Steve Austin On How Vince McMahon Wanted To “Legitimize The Business”

Steve Austin and Vince McMahon

In late 1999, Vince McMahon made the decision that WWE would no longer be a privately owned company and would instead be a publicly traded entity on the stock market.

At the time, Steve Austin was on top of the company, so he saw firsthand how McMahon’s decision helped the sports entertainment giant evolve.

Back in April, it was announced that WWE was in for another massive change as a deal was struck for the company to merge with UFC to form a new $21+ billion entity under parent company Endeavor. Talk of a sale had been in the works for months, ever since McMahon announced his return to the company in January after retiring in July amidst an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct and hush money payments.

When asked about the WWE sale in a recent interview with SI Media, Austin revealed that he wasn’t surprised by news of the sale as it had been rumored for some time. He also made mention of Triple H’s message on the Raw after the sale was announced, noting that those behind the scenes in the company need to continue to be involved when the sale goes through.

“I wasn’t shocked at all. It’s been in the grapevine and it happened and it kind of made sense. UFC did it, so why not WWE? Triple H went out there and cut that promo, saying that they’re not going anywhere, meaning the people that are running WWE. I think it needs to come from a wrestling minded, family type thing or those key players. That’s a tricky business.”

“They Know Their Fan Base” – Steve Austin On Keeping Vince McMahon & WWE Employees Involved Following The Company’s Sale

Continuing, Austin made it clear that he believes it’s necessary to keep those currently involved behind the scenes in the sports entertainment giant. He also revealed McMahon’s reasoning for taking the company public back in 1999, saying he wanted to “legitimize the business.”

“Not everybody with a television background walks into the pro wrestling industry or the sports entertainment industry, whatever they want to call it, and can produce great results, so you keep the people running it because they know their fan base probably as good as anyone or better than anybody. I remember when Vince took the company public years ago. I asked him, I said, ‘Vince, why do you want to do this?’ He said, ‘Steve, to legitimize the business.’”

Elsewhere in the interview, Austin revealed the details of a recent message he sent to CM Punk.