After thinking about this a lot I finally came to a conclusion. There's been a lot of finger pointing and discussion as to the fault of Stone Cold Steve Austin bolting from WWE. Some people blame Vince McMahon, other people blame Austin, but I blame both for this event.
Vince McMahon had partial responsibility. On WWE Confidential, Vince said how he constantly bent over for Stone Cold. Vince let Austin get away with everything, pushing him over everybody, kissing his ass the whole time, and feeding his ego. Vince made Stone Cold think he was bigger than the business. When you spoil a kid rotten and never say no to them, the one time you actually say no, the kid will whine and whine. So Vince had something different in mind, and Austin took his bag and left. Maybe had Vince kept Austin in check and not feed his ego, things would be different. Vince should've taken some action with stone cold the first time he left the building, but he didn't.
Now to Stone Cold's part in this. Stone Cold is a contracted employee of WWE. The first time Austin stayed home, it was just looked at that he was burnt and would get back in the swing of things. Austin was NOT punished for this. It was well known Austin was getting unhappy with the product. However, when you are contracted and paid millions to do a job, you shouldn't just go home, especially when there are thousands of fans who paid possibly just to go and get a glimpse of you. This is why people hate professional sports. They hate them because the players don't respect the fans and don't appreciate them. One of the things you can say about wrestling is how much they appreciate and respect the fans, and how important they are. And what about Stone Cold's past? When Austin would always complain about being held down by the established stars and not getting pushed, or how he was unprofessionally fired from WCW. Austin seem to become the very thing he was fighting against. I could give two shits if Austin didn't want to job to Brock Lesnar or even fricking John Cena. It's his job to do this, he is one of the biggest superstars on the planet, and held numerous titles and has constantly been the center of the promotion, so what if someone else might get a shot. Its not like Austin would be replaced, or wouldn't ever get another WWE title reign.
So will this happen again? I think so. If it will happen to anyone else, I think it will be the Undertaker or HHH. That is assuming Undertaker hasn't retired yet. WCW, ECW, and even the WWF made every possible mistake for Vince McMahon and WWE to learn from, yet they never do. And that's why history repeats itself.
(edited by The Vile1 on 6.10.02 1346) "I am many things Kal-El, but here I am god." -Darkseid
How many wrestlers are able to make a nice clean break from their careers and walk away on good terms with the fans and the company? Foley and Sting are two '90s stars I can think of.
The problem is that, unlike legitimate sports, age doesn't pull a Darwin and weed out older wrestlers. If football was Sports Entertainment, then Joe Montana would still be starting, because I bet he could still put asses in seats. Unfortunately, this is why we are going to be watching Undertaker matches until: a)he gets a career ending injury, or b)Vince phases him out (like he was phasing out Austin) and Taker decides to leave on his own terms (like Austin did).
One comment on Austin. I could see him coming back from his orginal neck injury for the paycheck. He knew there was some huge paydays coming his way if he did. But why would he come back from his last neck surgery? He was by then rich beyond 99.5% of the populations' dreams. I think it was pride. He seems a very proud man -- it shows in his work. And Vince's depush for him (feuding with Scott Hall at Wrestlemania?) must have hurt his pride immensely.
So if he didn't have a continued reason to stay, why not walk? Vince and the fans owe him a lot more than he owes them anyways.
A criminal mind is all I've ever known; They tried to reform me, but I'm made of cold stone.
What do the fans owe to Stone Cold? Yeah Austin went out there and got injuries and came back from them, but that would've been meant for nothing if millions of fan didn't pay to see or take time out of their day to watch Austin.
And why did Austin's pride get hurt? Because as I said, Vince gave everything to Austin, that's why he had all that pride. Austin constantly got the company revolved around him, and so what if he can't compete in main events every month? Austin should've lead by example instead of acting like a primadonna.
This is one of the reasons people love Mic Foley, he never pulled crap like that.
