WWE Confidential by cfgb
What do *I* think about the Steve Austin situation? I'm playing wait and
see. Last time a crop of main eventers disappeared at the same time, people
predicted doom - and things turned out better than okay. Judge the
federation by the quality of feuds, who's main eventing, and not who's
That said, I'm betting WWE really wants us to pick sides. We'll see...
TONIGHT: Steve Austin took his ball and went home. He's a coward, and no one saw it coming.
Gene Okerlund is back, and looking REAL happy with all the dirt around him this week. Steve Austin walked off the job on Monday night, and have left a lot of people scratching their heads. Are his days with the WWE over? Jim Ross and Vince McMahon will answer that later. But first...
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan! He's one of the most recognized faces in Sportz Entertainment history. Hulk Hogan even credited him as a key factor in Hulkamania's success. Bob Costas called him the smartest man in wrestling. Unfortunately recently, he found himself in a situation he couldn't talk his way out of.
A clip of WWF Primetime is shown - where he tells Monsoon next week the show is his and he'll never see Gorilla again!
Bobby Heenan's here. And noticeably lisping. He's got cancer from his right side all the way to underneath his tongue. After the doctors told him he had an 80% chance on making it, he decided not to waste his time feeling bad. He's got other things he wants to do. He took his medicine, he took his chemo, and is actually on a feeding tube. He hasn't had a solid meal since last August or September.
He still wants to travel, do commercials, and he has a good coming out. He never had time to write the book before because he was always on the road, and is happy he had a chance to do it. He's been part of the biz since 1961. He always wanted to be a manager, but wrestled because there was more money. His style was simple: He snuck doing everything he did and took hard bumps to keep the people happy. He patterned himself after Buddy Rogers, Ray Stevens, and Pat Patterson. But as far as stand up guys went - Jack Lanza and Gorilla Monsoon were the guys he looked up to.
Arn Anderson says Bobby Heenan does NOT hand out compliments real easily, and he thought as much of Gorilla Monsoon as anyone else on the planet. Bobby agrees, saying he didn't have as much fun as doing Primetime with Monsoon. The chemistry was just there. Steve Lombardi remembers the fact that you never knew what Heenan was going to say. Arn says he's as funny as anyone he's ever heard. Heenan says they didn't rehearse anything - they just did it and Vince likes it that way.
He was in town for a baseball game when the WWF came to the Garden. He went to work there and met Vince - and he made you feel like you'd found the job you wanted for the rest of your life. He's demanding, but you knew it was going to take off and be the biggest thing ever.
Vince went right to the Garden with Wrestlemania. When Mr. T came out, he knew it was the greatest thing he'd ever seen. Backstage, he toasted Vince with a beer and told him "here's to Wrestlemania 2!". Vince told him "no, here's to Wrestlemania 102!".
When you work for the WWF, it's a different feeling. It's like being called up from Toledo to the Yankees. If you're no good, you're right back to the minors. The number one promotion had the number one talent.
Arn felt that Bobby Heenan was so over with the fans that he often overshadowed the wrestlers he managed because he was so hated.
In 1988, for some reason he was inducted on to the All Madden Team despite never having played football in his life. His name is right there under Coach.
He had a great run in the WWF. His daughter was going to university so he wanted to be a little closer to her down south, then WCW called. All he had to do was sit there and talk. The production was poor, but he was paid. He didn't feel they knew how to produce a wrestling show, and they especially didn't know who Bobby Heenan was. They just wanted him to be an announcer. Nobody there cared. (HAH! Great clip for that comment - as they show Bobby freaking out at Halloween Havoc 1995 when The Giant fell off the roof only to have Tony sit there like a dumbass and tell him the show has to go on. They couldn't have picked it any better!) He took his cheque every two weeks and went home, but he lost his creative juices.
When they went under, he called the WWF, and they asked him to come to Wrestlemania for the Battle Royal. It was a world of difference to him. Everyone asked him how he was, and it was like he'd never left. He hated to leave when it was over that night. He loved being with professional people and people who care.
He can't talk as well anymore, but he wouldn't trade his life for anything in his life.
STILL TO COME: Vince McMahon bashes Steve Austin.
BEFORE THEY WERE SUPERSTARS
Kurt Angle grew up in Pittsburgh. The one thing the city took pride in was the sports. In the 70's they won 4 Superbowls, and 2 World Series titles.
