Ahmed & Austin

Hi Scott, Long time reader since the Rantsylvania days with some random questions…

1) Ahmed Johnson, I was surprised to see his IC title win make it on the KOTR DVD and I’ve always wondered how far his push was going to go. Summer ’96 he wins a RAW battle royal to earn a title shot against either Shawn or Vader after Summerslam.   But Faarooq debuts and the kidney injury happens. Summer ’97 he joins the Nation Of Domination by turning on ‘Taker which sets up the Canadian Stampede title match.  But Ahmed got injured again and Vader was inserted into his spot. Was Ahmed going to win the WWF title in either scenario? I figure yes because he was being pushed so strongly in each case, but it’s hard to figure out what affect it has on later events. Like do we get Shawn vs Ahmed instead of Shawn vs Sid in ’96?  Or Bret vs Ahmed at Summerslam ’97?  2) Steve Austin,  A lot of people today reference the KOTR ’96 promo as Austin’s big break out moment, if so what was going on that summer/fall of ’96?   I mean it seems Austin’s push actually died a bit after KOTR… International Incident – mid card vs Marc Mero Summerslam – Free for all vs Yokozuna Mind Games – no match Buried Alive – opening match vs HHH (and wasn’t Austin a sub for someone else?) Survivor Series – Finally gets a high profile match against Bret. Any reason why he wasn’t featured on PPV a lot more?

1.  There was never any specific plans or timeframe for Ahmed to get the title in 96, although it seemed like a logical next step based on his push.  In 97, no chance, he was just a stopgap challenger for Undertaker and nothing more.  Bret was getting that belt, period.  2.  There’s something of a revisionist history that has Austin catching fire at KOTR 96, but he didn’t really.  Bret Hart had to fight REALLY hard to feud with Austin because Vince just didn’t see the star potential there, no matter that people were bringing “Austin 3:16” signs and such to the shows.  It was really the Survivor Series match against Bret that made Austin into the bigger star, not the KOTR promo.  Had they suddenly shoved Austin into main events earlier in the year, it wouldn’t have worked and might have permanently damaged him, in fact. 

Ahmed & Austin

Hi Scott, Long time reader since the Rantsylvania days with some random questions…

1) Ahmed Johnson, I was surprised to see his IC title win make it on the KOTR DVD and I’ve always wondered how far his push was going to go. Summer ’96 he wins a RAW battle royal to earn a title shot against either Shawn or Vader after Summerslam.   But Faarooq debuts and the kidney injury happens. Summer ’97 he joins the Nation Of Domination by turning on ‘Taker which sets up the Canadian Stampede title match.  But Ahmed got injured again and Vader was inserted into his spot. Was Ahmed going to win the WWF title in either scenario? I figure yes because he was being pushed so strongly in each case, but it’s hard to figure out what affect it has on later events. Like do we get Shawn vs Ahmed instead of Shawn vs Sid in ’96?  Or Bret vs Ahmed at Summerslam ’97?  2) Steve Austin,  A lot of people today reference the KOTR ’96 promo as Austin’s big break out moment, if so what was going on that summer/fall of ’96?   I mean it seems Austin’s push actually died a bit after KOTR… International Incident – mid card vs Marc Mero Summerslam – Free for all vs Yokozuna Mind Games – no match Buried Alive – opening match vs HHH (and wasn’t Austin a sub for someone else?) Survivor Series – Finally gets a high profile match against Bret. Any reason why he wasn’t featured on PPV a lot more?

1.  There was never any specific plans or timeframe for Ahmed to get the title in 96, although it seemed like a logical next step based on his push.  In 97, no chance, he was just a stopgap challenger for Undertaker and nothing more.  Bret was getting that belt, period.  2.  There’s something of a revisionist history that has Austin catching fire at KOTR 96, but he didn’t really.  Bret Hart had to fight REALLY hard to feud with Austin because Vince just didn’t see the star potential there, no matter that people were bringing “Austin 3:16” signs and such to the shows.  It was really the Survivor Series match against Bret that made Austin into the bigger star, not the KOTR promo.  Had they suddenly shoved Austin into main events earlier in the year, it wouldn’t have worked and might have permanently damaged him, in fact. 

