Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Audio Interview & Article: Austin Praises new PG Era

The UK Sun
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
By Rob McNichol

♪ Audio
Click here or here for the MP3. Download it through iTunes here.

WRESTLING legend Steve Austin has said that the WWE were RIGHT to turn their back on the Attitude Era he ushered in.

As he pursues a film career with new movie The Stranger, Stone Cold believes that a John Cena-led PG-rated WWE is the best direction the company could follow in 2010.

In an exclusive interview, Austin told SunSport: "You will hear wrestling fans all over the world groan when they hear me say this but I think WWE are doing the right thing.

"Cena is leading the way now. It is a PG flavoured WWE theme and I think it's great for the longevity and the growth of their product in today's world."

Stone Cold's profanity-laced promos and rugged style epitomised the edgy 'Attitude' which WWE embodied from 1998-2001.

Others such as D-Generation X followed suit, but Austin was the originator and biggest star of arguably the most popular period in the long history of wrestling.

Recalling that period, Austin told us: "I remember one time Vince came up to me, I was flipping the middle fingers and all that.

"Vince said 'Steve, we were wondering if you could come up with a different hand signal than the middle fingers. Something that everyone watching could do.'

"I guess it's not so politically correct for a six-year-old kid to throw up the middle finger.

"I said 'No. I'm going to be who and what I am.' And Vince kind of said 'OK' — or at least the ratings and the merch sales said 'OK'. So that's the direction we went with the WWE, and everybody

else followed suit.

"I was definitely the leader of that 'Attitude' revolution movement, and everybody else said: 'Oh, look what Austin's doing. We need to go down that road too.'

"I'm not taking credit for everybody's act, because we had a lot of great talent back then, guys that came up in my wake.

"But did I lead the way? Yes sir, I did."

Many critics say that WWE's new PG direction — with a ban on blood, extreme violence and nudity — has caused them to lose fans to grittier productions such as UFC.

However while Austin believes that wrestling can learn from mixed martials arts, he insists that we should remember who influenced MMA in the first place.

"Wrestling already did this years ago," he stressed. "Real promos geared towards guys with championship matches and involving gold belts, and then a personal angle.

"Nothing crazy, just a personal angle. And the interest was keen, because it was based on a shoot.

"What UFC are doing is what pro wrestling used to do in a simulated variation. It used to be a serious product, with serious shoot-style interviews, working interviews geared to make money,

not all written and handed out to these guys to be memorised.

"UFC interviews are based on a shoot and they are non-scripted. Those guys out there are trying to sell tickets for a fight and they talk accordingly. It's a serious product that's in the ring

"Wrestling is supposed to be that serious product in the ring as well. That's not to say that you can't laugh, smile and have some humour in there, but you don't want to do slapstick Three

Stooges comedy while you're trying to draw main event money at a big PPV."

Stone Cold's latest appearance in WWE came shortly before WrestleMania, as a Guest Host, setting the scene for Bret Hart's Mania reappearance with Vince McMahon.

Austin and Hart had some of the greatest matches of all time, and his time working with the Hitman is a pleasant memory which he fondly recalls.

He enthused: "Bret's a guy that I have respected from a long time before I met him, and after I met him and after I worked with him, the total trust and respect we always had in the ring for each

other was a big reason for the chemistry and camaraderie. I love Bret Hart.

"I hope he's at peace with himself — he's having fun and he looks like he's feeling good. I'm glad to see Bret Hart out there still. In my mind he's one of the best of all time, and he's a true


Austin also told us that he still keeps an eye on the current wrestling scene. He watched TNA Impact last week and said he enjoyed seeing some of his old ECW cohorts back together.

And in the company which he labels his 'lifeline', WWE, he singles out an unexpected name as one to watch for the future.

"I kind of favour a guy named Husky Harris in NXT right now just because he breaks the mould," Austin revealed.

"He doesn't look like he just came from a gym or a tattoo shop. It's nice to see a different body structure over there, finally, and I'm hoping that guy has a great career, takes care of himself and

continues to learn the business.

"He's a second generation guy, and could be a stand out in the ring."

With his wrestling days behind him, Austin is now successfully pursuing a career in the movies.

He is just about hit UK screens playing a bad guy in The Expendables, alongside action heroes including Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham.

And he also has a new edgy thriller, The Stranger, out on DVD.

In the flick, he plays a man with no name, no memory and nothing to lose, fighting off assailants while seeking his identity.

Austin added: "It's an interesting story and a story that required a little more acting chops and physicality. It looked like a challenging role so I took it on.

"Basically, it's a story about an FBI undercover agent who infiltrates the Russian Mob, and through the course of the movie a dramatic event happens in his life and he pretty much loses his

memory so he goes through these various states of amnesia.

"I did some research. I researched amnesia and stuff like that. Normally, I try to create characters that are grounded, their traits and characteristics. It's hard to create a grounded character who

really doesn't remember who he is.

"It was very challenging for me to film. It gave me a chance to show a little bit of a different side of me that just fighting and killing people. That was one of the interesting things to me about

this project."

He continued: "If it's a good story and a good script then I'm pretty cool with it. I would love to try something in the humour or comedy vein. Or drama.

"But I'm still working and trying to be as good an actor as I can be. I really don't worry about being stereotyped in just action movies.

"That's a big part of my core demographic from my wrestling days."

That Austin recalls his roots and does not shy away from his involvement in sports entertainment is pleasing for wrestling fans — and proof you can be successful in another industry, but still

be proud of what you achieved between the ropes.

It certainly means a lot to him too.

Austin concluded: "When you see how you influenced and impacted people, walking on the street or on my Twitter account, I'll get messages from people I helped out, as they were able to live

vicariously through Stone Cold or the strength of Stone Cold, and it helped them through their personal problems.

"They grew up with that guy. It's meant a whole lot to me.

"I'm not a wrestler any more, but I'm so proud of my wrestling career, and I have such fond memories of it and I'll always love the business.

"If it wasn't for that wrestling career I wouldn't be where I'm at today."

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