SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE Network Live Special – “Stone Cold Podcast”
Host: “Stone Cold Steve Austin
Guest: Mick Foley
Aired Live: March 31, 2016
Dallas, Tex. at WrestleMania Axxess
This was a different setting for a live Stone Cold Podcast. Austin and Foley were on-location at WrestleMania Axxess, feeling at times like they were performing for a studio audience trying to keep the live audience engaged, as opposed to the intimate, one-on-one setting backstage at Raw. This was visually represented by Austin and Foley holding live mics at a desk positioned inside the Axxess ring, as opposed to sitting down at a desk just talking inside a mic’ed studio without having to talk into a microphone. But, the conversation entered Stone Cold Podcast Mode once everyone settled in…
The special started with Corey Graves standing in the Axxess ring to welcome out Austin back home in Texas wearing a “Dallas 3:16” t-shirt. Austin did the full ring intro before talking to the live audience. Austin said it feels good to be back in Dallas, where he started at the Sportatorium. “What?” chants provided the soundtrack to Austin doing a dramatic introduction for Mick Foley, who bounced down the stage into the ring to join Austin at the desk.
Austin and Foley stood up at the desk to acknowledge a “Holy s—” chant. Austin asked if they can say that on WWE Network, prompting a “Yes!” chant from the crowd. Austin did the Daniel Bryan Yes! hand motion to have a good laugh. Austin then introduced the podcast live from Dallas, Texas and thanked the audience for coming down to Dallas for WrestleMania. Austin asked Foley for a cheap pop shouting out to Dallas to make this show official.
Foley reminisced about working with Austin at World Class Championship Wrestling in the ’80s. Foley said he needed an excuse to leave the territory for a bit when he came across one of Chris Adams’s students, “Stunning” Steve Austin. Foley said he knew at the time that Austin was going to be someone. He said sure enough Austin did okay for himself.
Austin said Foley is looking good right now – did you lose some weight? Foley said he’s officially down 50 pounds. He said his secret is “bang,” implying DDP Yoga. Foley said he allowed his body to get into a bad position to the point where his spine was messed up. Then, he started working five months ago doing a lot of swimming and incorporating DDP Yoga into the swimming. Foley said he has a long way to go, but it’s the lightest he’s been since wrestling Randy Orton at Backlash in 2004.
Austin switched gears to traveling to cheap hotels while on the road. He asked Foley if being so frugal paid off now. Foley said if he would have run with a different crowd telling him to impress people by spending money, he would be in a different position, but Skandar Akbar lectured him on not spending, living by the adage of it’s not what you make, but what you save. Foley said he tries to tell the NXT guys to save their money. Foley said he once had a contest with Owen Hart trying to last on a $20 bill. “Owen finally tapped out at the two-week mark,” Foley said.
Austin wanted to talk about Dude Love, then Cactus Jack. Austin wanted to know how he went from Love to Cactus. Foley said Dude Love is who he wanted to be as an escape from who he was not in real-life. He said he used to go out in public with the wig, glasses, and headband because he was more comfortable as that person than himself. He said Cactus Jack was a tribute to his father, Jack, so he embraced it and tried to look and act different than the average person would. So, where did the Cactus part come from? Foley said in the mid-’80s, no one was looking for someone of his build. Eventually, he found himself at a TV studio in Memphis, where he went to extreme lengths to make his matches entertaining and trying to get real heat.
Austin went back to Dallas, Texas when Foley met a girl. Foley told his son Dewey to cover his ears. Foley said he was told to drop the Long Island accent because it was hurting his Cactus Jack identity. So, he went out to the local establishments trying to work on his accent. Foley said a girl was attracted to Cactus Jack, but not Mick Foley. So, he decided to not give away his real identity. He said it was great character-building, but not good for a relationship. Foley said the lady never caught on, but broke up with him, and then said called him telling him not to do a scaffold match. Foley said he ended up on top of the scaffold and fell hard to the mat with her on the front row.
Austin wanted to know who influenced Foley the most in terms of character and hardcore style. Foley said he decided to make things come to life that he wanted to see as a fan. He said before meeting Terry Funk, he was influenced by Bruiser Brody and Dynamite Kid. So, he tried to combine the brawling style of Brody with using his body as a weapon like Kid. In Texas, he tried to create his own style and find his own niche, whereas in Memphis, they balked at his style. Foley said he had to talk some veterans into taking the running elbow off the ring apron. Some veterans thought he was going to fall through the floor with so much weight and force coming down. Eventually, Jim Ross and Jim Cornette caught on to Foley’s work.