Ahmed & Austin

Hi Scott, Long time reader since the Rantsylvania days with some random questions…

1) Ahmed Johnson, I was surprised to see his IC title win make it on the KOTR DVD and I’ve always wondered how far his push was going to go. Summer ’96 he wins a RAW battle royal to earn a title shot against either Shawn or Vader after Summerslam.   But Faarooq debuts and the kidney injury happens. Summer ’97 he joins the Nation Of Domination by turning on ‘Taker which sets up the Canadian Stampede title match.  But Ahmed got injured again and Vader was inserted into his spot. Was Ahmed going to win the WWF title in either scenario? I figure yes because he was being pushed so strongly in each case, but it’s hard to figure out what affect it has on later events. Like do we get Shawn vs Ahmed instead of Shawn vs Sid in ’96?  Or Bret vs Ahmed at Summerslam ’97?  2) Steve Austin,  A lot of people today reference the KOTR ’96 promo as Austin’s big break out moment, if so what was going on that summer/fall of ’96?   I mean it seems Austin’s push actually died a bit after KOTR… International Incident – mid card vs Marc Mero Summerslam – Free for all vs Yokozuna Mind Games – no match Buried Alive – opening match vs HHH (and wasn’t Austin a sub for someone else?) Survivor Series – Finally gets a high profile match against Bret. Any reason why he wasn’t featured on PPV a lot more?

1.  There was never any specific plans or timeframe for Ahmed to get the title in 96, although it seemed like a logical next step based on his push.  In 97, no chance, he was just a stopgap challenger for Undertaker and nothing more.  Bret was getting that belt, period.  2.  There’s something of a revisionist history that has Austin catching fire at KOTR 96, but he didn’t really.  Bret Hart had to fight REALLY hard to feud with Austin because Vince just didn’t see the star potential there, no matter that people were bringing “Austin 3:16” signs and such to the shows.  It was really the Survivor Series match against Bret that made Austin into the bigger star, not the KOTR promo.  Had they suddenly shoved Austin into main events earlier in the year, it wouldn’t have worked and might have permanently damaged him, in fact. 

Ahmed & Austin

Hi Scott, Long time reader since the Rantsylvania days with some random questions…

1) Ahmed Johnson, I was surprised to see his IC title win make it on the KOTR DVD and I’ve always wondered how far his push was going to go. Summer ’96 he wins a RAW battle royal to earn a title shot against either Shawn or Vader after Summerslam.   But Faarooq debuts and the kidney injury happens. Summer ’97 he joins the Nation Of Domination by turning on ‘Taker which sets up the Canadian Stampede title match.  But Ahmed got injured again and Vader was inserted into his spot. Was Ahmed going to win the WWF title in either scenario? I figure yes because he was being pushed so strongly in each case, but it’s hard to figure out what affect it has on later events. Like do we get Shawn vs Ahmed instead of Shawn vs Sid in ’96?  Or Bret vs Ahmed at Summerslam ’97?  2) Steve Austin,  A lot of people today reference the KOTR ’96 promo as Austin’s big break out moment, if so what was going on that summer/fall of ’96?   I mean it seems Austin’s push actually died a bit after KOTR… International Incident – mid card vs Marc Mero Summerslam – Free for all vs Yokozuna Mind Games – no match Buried Alive – opening match vs HHH (and wasn’t Austin a sub for someone else?) Survivor Series – Finally gets a high profile match against Bret. Any reason why he wasn’t featured on PPV a lot more?

1.  There was never any specific plans or timeframe for Ahmed to get the title in 96, although it seemed like a logical next step based on his push.  In 97, no chance, he was just a stopgap challenger for Undertaker and nothing more.  Bret was getting that belt, period.  2.  There’s something of a revisionist history that has Austin catching fire at KOTR 96, but he didn’t really.  Bret Hart had to fight REALLY hard to feud with Austin because Vince just didn’t see the star potential there, no matter that people were bringing “Austin 3:16” signs and such to the shows.  It was really the Survivor Series match against Bret that made Austin into the bigger star, not the KOTR promo.  Had they suddenly shoved Austin into main events earlier in the year, it wouldn’t have worked and might have permanently damaged him, in fact. 