When the referee raised his hand in Atlanta, his first thought was relief. He finally accomplished his dream. He held his gold medal and started crying.
David Angle, Kurt's brother had to contain his mother. She couldn't walk down the steps her legs were so numb.
He was a very lovable kid, always had a smile. He was very affectionate and didn't want to hurt anyone. His brothers wanted him to be tougher, which helped push him to be a better athlete.
David recalls Friday Night Fights. Eric and Kurt would put the gloves on and duke it out until one of 'em wound up crying. Kurt and his dad would play a game called Machine, where his dad would tie him up in knots until Kurt had enough.
His first wrestling memory was when he was 7. At his first tournament, he walked in and played with the other kids before the tournament. In his first match he got pinned. He learned that if he was going to continue, it would be a slow process.
He never enjoyed the practice, but he looked forward to it because he knew he'd be better. They'd take him through some gruelling practices - but it's the way he wanted it.
Kurt points out a building his dad built. The building behind it was the one he died at - when he fell off the crane and landed on his head. Kurt was determined from that day forward to be the best at wrestling, which is what the family took the most pride in.
In college he went from 214 pounds to 199. In the finals he met a guy who was 6'7" and 270 pounds - and actually managed to beat him to win his second college championship.
He shows off his sheets from one month of training. He'd run up steep hills with a partner on his back. He worked 253 hours in a month. He did this to build his stamina and help his dream come true.
The Olympics was what he meant to do, but the WWF was his calling. There's nobody more legit than him, since he's an amateur turned pro. And it's been the time of his life.
Alright kids, here's what you've been waiting for. The cover story's up next.
Two weeks ago, Steve Austin went on Byte This to vent his frustration. But it didn't end there. Just hours before RAW went on the air, Austin took off. Fans may have believed this is part of the show, but it's not. And the Stone Cold era may be done.
Clips are played from Steve Austin's appearance on Byte This where he sounded off about the direction, followed by Vince's appearance where he said that Austin can be difficult to work with at times, but that's just Stone Cold. Then at RAW, Flair states Austin didn't show...
Vince: "Austin for whatever reason was hell bent on not showing. He got on the plane and went home. He took his ball and went home, and obviously, I'm pissed off."
JR: "He was the lead performer advertised to be at that event at a major venue, and he didn't fulfill his obligations. He decided to go home. That's wrong."
Vince: "I had a phone call from JR, who's in charge of talent relations at about 10:00, 10:30 Sunday night, informing me that Austin wasn't terribly excited about the creative that we had set for him on Monday."
JR: "He mentioned on Sunday that he wanted things changed or he wasn't coming to work, and I said you know that's not the way you handle your problems, that's not the way you do business, and that's not the way we do business. So I asked him to talk to Vince, and he said no, and I asked him how come, and there was just a lot of aversion there, he was very uncomfortable about talking to the owner of the company about his issues. He's never been in the past until the past few months."
Vince: "I then immediately called Austin on his cell phone and told him no matter what hour it was he got this message to call me. So about 2 o'clock in the morning he called me, so that began my Monday. I went through the entire creative process with him, explaining how this was good for him and good for the company, and he said alright. So in any event, not that I needed his approval, but it's always important when you're working with talent to have them buy in to what it is you're trying to do because they feel a lot better about it - they feel a part of the creative process, and that is what I attempted to do and thought I had done."
JR: "When I got to the Phillips Arena on Monday, I was informed through our travel service that he had independently made a call. And he booked himself and his wife flights home."
Vince: "He tried to do this in a way that no one would even know that he wasn't going to be at the event."
JR: "At that point I started calling him again, and left several messages and I finally got through to him when I think he was boarding the plane. 'Cause I heard flight attendants talking with him 'how you doing' and I heard him sit in his seat, so we had a very frank conversation. He made a mistake, he screwed up. And he had no business going home. I did most of the talking in that conversation. In our other talks over the past two or three weeks over this situation, he's done most of the talking. And I'd listened long enough."
Vince: "He had done this once before, and both myself and JR had the conversation that you can't ever walk off the job like this. This is the only unpardonable sin perhaps that there is in our business, because fans are expected to see you. When you don't show, it's the worst thing that can happen. So we had the history of this happening the day after Wrestlemania, and I just chalked it up to burnout. That's what he said, and I had to take him at face value."
