“Well, okay, who are you?” – Vince McMahon reflects on drastically changing WWE Superstar’s character

Vince McMahon has admitted that he was unsure whether Steve Austin’s “Stone Cold” character was going to work in WWE.

Austin was originally known as “The Ringmaster” when he debuted on WWE television in January 1996. Two months later, he told McMahon that the new gimmick was not working for him. The WWE Chairman agreed with the future WWE Champion and allowed him to change his character’s name to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

Speaking on WWE Network show Meeting Stone Cold, McMahon discussed the origin of Austin’s character. He said nobody, including himself and Austin, had any idea what the “Stone Cold” persona would go on to become.

“Steve came here. His attitude was one of, ‘I’m gonna work hard. I mean, really hard. Harder than anyone else.’ He had that extraordinary work ethic, and Steve came to me and said, ‘Vince, I’m just not The Ringmaster.’ ‘Well, okay, who are you?’ So Steve came to me and said, ‘I’m Stone Cold.’ Neither one of us really knew what Stone Cold was. ‘Let’s try this, let’s try that.’ So it was the beginning of a new character.”

Released as part of “Austin 3:16” week on the WWE Network, Meeting Stone Cold contains footage from various WWE interviews over the last decade. Clips involving Daniel Bryan and The Undertaker were recorded within the last year, while The Rock’s remarks were made roughly 10 years ago. It is unclear when Vince McMahon’s comments were recorded.

Steve Austin’s respect for Vince McMahon

Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon is widely viewed as WWE
Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon is widely viewed as WWE’s most iconic rivalry

While their on-screen rivalry is among the greatest in WWE history, Steve Austin and Vince McMahon have also had problems behind the scenes. Their most famous real-life issue came in June 2002 when Austin walked out on WWE due to creative differences. McMahon initially fined “The Texas Rattlesnake” $650,000 before decreasing the amount to $250,000.

Speaking on The Pat McAfee Show in December 2020, Austin clarified that he now has a “strong relationship” with McMahon.


Although Austin rarely appears on WWE television, he still hosts his own show, Broken Skull Sessions, on the WWE Network. The next episode, featuring Randy Orton, is scheduled to air on Sunday, March 21.

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