Hogan v. Austin

Scott,
How come we never saw the big Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan dream match in WWE circa 2002-2003?  After the success of Rock-Hogan at WM18, it seemed like a natural to run Austin-Hogan at either SummerSlam 2002 or WM19 (instead of Rock-Austin and Hogan-Vince).  I remember reading somewhere that Austin did not want to work with Hogan, but it seems like one of those can’t-miss paydays.  Obviously it would not have been good from a technical standpoint, but it’s one of those that would just be worth it as a spectacle (like Rock-Hogan or HBK-Hogan).  The two biggest stars ever headlining WM19 would have been epic, especially as Austin’s last match.  Was there any official reason this never happened?

Yeah, Austin actually talked about it at one point.  Basically he felt like he would have been second fiddle to Rock in the nWo feud, and they couldn’t work out who was going to do the job.  To this day I’m frankly shocked they got Hogan to do as many jobs in 2002 as they did, and obviously Austin wasn’t high on their protection list at that point given all the jobs they asked him to do.  So from Austin’s perspective it was probably for the best.  But yeah, they would have done MONSTER business.  Actually they probably could have done it at Summerslam 2002. 

Hogan v. Austin

Scott,
How come we never saw the big Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan dream match in WWE circa 2002-2003?  After the success of Rock-Hogan at WM18, it seemed like a natural to run Austin-Hogan at either SummerSlam 2002 or WM19 (instead of Rock-Austin and Hogan-Vince).  I remember reading somewhere that Austin did not want to work with Hogan, but it seems like one of those can’t-miss paydays.  Obviously it would not have been good from a technical standpoint, but it’s one of those that would just be worth it as a spectacle (like Rock-Hogan or HBK-Hogan).  The two biggest stars ever headlining WM19 would have been epic, especially as Austin’s last match.  Was there any official reason this never happened?

Yeah, Austin actually talked about it at one point.  Basically he felt like he would have been second fiddle to Rock in the nWo feud, and they couldn’t work out who was going to do the job.  To this day I’m frankly shocked they got Hogan to do as many jobs in 2002 as they did, and obviously Austin wasn’t high on their protection list at that point given all the jobs they asked him to do.  So from Austin’s perspective it was probably for the best.  But yeah, they would have done MONSTER business.  Actually they probably could have done it at Summerslam 2002. 

Hogan v. Austin

Scott,
How come we never saw the big Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan dream match in WWE circa 2002-2003?  After the success of Rock-Hogan at WM18, it seemed like a natural to run Austin-Hogan at either SummerSlam 2002 or WM19 (instead of Rock-Austin and Hogan-Vince).  I remember reading somewhere that Austin did not want to work with Hogan, but it seems like one of those can’t-miss paydays.  Obviously it would not have been good from a technical standpoint, but it’s one of those that would just be worth it as a spectacle (like Rock-Hogan or HBK-Hogan).  The two biggest stars ever headlining WM19 would have been epic, especially as Austin’s last match.  Was there any official reason this never happened?

Yeah, Austin actually talked about it at one point.  Basically he felt like he would have been second fiddle to Rock in the nWo feud, and they couldn’t work out who was going to do the job.  To this day I’m frankly shocked they got Hogan to do as many jobs in 2002 as they did, and obviously Austin wasn’t high on their protection list at that point given all the jobs they asked him to do.  So from Austin’s perspective it was probably for the best.  But yeah, they would have done MONSTER business.  Actually they probably could have done it at Summerslam 2002. 

Hogan v. Austin

Scott,
How come we never saw the big Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan dream match in WWE circa 2002-2003?  After the success of Rock-Hogan at WM18, it seemed like a natural to run Austin-Hogan at either SummerSlam 2002 or WM19 (instead of Rock-Austin and Hogan-Vince).  I remember reading somewhere that Austin did not want to work with Hogan, but it seems like one of those can’t-miss paydays.  Obviously it would not have been good from a technical standpoint, but it’s one of those that would just be worth it as a spectacle (like Rock-Hogan or HBK-Hogan).  The two biggest stars ever headlining WM19 would have been epic, especially as Austin’s last match.  Was there any official reason this never happened?

