It was about 2 months ago when wrestling fans had the opportunity to watch Stone Cold Steve Austin interview his longtime rival – Vince McMahon. The 1-hour and 15 minute interview provided WWE Network subscribers with some must-see programming that seemed to be sorely lacking at the time. As a longtime fan of the Steve Austin Show on PodcastOne, I knew he was the perfect person to conduct this interview because of his great personal rapport with Vince and enduring trust of the WWE decision makers.
Last time, Steve touched on some of the hot button issues at the time including the CM Punk situation, details behind The Undertaker’s streak ending, and the lack of ambition in the WWE locker room. Vince was playing ball that particular night and answered most questions with a palpable sense of honesty and candor. Quite frankly, I was surprised Vince found a way to answer most of the questions without letting his corporate filter get in the way.
I can confidently say that aside from last year’s WrestleMania, the Austin/McMahon podcast was my favorite original production on the WWE Network.
Luckily for fans, Stone Cold decided to unleash another can of audio whoop ass on the WWE Network with the COO of the WWE, former tag-team partner, and another longtime rival – Triple H. I had incredibly high expectations for this WWE Network production since the last one provided fans with a glimpse inside the mind of the most important man in the history of professional wrestling. Would Triple H prove to be a worthy successor to Vince McMahon? Take a look at some of the main talking points and decide for yourself!
- Royal Rumble Backlash? Austin brought up how the crowd turned on the Rumble once Bryan was eliminated and asked quite frankly if “kayfabe has died.” HHH agreed to an extent and continued to say that WWE tries to keep their finger on the pulse of what is going on. Hunter said there is a clear vocal minority that has a tough time accepting storylines for what they are. He echoed that Vince is the true creative mind that has the final word on stories. HHH said a good promoter always listens to his audience and makes changes according to their reactions.
- Sense of Urgency? Austin mentioned that the Attitude Era shows felt more like must-see TV. Hunter retorted that it is hard to maintain that sort of interest and that the reality era came about because “kayfabe is dead” and everybody is “smart these days.”
- WWE: The Book That Never Ends: Austin said that he recently watched Triple H: Thy Kingdom Come (on DVD & Blu-ray, folks!) and asked HHH if he ever had an exit strategy after wrestling. He said that his exit strategy was always to end up behind the scenes in some capacity. There was a good amount of criticism since marrying Stephanie McMahon because guys thought he didn’t earn it. He mentioned that going down to NXT and helping a “lightbulb go off” for a young guy is almost as good as stepping in the ring.
- Indies or WWE Performance Center? It depends: sometimes it is hard to fix the bad habits of independent wrestlers rather than molding a brand new wrestler out of WWE clay. HHH equates wrestlers having different styles to football players knowing different playbooks. He doesn’t think other playbooks are bad, but they may not be what the WWE is looking for.
- NXT: Steve asked how HHH models the template for the weekly NXT show. HHH knows who the show is geared for: the most ardent and hardcore fans. He tries to give the talent less scripting so that they can learn on the fly with more of a “safety net.” He believes that NXT is becoming a new way to develop talent and also believes they have created an alternative brand that can possibly hold itself on the road. Hunter said the talent are a huge part of the creative process.
- Chyna: Steve asked if Chyna is ever going in the WWE Hall of Fame. For the first time in the night, Hunter looked somewhat uncomfortable while stating, “It is one of those questions that has a double sided edge.” He put across that there is definitely no beef from his end and that he thinks she should be in the Hall of Fame for her wrestling accolades but fears his kids “Googling Chyna.”
- Mending Fences: HHH mentioned how Vince and Bruno had a falling out and how he was the one that wanted to start mending fences. He said Bruno and Warrior both had their challenges but Bruno was more trusting of HHH after a while whereas Warrior was different because they had some heat back in 1996.
- Dream Match: Buddy Rodgers because he was the first guy that had a true look and personality to match his wrestling ability.
- CM Punk: HHH said that as it stands he is “cool” with Punk. He recalled people saying he didn’t like Punk when he first came into WWE but openly admits to not knowing who he was then. He feels like Punk holds a grudge for how some of the storylines involving Kevin Nash and himself in 2011 evolved. Hunter claims that Punk doesn’t communicate well. Austin asked if he will ever come back and HHH said that is up to Vince but if the fans want it, there is always a chance.
- Word Association: HBK, Flair, Nash, Hall, Eddie Guerrero, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Owen Hart, Bret Hart, Undertaker, Kane, Pat Patterson, Michael Hayes.
- Pro wrestling or Sports Entertainment? He understands the distinction between the two but sometimes being just a pro wrestler is somewhat limiting. Being a WWE Superstar is something that is bigger than just pro wrestling.
- Brock Lesnar’s Contract Status: They are constantly talking to Brock and it ultimately comes down to what he wants to do. He indicated that he may have unfinished business in the UFC.
- The Streak: He saw the Streak ending from both sides. He thinks it is something that should last forever but understands the other side that wants to put over talent.
- One thing Triple H would change about RAW: Triple H revealed that he wishes RAW was 2 hours but that it’s a Vince call if RAW would go back to 2 hours. Hunter feels that the 3rd hour of RAW is incredibly difficult to write.
- When will we see Triple H back in the ring? “You’ll see me back, stay tuned. I don’t want to give it away but I hope I haven’t been training twice a day for nothing.”
Although the second edition may not prove to be as gripping as the first, I feel it is my duty as a reviewer to give this WWE Network special the highest possible recommendation.
It is clear that WWE is making an effort to cater to their “smart” audience by providing them with content that extends past the ring. I think the WWE should consider keeping these episodes on the schedule every month or so. Even though the two biggest names behind the scenes have now been interviewed already, I think there could be some more interesting interviews to be conducted in the future. If you haven’t checked this interview out by now, please do yourself a favor and open a new browser and type “network.wwe.com”, search for the Austin podcast, and remind yourself why you have a subscription to the WWE Network.
You can watch a short preview of the podcast in the clip below – Stone Cold asks Triple H his opinion on whether or not The Undertaker’s streak should have ever been broken.
If you haven’t subscribed to the WWE Network before (why haven’t you?!) then February is your chance to get an entire month for FREE! Sign up now at WWE.com and take advantage of a free month and see the Fast Lane PPV and the latest NXT Take Over special.