Stone Cold's Legacy Revealed19 Feb, 2008 By: John Latchem
While it may not have all his pivotal matches, the recently released The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin three-DVD set may be the most comprehensive retrospective on Austin's professional wrestling career yet assembled.
“It kind of really fills in the gap of all the other DVDs I've done,” Austin said. “I think there's some good material on this DVD, but we came out with so many DVDs we didn't put too much of that on this one because it's already been covered.”
Earlier DVDs, covering his career in World Wrestling Entertainment, include 'Cause Stone Cold Said So, Hell Yeah: Stone Cold's Saga Continues, Austin vs. McMahon, Austin 3:16 Uncensored, Stone Cold Steve Austin: What? and The Stone Cold Truth.
But the $34.95 Legacy set from WWE Home Video, distributed by Genius Products, goes back even further, with Austin himself guiding viewers through his tour of three different wrestling promotions.
Austin said he recorded the interview for the DVD following his promotional tour for his movie The Condemned (on DVD from Lionsgate) and was exhausted.
“In the 15 years that I wrestled, I've got a lot of great memories,” Austin said. “But I'll remember more stuff about other guys' careers than mine.”
The story of Austin (real name: Steve Williams) begins with his stint in Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where he describes himself as “a decent mechanic in the ring but certainly not a star,” to the cult favorite Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), known for its brutal, hardcore style.
Such a compilation would have been impossible just a decade ago, when wrestling promotions were highly territorial and protective of their interests. That such a DVD exists at all is another facet of the legacy of Stone Cold, whose career coincided with a unique confluence of events fueled by the bitter rivalry between the WWE and WCW, known as the Monday Night War.
In the late 1990s, Austin's immense popularity and famous feud with WWE chairman Vince McMahon helped propel the WWE back into dominance of professional wrestling.
“When you talk about the employee versus the boss, being able to live vicariously through the things I was doing to Mr. McMahon,” Austin said. “It just worked out like gangbusters.”
As a result, McMahon bought out WCW and, later, ECW, to form the world's largest pro wrestling archive, a development Austin said he could never have imagined “in a million years.”
“There were a lot of factors that went on behind the scenes,” Austin said. “If I had stayed in WCW … I would have been just some other guy in the ring. As it happened, I got fired and WWE gave me an opportunity.”
Austin's keys to success are echoed in his advice to newcomers.
“Don't pretend to be anything that you're not,” Austin said.
For Austin, that meant avoiding the traditional wrestling role of good guy or bad guy, finding tremendous success as a beer-guzzling, anti-hero champion.
Now retired from competition, the Texas-born Austin spends a lot of his free time hunting and fishing, and would love to some day host a hunting TV show. He said he has a couple of potential movie projects in the works. With his last match having occurred in 2003, Austin said he has no plans to return to the ring, preferring to make an occasional WWE appearance when appropriate.
“These days when I go and do an appearance for the WWE it's a lighthearted affair,” Austin said. “I'll cut a funny promo, clank a few beers together and give somebody a Stone Cold stunner. That's not what I want to be remembered for.
“I want to be remembered as that guy who brought on the gray area into a black and white business … the bad guy that everyone ended up loving.
“I had one of the best runs in the history of the business,” Austin said, “and I'm quite proud of it.”