Yeah, Austin actually talked about it at one point.  Basically he felt like he would have been second fiddle to Rock in the nWo feud, and they couldn’t work out who was going to do the job.  To this day I’m frankly shocked they got Hogan to do as many jobs in 2002 as they did, and obviously Austin wasn’t high on their protection list at that point given all the jobs they asked him to do.  So from Austin’s perspective it was probably for the best.  But yeah, they would have done MONSTER business.  Actually they probably could have done it at Summerslam 2002. 

Hogan v. Austin

Scott,
How come we never saw the big Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan dream match in WWE circa 2002-2003?  After the success of Rock-Hogan at WM18, it seemed like a natural to run Austin-Hogan at either SummerSlam 2002 or WM19 (instead of Rock-Austin and Hogan-Vince).  I remember reading somewhere that Austin did not want to work with Hogan, but it seems like one of those can’t-miss paydays.  Obviously it would not have been good from a technical standpoint, but it’s one of those that would just be worth it as a spectacle (like Rock-Hogan or HBK-Hogan).  The two biggest stars ever headlining WM19 would have been epic, especially as Austin’s last match.  Was there any official reason this never happened?

Yeah, Austin actually talked about it at one point.  Basically he felt like he would have been second fiddle to Rock in the nWo feud, and they couldn’t work out who was going to do the job.  To this day I’m frankly shocked they got Hogan to do as many jobs in 2002 as they did, and obviously Austin wasn’t high on their protection list at that point given all the jobs they asked him to do.  So from Austin’s perspective it was probably for the best.  But yeah, they would have done MONSTER business.  Actually they probably could have done it at Summerslam 2002. 

Hogan v. Austin

Scott,
How come we never saw the big Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan dream match in WWE circa 2002-2003?  After the success of Rock-Hogan at WM18, it seemed like a natural to run Austin-Hogan at either SummerSlam 2002 or WM19 (instead of Rock-Austin and Hogan-Vince).  I remember reading somewhere that Austin did not want to work with Hogan, but it seems like one of those can’t-miss paydays.  Obviously it would not have been good from a technical standpoint, but it’s one of those that would just be worth it as a spectacle (like Rock-Hogan or HBK-Hogan).  The two biggest stars ever headlining WM19 would have been epic, especially as Austin’s last match.  Was there any official reason this never happened?

Yeah, Austin actually talked about it at one point.  Basically he felt like he would have been second fiddle to Rock in the nWo feud, and they couldn’t work out who was going to do the job.  To this day I’m frankly shocked they got Hogan to do as many jobs in 2002 as they did, and obviously Austin wasn’t high on their protection list at that point given all the jobs they asked him to do.  So from Austin’s perspective it was probably for the best.  But yeah, they would have done MONSTER business.  Actually they probably could have done it at Summerslam 2002. 

Plans For Austin?

Scott —
I was reading something from one of your books about Steve Austin and it got me thinking. Were there any plans for Austin after WrestleMania XIX? He put the Rock over to set up Rock/Goldberg, then he was written out of the storyline the following night on Raw due to his messed up neck and apparent panic attack the night before the show. Or whatever it was. If he had been healthy enough to keep going, was there a plan for Austin? A move to Smackdown or a feud with HHH or Flair or Michaels on Raw or something? I seem to recall from your review of Raw the night after WrestleMania where Bischoff "fired" him you wrote something like, "See you on Smackdown!"

At the time I thought that the injury thing was a work, but in hindsight it’s pretty clear they were phasing him out in favor of Brock and Angle.  Plus given that Austin’s neck had been known to be shot since the Owen injury in 1997, he had been living on borrowed time anyway.  So unless Austin really dropped a bomb on them just before Wrestlemania, I’m sure they were prepared to let go of him and they had no plans following the Rock match. 

Plans For Austin?

