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Jim Ross On Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon Rivalry, Vince As WWE’s Top Heel, Austin Winning Royal Rumble In 2001

January 17, 2021 | Posted by Blake Lovell
WWE Steve Austin Vince McMahon

In a recent edition of Grilling JR, Jim Ross discussed the Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon rivalry, Austin winning the 2001 Royal Rumble, and much more. You can read his comments below.

Jim Ross on the Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon rivalry and whether it hurt other heels having Vince as WWE’s top heel: “We knew he had to deliver in the ring, which Vince did on the special occasion. I was much more leery of those matches when we first started talking about having them because Vince had no extensive training in that regard. What we have to remember is Vince was a great mouthpiece. Vince was a great promo. He had a unique perspective because he was the owner of the company, and that made that heel character different than anything else we had. All we were really doing was giving Austin that great rub and getting Austin ready, as a babyface, for other heels so that when Triple H finally got his shot at Austin, Austin was white-hot and any other heel after that. So, I don’t think it was a big issue.

“The quarter-hour ratings dictated a lot in that era. When we started getting quarter-hour ratings and minute-by-minutes, a lot of those things were huge in the booking. It was legitimate data you could hang your hat on. I think all we were doing is heating Austin up – remember, when Austin and McMahon had their issues and Austin would move onto the next deal, oftentimes, Vince was still involved. We kept that heat and relationship alive there. In this case, it was so unique in the owner of the company being the top heel. He didn’t anoint himself as the top heel – this is me saying that. I believe that. Every segment was better that had Vince in it when he was Mr. McMahon.”

On Austin winning the 2001 Royal Rumble: “It was exactly what it was set up for. That finish was a promotional vehicle for WrestleMania 17’s main event. Simple as that. Very basic, fundamental, and logic in booking. The kudos can go to a 6-9, 300-pound guy that stayed almost an hour in Kane. Pretty damn impressive when you think about it. I don’t know if anybody that big, size-wise, ever lasted that long in a Rumble match. I can’t think of anybody.”

On where he’d rank the 2001 Royal Rumble among the best in WWE history: “It’s right up there in the discussion for the top ones I got to call. That was always the hardest pay-pay-per view – before the brand split, the Royal Rumble was the most challenging to call for the announcers because it was two of us doing the whole show, and you knew at the end of the night, you were gonna close the Rumble and it’s gonna be an hour or so. It was always daunting. We also knew that we had to get things over and set the table for WrestleMania. I think it was one of the better ones. I can’t think of any that I like a whole lot better. The match with Triple H and Kurt [Angle] was a really good match. I thought the Rumble match itself had a lot of personality, so it was one of the top Royal Rumbles that I saw.”

If using any of the above quotes, please credit Grilling JR with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.