IN DEFENSE OF AUSTIN
Nearly all of the latest rumblings and grumblings of the much diminished internet wrestling so-called community have centered around Steve Austin's pseudo-James Brown "I just can't go on anymore" act and his subsequent less than glamorous headlines dealing with accusations of domestic abuse on his part. No other wrestler's participation in those tales would have overshadowed the world that he came from, as it did in Austin's case. Austin's current state of affairs has moved various internet writers to take potshots and drop bombshells directly at Austin, almost as if they had been storing invective for years, ready to hurl it at a moment's notice. Yet all these blunt electronic words are the equivalent of feeble-minded mental invalids attempting brain surgery with sharpened sticks and ball-peen hammers.
The worst offenders are over at a site that I cannot mention under the conditions by which CRZ is permitting me use of his forum, but to give you a hint: the site's name refers to a code dialed in to obtain telephone directory assistance, as well as being street slang for the word "information", as well as being a notation for April 11. One writer in particular (if you go over there, you can probably figure out who) has even gone so far as to threaten Austin with a lynch mob, primed and pumped for so-called street justice. It is this idiot and his words of vituperation that created the incentive for this column. It's something I straight out had to do.
Let us leave alone for a minute the fact that this writer's ridiculous threats were largely pre-emptive of any particular facts (in the hallowed tradition of never letting either facts or lack thereof stand in the way of shit-talking) and deal with the conditions surrounding Austin about two weeks ago. The WWE writing lately has sucked shit. No one is disputing that. The business as a whole was sucking shit when Austin first arrived in the then-WWF and he nearly single-handedly brought it (and the business as a whole) back from the brink to unprecedented historical levels. Yes, he did get/create the best gimmick perhaps ever and he did have a great foil in Vince McMahon, but can you honestly see ANYONE else taking it and running with it as well as he did, both on the stick and in the ring? Sure, he may have taken his name from either a 80s Rainbow song or the title of a Brian Bosworth movie (I don't buy that cold cup of tea shit for a minute), but so what? Austin realized wherein success may lie in the world of wrestling and not only made the audience identify with him, but actively want to BE him. No one defined cool as Austin did, not even Fonzie. Even when Austin went nuts in his attempted heel turn, people aped his mannerisms because his magnetism and pull was still too strong, resulting in his heel turn being derailed (though I suppose you could say he finally accomplished it now). Simply put, Austin was right all along. The title should have been permanently cemented around his waist.
Now we get to the hard part. CRZ noted earlier that he could not understand what two people could be fighting about that would cause one who loved the other to be moved to damage the other. CRZ, incidentally, has shown the only glimmer of understanding (or even an attempt at) about the situation so far. I will take it one step farther and show you a potential scenario. I'm not saying this happened -- only the two involved know for sure what went down -- but picture what I write next and see if you can dig with me the immortal words of Chris Rock, "I'm not saying he should have done it, but I understand." Those of you with a room temperature I.Q. may leave now. Those predisposed to form a clusterfuck assembly with the express purpose of attacking a certain celebrity may skip ahead to the part where you are addressed.
For everyone else, I present one possible scenario: Austin arrives at RAW, sees the show sheet, which probably has him jobbing to Brock Lesnar. Austin interprets this as intentionally fucking him over and decides to cut loose now, with whatever remaining shreds of dignity are still hanging. Austin wants to preserve some kind of legacy. He has been the biggest success of all-time in the wrestling world and feels he deserves more consideration that the shit McMahon (one of them) is attempting to shovel down his throat, perhaps at the behest of their respective lover and backstage political manipulator, Triple H. Shit, the whole thing is one big fucking insult after another and maybe never going to get better. Why bother? He doesn't need the money or the risk of getting injured to put a rookie over, not now in the twilight of his career. It's not like his injuries are suddenly going to heal and time is limited. So, he says fuck it and cruises, Debra in tow. He declines to answer his cell phone, because what can they possibly tell him? Are they going to book the show to suit his whims? No way. If that was ever a consideration, they already would have and he would still be there. Fuck 'em.