"I am many things Kal-El, but here I am god." -Darkseid
It's my firm belief that no one should be allowed to refuse to job to anyone, under any conditions. They're paid to go out there and wrestle, but other people are paid to determine the results of matches. That's part of the reason I like playing Extreme Warfare Revenge so much. Triple H is all, “I am not jobbing to Rob Van Dam cleanly”? I say, “Yes, you are, asshole!” and override that.
It's not as if Austin's heat would have been hurt all that much by losing to Brock Lesnar, anyway. After all, they were (and still are) pushing Lesnar to the moon. It's a dangerous mindset whenever someone thinks they're bigger than the industry itself and they forget where they came from.
Based on the walkout alone, I could care less if Austin never returned. Couple the domestic violence thing with that, and I really don't want to see Austin come back.
“What the heck is he doin' here? Hey Mysterio...don't child labor laws state that you can't be here more than five hours a day? Hahahaha- get it? Ho ho, get it?... 'cause he's... you know, short.” --Kurt Angle, SmackDown, 9/26/02
Two-Time, Two-Time Randomly Selected Weiner of the Day, 5/27/02 and 7/3/02
I still don't think many of the people here understand this whole Austin/WWE mess.
Austin wasn't a "broken down horse." This isn't like Joe Montana still playing football, because Austin was still in the prime of his career when he left. Despite his injury, he still put asses in seats and gave quality performances. In his last year, he had several great matches and still made himself marketable.
Yet, it looked to me like WWE was trying too hard to take it all away from him. Did someone just arbitrarily decide "The Stone Cold Era is over?" Because, it wasn't. If so, then I have even less faith in the future of WWE.
This has nothing to do with Vince and the fans "owing" Austin anything. They didn't. Austin was well-paid for his services and recieved high fan appreciation pretty much everywhere he went.
As a performer, Austin was still the best draw WWE had and the "Creative" Team was churning out crap that was hurting his, and everyone elses' for that mattter, career. Hell, they still are.
Austin walked out mainly for his own benefit, but also because it was the only thing he could do to motivate the "Creative" Team to make the fundamental changes it needed to for the writing to improve.
Why walk out there week after week if simply walking out there hurts your drawing power? Because it's what the "boss" told him to do? If you people actually took a look at wrestling's long and storied past, you'd realize that the boss doesn't always have your best interests in mind.
I think many attribute too much success to Vince McMahon alone. He was certainly the most creative force in bringing the WWF to the prominence it once had, but he always needed someone like Hogan or Austin to do it. In fact, do you know what he's doing right now? He's treading water, waiting for that "next Austin" to come around, because he broke the last one he had.
EVERYBODY is missing the point on this one...the issue is not if Austin was wrong for leaving or not. Vince and JR even said it themselves; it was the WAY Austin left. If he came to them one day and said "I'm not happy with the direction of the company, I'm giving notice and retiring", then they would have been FINE. Nobody owed anybody anything. Austin helped Vince by playing the character to a T (one of the most popular characters ever), and Vince helped Austin by creating said character and making him rich. The only thing Austin owed the fans was to appear that Monday night, because he was advertised to be there, and people were there expecting him. The reason Vince and JR said Austin was wrong was the WAY HE LEFT. He decided to just peace out without telling anybody, then telling Vince "OK I'll come down" and then jumping on the plane anyway. If Austin decided to leave the company, there's nothing wrong with that. But he did go about it in a very disrespectful way, to the fans and the federation.
It sounds to me like you are basing your opinion entirely on what Vince said. Off Confidential, a product made by a company whose major shareholder is Vince McMahon. And of course it made Vince look good. Not exactly a fair and balanced place to start, now is it? In fact, it's just about the equivelent of saying that Ken Lay wasn't really entirely to blame for Enron based on a TV program produced by a company he owns most of the shares in (not exactly fair and balanced, now is it)!
Meanwhile, Austin's responce was?
Oh that's right. Austin hasn't responded. We don't know why he left. He hasn't commented on why he left, at any great length. We largely have speculation, just like we have speculation on how innocent or guilty Ken Lay is - and at least there's he's responded in several length interviews. Anyone heard of a little principle called "Innocent until prooven guilty"? I don't think Steve Austin needs to buy a whole heap of shares in a production company and make a TV program to explain that concept.
