Stone Cold Steve Austin has talked at length about the seminal rivalry of the Attitude Era,’ his legendary feud with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.
The two men engaged in a battle for most of Austin’s run in the then-WWF. Their rivalry really took off in the autumn of 1997 when Austin went on a spree of Stunning WWF officials, culminating in the first Stone Cold Stunner on McMahon.
Talking to Chris Jericho on the Talk Is Jericho podcast, Austin detailed the biggest rivalry of the ‘Attitude Era.’ Steve Austin began by explaining that he was the one that ‘outed’ McMahon as the real authority figure on TV.
“Man, it just started being a thing where I kinda outed him on one time. It might have been the night I stunned him and I said ‘you know Vince’ he’s talking about whoever the president of the company was ‘everybody knows you’re the one writing all the checks round here’. I said ‘you’re the guy who’s really doing all this’, and he was already on that swing anyway to being Mr. McMahon. But it was like, he’s real interesting Chris because for as long as you’ve been in the company when you were in WWF. You know that when you go there, you have this reverence; you always have this respect for Vince.”
Austin then discussed the relationship he forged with McMahon by working with him so closely:
“The more you work with him, and at the higher level that you are on the card, the closer that you become with the guy. You know you’re really in this together and it’s a collaborative effort, they’re giving you time, money and investing TV time in you and they’re paying you but this is your job, so it’s a joint effort to strap a rocketship onto your back and you to be smart enough to be able to navigate all this sh*t that you’ve got to go through to make right decisions to be able to get monster over.”
“So we became really close, and we would go out there and Vince would always trust me. If I doubted one thing that he said or whatever I’d say because he always had the great master-plan. I’ve never been a guy that was good at a master plan. I’m a guy that if you give me a scenario like if you give me a good steak, a really good filet mignon, I can put you some salt and pepper on that to make that steak that much better.”
“Sometimes we’d go out there and I’d say ‘goddamn Vince, I just don’t feel it’ he goes ‘what you thinking?’, ‘well I think we ought to do this’, he goes ‘damn, you’re right.’ I wasn’t always right, but the thing about Vince was that he was always willing to listen to me and he always says ‘goddamn Steve, you’ve got the best gut instincts of anybody in the business.’”
Steve Austin then discussed McMahon’s desire to be an in-ring performer. Austin explained that the universal story of a worker hating their boss allowed fans to live vicariously through him.
[…] What I liked about that guy was that he always wanted to be an in-ring performer, but his dad would never let him in the business. When he got a chance to work with me, he was like a kid in a candy store. Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart was so important to my career and I had a great feud with him. The Rock – unbelievable right, fantastic and I headline three WrestleManias with him, but really that feud between myself and Vince was about as real as you can get because you know when you have that chemistry with someone, it’s kind of like because he was the boss and everybody has a boss and sometimes they want to punch their boss in the mouth, everybody was living vicariously through that storyline.
Even if you weren’t a wrestling fan, when you started hearing about this sh*t; you started tuning in because this was finally the blue-collar guy beating his boss up. When you’re in the ring with Vince, the energy he put towards me, it was like a complete match as far as two systems meshing and I felt like, the love that people had to love me and the hate he was projecting on me and the energy that we were projecting to each other, it was such a force. It’s hard to explain the dynamic that we had. As an opponent, he was clumsy as hell but he was such a showman.”
Stone Cold Steve Austin also discussed another iconic rivalry he was part of in the WWF, the one he shared with Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart. Austin went into detail about two of their most famous matches as Survivor Series 1996 and then WrestleMania 13.