WWE: Steve Austin needed Undertaker’s permission to use skull on shirt

WWE legends The Undertaker and 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin during the Attitude Era

Stone Cold needed the Dead Man’s approval (Photo: WWE)

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin has revealed he needed to ask The Undertaker for permission to use skulls in his WWE designs.

The Texas Rattlesnake has become synonymous with the skull through his merchandise, and even his Broken Skull Session series on the WWE Network, and it turns out he needed the Dead Man’s stamp of approval to get the ball rolling after his iconic Austin 3:16 catchphrase became a hit with fans.

Appearing on Busted Open Radio, he said: ‘They didn’t really have any merchandising plans for me. And I’d always talk with Jimmy Miranda and say, “Goddang Jimmy, the office got any ideas for a shirt for me?” And he’d always say “no Steven, they don’t”.

‘Finally when all those 3:16 signs started showing up, it was a thing. And Jimmy came up to me at TV one day and said, “Steven the office finally wants to do a shirt for you. You got any ideas?”

‘I said, “You goddang right I do. Put Austin 3:16 on the front, carve in Stone Cold on a skull on the back”. We got it cleared.

‘Here’s something I’ve said before, maybe not everybody knows; Undertaker had to give me clearance to use that skull because Vince [McMahon] thought that might be gimmick infringement.

‘I ran it by Mark [Calaway], he was cool enough to give me the green light on the skull, thank you Mark. And that shirt was born.’

The design was an instant hit and is one of WWE’s most recognisable, popular and best-selling t-shirts of all time.

It’s no surprise, then, that Austin was quick to ask Vince himself for a raise in royalties when the merch first hit the shelves back in the day.

‘You know, when I say, “Hey here’s the first shirt” and we came out with it, I had a little conversation with Vince,’ he added.

‘I remember getting a royalty check and I was like, “Look at that royalty check” and I was looking at all those shirts out there and I was saying ,”Hey man, this ain’t matching up.” I went to Vince and had a conversation with him and I increased my percentage. And that’s a rare thing.

‘At that point I kind of worked hand in hand with the art department. I’d kick in ideas and they’d shoot me a rendering and I’d say, “No no, like this.” So I just took it upon myself.

‘And because it was a lot easier for talent to be hands on with merch back in the day. But I saw the value in that shirt and I didn’t think the percentages added up.

‘That was a key business move. I never like talking contracts, money with Vince and stuff like that. But that was something I needed to address and I’m glad I did because I increased my merch.’

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