Austin said he enjoyed working with Foley because he always wanted to have the best match of the card, but was still safe doing his hardcore style. On the flip side, Austin brought up Dynamite Kid knocking out Foley with a hard clothesline. Foley said he had a hard time chewing food for three weeks, and it became a recurring problem for him. Then, Foley went to WCW and eventually Japan for crazy hardcore matches. Austin said Foley made $300 doing a bunch of explosive matches. “Do you like pain?!” Austin asked to laughs. Foley said it was something he accepted and worked through. He said he learned that he would have to live through a lot of pain. “I never liked it. It motivated me,” Foley said. “I needed to be jolted into an alternate reality to become that character.” Foley said there was a time when there wasn’t much difference between himself and Cactus Jack. But, as he got older, he needed those frying pan shots or explosives to remind him that he was Cactus Jack. “I definitely responded to it. I wouldn’t say I liked it. I just couldn’t function without it,” Foley said.
Foley wanted to talk Dean Ambrose, but Austin wanted to finish up on whether he was married while doing the explosive matches in Japan. Foley said he was married and his wife dealt with it by starting to expect Foley’s craziness. She had already received the phone call about him going home early from Germany because he lost half of his ear. Foley said the King of the Death Match tournament left him in rough shape. He said Funk came up to him before the last match to talk about getting through this. Then, after the match, Foley realized that he lost a lot of skin and his body was turning colors. He finally got off the plane, his dad picked him up, and his wife tried to figure out why his body smelled so badly. Foley said he was burned so badly that a lot of his skin fell off.
Austin switched gears to Foley’s project on WWE Network involving his family, announced earlier today. Foley welcomed out his co-star Noelle Foley to be part of the discussion. Noelle walked out to the ring to join the discussion. Austin said he’s known Noelle since she was a baby and asked what’s the background on the new “Holy Foley” show. Foley interjected that you’re not made as a character in WWE until Vince McMahon endorses it. Foley said McMahon didn’t buy into Mankind completely back in the day, then he saw the Dude Love footage and he bought Foley. Foley said the same with his family introducing Noelle on the Network as part of the new show.
Noelle announced that she is going to start training to become a Diva. Foley said he thought he was a living advertisement for not getting into the wrestling business, but she decided she wanted to pursue it. “She’s deadset on becoming a wrestler, so I’m going to have a hand in her training,” Foley said. Austin noted Noelle has been around the business her entire life, so what are her aspirations? Are you going to follow Mick’s style? Noelle said definitely not so she doesn’t end up walking like Foley, but he could teach her some things.
Austin noted that he is a father of two, but he was never home. So, are you prepared for the lifestyle? Noelle said she understood Mick being on the road and trying to be home as much as possible to make up for it. Foley said he was always home on a 6:00 a.m. flight and he did the best he could to be home whenever possible. Plus, the wrestling business was just part of their lives. Foley said wrestling is the love of her life and she wants to give it her best shot.
Noelle said the project will begin filming in two weeks. She said their family is a weird normal. Noelle said they’re an average family, but Mick is a weird dad and they make weird noises. Are you as frugal as Mick? Noelle said not that frugal, but she gets the best deals. Austin wrapped up Noelle’s segment before resuming the conversation with Foley.
Austin went back to Foley’s Mankind character, wanting to know how it was born. Foley said when he showed up to his first meeting with McMahon at WWE HQ in Stamford, Conn., there was a drawing of his character. Foley said it seemed odd at the time that McMahon wanted to take the mask used for The Undertaker during his Phantom of the Opera era. But, it turns out that in 1995, McMahon finally decided to bring in Foley and “cover up his face” with the Mankind mask. Foley said he really played into being ugly and hideous.
Austin noted that McMahon was against Foley coming to WWE, but Jim Ross lobbied for him. How difficult was it to overcome that? Foley said McMahon saw nothing in him before he came to WWF, but having The Undertaker in your corner is huge. Foley said he debuted on Raw 20 years ago in April 1996 when he attacked Taker, who wanted to do business with Foley. He said Taker was tired of working with guys who were taller or heavier than him, and Taker wanted to do some mental dueling to change up his feuds. Foley said McMahon gained a new perspective after talking to a bunch of different locker room veterans. Foley recalled driving down the roads with Austin sharing frustration with other guys’s pushes and contracts. So, they pushed themselves as the underdogs to steal the show and form a brotherhood.
