March 30, 2004
Austin DVD offers nothing new
By JOHN POWELL -- Co-producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Just in case you haven't seen the dozen or so "Stone Cold" Steve Austin videos or DVDs that are out there, read "The Stone Cold Truth", perused the countless in-depth media interviews he has done over the years or watched the "Biography" episode on A&E some years back, the WWE has released yet another DVD dedicated to the Texas Rattlesnake.
What? What? Another "Stone Cold" biography from WWE Home Video, you say? What? What? Yeah, that was my reaction too except it was the question "Why?" not "Who?" that was going through my mind as the DVD relentlessly and mercilessly spun on and on.
By now, die-hard wrestling fans pretty much know all there is to know about Austin's career from his early days learning his trade at The Sportatorium to his meteoric rise to fame in the WWE. How Steve Williams became "Steve Austin" because there was already a "Dr. Death" Steve Williams. How his ex-wife inadvertently came up with the name "Stone Cold" when she was making him some tea one night. How then WCW head honcho Eric Bischoff told a "Stunning" Steve Austin that he would never be a headliner in the wrestling business and fired him via fax. How Owen Hart accidentally injured Austin with a piledriver that went horribly wrong.
Yep, you've heard all these stories before and you will all over again for the hundredth time on "The Stone Cold Truth" DVD which is marketed as a companion to the best-selling biography of the same name. On the disc there are comments from his mother, his ex-wife, his daughters and a host of other family members and friends. The comments are not earth-shattering though. No real surprises there. Guess what? His mother says he was an adorable imp as a child. His daughters, who live in England with their mother, think their dad is cool...even though they admit they see more of him on television than in person. His brothers talk about the trouble they got into as kids and the neighborhood stunts they pulled. None of these insights into Austin make us stand up and take notice or see him in an entirely different light. They are all somewhat predictable and bland.
Except for his own comments on Owen Hart (never forgave him for the accident but didn't hate him afterwards either) and his thoughts on being closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Austin's candid interview segments aren't especially engrossing either. No grand tirades against Eric Bischoff. No tearful recollections of Brian Pillman or Owen Hart. Instead, we get to watch dozy segments featuring Austin shaving his head from start to finish and eating raw potatoes in his kitchen. All of which will have you praying for a run-in by anyone...including Test.
There are some curious extras though for the WWE marks who foolishly didn't give ECW or WCW the time of day. Included is a WCW Tag Team Championship Match pitting The Hollywood Blondes ("Stunning" Steve Austin, Brian Pillman) versus Arn Anderson and Ric Flair, his hilarious promos in ECW as "The Extreme Superstar" Steve Austin - in which he does an impressive job mimicking Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff - and his bout against Mikey Whipwreck at ECW's November 2 Remember in 1995. Not great choices considering there are Austin's standout matches against Ricky Steamboat in WCW and all of the hardcore shenanigans in ECW which were the foundation for the "Stone Cold" persona in the WWE.
One can't help but to wonder why the WWE felt it was necessary to produce another Austin bio disc that does nothing but recycle his life story for the millionth time. It not like there are legions of new WWE fans coming into the fold who aren't familiar with the Texas Rattlesnake. All the effort comes off as is another way for Austin and the WWE to squeeze the last few pennies they can out of the quickly fading and redundant "Stone Cold" persona.