On the latest episode of The Steve Austin Show podcast, Stone Cold talks with the guy whose job it was to throw him cans of beer for his signature celebrations.
Mark Yeaton worked for WWE for decades as a referee and timekeeper, and it was his responsibility to bring cases of beer to his ringside seat and toss cans in to Stone Cold whenever he signaled for them. During the discussion, Austin says that he often left the ring with a buzz due to how much beer he was drinking, and that he had a running prank Goldberg to force him to drink as much as he could.
“Steve Austin: Were you in Japan the time we did the beer bash with the Dudleys and Stacy Keibler? …. We went through 115 beers that night [in Japan], and that was the most I ever went through. And a lot of people said ‘hey man, was that real beer?’ And I say yes, it was always real beer… except for the one time. We were in Montreal, I think it was Sunday, something like that. Whatever it was, or maybe it was against the rules of the building, but it was NA beer, non-alcohol. And so all of a sudden those pictures start making the rounds and people are thinking ‘oh they’re throwing this guy non-alcohol beer.’ … that was one time.
I can’t tell you how many times I left the ring and I had a little bit of a buzz because of all the beers I was drinking. When you’re shotgunning anywhere from six to 12 beers, and maybe you get half of ‘em in. On an empty stomach, after you’ve wrestled, it goes to your head pretty quick.
There was a couple of times when I got to do a little bit of business with Goldberg and we got to do something after a match. I go out there and I keep tossing Bill beers, and this is back when Bill didn’t really drink beer. He had to drink ‘em to keep up his gimmick because Stone Cold throwing ‘em to him. And I’d always keep shoveling him beers to get him buzzed, basically it was a rib.”
Yeaton began his career in WWE working as one of the guys who set up the ring, and he and Austin gave some fascinating insights on the difference between wrestling rings in the 1980s and the ones WWE uses today.
“Steve Austin: When I first went to WWF back in the day, man the rings were pretty brutal. I had heard that it was from the previous generation of all the big guys – Hogan, Andre – they didn’t want that ring moving around like a trampoline, so they really build some tough-ass rings. They weren’t very favorable for bumping. They weren’t bump-friendly rings. And then finally, I guess they re-invented it and turned it into a ring that you could bump in a lot better. Because when you first roll in there, it’s kind of a come to Jesus moment. How did the rings change?
Mark Yeaton: When we first started, [it was] a traveling thing, because we were on the road every day. So they had to make it easy to transport and they wanted to fly under the radar a little bit – we were in a small truck so we didn’t have to pull into weigh stations and so on.
So he made a ring with a spring in the center, which of course the fans all thought ‘hey that makes it better.’ The spring in the center was [actually] a lot worse because that can bottom out. [The ring] was made into quadrants, and we used plywood across steel beams.
Once they found the ring in [that was kept in] Alaska and saw how that was made with straight planks, where it has the natural spring of the board, no bottoming out that way, they started making them that way. Unfortunately, it went from a 14-foot truck to a 24-foot truck… but it made it a lot better for the boys, they had a lot more longevity. Their knees didn’t give out as quick and so on.
…. I don’t know how it got up there. I did a couple of shows [in Alaska] and when the boys bumped in that ring they were like ‘this is like heaven!’ They loved it. So they kept bringing it up to Vince [McMahon] and he said ‘oh, let’s see what we can do.’ They brought that ring back from Alaska and designed it after that, and that’s the kind of ring they’re still using today.”