After a year full of Stone Cold Steve Austin and WWE doing business together - from the surprise opening of WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans to two live specials on WWE Network where the Texas Rattlesnake interviewed Vince McMahon and Triple H - his absence from WWE programming was going to get people talking.
That has certainly been the case over the last few weeks, especially with Chris Jericho becoming the only person other than Austin to take the post-Raw live podcast slot on the Network last night (April 6, 2105).
Stone Cold took to his own, non-WWE sanctioned chunk of internet air, as promised, to dispel the rumors floating around about heat between Vince McMahon and himself, and those alleged disagreements being the reason the two parties aren't currently working together.
Here's the full text of his comments, courtesy of our fearless leader, Geno "The Transcribing Machine" Mrosko:
All kinds of things being said about myself and WWE over the fact that I no showed WrestleMania. Man, completely false. There's no heat. One of the rumors was I was supposed to be on an airplane with Undertaker headed down there and there was a WWE employee waiting for me and when I didn't get off the airplane everybody went into shock and anger. Not true.
I don't know where Undertaker lives; last time I checked it was Austin, Texas. I currently reside in Los Angeles, California. When I'm not there I'm at the Broken Skull Ranch doing my thing out here so why they would have me and Undertaker coming in on the same commercial airplane I have no idea. So that rumor was completely untrue. There was never any part of any kind of creative discussions of me participating in WrestleMania 31 in Santa Clara.
So there was no booking, there was no ideas, I didn't turn down anything. So I just simply wasn't there. I tweeted on @SteveAustinBSR that I was coming down to the ranch to get some work done, some much needed work down here, and that's exactly what we did. ... I was never scheduled to be there.
With regards to Tough Enough, everybody says 'oh man, there's heat with Steve and Vince and Steve turned down the Tough Enough gig.' No, that's not true.
I had been talking with WWE about Tough Enough for quite some time, quite some time. As it were, it was supposed to be shot in February or March. Right now we're in April. Well, it didn't happen in February or March because through nobody's fault there are so many dynamics, so many moving parts to planning a show of the magnitude that Tough Enough is going to be, it takes a while to get all those pieces in order. Once WWE finally got their pieces in order and when they could go to camera was the same exact time when CMT says 'hey, we want to do more episodes of Broken Skull Challenge.'
So there was a clash of schedules. I wouldn't even say a clash, I would say both things lined up at the same time and I had the previous commitment to Broken Skull Challenge. In a perfect world, had we have been able to film Tough Enough in February or March then I was scheduled to do it and that would have been an absolute blast. So I didn't turn down Tough Enough because I have heat with Vince McMahon. That was my first reality television hosting gig and I absolutely loved it and it helped get the other gigs that I now do as well.
So scheduling problems prevented me from doing Tough Enough. I didn't turn it down for any other reason than that. Wish I could have done it, I couldn't, that's just the way it is.
Podcast on the WWE Network. Uh, not doing the podcast on the WWE Network just because we did the initial two and then we were going to kind of make a deal and move forward. The deal wasn't made and we're not moving forward, end of story.
There's no heat there. Some people said that Vince McMahon wasn't happy with the questions I was asking. Not true at all. So, again, there was a deal that could have been made, a deal was not made, and WWE went the direction they went, I'm going the direction I'm going in.
Hey man, down the road if we partner up and get back in business and do something that will be gangbusters because for the rest of my life I will always have WWE blood running through my veins. That company was a big part of creating a lot of the success and putting me on the map. By the same token, I was good for their business model. I came along when the chips were down and when WWE and Steve Austin are in business together it's always a good thing and it's always a fun thing.
So, no matter what anybody says, there's no animosity from any standpoint from WWE's point of view -- I'm guessing this -- and from my standpoint, again, I'm stating this plainly, clearly, and as efficiently as I can without going into too much more details which is between myself and Vince and WWE. Private matters. But for all of the public things I just talked about, those are the answers to the questions. No heat nowhere. It's cool. Moving on.
And that's the bottom line...
Now, back to the realm of conjecture, because that's what the internet is for (along with porn and being anonymously mean to people), this all makes perfect sense except for one thing. WrestleMania 31 was already an over-stuffed show, so it makes sense to save the Stone Cold bullet for later - specifically next year in his home state. The scheduling of Tough Enough has been an on-again off-again mess, with the company repeatedly teasing it as both a Network show and something for USA since last Summer. Austin is smart to not pass up any other work on the hopes of WWE finally getting their act together on that one.
The podcast issue sticks out, though. For one thing, it's the only one of his bullet points that he doesn't have a story to refute. The wine-sipping Texan is a savvy operator, and he knows that "there was a deal that could have been made, a deal was not made" isn't going to stop chatter about a beef between he and Vince.
No matter. While it's easy to imagine McMahon throwing a fit that Steve asked Hunter about Chyna, there's also no doubt that we'll see Stone Cold on a WWE program again. Because we want it, and Vince and Austin know we'll pay for it.
Do give the whole episode a listen. And let us know what you think about the rumored heat, Austin's answers and when you next think we'll hear the glass break on a WWE show.