JR: "That's not the Stone Cold that I know. It hurts. He made a big mistake. He didn't admit he made a mistake, but I said it to him more than once. I told him to get his ass off the airplane and come to work. Face the man eye to eye, go into a closed room, I'd go in there if I was asked or needed or wanted, and would help expedite out a conversation to help settle his issues. If at the end of that conversation we were not able to come to a mutual understanding, clear the air, then he should get his ass home and stay home. He made the biggest mistake of his professional career."
Vince: "From a business standpoint, I look into the mirror firstly when things like this happen and say what could I done to change this, what could I have done not to have this happen. And I don't know that answer, I'll accept whatever blame I can put on myself in terms of lack of communication or whatever, but when someone won't speak to you, when someone won't come to work and discuss intelligently how to get out of something, my hands are tied then. Here before whatever disagreement he and I had, we always sat down and always worked it out. We always say eachother's point of view, we always worked that way. When someone won't sit down with you, they refuse to show up, they've screwed you."
JR: "Being senior vice president of talent relations and being Stone Cold's friend theoretically was I guess a conflict of interest. That's my fault. Vince talked about looking in the mirror, I've got no problem looking in the mirror, I'm the guy that's responsible for talent. Me. If you can't solve a problem, you're eliminated. Stone Cold eliminated himself from the solution without giving us a chance to solve the problem. He took himself out of the game. Vince McMahon didn't, JR didn't, Jim Ross didn't... Steve Williams took Steve Austin out of the game, and put him in San Antonio. I'm gonna take a lot of responsibility for this deal. And there's gonna be a lot of things written, you know half the crap you read is wrong. Didn't want to do this, didn't want to do that, people have active imaginations that just want to stir crap. Bottom line is, he's got some issues that maybe someday will be revealed, maybe someday will really be explored by the public because that's what the public wants. That's why I'm doing this interview now, because people want to know. And quite frankly, this company wouldn't be where it is today without our fans. On that night there were kids in Stone Cold t-shirts, there were people there that had posters, those fans had made him a very, very wealthy man."
Vince: "You know when you have an investment like we had in Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was a tremendous investment, hours and hours of hard work on his part as well as ours. I don't know you can't calculate the loss of this investment for the long term. 10 years from now Austin would not have been in the ring, but 10 years from now Stone Cold Steve Austin as a part of World Wrestling Entertainment would have been making speeches, personal appearances, things of that nature. He would always be Stone Cold Steve Austin, and so that investment we made, he took that and flushed it down the toilet."
JR: "This is a very unique business, I think maybe sometimes the things that go on behind the scenes are more intriguing and more thought provoking than what we broadcast. I don't know what his problems are, I don't know why someone who could be the biggest name in the history of sportz entertainment could say I'm not going to come to work, I'm not going to talk things out with the people who have helped me because I'm pissed off, I'm unhappy, because I can't take it anymore. And I'm not big on psychiatrists, getting on the couch time, I've gotta have a sabbatical, and I've gotta have time, and all that bullshit. A man's a man, and he's always been a man's man. He was the first man in the building, and the last man to leave. And why all of a sudden we can't be trusted, and the people who have spent hours and hours with him on a lot of tough situations let me tell you, a lot of tough personal situations, why we're not trust worthy now. I'm gonna go home. I'm very disappointed. I'm damn sure disappointed. He's been in my home many many times, I've been in his home many times. I was the only person in this company who was invited to his wedding. I felt that to be a very big privilege, I was honoured to be there and I'd do it again. But we've gotta re-evaluate where we are as human beings. As Jim Ross and Steve Williams. Not Good Ol' JR with the black hat which I'm not wearing today because I'm not Good Ol' JR, and Steve Williams my friend that's been affected, and I'd like to see it someday put back to where it was. But I don't know how in god's name how that's gonna happen, because I don't know when I'm gonna see him, I don't know when he's gonna communicate. I don't know what's wrong with him, I don't know how you can just turn your back and go home. I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it, I don't care how bad things are. We've all done things here that we're uncomfortable doing. I've had pig shit poured all over me in a pig pen, I've kissed Mr. McMahon's ass, I've been beat up by a woman...I've had a lot of things happen here. And it's because we want to entertain people, it's a thing we all believed we were going to do in that program and we did it as a team effort. You win here as a team and you lose here as a team. But you don't just turn your back and say I won't do this and go home. Maybe someday the real story is going to come out as to why he made this decision. Only he knows. I don't know."
