In the fall of 1989, Steve Williams broke into the wrestling business in the Dallas-based regional promotion World Class Championship Wrestling. He was 24 years old, with long, stringy blond hair and a build chiseled from a successful football career at Wharton County Junior College in Wharton, Texas where he attended on scholarship. The promoter had just booked him on a small town circuit tour to Louisiana, and he didn’t know his way around the territory.

Unprompted, veteran referee Bronko Lubich and legendary heel wrestling manager Skandor Akbar walked up to Williams and asked a question that veterans often only doled out to select young guys they saw something in. Bronko was the territory’s goto referee for three decades, and had seen Texas wrestling legends like the Von Erichs and Dusty Rhodes in their prime. Akbar was the leader of the heel stable Devastation Inc whose rotating ranks would later include a litany of demented wrestlers like Kamala the Ugandan, Cactus Jack Manson (a young Mick Foley), and Abdullah the Butcher, a wrestler who cut himself to bled in the ring so much, he could fit poker chips in the grooves of his forehead.  

“Kid, who you riding with?” Akbar asked.

“I ain’t going to ride with anybody,” Williams told them. After all, he didn’t know anybody yet.

Their response: “Why don’t you come with us?”

Stone Cold Steve Austin, the embodiment of the WWE’s piss and vinegar fueled Attitude Era, has relayed this or some variation of this story on his podcast, The Steve Austin Show, countless times. The show averages 800,000 bi-weekly downloads—many fans are young wrestlers listening in for tips on how to tread wrestling’s waters from the man considered by any metric to be the most successful professional wrestler of all time. For nearly three years, Austin has archived the folk history of professional wrestling, preserving stories and a niche heritage that might otherwise have gone undocumented.