“Stone Cold” Steve Austin missed out on many seemingly mundane experiences during his legendary, bloodied, broken-bodied rise to becoming one of the most popular wrestlers of all time. But the Texas Rattlesnake is making up for lost time with his new adventure reality series, “Stone Cold Takes on America.”
“It’s about doing different things in America and doing some of the things that I’ve always wanted to do,” said the six-time WWE champion. “Like almost anything in life, to reach a high level, you sacrifice a lot of stuff. … It sounded like a great idea to go do a lot of bucket list items.”
The A&E series, premiering Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT, gives a glimpse into Austin’s post-wrestling lighter side as he attempts to conquer activities like to bartending and competing against skilled senior citizen bowlers. He also does live TV weather forecasting and waits tables at a steak restaurant (no patrons were hit with the Stone Cold Stunner ).
“There are some things I’m loving … and there are some things that I’m little bit of a fish out of water, and it’s painful. But through it all, I think we had 12 or 13 people on the crew, and we traveled all around in an RV, and I drove every single mile,” said the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame inductee. “I was just trying to perform a job the best that I could — someone else’s job — on one hour of training. So yeah, man, I don’t like to use the word vulnerable, but I guess I’m a little bit more vulnerable than Stone Cold.”
The 58-year-old shot to wrestling fame in the late ’90s before spilling into pop culture stardom with his brash, charismatic, profanity-laced attitude that eventually moved fans from disdain to adoration. Helping lead the WWE’s popular “Attitude” era, his “Stone Cold” persona resonated with blue collar fans as well as anyone who hated their boss. (He had a running storyline of bickering and battling with WWE CEO Vince McMahon ). He drank celebratory beers in the ring after wins, and created crowd-participating catchphrases like “Give me a hell yeah!” It was also common to see his “ Austin 3:16” T-shirts —a cheeky play on the John 3:16 Bible verse — in schools and malls across the country. The merch became one of the biggest sellers in WWE history.
Hollywood recognized his gravitas, and he went on to star in 2007’s “The Condemned,” and joined the ensemble cast that included Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis in 2010’s “The Expendables.” In recent years, he beefed up his reality TV experience by hosting the “WWE Tough Enough” reality competition as well as several seasons of CMT’s “Redneck Island.”
But if fans expect to see the tough guy in the black wrestling trunks, black leather vest with a scowled face while he’s learning new jobs, they might be disappointed.
“For the first few episodes, there was a little bit of an identity crisis on my part,” explained the three-time Royal Rumble champion. “I live my life as Steve Austin, and so I’m not trying to be ‘Stone Cold’ in this show.”
But that doesn’t mean his alter ego is gone forever. Rumors swirled with frenzy that the native Texan would appear at WrestleMania 39 earlier this month, but filming conflicts didn’t allow him enough time to get into wrestling shape. However, he’s not ruling out future surprises WWE appearances.
“If the stars aligned again, then yes, I would,” said Austin, who acknowledged there were discussions with fellow wrestling legend and current WWE executive Paul “Triple H” Levesque.
But Austin isn’t begging to go back in the ring. He’s enjoying his post-wrestling life and wishes that much like his “Stone Cold” character inspired a legion of fans, this show motivates viewers to try something new, while hoping they follow these adventures with as much fervor as his wrestling storylines.
“I dropped out of college with 17 hours left to graduate, and all my jobs were manual labor jobs. I was driving a forklift before I got to the wrestling business. But I tell people I never had a plan B. Plan A was to succeed. I never had any desires of being a world champion … I just wanted to be a wrestler,” said Austin. “But as you learn the business, you learn that you want to climb the ladder to get to the very top. So, just whatever you want to do, don’t let anybody hold you back and go for it.”