Vince: "I'm personally hurt. Steve was a friend of mine. I have no idea what motivation, what could possibly motivate him to walk off the job like a child, take his ball and go home. I'm angry about it. At the same time from a professional level, I always feel like I've failed when something like this happens. I always thought I went the extra mile for Stone Cold, more than anyone I've ever worked with. I've always felt I bent over backwards for him. And this hurts. But he did what he did knowing the consequences. This is not a publicity stunt, this is something that's sad, and that's what we're confronted with, this is sad. Just walking off, he spits in the face of everyone who ever supported him, he spits in the face of everyone in this organization who helped him become the talent that he is. It's sad."
Vince: "Whenever there is hardship, whenever something occurs in life that you don't expect, those that are the survivors try to take something negative and turn it into something positive. That's what we've always done here in World Wrestling Entertainment. Where there's an opportunity like there is now, Austin was a huge superstar, as such he meant so much to our company. Without him here, notwithstanding the devastating effect on our company, it makes room for other superstars here y to go to the top."
JR: "It's time for the players to play. We're gonna find out who is gonna be main event level stars. I believe we have a lot of potentially great ones. And we have some established stars who need to get back to the top of their game too. But it's gonna create opportunity. And I believe the benefactors of it will be our fans, because they're gonna see new situations, new rivalries, new stars, different opportunities to live their dreams just like Stone Cold Steve Austin lived his dream in this company. I think the WWE is gonna be just fine. I hope Steve Williams is gonna be just fine."
Vince: "The door is not open for him to return, and I'll tell you why. Because again, I have a responsibility to our stock holders, a responsibility to our fans, and I too have to look in the mirror. And when someone walks out on you without even telling you as he did the day after Wrestlemania, and I chalked that up to burnout, and all of the sudden they do it again, especially when I talked to that person that same day, the morning of that same day, and they intentionally walk out without informing you or anybody else in the organization that they're not gonna be there, then as a business man how could I trust that man to come back, to build him up again, then what, just so he can walk out for a third time? So I never say never in this business, but I don't know how I could do business with him."
JR: "I just don't know how anybody could trust him, because what's gonna happen in the next bump in the road? Gonna go home again? I think that goes for anybody on our roster. If you don't want to be a part of the team, and take this company to the promised land, then you can take your ass home. Don't waste anybody's time. Pack your bag, and go. But be professional enough about it to do it the right way. I got kicked in the guts. I was sick all day Monday. I was physically ill. You're damn right. Hell to me he was John Wayne. He never, never retreated. He broke his god damn neck and fought back to come back and be the top guy here. (Near tears) That's guts, conviction, belief in what he does for a living. He's gone through a horrendous divorce. Injuries, personal problems in that regard, and he came back and pulled the wagon. All of a sudden, the wagon got too heavy in his mind's eye, and he went home. It'd be like John Wayne becoming a coward in a big fight, and you'd never see it coming. I didn't see this coming. And it hurt me. Most people probably won't give a damn about me, because I'll be back on TV Monday night kicking ass because I love my job. With or without Stone Cold. Would it be better if he were there? Yes. Stone Cold ain't gonna be on RAW Monday night. Stone Cold ain't gonna be on RAW again as far as I know."
WWE SNICKERS REWIND: 1993 - Gene Okerlund, Bobby Heenan, and some poor camera man (who they don't acknowledge!!!) are trying to hitch a ride.
Gene and Bobby Heenan are on the March to Wrestlemania in 1993 - and Gene finds the Executive Office. He tells Heenan to go in and take a look while he guards. Okerlund laughs up a storm, pulling off the sign to reveal the women's bathroom. Dig the evil laugh!
Okerlund takes us in to a series of classic Bobby Heenan one liners and sketches.
Here's a look at the Warrior / Bobby Heenan Weasel Suit Match. Heenan gets knocked out cold and is forced to wear the suit. Pat Patterson says he was laughing so hard watching Heenan trip and fall all over trying to get out of the suit. Arn calls him the ultimate bad guy that people loved to hate.
Bobby wonders how many people got the chance to do the wonderful things he's done - and calls himself lucky.
Gene plugs Heenan's book "Bobby The Brain - Wrestling's Bad Boy Tell's All" is going to be out in September.
NEXT WEEK: A far lighter topic as we get up close and personal with Stacy Keibler.
You're welcome. Goodnight!