Steve Austin recently sat down with Chris Van Vliet and discussed the origin and impact of his iconic “What?!” catchphrase, which remains popular among wrestling fans to this day.

The phrase, which was initially intended to be an irritating feature, was born out of a voice message that Austin left on Christian’s phone while he was working as a heel.

According to Austin, the “What?!” catchphrase was designed to mess with people, get under their skin, and irritate them. Eventually, he turned it into a way to mock a certain situation that worked well for him as a babyface. While the phrase was initially intended to be annoying, it became so popular that it was even printed on a t-shirt.

Despite its lasting popularity, Austin revealed that he wouldn’t be bothered if the “What?!” catchphrase disappeared tomorrow. He was thankful for the word and the way it has impacted people, but he acknowledged that it had also received a lot of criticism and backlash.


It really does [surprise me], but it’s a testament to how impacted people were to that. You know, that started off as me leaving a voice message on Christian’s phone. I was working heel at the time, and I said hey man, this is a really good way to F with people and get on their nerves and under their skin. Because if you tell me something I just say What? And I throw it back at you, and it’s irritating, it’s what it was designed to be. Then I turned it into something that worked for me as babyface as a way to mock a certain situation. “

“With cadence and delivery, people can escape it as far as talent doing a promo. But it’s very, it’s flattering to still see it around, but I have had so many people cussing me out and hating it. We ended up putting it on the t-shirt for God’s sake, and it sold a ton. So, I am thankful for the word, but if it disappeared tomorrow then I wouldn’t complain. I’m honored that it is still here.”

The “What?!” catchphrase has remained an enduring part of Austin’s legacy in the wrestling world, and it continues to inspire both love and hate from fans.

What do you think of Steve Austin’s iconic “What?!” catchphrase and its impact on the wrestling world? Do you love it or hate it? Leave a comment.

Tags: Steve Austin
Steve Carrier

Steve is the Founder of RingsideNews. He has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He first got into website development at the time and has been focusing on bringing his readers the best professional wrestling news at it's highest quality.

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