, he was not mature enough to handle the situation and did not make the right business moves. He was always concerned with getting other people over but not himself.

Steve enjoyed working with P.J says he was instrumental in fueling the Stone Cold character. P.J says that’s cool and understands that everyone can’t be the top guy. He wishes he had played his cards better so he could help get more guys over and cites he was Batista’s, Randy Orton’s and CM Punk’s first match.

Physically, P.J says he doesn’t feel too bad but he does have some shoulder problems and will need rotator cuff surgery soon. He’s lost some weight and is starting to get some abs back. P.J says he couldn’t run a full schedule but still likes going out there. He prefers calling matches but says a lot of kids are scared to do that today. He adds calling matches was how it was back then and was a lot of fun.

He’s glad that today’s wrestling has cleaned up (less drugs, less partying) but also says there’s no fun anymore for the these kids. Today’s wrestlers don’t enjoy the fruits of their labor and P.J misses being with the boys and camaraderie.  When he does wrestle now, it brings him back to a good place. He has a bag of tricks that he can go to that will be over with the crowd. Additionally, he likes to keep matches simple and talks about working with Jerry Lynn and Steve Corino in threeway matches. They wouldn’t necessarily call things in a match but would do Flair/Steamboat spots. They would also give code names for moves. Today, P.J is more of a stand up fighter and does limited bumping.

Steve says as you progress in your careers you have to work smarter not harder. P.J knew he had developed a good understanding of that when he and X-Pac were wrestling against Bob and Crash Holly in a tag match (1:29:43 into the podcast). Bob wanted to do an Alabama Slam spot and P.J wasn’t sure if he could take the move. He was able to express his concerns in a way that did not offend. They ended up doing something else which was much easier.

P.J plugs his Facebook, twitter and instagram (@pjpolaco) and his documentary can be found at www.credibledocumentary.com. He also has a YouTube that you can subscribe to. P.J says reminiscing with Steve put a smile on his face. Steve wishes P.J luck, thanks him for being on the podcast and they sign off.

1:35:17 – Show Wrap

Steve thanks P.J for being on the show and says he is looking forward to P.J’s documentary. He thanks his sponsors, plugs his social media (@steveaustinbsr on twitter and instagram) and plugs his appearance at WrestleCon on April 7th and 8th (www.Wrestlecon.com). And that is a wrap.

Rating 7/10

With due respect to P.J and the issues he has gone through, I was not a huge fan of this podcast. There was a lot of talk about P.J’s recovery and while I wish P.J the best as he continues his road to recovery it was not a subject matter I could entirely get into. There were parts of the podcast that were really interesting (like the process for the WWE Wellness program) but other parts that really dragged and were difficult to listen to. Not a bad podcast, just not one of my favorites. Last note…even though I was not a huge fan of Justin Credible or Aldo Montoya, I do hope P.J makes it through and gets his life into a good place.

Timestamps

0:00 – Intro
6:38 – Steve And His Nephew Go To The Driving Range
14:46 – P.J Polaco aka Justin Credible
19:00 – How P.J is doing
25:29 – The Start Of P.J’s Substance Abuse
32:03 – When P.J Came Back To The WWE
39:36 – WWE Wellness Program
53:22 – Alcohol
1:19:55 – What P.J Thinks When He Looks Back At His Career
1:29:43 – Story About Working With Bob And Crash Holly
1:35:17 – Show Wrap

Writer Bio

Joe lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and two boys. He’s been watching wrestling for about 40 years (give or take) but don’t consider himself any sort of expert. He just likes wrestling.  Check him out on twitter and instagram @ja113.

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