True, old wrestlers and stars have a habbit of protecting their money, and their spot on the roster. And I honestly can't say that, if I were given several million dollars and told to job to avoid getting it cut down to a fraction, that I wouldn't do everything in my power to prevent that happening. And deep down, if a promoter told you to "job" and it meant possibly loosing millions and even your job, you'd probably do everything in your power to avoid it.
But similarly, wrestling promoters have a habbit of sometimes being assholes. And to put it bluntly, to succeed, Vince McMahon has had to have been a bigger asshole than most. Eric Bischoff was an asshole. Verne Gagne was an asshole. Ole Anderson was an asshole. Especially given Vinny Mac, according to Tom Zenk, has had a number of meetings with Dr Zahorian and the fits of rage that can result, per se.
Now you don't know that Austin never had a quiet word to Vince. You don't know that Vince hadn't put Austin in a situation where it was either walk away or physically assault Vince. You don't know if Vince was provoking Austin. You don't know that privately life wasn't imitating art (to a degree) with Vince being a rude asshole to Austin. You don't know if Austin had a medical or mental health problem he has hidden from the public. And you can't know for certain he's an outright egomaniac.
You cannot make a fair and balanced judgement beyond reasonable doubt that one side was innocent and the other guilty, or that the guilt was equal. Hell, given the way McMahon has rewritten history to downplay his faults and build on virtue, the fact he portrayed any guilt at all leads you to suspect that he may be a lot guiltier than he makes out.
And, truth be known, unless you were there, unless you knew Austin, and worked for McMahon, and saw everything that happend, you can't be 100% certain of what happend, or make an informed decision on blame. Especially not when most of what you heard is based on a script probably written or authorized by Vince.
Austin created the Stone Cold character, or at least that's how it's always been presented in WWE lore. As far as Austin walking out without letting anyone know it was coming, he actually did say on a WWE program (I believe Byte This! or whatever the internet show is called) right before leaving, that he thought the writing was "pretty shitty" and that something needed to be done "damn fast", then said that when he was done with it, he would just walk away.
I think the problem with the Austin situation is that wrestlers are somewhere between "normal" professional athletes (which is to say part of an organized sport with a player's union) and TV entertainers. As far as I know, these guys aren't allowed to have agents (wasn't Lesnar advised to get rid of an agent before his push started?) who could work things out with management for them and don't have a union that could do the same. What Austin seems to have done is actually what's not an uncommon move for TV actors in his situation, unhappy with pay or direction, and that's just not showing up for work and episode tapings. Some actors from The West Wing and Malcolm in the Middle have done the same thing in the past year, it's a common negotiation tactic for the TV industry, I guess.
All I know is, the guy was their biggest name and one of their very best performers, but it sure seemed like someone was sticking him in situations that couldn't do anything to help him help the company get back in gear (weeks into months with the nWo, an apparent agreement to work with guys he wanted to, but that turned into more of the Flair/Show nWo). Austin had a way of making almost anything interesting, and I sure do think Raw would be a whole hell of a lot better if he was around now.
Give me a fricking break. Look at the Rock. The Rock would be in lulls where he's feuding with the fucking big boss man yet he would still remain one of the company's top draws. If you are a strong enough wrestler, and a strong enough draw, it doesn't matter who you're wrestling, what matters is the amount of work you are putting in. I guess this is tough because rock is now out making movies, but when he was a full time wrestler, he seemed to be more of a company man than guys like Undertaker, Austin, HHH. The Rock also did the clean job to Brock Lesnar on his way out, which is more than I can say for all the current wwe "main eventers" right now.
"I am many things Kal-El, but here I am god." -Darkseid
Originally posted by The Vile1Give me a fricking break. Look at the Rock. The Rock would be in lulls where he's feuding with the fucking big boss man yet he would still remain one of the company's top draws. If you are a strong enough wrestler, and a strong enough draw, it doesn't matter who you're wrestling, what matters is the amount of work you are putting in. I guess this is tough because rock is now out making movies, but when he was a full time wrestler, he seemed to be more of a company man than guys like Undertaker, Austin, HHH. The Rock also did the clean job to Brock Lesnar on his way out, which is more than I can say for all the current wwe "main eventers" right now.