Scott —
I was reading something from one of your books about Steve Austin and it got me thinking. Were there any plans for Austin after WrestleMania XIX? He put the Rock over to set up Rock/Goldberg, then he was written out of the storyline the following night on Raw due to his messed up neck and apparent panic attack the night before the show. Or whatever it was. If he had been healthy enough to keep going, was there a plan for Austin? A move to Smackdown or a feud with HHH or Flair or Michaels on Raw or something? I seem to recall from your review of Raw the night after WrestleMania where Bischoff "fired" him you wrote something like, "See you on Smackdown!"

At the time I thought that the injury thing was a work, but in hindsight it’s pretty clear they were phasing him out in favor of Brock and Angle.  Plus given that Austin’s neck had been known to be shot since the Owen injury in 1997, he had been living on borrowed time anyway.  So unless Austin really dropped a bomb on them just before Wrestlemania, I’m sure they were prepared to let go of him and they had no plans following the Rock match. 

Plans For Austin?

Scott —
I was reading something from one of your books about Steve Austin and it got me thinking. Were there any plans for Austin after WrestleMania XIX? He put the Rock over to set up Rock/Goldberg, then he was written out of the storyline the following night on Raw due to his messed up neck and apparent panic attack the night before the show. Or whatever it was. If he had been healthy enough to keep going, was there a plan for Austin? A move to Smackdown or a feud with HHH or Flair or Michaels on Raw or something? I seem to recall from your review of Raw the night after WrestleMania where Bischoff "fired" him you wrote something like, "See you on Smackdown!"

At the time I thought that the injury thing was a work, but in hindsight it’s pretty clear they were phasing him out in favor of Brock and Angle.  Plus given that Austin’s neck had been known to be shot since the Owen injury in 1997, he had been living on borrowed time anyway.  So unless Austin really dropped a bomb on them just before Wrestlemania, I’m sure they were prepared to let go of him and they had no plans following the Rock match. 

Austin, Post-Wrestling

Why do you think that Austin hasn’t had the same level of success as The Rock in his post-wrestling career?  I remember a time where it seemed that Austin was gonna become the big star, not the Rock.  Those appearences on the old "Nash Bridges" tv show were so popular that CBS was seriously considering spinning Austin’s character off in his own show at one time, but that didn’t happen for some reason.  Now Rock is the big movie star, while Austin is making direct-to-DVD stuff.  Heck, Austin is also a well-known hunter, yet HBK gets his own hunting show.  Is Austin just content in doing WWE appearences/dvd movies?  Yea, Austin hosted the newest "Tough Enough" show, but surely the USA Network could come up with another one of their shows to put Austin in.

Well, Austin is super duper mega rich thanks to years of merchandise sales and ridiculous DVD royalties, so I think he’s probably content to pick and choose his projects.  Plus he’s never struck me as the type who puts up with Hollywood bullshit, whereas Rock is much more of the diplomatic type.  And hey, Austin was in the Expendables and that was a pretty badass movie. 

Austin, Post-Wrestling

Why do you think that Austin hasn’t had the same level of success as The Rock in his post-wrestling career?  I remember a time where it seemed that Austin was gonna become the big star, not the Rock.  Those appearences on the old "Nash Bridges" tv show were so popular that CBS was seriously considering spinning Austin’s character off in his own show at one time, but that didn’t happen for some reason.  Now Rock is the big movie star, while Austin is making direct-to-DVD stuff.  Heck, Austin is also a well-known hunter, yet HBK gets his own hunting show.  Is Austin just content in doing WWE appearences/dvd movies?  Yea, Austin hosted the newest "Tough Enough" show, but surely the USA Network could come up with another one of their shows to put Austin in.

Well, Austin is super duper mega rich thanks to years of merchandise sales and ridiculous DVD royalties, so I think he’s probably content to pick and choose his projects.  Plus he’s never struck me as the type who puts up with Hollywood bullshit, whereas Rock is much more of the diplomatic type.  And hey, Austin was in the Expendables and that was a pretty badass movie. 

