Jim Ross has discussed one of the most “intense conversations” he had to have with Stone Cold Steve Austin during their time together in WWE.
Steve Austin had been a star in WCW as a Hollywood Blonde and a key member of Paul Heyman’s Dangerous Alliance where he won the WCW Television Title. By late 1995, and after a brief spell in ECW, Austin was destined for the World Wrestling Federation.
Austin debuted in the WWF in January 1996 by the side of Ted DiBiase and was introduced as the new Million Dollar Champion, The Ringmaster. The gimmick was not long for this world and with DiBiase heading to WCW in the summer of 1996, it gave Austin to change things up and embrace a frostier side of his personality.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was soon born and The Texas Rattlesnake was soon set to be catapulted to superstardom as he led the WWF into the Attitude Era and beyond, becoming the biggest icon in the history of the sport.
Speaking on his Grilling JR Podcast [available early and ad-free at AdFreeShows.com] the man who brought Austin to the WWF, Jim Ross has discussed how things could have went so very differently if Austin had stuck to his original intention of staying heel:
“One of the most intense conversations we had on time was about him turning babyface. Goddamn, he hated that. He cussed me and he said, ‘I’m not going for it.’ I said ‘Oh, Jesus Christ. You’re not going to go for it? Why are you here? I know why you’re here, you’re here to make money. Right or wrong?’ I gave him some merchandise numbers of what Hogan earned back in the day and it had been years later, the information had been obsolete but it was accurate.”
“I said ‘You don’t want that t-shirt money? You don’t want that no-bump money? I know you’re smarter than that, that doesn’t make any sense, Steve. Here’s the beautiful part about it, the way you work, you don’t beg off much and you don’t do typical heel sh*t.’ I said you’re missing the boat and then I remembered when the checks were coming out and I asked the check guy to bring me a list of all the royalty checks, and Austin got a million-dollar check for selling t-shirts, Austin 3-16’s.”
Jim Ross then went onto discuss how Austin’s beer-drinking persona spilled over into his real life and how both men struggled with alcohol abuse:
“The drinking was an issue and he’ll tell you that today, for both of us. Drinking was an issue but that’s how you escape. It’s an excuse, not a reason folks. It’s an excuse, a big escape and that’s what we all had to do. You have to find your exit in that room and that’s what Steve found, his room.”