“Stone Cold” Steve Austin sold a ton of Austin 3:16 t-shirts back in the day. He made millions for WWE and racked in a ton of cash for himself. He also used that leverage as the hottest thing in the pro wrestling business at the time to secure a very fine deal.
Busted Open Radio recently spoke to Austin where he revealed that things didn’t match up when it came to his royalty pay on Austin 3:16 shirts. That is when he made this situation right by speaking directly to Vince McMahon about the situation.
“You know, when I say ‘hey here’s the first shirt’ and we came out with it, I had a little conversation with Vince. I remember getting a royalty check and I was like ‘look at that royalty check’ and I was looking at all those shirts out there and I was saying ‘hey man, this ain’t matching up.’ I went to Vince and had a conversation with him and I increased my percentage. And that’s a rare thing. At that point I kind of worked hand in hand with the art department. I’d kick in ideas and they’d shoot me a rendering and I’d say ‘no no, like this.’”
“So I just took it upon myself. And because it was a lot easier for talent to be hands on with merch back in the day. But I saw the value in that shirt and I didn’t think the percentages added up. That was a key business move. I never like talking contracts, money with Vince and stuff like that. But that was something I needed to address and I’m glad I did because I increased my merch.”
Austin is very happy to have risen through WWE rankings at the time when he did. The Attitude Era was a much different time for the pro wrestling business, because wrestlers were allowed much more freedom. Steve Austin devised that famous Austin 3:16 promo with his own words, which is why it felt so personal. Today’s promos are tightly scripted, and that presents a new challenge, but Austin isn’t involved in today’s current product.
“I’m not around today’s current system. I thought someone got let go because they went off script recently. Maybe they were going to get let go anyway, I don’t know. It was a different time, it was still the wild west back then. And here’s the thing; I think even if you went off script in this day and age, if you go out there and you hit a double grand slam, walk off, game, series winning promo, I think everybody’s going to be happy about it. That promo, at the time, if you watch that promo, I was on the way to getting over. I wasn’t over, over yet. And when I said ‘Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass’, and I love that Milwaukee Mecca arena, that crowd was the biggest pop I got from saying that one line.”
“So I think if you knock one out of the park and everybody knows it, I think you’re cool. But if you just go out there and its kind of good, maybe you’re showing some potential. But you know it is different system. I don’t know how tight they make the talent stick to that, but hey, I’m just lucky I came around when I did. And I was never afraid to push the envelope or go out on a limb. Once I started evolving into that Stone Cold Steve Austin character, man I knew I wasn’t the biggest guy on the roster, the most talented guy, the best looking, nothing. But I knew I had enough things that if I did everything I could and executed at a high level, I could get over.”
Steve Austin operated in WWE during a time well before the current landscape was shaped. Things were different then, and it makes one have to wonder how successful The Texas Rattlesnake would be in today’s climate where someone must meet such different qualities to even be considered for the role of WWE Superstar.
What’s your take on how pro wrestling has changed? Sound off in the comments!
Thanks to Wrestling Inc for the quote