Austin asked Foley if he ever got his three personas confused. Are you three people with the volume turned up? Foley focused on Dude Love and the Commissioner Foley era when he did silly and foolish stuff with Edge and Christian. Then, Mankind was the darker side of his personality. He said he would have to find a way to become that dark person to get into his matches. Foley said he spent several nights early in his run underneath the ring literally in a dark place. “Mankind was definitely a stretch. I had to work really hard,” Foley said.
Foley said the defining moment for him was the multi-part interview with Jim Ross. He said when he did that interview with honesty from Mick Foley and in the character of Mankind, he was locked into the role. Suddenly, he heard a voice in the back of the room from McMahon saying “This is outstanding.” And that’s when McMahon came to his side.
Austin fast-forwarded to King of the Ring 1998 when Mankind and The Undertaker had the infamous Hell in a Cell match. Austin said he and Kane had no chance to follow that match, and some nights you just can’t follow the guy before you. Austin wanted to know what Foley was thinking before the HIAC match. Foley said he watched the Shawn Michaels vs. Taker debut HIAC match and had no idea how to differentiate from that classic. So, he talked to Terry Funk and decided to start the match on top of the Cell. Foley said he got the vision in his head and ran with it. So, The Bump. What happened, what do you remember? Foley said when he got up there ready to take the bump, he thought it was the worst idea he ever had. He said gingerly climbing down the Cell wall was a terrible idea, too, so he went with it. Foley said no one remembers the other part of him being taken to the back and then coming back out to interfere in Austin’s match. Austin wanted to talk about the second big bump when he took a chokeslam through the top of the Cell. Then, Austin asked for footage of Foley gingerly running down to the ring to interfere in Austin’s match against Kane. They showed footage of Foley looking completely out of it stumbling into the ring and eventually taking a Stunner. Foley said he doesn’t remember any of that.
Austin then switched gears to the guy Foley wanted to talk about – Dean Ambrose. Foley said he wants this takeaway from this podcast. He said he talked to McMahon about wanting to come back once or twice a year to do something big with force. So, the idea was for Foley to talk to Ambrose backstage. Foley said a lot of wrestlers think they can only have an impact with an in-ring promo. But, he learned a lesson that you can make an impact in a backstage promo. He said he shifted his focus from wanting to be forceful to wanting to do the best job he could endorsing Dean, as someone who deserves it. So, he got the material from the writer, thought it was too humorous, and then all of his wrestling promo work came back to him. Foley said he didn’t know how he was going to approach it until they went in front of the cameras. He said they rehearsed and had a nice back-and-forth dialogue, then went live with their verbiage. Foley said after their promo, he decided that something important just happened. He said he felt like it was one of the most important things he’s ever done. And, now he won’t think of a backstage promo as a throwaway anymore. “That night, I thought there was no place I could have been more effective than with Dean Ambrose backstage,” Foley said.
Austin transitioned to the WWE Hall of Fame. He wanted a Stan Hansen and Freebirds story with three minutes left. Foley said he saw Buddy Roberts’s wife and noted that Buddy Roberts, Jr. is going to induct his dad on Saturday. Foley said he thinks so highly of the Freebirds and Hansen. He said his son Dewey was almost named Stan or Hansen because he thought so highly of him. Foley recalled calling his wife and asking her if she wanted to make a baby with Hansen in mind. Foley said one day in Japan he found out he was tagging with Hansen, so he came up to him with ideas for spots. But, Hansen replied, “I don’t do spots.” He said Hansen just creates in the ring.
Austin switched to WrestleMania on Sunday. Foley said the exciting thing for him has the same goal of trying to steal the show. He said there are four or five matches that could steal the show. He said Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch have a chance to make this Mania special and help women’s wrestling officially arrive in today’s WWE era. He also brought up Kevin Owens to a reaction in the IC Title ladder match. Foley said everyone wants a Mania they’re involved in to be spoken in reverent tones, like WM3 or WM17 for Austin and The Rock.
Foley took a step back to think about how big WrestleMania has become. He asked the live audience to shout out if they’re from a different country. Most of the audience gave a shout. Foley then closed with a McMahon impersonation on WrestleMania being “bigger, badder, and better.” Austin’s music played and he wrapped up the live podcast shouting out to Dallas and thanking Mick Foley. That concluded the hour-plus podcast.
The interview was more focused after starting like a wrestling show, with Austin determined to have a serious conversation and not just playing to the crowd for reactions. Plus, the live studio audience was respectful of the setting, not trying to interrupt with cat-calls or random chants. Overall, a successful live podcast in a different setting.