[Heavy sarcasm] And Vince McMahon is the world's most honest businessman, truely caring about the wellbeing of his employees. Never re-written history once, every word from his mouth and everything on his programs is the honest to goodness truth. Nor would he ever do anything like bury something that could make him even wealthier several times over for the sake of his ego. [/End Heavy Sarcasm]
Gimme a break. The wrestling business is all about conning people; working people's emotions. On camera and off. It's a well doccumented fact. If Triple H, despite over half an hour of Raw on some shows, requires proof that Trips is getting prefferential treatment (based largely on Ross Reports that talk about what a backstage leader he is), then I deffinately need the other side of the Austin walk-out before I make my mind up about whether Austin or McMahon is to blame!
[More Sarcasm] No, Austin ain't loyal to the business, he just stuck through WCW during a peroid where Ted was rumoured to be on the verge of closing it down, and put the asses in seats at a critical point in the Federation's history. Not to mention returning from a broken neck and wrestling in severe pain while bone fragments floated near his spine for several months [/More Sarcasm]
Fact is we don't know what McMahon revealed as his grand plan for Austin. We don't know what went on through those final meetings. All we have to go by is McPRopoganda.
Vince is a nasty person. Austin seems like an okay guy, wife incident notwithstanding. That does NOT change the fact that he walked out without giving notice a few hours before a live show. Couple that with the fact that he was protesting something he has nothing to do with, AND the fact that he was pissing and moaning about Hal and Nash's politicking earlier in the year, and I'd say that you have a case for Austin being in the wrong. Of course he's a good worker so some will overlook this fact.
It's the same principle which CRZ used when talking about all the WCW lemmings back in the day. if you can't defend Austin's actions without bringing into it what a disreputable businessman Vince is supposed to be, then you have no place defending him at all. You can go on about his career being sabotaged and creative control fucking him over all you want, fact is he was GROSSLy unprofessional in the way he handled it. And revisionist history really has played a part in this too. Austin allegedly requested both his program with Flair and his aborted feud with Eddie, so looking back on it and saying "they were booking him in situations he didn't like" is simply wishful thinking. Personally I found Austin to be as stale as all hell when he went AWOL, and was glad to see him removed from the RAW scene so that they could let someone else work. Considering that he was already booked to beat Eddie at KOTR BEFORE he left, I'd say he did us all a favour.
"And, truth be known, unless you were there, unless you knew Austin, and worked for McMahon, and saw everything that happend, you can't be 100% certain of what happend, or make an informed decision on blame. "
Let's try applying this to all poltical situations when it comes to wrestling, shall we? Wishful thinking, I know...
Apparently, I Am
The Result Of This Survey Was Really, Really Disturbing To Me
There's another factor that may or may not have anything to do with Austin's departure: Hogan.
If you look at the history between the two men, it's not hard to figure out that Austin probably isn't one of Hulk's biggest fans: His departure from WCW, his "shoot" interviews in ECW. And very shortly after Hulk arrives in the WWF, the "icon vs. icon" match is made not between Hogan and Austin, but Hogan and Rocky, while Austin is given an uncharasterically low spot on the WM card. And hey, I think I'd be a bit irked if I were in Austin's position and a guy like Hogan showed up and took the spotlight in a company I helped save. I'm not saying it's the whole reason, but it might have something to do with it. And it also may be possible that the WWE and Hogan's apparent lack of a relationship these days is a message to Austin that they'd like to have him back. And I firmly believe he *will* be back. I think Vince's speech on Raw after Austin ditched out illustrates that pretty well. Vince could have easily given a "Austin screwed Austin" speech, but he didn't.
Just something to chew on. I love wild speculation!
As soon as you're born you start dying, so you might as well have a good time.
If you're gonna leave halfway through you probably shouldn't waste your cash. Barrett/Kofi was pretty great. Speaking of, I've a feeling the Barrett Barrage is going to hit an Undertaker Obstruction at WrestleMania.