At the airport, Debra, perhaps being a bit more far-sighted, points out that this particular move, which he already tried once not so long ago, may not be in his best interests to continue. She likely has the best interests of his career in mind, but Austin is equally non-interested in any opinion that runs counter to his own (because Austin is right). The WWE is the enemy now. Any words that do not support him are seditious, an act of treason. Either someone is with him (taking his side as wives are supposed to, goddammit) or against him. The WWE is clearly trying to ruin him and make a mockery of 3:16. Bullshit on that. Austin is going home. Debra, aware that Austin is unreceptive, drops the matter for the night, perhaps sensing it is still too fresh of a subject and not far enough removed for perspective. She decides to wait until tomorrow, when Austin is sober and hopefully, more rational.
The next day, Austin is still sticking to his counsel (he is still right) and gunning down beers. He doesn't deserve the shit McMahon handed to him. The more he thinks, the madder he gets. To Debra, every second that passes hurts their cases more and more. Her own career (such as it was) has been tanked since marrying Austin. This latest action is not helping. She gets a bit more persistent in telling Austin to think about what he is doing. Oh, he's thought about it all right and fuck Vince. He doesn't need any of them anymore. They can come back to him (he is right, after all). Debra knows the tides of the WWE are not with them and tries to be a bit stronger in her argument. Austin has dismissed her words, nearly from the moment she said them, and now begins to question her loyalty. What side is she on? Is she Vince's husband or his? Why isn't she more supportive? What the fuck?
Debra get pissed and assumes the hands on the hips gesture and starts badgering Austin. Austin has heard enough and walks off. He doesn't want to think about the shit anymore. He just wants to be left alone and have another beer. He's still right and fuck the WWE. They got somethin' comin' someday all right, fuckin' people over right and left who helped them, who made them what they are. Anyone else sold that much merchandise? Nope, didn't think so. Did he run off and go make movies? Not likely. He even passed over opportunities. Bunch of ungrateful fucks. Bret Hart was dead on the money about Vince and that's the bottom line.
Debra won't be put off, so she follows him. Austin repeats that he doesn't want to talk about it anymore. But, it's her future, too, and she does want to talk about it. Austin tries to leave because he's a good person. Anyone who saw his backstory knows that. Good people don't hit women (everyone knows that, too), so Austin tries to get away from the nagging. He will deal with it all later, but he doesn't want to talk about it right now. Just drop it. Debra wants to go back and try to work things out with Vince and the writing staff. Good ol' JR called on the cell, they want to talk and work things out, let's go. Austin tells her to go, if she wants, but he's not going with her. Debra knows that her going back alone will amount to very little. Austin (name value) has to go back too or there is no gain. Austin adds that he may not be there when she gets back, if she goes by herself. Debra is really threatened now... and panicky.
We have to go back. No, never. The harder she pushes, the more he pulls away. Quiet discussion lapping at the beach has given way to a 40 ft. screaming breaker assaulting the cliff walls. Both are screaming now. Debra to go back, call them, do something, goddammit, Austin for Debra to shut the fuck up and leave him alone. She won't shut up but good people don't hit women. She won't leave him alone but good people don't hit women. She won't just let the shit drop but good people don't hit women. What can he do? She won't shut up. She follows him around, pushing and pushing. He's too drunk to drive and doesn't want to leave his own house in the first place. He bought it, he deserves some peace. They can talk later (when he will still be right), but not now. Let it be.
Austin tries to think of a way out of this situation, before it gets really out of hand, and cracks a beer to help him think. Debra is still screeching at him, nearly out of her mind now. He ignores her and takes a drink. She moves closer, intent on getting through to him with sheer deafening volume, if nothing else. He does not respond with so much as a flinch as he drinks again. She is now directly in front of his face. He finishes the beer, still not responding, looks at her, sets the empty down, grabs a fresh beer and cracks that one open. He has found a happy medium. If he ignores her and stops responding, maybe she will just quit. Nothing else has worked.
Debra is so frustrated, she could just scream. That hasn't worked, though, she has been screaming for what seems like hours and he just won't listen to reason. She wants to grab him and shake him to get his attention or throttle him until he will just listen to her but that would be most likely a very bad move. Austin outright ignoring her is only pissing her off more. He cracks the fresh beer and appears to be openly mocking her. Her words are worthless to him, which means she must be worthless to him. He loves the beer more than her. If she could only get him to listen, to make him see... He is like someone half-conscious, a zombie, not caring about anything but the beer. She has to shake him out of his (by all appearances) mini-coma. She screams wake up, don't you see and he drinks again. Without meaning to and without quite realizing she is doing it, she slaps him.
