“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is one of the biggest stars in the history of wrestling and also a guy that made wrestling podcasts cool. Austin’s “Steve Austin Show” podcast on Podcast One features interviews from time to time, but I find the most interesting shows are when he really breaks down the weekly shows, or dissects was is and isn’t working with certain characters.
On a recent episode of the Steve Austin Show, Stone Cold talked about a popular subject among wrestling fans — whether Roman Reigns is a face or a heel. Here are some of Austin’s comments. Thanks to WrestlingInc for the quotes:
“I think he [has] got a great physique, a good looking guy, a pretty damn good worker. Storylines have been kind of on and off, hot/cold. Roman Reigns in and of himself, I think he has ‘star’ written all over him. He has still got to find his way. He still has to climb his way up the ladder. He’s built to take the road. He’s always in shape. He doesn’t get gassed out in his matches. There’s a lot to like about the guy, so when they came out as The Shield, those three guys, him, Seth [Rollins], and Dean Ambrose, when they came out as The Shield, they were really hot as heels. And all of a sudden, they split them up. And Roman, I don’t know, came out of that… All of those guys had to find their way and Vince [McMahon] kind of picked him to be the babyface and because of the response he was getting when he hit the ring. He really draws your attention. If they get his storylines straightened out, I think the kid’s going to be fine. I just think they need to keep running him like they’re running him. He’s doing [well] in the ring. I loved his matches with AJ.”
The Reigns feud with Styles was from Payback 2016 and Extreme Rules 2016. Austin has been praising those matches for well over a year, so that’s not anything new. The part about “getting his storyline straightened out” has been the issue with Reigns for over two years. There are times when he is booked like a face where you want to root for him (think back to winning the WWE Title from Sheamus, when he was actually cheered) and then this past Sunday at Great Balls of Fire when he destroyed Braun Strowman with an ambulance. I think the inconsistencies in the Reigns character is hurting him. It has nothing to do with his performance or ability, because Reigns isn’t as bad as his haters might think.
Austin added that he doesn’t think Reigns should have a heel turn just to do it, and compared it to John Cena’s rise in the last decade.
“I think you keep him on the road that he’s on and you don’t turn him heel just for the sake of turning him heel to make the fans happy because you’re not pushing him anymore because if you’re going to turn him heel, you’re going to push him even harder. Then, if you were tired of him to begin with because he was overpushed to begin with, in your opinion, then you’re not going to like him as a heel either. So if he keeps going down the road in the fashion that he is, but then turns, in an organic fashion, heel, when the time is right, or just stays down the road, the kid is going to be just fine. He still has things to learn in the ring. He still has to work at getting to the top level, but he’s a top guy, in my opinion.
“Look at John Cena. Now, he [has] been on top for over 10 years and has had a [pro wrestling] career that is absolutely phenomenal, but he still sometimes has those divided chants. But, nonetheless, there’s electricity in the air and everybody is engaged. And he has been able to have such a strong mindset to not get in his head and mess with him. That’s the confidence of John Cena. I think that Roman Reigns has the same type of confidence and self-belief that he is going to weather those bad chants and he’ll end up getting over.
“He’s starting to loosen up and show some personality and I like it. And so I’m looking forward to see Roman keep developing. To me, here’s a guy who’s starting to get some confidence behind him.”
The difference between Cena’s rise and Reigns is that when Cena was moving up the ranks to become a main eventer, he became a ratings draw. His merchandise sold really well too. With Reigns, there are reports that his merch numbers do well, but it’s not like he’s a big ratings draw. In WWE’s eyes, what matters is that Reigns gets some of the loudest ovations on the shows and I don’t think they necessarily care if it’s all cheers or boos at this point. Remember the night after WrestleMania?
Moving on, Stone Cold also spent some time talking about Big Cass. Now that Big Cass is a singles wrestler that is going to be in line for the big heel push (think Braun Strowman or Baron Corbin in the last year), a lot of eyes on him. Austin had some advice for the big man.
“All he has to do is good, solid work. Don’t fly like a cruiserweight. Don’t worry about taking the big bumps. Just work logic. Be mean. Be vicious. Sell when it’s your time to sell. Don’t turn into super coward mode. Don’t oversell. Just sell. And learn. And sometimes when you’re working a guy that’s smaller than you, register and if they get you into sell mode, then you sell, but be vicious in your heat. Good luck to Big Cass. Good luck to both of them.
Right now, in this heel vein that he’s going, maybe even heel Barry Windham. But I liked Barry better as a baby. I don’t want to say Bruiser [Brody] because anybody could study Bruiser because of just the generality of what he did was awesome.”
I like Stone Cold’s advice for Cass. He doesn’t need to do anything crazy. Keep it simple as a monster heel, do the typical big man spots that guys like Undertaker, Big Show and Kane have done for decades, but it’s important to sell for the other guy. I always liken Cass to Kevin Nash because he does a lot of his moves. Nash was never known for being great in the ring, so Cass shouldn’t be a copy of him. Just try to modernize it a bit. Also, listening to Stone Cold’s advice is always a good thing, too.
For more of Stone Cold’s takes on the current WWE landscape check out the “Steve Austin Show” podcast on Podcast One now.