Justin Henry: This is a release of a biography that previously aired in November 2003 on UPN, SmackDown!‘s home for its first seven years. It is highlighted by Steve Austin‘s candid thoughts toward his wrestling career, which had ended by this point. UPN attempted a similar production the following year with Eddie Guerrero‘s Cheating Death, Stealing Life, which was also bundled onto a DVD release, which you can read all about elsewhere in this book. Then UPN split in half in 2006, itself proving unable to cheat death.
First up on the release, Austin reflects on that final match at WrestleMania XIX with The Rock, admitting he knew going in that it would be his swansong. Also detailed is the panic attack Austin endured the day before WrestleMania, in which he wound up briefly hospitalized for the fear that he may have been suffering from an embolism. Austin admits he was worried about having an awful match, since he really hadn’t worked a match since the previous June, simplistic brawls with Eric Bischoff at the start of the year aside.
We get a Limp Bizkit video (who, as Tony Chimel once told us, are WWE’s favourite band), leading into a look at Austin’s childhood life in rural Edna, Texas, and stories from his mom and brothers. Among the quaint tales is Mama Austin describing how young Stone Cold’s kindergarten teacher believed little Steve had the most “Go to Hell” attitude of any child she had ever taught, and the revelation that he had a lisp. It’s hard to imagine Austin having a lisp as a child, but maybe that’s where his steely-eyed angst was borne from.
From there, it’s a look at Austin’s early wrestling life, beginning with the Dallas region, where he and his drinking buddies would kick back and take in the exploits of The Freebirds and the Von Erichs. Naturally, the parents didn’t think the idea of their son becoming a wrestler held much promise, but I’m sure once Austin bought them each a gold car, they probably changed their minds. Mick Foley claims to have seen greatness in Austin during a training session with Chris Adams. Austin reveals his first payment as a working wrestler was for $40, and that he’d live off of potatoes between payoffs. From there, it’s a very brief look at his WCW run, mostly confined to the Hollywood Blondes period. Austin claims that once the team was split, Dusty Rhodes told him the big push was coming, which Austin calls BS on. Odds of any sort of disparaging word toward Dusty making it onto any WWE release post-2015: 1,547,893 to 1.
Interspersed with the wrestling content are bits of Austin at home, which are more for the non-wrestling audience tuning in. These brief asides include showing off his truck and dog, his family making fun of his lackluster singing abilities, and candid thoughts on his divorces. Most notable from this is Austin lamenting not getting to speak to his daughter, Stephanie, as often as he’d like to, due to her moving back to England with her mother, the former Lady Blossom.
Into the ECW stay, where Austin ran down Eric Bischoff in a handful of hilarious bits. Foley notes Austin’s bitterness over his firing from WCW, while Bischoff claims that Austin didn’t hit the zeitgeist in WCW. Maybe he needed a ticker-tape parade through Disney to get over? That segues into becoming The Ringmaster in the WWF, and talk about nearly killing the golden goose before it could lay its first egg. Austin notes that serial killer “Iceman” Richard Kuklinski provided the basis for the sort of villain he’d wanted to play, and we get the famous story of the awful names the WWF came up with (such as Ice Dagger) before Lady Blossom stumbled onto the ‘Stone Cold’ name for Steve. Well, Eu-friggin-reka.
After a music video with various highlights of Austin’s career, it’s onto the Owen Hart incident at SummerSlam ‘97, where Austin had his neck broken on a sitout piledriver gone wrong. Austin notes that things remained chilly with Owen after the incident, and they were professional, but hardly friends any more. To put a happy spin on it, we get Austin toasting Owen at Owen’s memorial show the night after his tragic death. I realize that in death, Owen had become Teflon, so Austin admitting an un-mended fence with him may come off as bad to some naive viewers, but it does reek of damage control that the toast was wedged in there.
From here, it kind of limps to the end, as Austin discusses his shaved head, and it’s tacked off with a bit on Survivor Series 2003, which only took place a week and a half before the special was broadcast on UPN. Austin was supposed to leave “forever” after his team was defeated by Eric Bischoff’s mercenaries, but well, what are exits in wrestling but temporary?
[continued on next page]