Few former wrestlers have been as open with their opinions about pro wrestling and stories about their career than Steve Austin, who pretty much says whatever he wants, whenever he wants to, because you can do that when you’re one of the biggest stars in the history of the business. This time, while promoting his new Broken Skull IPA line of beers, Austin had a revealing tale about Vince McMahon, who apparently tried to get Austin to stop flipping off his opponents.
“So Vince goes, ‘Steve, when you’re flipping everybody off and using that finger, USA is complaining. Is there another sign that you can use that everybody can do?’ And I said, ‘No, there’s not.'”
“I told Vince I was not going to change sh*t. Vince goes, ‘Well, OK.’ And, of course, the cash register was ringing, we kept flying the middle fingers, and it was what it was. After struggling to get a break in WCW and USWA, and then getting a break and having your legs chopped off from under you by another booker who took control, I was a little bit frustrated, a little bit pissed by the time I got that green light. I’d be damned if anybody was going to take anything from me. I’m going to run over you and we’re going to the top–or I’m going to the top, and you’re going to come along for the ride.”
To be fair, this sounds less like Vince McMahon having a personal problem with Austin’s act and more that he had to answer to USA Network. Fortunately, you can get away with a lot of things on TV when you’re making as much money as WWE did during the Attitude Era. Coincidentally, that’s almost certainly why now that ratings are way down compared to the glory days, Raw is rated PG and WWE pretty much bends to every whim of the USA Network (see also: Raw expanding to three hours because USA is paying for it, Smackdown going live because USA wants it to be an important show again so it will get better ratings).