Austin's reaction -- maybe automatic through years of you-punch-then-I-punch in the ring, maybe fueled by beer and frustration -- is to fire back. He does not pull the punch in time (she's too close) and is horrified to see his fist collide with her face because good people don't hit women. She sees it coming, but has no time to brace for impact before the force of the blow sends her careening into a wall. She reels in shock. I can't believe he hit me. Austin's reaction is horror. I can't believe I did that. Austin sobers up immediately with a mix of embarrassment and shame because good people don't hit women. Try to explain to the cops why a 245 lb. man is socking his 125 lb. wife in the eye and have them understand.... or have anyone else understand. Good people don't sock women in the eye. Austin lights out before the cops show up to save himself that uncomfortable situation, until he has time to piece it together, sort it out and figure what to do next. He looks like a fugitive, so he calls back on the cell, to tell the cops, to make them see that he is not a fugitive, but a good guy. Sometimes things just get out of hand. (But there's no excuse for hitting a women and you get immediately kicked out of the good people club if you do.)
Did this happen? I'm not saying it did. Could it have? Bet your sweet ass. So now where do we go? I come not to bury Austin, but to praise him. In addition to being the greatest offering ever by the world of wrestling, I believe he is a genuinely good guy. I am not deifying him. He is human and prone to make mistakes. One can tell by observation of Austin, without ever knowing him, that he is a very passionate man toward his loves. Austin does love Debra. The acts described above, even the heated fury of arguments, are acts of passion. Loving someone brings with it passion, which carries over into every interaction. Debra cares about Steve, who cares back. If not, they would not have any heated fights ever. Lack of passion is apathy and that, gentle readers, is not love. His striking her could have been a knee-jerk reaction. I am not saying domestic battery, by either party, is acceptable. I have simply postulated how it could have gone down (and how she got the bruises on her face and back). I don't believe Austin intentionally meant to physically hurt the woman he loves anymore than Debra in the scenario above intentionally meant to physically hurt the man she loves. Certain others will want you to see (or take part in) Austin being beaten down in the street like a wild dog over recent allegations. Please think carefully before you throw in with the buffoon, clown and fool squad.
I address this next part directly to any and all involved in the ludicrous threats made at the website at the beginning of this piece: Maybe Austin does need a wake-up call. Maybe not. The last thing he needs, in any case, is threats from some half-cocked little pissants like you or any internet tough guy bullshit from someone cloaked behind his computer. Real brave all right -- only after getting a mob put together do you want to go down there -- more like a bunch of maggots waiting to feed on the corpse of an icon or to tear down the altar of a legend. What you are actually doing is creating a conspiracy to commit assault and battery (felony, Federal). It's one thing to tarnish or sully Austin's name as much as you are able by typing away furiously online, but to promise violence? Not on my watch. Here's my counter-promise: If you do go down there to do harm, I will be there to meet you and stop you. I will stand, either by myself or side by side with Austin, sending as many hot ones up in your ass as fast as I can pull the trigger. While I consider your threats to be worth no more than the water you write them in (and the majority of this entire discussion to be surreal), I am every bit as serious as you are about those threats, particularly if you intend to see them through. Unlike you, I am not calling for volunteers to stand on my word or fight my battle defending Austin and the U.S. Constitution for me.
While you are chewing on that, consider this, all you who are throwing your names in the hat in the campaign to whip Austin's ass: In whatever town you are in, chances are good that you can find several wife-beaters, probably even habitual ones. Look around, they're there. What, then, makes Austin so special? Do you hate so much that you are willing to risk arrest (and possibly death) to interrupt your life for the purpose of hurting this man? You're clearly not going after the other wife-beaters, so what's the story? Are you turning a blind eye, you bald-faced hypocrites, because there's not enough publicity involved? Why aren't you at the domestic violence outreach clinics helping there? Sadly, there are plenty of females being battered all the time, usually by boyfriends and husbands. Tell me this: where is your army to go after them?
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