HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – It took him a while to get to the Midstate, but “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was excited to be here.
The WWE Hall of Fame wrestler was delayed leaving Los Angeles for 2 hours and was laid over in Atlanta for 5 hours before making it to Harrisburg at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night.
He said he’s got the best fans, with about 50 to 75 people greeting him at the airport.
“To see all the people come here, it means a lot to me. I put forth a body of hard work and I worked my tail off to try and entertain these people and so I love my fans,” Austin said.
Austin made a stop at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Wednesday to represent Kawasaki as part of the Great American Outdoor Show.
He said although he’s not playing the “Stone Cold” character in the WWE, his fans can still live vicariously through the storylines that were told.
“I always say WWE fans are really hardcore, but the Stone Cold Steve Austin or Steve Austin fans are even more hardcore than that,” said Austin.
Some are so hardcore, they’ve put the Texas Rattlesnake’s trademark broken skull on their bodies.
“I met him a few years ago, and he signed my tattoo, and then I met him again and he remembered my story, so I hope he remembers me again,” John McLean, of Dover, Delaware, said.
Austin said he appreciates the support and has fond memories of wrestling in the Midstate, recalling a 6-man-tag-team match in Hershey.
He said he was coming back from a neck injury and could only do a couple moves, but still wanted to put on a show after seeing a lot of Austin 3:16 shirts in the crowd.
“Undertaker was on the apron and he looked at me, kinda under his breath, [because] he knew I wasn’t supposed to do too much,” Austin said, “He goes, what the hell are you doing out there?”
Austin said his colleague was just looking out for him, but added that when you have an arena full of people it’s a good time.
Some fans might know that Austin has a chocolate labrador retriever named Hershey. He said the connection between the dog and the Midstate town and company is mostly a coincidence.
“I got this dog from my buddy. His daughter had named her Hershey because she was [a] chocolate lab. So, she named the dog. I don’t know that I would have named her that, but I was never going to change it because she was a year and a half old when I got her,” Austin said.
“Stone Cold” also weighed in on a hot topic in the WWE universe this week: the retirement of Daniel Bryan.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow when you have to walk away from something that you truly love,” Austin said, “That’s a guy who worked his tail off and the system was against him, he wasn’t the guy that was the chosen one. And because the fans believed so much in him, they had to make him the chosen one.”
Austin said he feels for Bryan and that he’ll have to go through a process.
“It’s like Paul Orndorff, Mr. Wonderful, told me a long time ago when he had to retire. He said ‘Steve, there is life after wrestling.’ and I said ‘There is?’ and he goes ‘Yes, there is,” Austin said.
Austin said a lot of people don’t find that life after wrestling, but said Bryan will be fine.
Wrestlemania 32 will be held in Texas this year, Austin’s home state, at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Austin said it’d be nice to go out in front of a 100,000 people, but he doesn’t have any plans to be involved with the show at the moment.
“As far as the storyline goes, if it’s not something that really makes sense, if it’s not something that’s really good or has an impact, it’s not worth doing,” said Austin.
“Stone Cold” was involved in Wrestlemania 23 as a special guest referee for “The Battle of the Billionaires” match featuring WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and current front-runner for the GOP Presidential Nomination Donald Trump.
Austin gave Trump his signature “Stone Cold Stunner” after the match. Austin said Trump didn’t know what the move was and his people didn’t want Trump to do it, but he said sure.
“It was a bad stunner, but I give the guy a lot of credit for being a player on game day and helping us out,” said Austin.
Now that Trump is leading the polls, Austin says he’s looking for a little more depth and detail.
“I think [Trump’s] awful reactionary, as far as would he make a great president or not. I like a lot of the things that he says, but that being said, [I] don’t know how I’d react, we still have a long way to go,” Austin said.