Steve Austin Talks Origins Of “What?!” Chants – Since 2001, for better or worse, chants of “What?!” have rung out in arenas hosting pro wrestling shows. Those chants are credited to Stone Cold Steve Austin who utilized the chants to add a new comedic layer to his heel persona amid the dying days of the WCW-ECW Invasion angle.
Speaking to Chris Van Vliet on Insight, Austin was asked about the continued impact the chants have over two decades later and how a conversation with Christian Cage led to the inclusion of the “What?!” catchphrase to his firmly-established character in what wound up being the final full year of his WWE career as an active in-ring career.
“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,” said Stone Cold. “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.”
Steve Austin Talks Origins Of “What?!” Chants