Stone Cold Steve Austin has detailed the invention of the notorious ‘What?’ chants that took wrestling audiences by storm in 2001.
As the shining star of the Alliance in the summer of 2001, Austin’s character had transformed into a paranoid leader. Trying to motivate his troops in their war against the then-WWF, Stone Cold would repeat the one-word catchphrase ad naseum during interviews.
In conversation with Randy Orton on The Broken Skull Sessions on the WWE Network, Austin recalled where the idea for ‘What?’ came from. And how a recently signed AEW star not answering his phone was the catalyst for it.
Stone Cold recounted:
“Another thing, people always ask me how I come up with the ‘What?’ thing. I called Christian [Cage] on his cellphone. Of course, he didn’t answer ‘cause it’s me calling. So I left him this long-winded message, and I’d say something stupid and I’d go ‘what’. Kinda keep going and go ‘what’, and keep going. By the time I hung up the phone I left him like a two-minute message I was like, and I was working heel at the time, I was like ‘I think I’ve got something here’, that’s how the ‘What?’ was invented.”
Stone Cold Steve Austin began patterning his promos to allow for the ‘What?’ response from the audience. It is still very much part of the wrestling crowd’s lexicon, particularly when they want to show their displeasure at a villain.
As part of the conversation, Randy Orton discussed his recent revelation of how important promos are in professional wrestling.
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