When it comes to wrestling Mount Rushmores, you'll seldom find a fan who doesn't place “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in their top four. He's one of the biggest personalities in wrestling history, arguably the biggest draw in professional wrestling, and the sort of performer who can headline WrestleMania – WrestleMania 38, to be exact – with an interview segment that didn't even guarantee a wrestling appearance.
But who would Austin put in his own personal wrestling Mount Rushmore? Well, you don't have to wonder any longer, as, in an interview with Alfred Konuwa of Forbes, Austin explained who he would personally place on his list based on his in-ring experience with each.
“Man, I would’ve to go to the match part of it, like working with Bret ‘The Hitman' Hart, who put me on the map with Survivor Series and [WrestleMania] 13. Working with the Rock. Anytime we laced them up, he brought out the best in me and I brought the best in him. Those three WrestleManias we had were some of the greatest moments that I really enjoyed,” Austin said via Wrestle Zone.
“All those Vince moments, driving all those vehicles. But if I really dig back into the stuff that I really loved, it was some of those matches. Like at the Los Angeles Forum working 30-minute Broadways with Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat with no cameras there, and a house that was only a quarter-full. But it was the work, and it was some of those old buildings in the USWA when I was learning and I was still green as grass.
“Those are the things that I really remember; the learning periods and spending life on the road and getting into an industry where you truly had to take care of yourself and no one was gonna help you. And if you were lucky, one of those veterans—and a lot of them did—took me under their wing, under their learning tree and told me ‘hey man, this is what you need to do and you only have so many bumps in your body, so choose them wisely.’ The advice that I was given, those types of things that are the things that really matter to me.”
Do you agree with a Mount Rushmore of Hart, Rock, Steamboat, and Vince McMahon, who has wrestled exactly 57 matches in his career, eight of which came against Austin? Most would probably say no, but hey, that's why it's his personal list.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin explains his re-negotiated WWE merch contract.
As one of the most popular WWE stars of all time, one would think that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is still rolling in dough from all of the Broken Skull shirts he sold over the years. But as it turns out, that wasn't always the case.
No, after seeing his meek returns in his quarterly royalty check back in the day, Austin took it up with the man upstairs and worked out a better deal that he's maintained to this very day.
“I don’t know how much. It was definitely seven figures, probably eight figures now,” Steve Austin said on the SI Media podcast via Fightful. “In WWE, you get your royalty checks every quarter. I remember when I first came up with that shirt. I started getting hot and I created that promo, they came out with the shirt and those shirts were everywhere. I had a conversation with Vince and I said, ‘I see a lot of t-shirts out there, my royalty check doesn’t reflect that.’ He goes, ‘Steve, what do you think we should do?’ ‘I think we need to change the percentages.’ He came up with a number, ‘What do you think about that?’ I said, ‘I like it.’ It was a fair deal. It became known as the Austin deal. Things kept going, and I’ll never forget, it was time to come out with the royalty checks for that quarter and Vince wanted to hand-deliver this one to me. He handed it to me and goes, ‘Steve, I’m just giving this to you because I’ve never given out a check like this before, to anyone.’ I looked at the amount, and it was an amount. He wanted to hand-deliver that based on the amount of t-shirts that got sold with the percentage, that was a special moment. I really prided myself on being able to sell merchandise because when WCW didn’t see me as ever being a star, I figured, hey man, I never was the chosen one, but through working my ass off and trying to find an identity, I finally did, and I became a marketable entity.”
Asked if he had to personally negotiate his merchandising number with Mr. McMahon himself, Austin noted he did talk to his long-time on-screen rival, but it wasn't much of a negotiation.
“He threw it out before I even asked for it,” Austin added. “I was just thinking ‘The percentage isn’t right’ and he goes ‘how about this?’ I said yes. I hate talking about money, and that’s why I don’t throw out figures. I never like talking about money, even with Vince. I got into the wrestling business because I wanted to be a wrestler, but you have to get as good as you can for yourself, and that’s what it’s about.”
After watching fans wear and purchase “Stone Cold” shirts in droves at WrestleMania 39, it's clear Austin is still incredibly popular among professional wrestling fans despite his retirement over 20 years ago. Good on “The Texas Rattlesnake” for getting justly compensated for his legacy.