‘Younger stars need to maximise their minutes’. ‘Talent needs to step up and be noticed’. These are quotes you tend to hear a lot from veteran WWE employees and performers when asked about the current Superstars and WWE television product.
They are a voice of experience. Those that were the amongst the most popular Superstars of all time certainly heeded to this advice on their way to the top. However there was a key difference when a lot of these Superstars, particularly those of the Attitude Era, made their rise to fame. The script.
It can certainly be argued that these talents would have become synonymous with Professional Wrestling even if they did have to follow a script. But would ‘Austin 3:16 says…’ or ‘If you smell what The Rock is cookin’ have ever come to fruition if Stone Cold and The Rock had to follow a script for their promos? These catchphrases were a significant element in the making of these two men’s careers, and had they needed to adhere to a certain structure they may never had said them.
Stone Cold Steve Austin has said in interviews that he came up with ‘Austin 3:16′ about a minute before having to do this promo, after Michael P.S Hayes had informed him that Jake the Snake had mentioned religion during his promo whilst Austin was off getting treated for a cut mouth. Given the freedom to say something like this made Austin a mega star overnight, although it can be argued he was already in the midst of a push at the King of the Ring PPV. Would he have become as big of a star as he did if the Creative Team had a bigger control over that moment?
Vince Russo also confirmed this in his Autobiography ‘Forgiven’. In it he mentions how Austin very briefly ran the idea for the promo by him before delivering it, although Russo didn’t really pay any attention to it as his mind was on other matters. He goes on to explain how after Austin had delivered his infamous saying for the first time to the live crowd, he could not wait to get into the office the next day because he knew how big it was going to be. Interestingly, he also states how Vince McMahon initially asked for Austin 3:16 to be changed because he didn’t get it. When the WWE Creative Team and McMahon himself have such strong control over every element of a WWE Television Broadcast, can a Superstar have the freedom to show their ability on the microphone during a promo in the company today?
Austin’s continued popularity in the early 2000′s was also boosted by another infamous catchphrase in the wrestling world, ‘What?’. Again, this was something Austin himself came up with, as he mentions in his recent documentary DVD, when he was leaving a voice message on the phone to Christian. At this point in his career it would be safe to assume Austin had a strong say in the creative direction of his character and things he would and wouldn’t say, and in a promo soon after, he began to say this on WWE television. The phrase went on to be a something that fans still chant to this day.
It can be viewed that not just anyone would have been able to make such a simple one word catchphrase work. It takes an individual with a certain level of charisma to get something over with the WWE crowd, but the fact that Austin was afforded the chance to make up these promos for himself certainly would have made it easier for him to experiment.
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