Among the many great things about Steve Austin is that he's always got something unique and interesting to say in every interview he does, every show he works and every podcast he records.
A recent sitdown with Ryan Glasspiegel over at USA Today's Big Lead is certainly no exception. Click on over to read the whole interview, including his thoughts on organizing and time off in pro wrestling, reflections on his career and analysis of the work Paul Heyman is currently doing on WWE television.
Couple of things popped out to me while Glasspiegel was talking to him about the current situation WWE has with new stars, particularly babyfaces, at the top of their card.
In wishing the best for Daniel Bryan on his return from neck surgery, Austin is concerned that even after rehabilitating from his injury and surgery, his rise may have been so linked to his full-on ring work that anything less wlll be disappointing:
He kind of worked himself into a corner, because that's his work style - the cruiserweight style - for me, when I got dropped on my head and changed into a brawler, it almost magnified what I was doing in the ring. But, to put himself in a box, he could be trapped.
Will Bryan be able to make a convincing transition to a less energetic and acrobatic style? He certainly possesses the versatility, charisma and storytelling ability to make it happen, but it will probably be a bit more of a challenge than it was for Stone Cold, due to their size difference.
Austin also sizes up the members of The Shield in terms of future potential. While, at first glance, he agrees with WWE's scouting report that targets Roman Reigns as the next big star, he's realistic about where each of the three former partners are in terms of their all-around game:
If you put everybody in a line up and said, "Hey, pick out the star," you're gonna pick out Roman Reigns. That's just by physical appearance. With the other guys, I think they bring a little bit higher, more established, and mature work rate because they're a little less green in the business.
That's where Roman Reigns needs to catch up. He needs to add to some more offensive arsenal and workmanship into his performance inside the squared circle once the bell rings - learning how to work a body part, and tell a story in a match. The other guys are a little bit further advanced from in on that.
If Reigns can proceed and become more of a veteran - and his on-the-job training is gonna take another year or two - then, again, you look at his appearance. If his work in the ring has improved, he's that guy. That being said, there are no guarantees in this business. Just because someone looks great does not mean he will be a top guy. They can try to anoint him as a top guy, but if he cannot do what he's supposed to do when the bell rings, and put people's asses in the seats, he's not the top guy.
Whether or not Reigns can pick up the skills he needs to be "that guy" is one thing. Whether or not WWE has a "year or two" to wait is another.
Again, check out the whole interview for more of the bottom line - especially his insistence on steering the conversation back to plugging Wendy's BBQ at every opportunity - and let us know what you think of his read on Bryan's return and Reigns' ascent in the comments below.