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Stone Cold Steve Austin talks “What” chants

Stone Cold Steve Austin on No Mercy

The “What” chant has been a staple in wrestling audiences since it began back in the early 2000’s. Steve Austin began using the catchphrase around the time of the infamous Invasion angle when the then WWF Champion turned his back on the company to join the Alliance. When asked any questions in interviews, he would respond simply with, “What?”

While the chant can be fun at times, it’s more or less used now in every single promo on Raw and Smackdown, as well as other promotions throughout the world. If there’s a tiny break in between sentences of a superstar’s mic time, you can guarantee a “What” chant will break out, even when the promo is actually something worthwhile.

Stone Cold brought up the chant on the latest episode of The Steve Austin Show, claiming that it does more harm than good.

I never knew the ‘What?’ chant would stick around as long as it’s stuck around. It can really mess with a guys’ or girls’ rhythm, what they are really trying to say. Sometimes they can get flustered.

Sometimes that ‘What?’ chant could really be overwhelming, and you think people aren’t paying attention to what you’re saying, and sometimes on a really strong, heart-felt promo is happening, they’ll start with that ‘What?’ chant.

The audience is missing out what the wrestler’s saying, so sometimes you gotta time that ‘What?’ chant when there’s some bullshit going on and you gotta be able to listen to a real deal promo so you know what’s going on in the story. I feel for ya, and I feel for when they’re trying to cut a good promo. It interrupts your rhythm, plain and simple.

So it seems that even Stone Cold Steve Austin himself has grown tired of the chant, and it’s not surprising. Wrestlers and fans alike have openly expressed disdain for the dreaded one-word chant, believing that it ultimately cuts the legs out from a performer who’s trying to get a message across to the audience.

What do you think? Does the chant still have a place in wrestling today, or is it time to retire it? Is it used too much? Does it do serious harm to a performer’s promo? Let us know how you feel in the comments below.

Transcription courtesy of Wrestling Inc.

  • CC

    90% of the time the reason for the What chant is because the promo in question is boring. So you can feel sorry all you want for the wrestler getting flustered etc, but if their promo or angle was better, maybe they would not get it?
    Of course there will always be sections of the crowd or specific audiences that cause aggravation when it is undeserved because they are bigger marks for themselves than they are wrestling fans, but so much of this what chant is down to crowds being bored to tears.

  • Tom Newland