Exclusive interview: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin talks WWE 2K16, dream opponents and his WWE legacy
More than a dozen years removed from his last WWE match, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin still loves a good fight.
Though his WWE Hall of Fame career and exploits on the silver screen and podcasting qualified him for the honor of gracing WWE 2K16’s cover, it’s The Texas Rattlesnake’s fighting spirit that will be on display when grappling gamers fire up their preferred consoles. The Attitude Era icon isn’t just seeking the notoriety of appearing on a WWE video game cover; he wants WWE fans to employ the tenets of Austin 3:16 as soon as they start playing.
"I couldn't be happier that I'm on the cover of [WWE 2K16]," Austin said. "The people can live vicariously again through the actions and the wrestling style that 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin employed and some 119-other cats, open up a can of whoop a** and walk it dry on every single opponent you face."
Of course, that’s not all he had to say about 2K’s cover Superstar selection. WWE.com caught up with Austin and asked him about the new WWE video game, opponents he’s still dreaming about facing and the legacy he has left in WWE.
WWE.COM: 2K has chosen you to appear on the cover of WWE 2K16, which is not a small accomplishment. What are your general impressions about this honor being bestowed upon you?
"STONE COLD" STEVE AUSTIN: It caught me completely off guard. I was very surprised when I got the phone call. You know, I figured I'd been gone for such a long time; it's been a while.
I think it really speaks to how Austin and The Attitude Era resonated with the fans back then and, obviously, it resonated enough for 2K to pick a guy like me. I'm thankful to have had so many dance partners and so many Hall of Famers to work with. It was really an all-star cast of people in a 20-by-20 squared circle, entertaining people. At the end of the day, you really gotta thank the fans for being there for us. It’s an extreme honor.
AUSTIN: I've always told people, The Rock brought out the best in me and I brought out the best in The Rock — and that's the end of that story. I loved being in the ring with him. It was fun watching him come into the company and develop into the Superstar that he turned into inside the squared circle, and then morphed into the biggest movie star in the world.
With John Cena, one of my favorite Superstars of all time, another guy who's having an unprecedented run on top, to come from humble beginnings there in a small town in Massachusetts, to do everything that he's been able to accomplish in the business at such a high level, and to be such a workhorse. Those two guys were awesome guys to put on the cover of the 2K wrestling games.
But all of a sudden, when you bust out The Texas Rattlesnake, we go back and put a little Attitude in this. Being in there with The Rock and Cena is great, but they just got trumped by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin — and I say that with all due respect.
NEXT PAGE: Austin discusses his dream opponents, including one NXT Superstar
WWE.COM: One of the most anticipated features of WWE 2K16 will be 2K’s promise to deliver the largest roster in WWE video game history. What are your expectations for the competitive level coming into this game?
AUSTIN: It's going to be interesting for me because I haven't even seen the complete roster. I know a couple of the guys who are going to be in the game, but I'm looking to see who they dig back in the history and bring up. With 120 playable characters, that's almost insane. And from what I know about the game, this one is going to be the coolest one ever.
WWE.COM: A large roster like the one coming to WWE 2K16 will certainly give gamers an opportunity to set up all sorts of dream matches. Is there any Superstar from your past who you'd like to go just one more round with?
AUSTIN: A guy that I've always had so much respect for and only got a chance to meet one time was Andre the Giant. So, I would like to play Andre the Giant as myself, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. And some of the new guys that they’re bringing into this game like Finn Bálor, who I think is an outstanding talent and a veteran who's moved to WWE, but a guy who is probably one of the best wrestlers in the world. There are many dream matchups that I could sit and talk to you about all day.
WWE.COM: Another popular feature is the ability to customize the location. You mentioned Andre. In your mind's eye, where would that match take place?
AUSTIN: The two places that I would go to make those matches take place, if I could take one to Madison Square Garden, if I could take [the other] to Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, which was my favorite building to work in for acoustics.
WWE.COM: So, there's a very specific reason we asked you that pair of questions. Last year, WWE.com asked Sting the same thing. He chose you, and put the rematch in Baltimore Arena. Challenge accepted?
AUSTIN:Man, the Baltimore Arena… I was talking about this just the other day on my podcast. Man, that was a rough building. A fun building to work that just hadn't been upgraded in such a long time.
I think Baltimore was really, in Sting's WCW days, a stronghold for him. Chicago was that stronghold for me. And don't get me wrong: Sting was over wherever he went. I think the guy is WWE Hall of Fame material. But I do believe that that was one of his strongholds way back in the day. So, that man, I tell you what, that ain't a bad matchup and he's another guy that I worked with many times down in WCW. When he was on top, I was kind of a mid-card guy and we had great matches. It would be great to play “Stone Cold” vs. Sting in any arena you can pick, and if you're going to pick the Baltimore Arena, I'm down with that.
NEXT PAGE: Austin discusses his WWE legacy and gaming credentials
WWE.COM: Let's fast-forward a little and look at the current roster. Same question: Looking at it now, who do you think would give you a fun bout?
AUSTIN:Man, John Cena. I got a lot of respect for that guy. You talk about a road warrior, a guy that works his tail off, shows up with a smile on his face every single day and adds himself to shows when he's needed. Hell, even when he's not needed, the guy just loves to get on the road, and he loves the company that much. He's an absolute workhorse.
I've seen John Cena have great matches with so many great talents, but I don't think there's anybody that could light his a** up to a level of intensity more than myself as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. So I'd love to tangle with John Cena, and I tell you, that guy's an absolute machine in the ring. He never gets tired. He's a gym freak. He's one of the strongest guys in the business. I really like what he does inside the ring, and I would really like to mess with him to see what kind of magic we could create.
WWE.COM: Our count has you on seven WWE video game covers all-time, and this is only the second time since The Attitude Era where you appeared on it by yourself. Did you think you'd have this kind of staying power?
AUSTIN: No, no, absolutely not. Again, I got out of the ring in 2003, and, man, it's 2015.
Obviously, 2K did its homework with how "Stone Cold" still resonates with the fans. I meet people all the time and they have 3- or 4-year old kids that’ll say, "Oh, you're his favorite wrestler." And I'm thinking to myself, "I was retired in 2003." But because of WWE Network, "Stone Cold" lives on and people turn their kids on to me.
It's a very proud time, and I want to represent the game to the highest degree that I can.
WWE.COM: Last question for you: Are you or have you ever been a gamer?
AUSTIN:I had a couple of video games back in the day. But with my attention span being as short as it is, and with my love of the outdoors and spending time in the gym, I have never really been a gamer. I've talked to a million gamers, and I've been on the cover of video games. But I wouldn't technically say that I am a gamer.
WWE.COM: But was there, back in the day, one game that bugged you a little bit? You know, spent a little too much time on Super Mario Bros. or Frogger or anything along those lines?
AUSTIN: Oh man, I was never a Super Mario Bros. guy. The closest I can come to giving you a game story is that when I was a kid, we'd walk a mile to the grocery store. And I'm talking about a little convenience store. We'd pump quarters in a Galaga machine and we'd play that. That's how old school I am.
WWE 2K16 is scheduled for release on Oct. 27, 2015, in North America and October 30, 2015, internationally. The game has not yet been rated by the ESRB.