A few nights ago I was at a friend’s house and in one of those moments where the television just sort of lands on a station and somehow stays there – we ended up watching Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge on CMT.
I am not, nor have I ever been a professional wrestling viewer. Not my thing. I therefore, before the other night, knew basically nothing about Steve Austin.
According to Wikipedia, here’s some background on Steve Austin:
Steve Austin gained significant mainstream popularity in the WWF in the late 1990s as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, a disrespectful, beer-drinking antihero who routinely defied the establishment and his boss, company chairman Vince McMahon. This persona of Austin’s has been described as the “poster boy” of the Attitude Era, a boom period in WWF business in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Addressing his box office drawing power, McMahon and former WWE executives have declared Austin to be the most profitable wrestler in the history of the organization.
So apparently Austin was a big deal in the 90’s and 00’s. That explains why I had heard of him, even though I don’t watch wrestling.
But that was then.
Now, Austin owns the Broken Skull Ranch. Home of the Broken Skull Challenge.
What is the Broken Skull Ranch?
Let Austin himself explain (from his website):
“The Broken Skull Ranch…What is it? Well, here’s the story…Straight from the horses mouth. Growing up as a lifelong hunter, it has always been one of my dreams to own a ranch. After a lifetime of hunting the great state of Texas, I knew I wanted to be in the South Texas region…The brush country. Big buck country. Some of the toughest terrain you can find. Where everything that grows will cut you, stick you, or hurt you. But, also…Much of what grows is high protein. High protein means big antlers…Well, as long as you have good genetics and let the deer get old. But, anyway…Back to the story…”
Thank you for getting back to the story. The story is that he bought a ranch in Texas – which was a longtime dream of his. He then had to decide what to name it. Luckily, Austin – on his website – described his thought process:
I bought the ranch. Mission accomplished. Dream realized. But now I have to come up with a cool name for the ranch….I mean…I am cool…So after much deliberation, and a few beers, I came up with…BROKEN SKULL RANCH. Hey, I had to break my skull to buy this place. I wanted the name to be a reflection of a dream realized that was made possible by my lifelong passion and love for the business of professional wrestling. So, here I am…Writing this for you to read…at THE BROKEN SKULL RANCH. Welcome, pardner…
Makes perfect sense, right?
He’s cool….ergo…..cool name.
He broke his skull……ergo……Broken Skull Ranch.
So what is the Broken Skull Challenge? Well I’m sure you can guess where it takes place. But what is it?
Here’s how Austin describes it:
“I’m looking for the toughest bad asses in America. Each week i invite 8 elite athletes to my ranch to go head to head. Competitors are knocked out until only one is left standing. That person earns the right to take on my new skull buster: a 1/2 mile course with 10 grueling obstacles, designed to stop the most elite athlete. If you can beat my course, I’ll give you $10,000. Because you are one tough, ass kicking, son a bitch.”
The obstacles – and the human specimens (sometimes men, sometimes women) that compete on them – make for highly watchable visual activity. Austin’s narration as the obstacle challenges unfold will make your jaw drop.
Austin continuously dialogues with the competitors. Here is a typical exchange:
“You in the Navy Blue, where are you from and what did you come here for?”
Her in the Navy Blue:
“I’m from Chicago and I came here to kick some ass and go home a winner.”
That’s the kind of exchange typical of the BSR: crisp, assertive, bellicose. Highly watchable.
In one episode, Austin shares his philosophy on competition:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 2nd place is a piece of shit.
A typical obstacle involves 2 people wrestling each other through some terrain (trench, hill, dirt circle, whatever) to ring a bell or competing to see who can do some inhuman task – like pushing a giant tire up a hill or carrying an oversize barrel down on their shoulder for 500 yards – quicker.
The tasks are so incredibly difficult that it might be fun to watch people try to do them without narration – but probably not.
Therefore, the star of the show is clearly Austin himself. His presence is absolutely captivating.
Take a look for yourself:
Steve Austin doesn’t care whether you puke piss, or vomit. He wants you to do whatever it takes to be the winner.
Steve Austin probably does care that his arms, for whatever reason, appear to be dangling lifelessly from his shoulders. One of my friends pointed this out and, ever since that time, it’s very difficult not to fixate on them as he moves his chiseled frame around the toughest terrain in Texas.
Every detail of this show- including the arms – works perfectly.
The truck. The accent. His biceps. His obstacles. His certainty.
It’s all good.
Bottom line – I might watch this show again.