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Steve Austin podcast with Vince McMahon recap & reactions: Feed us more

Monday Night Raw emanated from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma last night and it was mostly an awful show. Thankfully, WWE promised Vince McMahon would sit down with Stone Cold Steve Austin for a candid, no holds barred hour long interview right when Raw went off the air on USA.

To say that it was worth the time and money spent on it would be a massive understatement.

Austin proved right away that he wasn't here to lob softballs up for his old boss to knock out of the park. That's not to say he was perfect -- he whiffed hard on some basic follow up questions while failing to even attempt to dig deeper at other times -- but this was undoubtedly the best program to ever air on the WWE Network.

Even the set was gorgeous.

My biggest gripe was undoubtedly with the fact that Austin bothered to spend any time talking about the Monday Night War, or issues with Ted Turner, or Jim Crockett, or the death of the territories. He did well enough to ask important questions on as much -- such as whether or not killing the territories was bad for McMahon's business in the long run -- but all of that information is widely available elsewhere. That includes the Monday Night War series currently airing on the Network and without mentioning the various video releases covering those topics to death.

They only had an hour, after all.

Austin did hit some big points having to do with current and/or recent events that gave us quite the glimpse into McMahon's mind, however. Click here to read the quotes in full, but let's get to reacting to the pertinent information.

CM Punk: You could question Austin's approach -- "yes or no question: do you want to talk about CM Punk?" -- but to my eyes it's a victory he asked at all. It led to McMahon doing what many interview subjects do and talking himself into talking. To Vince's credit, he avoided any PR jargon and was as candid as he could be considering the circumstances. It also seems clear he wants to repair the relationship. It was not lost on me that Punk intimated that getting his termination papers on his wedding day, a move he felt was deliberate, was the straw that broke the camel's back and here Vince is just days later going out of his way to apologize for it while attempting to discredit the idea it was done on purpose. The idea that the biggest issue between them was a lack of proper communication seems like a cop out at best, however. It was disappointing that Austin didn't follow up, but Vince did make clear he didn't want to talk much about it. Not asking about the WWE doctors was unfortunate but predictable.

Undertaker's streak ending: He confirmed that he was the only who made the call to end the streak. Interestingly enough, he also admitted that Undertaker was shocked upon learning that he would be doing the job to Brock Lesnar but showed how unselfish he is by ultimately going out and doing just that. Even more interesting was his reasoning: He looked at the roster and, operating within a two year window, felt like there wasn't anyone who would be in the right position to beat the streak to be a star and that Lesnar was the only one who fit the bill. It does sound like he's banking on Lesnar's win carrying him into WrestleMania next year as the hottest act in the company and lends credence to the rumor that he'll be booked accordingly leading up to that show. I can't say I agree with the strategy, but I can't say I disagree with it either. Is Roman Reigns better off beating Lesnar for the WWE world heavyweight title one year after Lesnar beat the streak? Or is he better off simply beating the streak? I'm not so sure that's a call I would ever want to be in a position to have to make. Perhaps the most interesting in all this, though? The fact that Vince repeatedly referred to Undertaker by his real name, Mark Calaway.

Randy Savage going into the Hall of Fame: Perhaps Austin's biggest misstep was the manner in which he navigated this topic. WWE just released an incredibly well done documentary on Savage's career and rumors have persisted that he'll be going into the Hall of Fame soon. So Austin asks if that's happening and McMahon not only responds in the affirmative, he acts as though it's a silly question. Even if he hadn't, Austin should have followed up, but when you have McMahon acting like the idea of not putting Macho Man in the Hall is ridiculous, you have to ask why it is, then, that he's not already in a full 20 years after his WWE career ended and over three years following his death. At the very least, we've got Vince on record saying it's happening, and that feels right.

Brock Lesnar's schedule: I can absolutely understand the mentality Vince was pushing with Lesnar's schedule, namely that he's a special attraction and having him work every show only serves to hurt that. I wonder if that's a viable strategy, however, considering he has a group of wrestlers who have to work damn near every show. If Brock is special because he's gone, what does that say about all who remain? It's a slippery slope. I also agree with Vince on the WWE world heavyweight championship and its role on television within storylines, even if his saying that "it's not about the WWE title" made Austin look like he wanted to strangle him.

Cesaro's issues: A lot of folks have already come out hard against Vince for his comments on Cesaro but I don't necessarily disagree with his general assessment. Cesaro is unquestionably a supremely talented physical specimen who can wrestle as good or better than anyone else on the roster. But there's quite obviously something missing there and while I won't agree with Vince that it's a lack of charisma or verbal skills (he's outstanding on the JBL & Cole Show), I will agree that I don't see "it". Austin was right to point out that just as Cesaro was getting over as a babyface with the split from Jack Swagger and battle royal win at WrestleMania they cut his legs out by pairing him with Paul Heyman, turning him heel, and taking away the move he used to get over. Vince had no good response to this, or how to change things moving forward. Cesaro fans should take solace in the fact that he did say he's not giving up on him. So there's that.

WWE Network: "It's doing great." No, it's not. "Subscriptions are good." No, they're not. "We've got about a 97-percent satisfaction level on it, so that pretty much tells you whether or not people like it." What?!? "It just takes a little while to build up all the content you want to build up and make sure you're listening to the audience and give them exactly what they want." You mean like all the Attitude Era episodes of Raw and Nitro? Or more of this very show you're doing now? "I think we're giving them exactly what they want tonight. I'm on your show." Well, at least you got that right. Now please recognize that Austin, your most charismatic star, can still be a top draw for you and make this a regular program.

Eggshells: It was alarming, to say the least, to have Austin tell Vince the reality of the situation, that wrestlers are scared to rock the boat for fear of losing their spot and that if they piss someone off they might even lose their job to have McMahon respond with "Well, don't piss anyone off." The silence that followed was deafening, broken only by Austin rightly pointing out that he pissed Vince off constantly and they drew more money together than any other time in history. Vince then went full Dana White and buried the entire roster. He claimed no one was reaching out for the brass ring and the last person to do so was John Cena, which will surely kick CM Punk in the guts. Then suddenly the problem was that he has a roster full of millennials. Then it was that they lack ambition. Then it was because they're all insecure and afraid to fail. He at least named Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Bray Wyatt as a few wrestlers who "want to reach for it" but it was really something to have Vince telling Austin that no one on the current roster could be as big a star as he once was.

Sting: As I mentioned once before, Sting is an extinction level event and he should only be used as such. So you can imagine how tickled I was at the idea that Vince feels at least somewhat similar in the sense that while we'll definitely be seeing Sting, it won't be often. That's the way it should be.

Boss move: As Austin was trying to wrap Vince up, telling him there was only 20 seconds left on the air, McMahon pulled the ultimate boss move. "I happen to own the Network, and we're going another 15 minutes." Naturally, speculation is rampant that it was a worked spot but it didn't feel like it and considering how open Vince was (to the degree he could be), I bought it.

If you haven't seen this podcast, you badly need to get eyes on it immediately. This should become a monthly or perhaps bi-weekly feature with Austin getting various names on the hot seat -- Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, and Undertaker all come to mind -- and grilling them with questions fans actually care about hearing an answer to.

That's the future of the WWE Network. That's the compelling content they've always sorely been lacking. Pulling the curtain back and letting fans take a prolonged look around won't have an adverse effect on my want to venture back over to the other side.

In fact, there are nights like last night when it's the only thing keeping me anywhere close to the curtain at all.

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