Stone Cold Steve Austin appeared on the WWE Monday Night Raw Reunion on July 22 to close out the festivities with a classic beer bash. He's been keeping busy despite being away from in-ring competition.
Austin's new show, Straight Up Steve Austin, will debut on USA Network on August 12 at 11 p.m. ET. The WWE Hall of Famer will get down and dirty with celebrities via participation in distinctly Stone Cold activities, such as off-road monster trucking, beer drinking and driving tanks to crush cars.
His celebrity guests will include actor Rob Riggle, comedian Gabriel Iglesias, country singer Trace Adkins, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and WWE Raw women's champion Becky Lynch.
Bleacher Report caught up with the Texas Rattlesnake to talk about his new show, his take on The Man and the rise of All Elite Wrestling.
Bleacher Report: One of the interviewees for Straight Up Steve Austin is Becky Lynch. Can you tell me something you learned about her that you didn't know before?
Steve Austin: I found out that she was more confident than what I originally thought. She is more charismatic than I first thought. She has broken so much ground with this "Man" character and how she came up with it. She's very spontaneous and very quick—not just with an answer, but with a well-thought-out answer. I love that she stays composed. Her passion for the business rivals mine. And that's not something I often say.
Her episode was one of my favorites of the new show. Becky Lynch is the real deal. She's a woman, but she's The Man.
B/R: Have you given her advice on where she's at in her career?
Austin: I asked her on the episode about what she's currently going through and about maintaining her spot. She actually answers that on the show. But she literally lives right down the street from me, so when we crossed paths a time or two in Los Angeles, I did give her a couple pieces of advice.
I won't specifically tell you what I told her, but I will tell you this, and it's what I tell everyone who asks me for advice: "This is the way Stone Cold Steve Austin did it, and it is just one way. Take it and process it, and whether you use 30 percent of it or 100 percent of it, use my advice in a way that applies to you rather than to me."
I take zero credit for her success. She's the one going out there, doing her own thing and laying it on the line. There's a lot of similarities between The Man and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
B/R: Is there something she does that other Superstars don't do?
Austin: I think you can see that she's highly competitive, and she's alpha. She's hungry—she's not afraid to go on the limb—and she wants to be No. 1. With great performers, you feel them. And you feel her words; it's very powerful. She's not done yet with her run. She's not going to be complacent.
This business is more than just being able to do a bunch of cool moves in the ring. It's character and charisma, and being able to channel that electricity in an energetic fashion that makes a performer larger than life. It's easier said than done.
B/R: Have you seen any difference in Raw since Paul Heyman took over in a creative role backstage?
Austin: I have been traveling extensively since I went to do the Raw Reunion in Tampa, so I haven't been able to see Paul Heyman's fingerprints on the show yet. But I did see him right before I went down [to the ring] to see the crowd in Tampa. And he just told me to knock 'em dead.
B/R: Was that promo at the end of the show ad-libbed, particularly near the end?
Austin: That promo was completely ad-libbed, and very unlike a Stone Cold Steve Austin promo. And when I dropped the mic, and I asked, "How much time do we have left," and I was told "10 minutes." It's a live show, and so there was a lot going on there.
B/R: What do you think of AEW and the competition it provides to WWE?
Austin: Good! I love competition, and Vince [McMahon] does too. A lot of my friends are over there, and it gives people who aren't with WWE the opportunity to be employed and have a job. I see it as nothing but positive. We'll see how they do.
B/R: How was the show and concept of Straight Up Steve Austin pitched to you?
Austin: The network called my agent and said: "Hey, we'd like to talk to you about doing a show. Kind of like a talk show, but doing it outdoors and doing it with activities with different celebrity guests." So we shot a pilot and some time went by, and they tested it with audiences. And they told me, "People responded very positively." So we gave it a shot and made more episodes.
B/R: So essentially it's an interview show, with you as the host?
Austin: It's me hanging out with celebrity guests. I take them into my world; they're spending a day with me. And I find out who they are and what they did to be successful. So it's not just me straight up grilling someone. It is an interview, but it's also trading stories.
B/R: Do the activities that you do with your interviewees help them loosen up or share more?
Austin: I think the activities were fun for both me and my guests, and they allowed for a natural conversation to take place. You're providing space. That ice starts to break, and that camaraderie starts to develop, and that's when you start having a fluid conversation.
B/R: You're more of a straight-up interviewer on your Stone Cold Podcast. How do you prepare for interviews?
Austin: I'll do my homework, because I want to do my guest justice. I'm not a huge planner, but I do like to have my notes in front of me. I need to know what this person has done, what they're doing and what's interesting.
I recently interviewed Hulk Hogan on my podcast, and of course, I researched his past. But we're also two of the top guys in the business talking shop. My perspective is going to be a lot different than a lot of other people's.
B/R: Do you feel you've improved as an interviewer over time?
Austin: I think my biggest improvement is listening more intently rather than just thinking, "OK, what do I ask next?" [Conducting an interview] is about driving the conversation, but also it's about letting the guest drive the conversation as well.
I'm not the greatest interviewer in the world. I just do it in my style, in my way. I am me, and I'll never be anyone else. So I just aspire to be the best that I can be.
B/R: Does your skill at cutting promos help you be a better interviewer?
Austin: It doesn't help me [directly]. But I do think cutting promos helps you with being in front of a crowd and being able to work in spite of a distraction. On Straight Up Steve Austin, there's 85 people on set! It's been a while since I've done that.