Austin 3:16

So I’m watching 96/97-era Raw and it’s amazing the slow build they gave Austin around this era from the moment he got over at the King of the Ring. Austin was still involved in curtain-jerkers or left off pay-per-views completely and even in his main event feud with Bret, Bret seemed to have the advantage over him every time, even in brawls. Hart beat Austin at the Survivor Series, seemed to pummel him in the random brawls they had on various Raws, eliminated him legally in the Royal Rumble and beat him to a bloody pulp at WrestleMania 13, yet Austin remained strong, possibly due to his vastly superior mic work, I guess. The only times Austin got the better of Hart was a win by disqualification and the street fight Raw… it’s amazing he didn’t lose any heat because of it.
Also shocking how Austin didn’t even earn any championship gold until about a year later as a throwaway tag champion with Shawn Michaels. Nowadays, if people get even remotely over, they’re booked as Intercontinental Champions almost immediately. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s fascinating what a slow build Austin got during this era compared to guys like Ahmed Johnson and The Rock who were forced down everyone’s throats. What do you think about this or slower builds in general?

Well, in the case of Austin they basically had no faith in him until Bret Hart went to bat for him in late 96 and then pretty much single-handedly built him into a superstar.  Although to be fair, even the internet fanboys back in 96 were basically saying that Austin was a solid midcard guy in the mold of Arn Anderson and probably nothing more.  I think it really shows the charisma that he had deep down that he was able to overcome those obstacles and basically get himself over every step of the way.  Of course, once Vince DID decide that Austin was going to be a superstar, it was a whole different ballgame.  It does show that, in general, you need to give guys time to develop.  The personality shown by Stone Cold Steve Austin was totally different than the one shown by Stunning Steve Austin, for instance.  That’s why it’s so frustrating when they bring up someone like Wade Barrett, as a totally random example, give him a month to get over as a superstar, and then bury him when he doesn’t immediately click.  Or Sheamus.  Who knew that turning him into a goofy babyface would be the piece of the puzzle that would get him over?  Wrestling is all about repackaging and repackaging and repackaging until you find the gimmick that fits someone,  and the current creative minds seem to think that if you fail with the first brilliant gimmick you shit out (CHRIS MASTERS!) then the guy is doomed to be a jobber forever and you might as well just give up. 

Austin 3:16

So I’m watching 96/97-era Raw and it’s amazing the slow build they gave Austin around this era from the moment he got over at the King of the Ring. Austin was still involved in curtain-jerkers or left off pay-per-views completely and even in his main event feud with Bret, Bret seemed to have the advantage over him every time, even in brawls. Hart beat Austin at the Survivor Series, seemed to pummel him in the random brawls they had on various Raws, eliminated him legally in the Royal Rumble and beat him to a bloody pulp at WrestleMania 13, yet Austin remained strong, possibly due to his vastly superior mic work, I guess. The only times Austin got the better of Hart was a win by disqualification and the street fight Raw… it’s amazing he didn’t lose any heat because of it.
Also shocking how Austin didn’t even earn any championship gold until about a year later as a throwaway tag champion with Shawn Michaels. Nowadays, if people get even remotely over, they’re booked as Intercontinental Champions almost immediately. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s fascinating what a slow build Austin got during this era compared to guys like Ahmed Johnson and The Rock who were forced down everyone’s throats. What do you think about this or slower builds in general?

Well, in the case of Austin they basically had no faith in him until Bret Hart went to bat for him in late 96 and then pretty much single-handedly built him into a superstar.  Although to be fair, even the internet fanboys back in 96 were basically saying that Austin was a solid midcard guy in the mold of Arn Anderson and probably nothing more.  I think it really shows the charisma that he had deep down that he was able to overcome those obstacles and basically get himself over every step of the way.  Of course, once Vince DID decide that Austin was going to be a superstar, it was a whole different ballgame.  It does show that, in general, you need to give guys time to develop.  The personality shown by Stone Cold Steve Austin was totally different than the one shown by Stunning Steve Austin, for instance.  That’s why it’s so frustrating when they bring up someone like Wade Barrett, as a totally random example, give him a month to get over as a superstar, and then bury him when he doesn’t immediately click.  Or Sheamus.  Who knew that turning him into a goofy babyface would be the piece of the puzzle that would get him over?  Wrestling is all about repackaging and repackaging and repackaging until you find the gimmick that fits someone,  and the current creative minds seem to think that if you fail with the first brilliant gimmick you shit out (CHRIS MASTERS!) then the guy is doomed to be a jobber forever and you might as well just give up.