Season 2 of Straight Up Steve Austin debuts Monday night on USA Network, and the host—the inimitable Steve Austin—is eager to show off what he believes is a high-quality 30 minutes of television.
“We worked very hard to create something that entertains people,” Austin says. “I really think people are going to enjoy watching, and that’s the bottom line if I may use my ‘Stone Cold’ catchphrase.”
Austin will forever be associated with the pro wrestling industry. His career was defined during his run as the hell-raising “Stone Cold” character, but he also had plenty of other standout moments on the highlight reel before bringing his talents to WWE. An important stretch took place in 1991, when (Stunning) Steve Austin joined Paul Heyman’s Dangerous Alliance faction in World Championship Wrestling.
Three decades later, Austin remains in awe of Heyman, watching him create magic in his pairing with Roman Reigns.
“That’s such a great package. They complement each other so well,” Austin says. “Roman can work his ass off. He’s always been very solid in the ring, but now there’s this bond and this chemistry between Roman and Paul.
“That’s what Paul Heyman does. He makes anybody he’s with that much better. It happened for me, too. If you want to suspend your disbelief, you can’t but help believe he’s Roman’s rock of knowledge. The presentation, the package and the chemistry between these two looks and sounds like money.”
After a transcendent career in pro wrestling, revolutionizing the industry and setting new standards in attendance, merchandise and ratings, Austin has transitioned into an exceptionally gifted interviewer.
“My goal is to highlight my guests and facilitate the process,” Austin says. “The Straight Up show lasts 30 minutes but it takes all day to film. All the guests were tremendous. Every time we filmed, I was laughing my ass off. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”
Each episode of Straight Up is built around a free-flowing conversation with a guest, and the season premiere features country musician Luke Combs. Other guests over the eight-week season include Ice T, Brett Favre and Charlotte Flair.
“Anybody that knows anything about the wrestling business knows that my favorite of all-time is (the Nature Boy) Ric Flair,” Austin says. “And even though I’ve known Charlotte for years, this is the longest I have ever spent with her. We had so much fun during that episode. She’s polished, she’s a star, but I think this episode also captures how deep of a person she is outside of the ring.”
The episode with Favre also stands out. Both he and Austin are icons of their profession, with accomplishments that still resonate long after their retirement, yet each exited his industry under vastly different circumstances. Favre extended his career as long as possible, retiring (for good) after 20 seasons in the NFL in 2010, following post-comeback stints with the Jets and Vikings. That is contrasted by Austin’s retirement, which took place in 2003. His 14-year career came to an end due to mounting neck issues, and he wrestled his final match against longtime rival Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson at WrestleMania 19.
“If my issue wasn’t neck and neurological issues, I would have done the same as Brett and kept going,” Austin says. “When I walked away from the business of professional wrestling, I had to make the call. The doctor didn’t make the call. Vince McMahon didn’t make the call. It was the hardest decision I had to make, one that took me a long time to come to grips with.
“It was so hard for me to leave the business, so I can understand why Brett chose to hang on as long as he could. He’s one of the top quarterbacks to ever play the game. That’s another episode I really hope people enjoy watching.”
Austin returning to the air on Monday nights is a natural fit, and he plans on giving people content worth watching.
“I love doing this show,” Austin says. “Just like I did in my wrestling days, I worked extremely hard to entertain. We have a great team in place with this show, I had a damn good time with each one of our guests and I can’t wait for people to see the finished product.”