WWE Hall Of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin recently took to his podcast, The Steve Austin Show, to talk about several professional wrestling topics. One such topic was working against the late former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on an episode of SmackDown on May 31, 2001.
Austin said he loved performing in front of Canadian crowds, but didn’t enjoy the trip crossing the border up north:
“I always dug Canada. Like I said, it’s a great wrestling place. The biggest problem was crossing over the border and Canada is very strict at the border and they should be. And they go through everything. They makes sure that the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed. And when the boys start coming through, due to the fact that a lot of times back in the 80s, early 80s, probably 70s, guys were carrying a lot of stuff over there. There were always stories of The Iron Sheik and how he’d have weed on him or something like that with him and he’d put it in someone else’s bag.
“The precedent had already been set. A lot of times, guys came through and they’d be carrying some stuff. There was this, that, and the other. You can probably guess what it might have been. But that was one of the biggest pains in the ass about going to Canada because you knew you’d get pulled over and you’re going to sit in a room for an hour, two, or three. They were going to go through all of your stuff and shake everything out. And 99 times out of 100, they didn’t have s–t, but every here and there, someone would have something.
“That’s why they always kept checking the boys when they came into the country, so great on Customs part – they did a very thorough job. But when you’re one of the guys and you’re just passing through there, and you’ve got nothing in your bag, and you get pulled over, that’s a pain in the ass because you’re always on a schedule, trying to hit the gym, you’re trying to hit a tanning bed, you’re trying for something to eat. You might check into your hotel room.
“It might be one of those deals where you go straight to the building and you’ve got a long road trip after that. But that was always a pain in the ass when you had to go pass through Customs on the way there.” Austin added, “coming and going across the border was a pain in the ass. Getting the directions in French was not fun. The crowds were always great.”
Austin talked about the great match he and Benoit had on SmackDown. He revealed that Benoit told him to disregard the go-home cue and he would take the heat for it backstage. Austin was underwhelmed with the match he and Benoit had the night before on RAW:
“I had a great match with Chris Benoit in Edmonton one night and I believe it was on the SmackDown show.” Austin continued, “and we had worked the previous night on RAW and they only gave us a certain amount of minutes and I wasn’t very happy with that match because we didn’t have enough time to build a proper story.
“I’ll never forget when we rolled into Edmonton that night. It was SmackDown and we were going to work together again. And I told Chris before we went out there, I said, ‘dude,’ I said, ‘I don’t care how much time they give us – we’re going to go home when it’s time to go home. And it’s all on me. I’ll take the heat, so if they give us the go home cue, disregard it.’ And we really ripped it up that night.”
During the match Austin came up with a spot where Benoit would hit him with 10 German Suplexes. Austin noted he wasn’t in any pain from his injured neck taking the moves, but said storyline-wise it made sense for Benoit to attack the injured area:
“I said, ‘hey man, we’re going to go as long as we need to go’ and it was Chris’s hometown, I believe. I think it was Edmonton. We had worked the night before. [We] didn’t have the match I wanted to have because I knew how much Chris could go and I respected him. And so, I said, ‘hey man, I don’t see you making a traditional comeback on me.
“I see this being something where you just grab me from behind and let’s go 10 German suplexes, 10 in a row, because I just don’t see a regular comeback. I see 10 German suplexes and here comes Vince [McMahon] coming down and I barely escape with the belt.’ And Chris thought about that for a minute and he goes, ‘I like that.’ And so, that’s what we went out and did. So it wasn’t in the moment.
“It was something that I called, I planned, I ran across Chris, and he dug it. And we did it.” Austin added, “I called the suplexes and I wasn’t in any pain. And the pain in referring to is because I was returning from my neck fusion and I’d figured all the bumps that I had taken leading up to that match that I would be fine taking those bumps.
“And it would be a great ploy, a great strategy, for Chris to use to focus on my weakness, or perceived weakness, which could be construed as my neck because of the fusion, because of the surgery. And I was working heel at the time, so he’s giving it back to me and then some. So it made sense for that in his comeback.”
After the match Austin claims Benoit paid him one of the biggest compliments of his career by telling him he had gotten him over:
“I’ll never forget after that match, I’ve said it on the podcast before, it was one of the highest complements I’d ever been paid by an opponent.” Austin remembered, “we always shake hands after the matches. And, man, that was Chris’s hometown, man. And we got off the headbutt off the top turnbuckle, me throwing the belt up, him getting a little bit of color from that accidentally.
“It was a real solid match. And he goes, ‘man, thanks.’ He goes, ‘you really got me over’ and he got it. He knew what I was trying to do and it was my job to do was to get him over. He was already over to a degree, but I got him more over than he was after the match than he was before the match, and he recognized that. And he told me that and I’ll never forget that complement.
“And I wish things hadn’t gone the way they had for Chris as far as down the road, but, man, the Chris Benoit that I knew was a badass worker, great dude, cool as hell, and so I remember that match vividly. Out of all the things I’ve forgotten, I remember that match.”
You can listen to The Steve Austin Show by clicking this link here.
H/T Wrestling Inc. for the transcriptions