When Debra and "Stone-Cold" Steve Austin exchanged vows and wed in Las Vegas last year, only one WWF employee was on hand to witness the blessed event. At the time, Jim Ross couldn't have been happier. Austin, one of his best friends in the whole entire world, was finally settling down with a woman whom he knew to be loving and faithful. Debra, already a federation diva herself, would have no problem adjusting to the fact that she was now the wife of one of the most successful professional wrestlers ever. In some ways, Ross thought that Debra's own pursuit of stardom would help keep the marriage in good stead. Austin's astounding popularity would help Debra achieve her goals. While she already had the puppies, in the world of wrestling, there aren't a whole lot of titles bigger than that of "Steve Austin's wife."
That was then. This is now.
"I'm worried for Debra," Ross said after a recent Raw. His black Resistol cowboy hat was pulled low over his eyes, and he sat at the edge of a folding metal chair, ready to jump off and scurry away should Austin walk by and hear his comments. "When she married Steve, Steve was out of the business and no one was really sure if he was ever going to make it back. But he's back, and I don't think Debra's too thrilled with the way things have been going since WrestleMania."
Ah, WrestleMania, the infamous event at which Austin first revealed his shocking association with WWF owner Vince McMahon. Ross was sickened as he watched Austin and McMahon mercilessly beat The Rock, eventually robbing him of his WWF title. And Ross wasn't the only one sickened by Austin's actions. Debra was, too.
On the Raw following WrestleMania, intrepid reporter Kevin Kelly caught up with Debra backstage to ask her opinion of the previous night's events. Debra declined comment.
Usually when someone declines comment, it's because whatever he or she would say would imply a measure of guilt. The same held true for Debra, albeit in a different way. Debra didn't feel guilty about her role in the McMahon-Austin alliance. Not at all. Debra felt guilty because she was Austin's wife—and because she didn't approve of her husband's actions.
Debra's feelings on the whole matter officially came to light a few weeks later, when during Smackdown she walked up to Ross and apologized for Austin's bullying actions. Austin barged into the room and ended their conversation, but from then on, the entire wrestling community knew where Debra stood—and it wasn't with her husband.
In the weeks and months since, Debra has had a confrontation with McMahon (she ended up slapping him across the face), poured hot coffee over Austin, and was spat upon by the tobacco-chawing Undertaker. Through it all, however, Debra has remained by Austin's side. That's why more than a few people in the WWF are worried about her.
There are also people who are worried about her intentions.
"Debra's no innocent little girl," said Chris Benoit. "I'm sure she knows what she's doing. Let's not foget, back when I was in WCW and a member of The Four Horsemen, so was Debra. Back then, she cheated and manipulated people like she was paid to do it. Of course, as a member of the Horsemen, she was paid to do it, but I'm pretty sure Debra would have done all of these things for free. She likes being close to whoever is on top, and right now, Austin's on top. I wouldn't be shocked if oh-so-pure Debra suddenly embraces being Austin's wife again. The guy is the WWF champion, and the wife of the WWF champion gets special priviledges."
Benoit makes a good point. As a member of The Four Horsemen, Debra was as corrupt as Austin and McMahon put together. She used her womanly wiles to become Jeff Jarrett's manager, all the while pushing her husband at the time, former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Steve McMichael, out the door. Sure, McMichael made a better broadcaster than a wrestler (not by much, mind you), but "Mongo" was her husband! If she could turn against her own husband once, she's certainly capable of doing it again.
Of course, there are other mitigating factors this time around. "Stone-Cold" is the WWF champion and one of the best at what he does. McMichael, on the other hand, made for a pretty lousy Horseman and one of the worst U.S. champions ever. (Fortunately, McMichael's U.S. title reign lasted less than a month.)
While Debra refused to go on record with Inside Wrestling, sources close to the diva did give us their insight. Most think that Debra is having a hard time adjusting to her husband's newfound standing as one of the most reviled men in wrestling. Before, her friends say, Debra could go out in public without having to fear being mistreated by Austin's fans. Apparently things are now different, despite the fact that Debra has done nothing to warrant a chance in the fans' attitude toward her. And being a target of verbal abuse must be having its effects.
"Whether or not she realizes it, I think Debra is slowly coming around to the new Austin," said one WWF superstar who would only speak on teh condition of anonymity. "You saw how she reacted when 'Taker spit that chew on her. She went right to 'Stone-Cold' and complained. If Debra was completely against Steve's actions, she wouldn't have anything to do with him at all. Now, I'm not completely confident that Debra will remain with Austin, because she has always had her own agenda and probably still does. But you can bank on this: Debra's actions will affect Austin. Whether or not they will affect him positively or negatively is still up in the air."
Austin's no dummy. Every time he has sensed Debra working against him, he's confronted her and scolded her harshly. So far, Debra's taken the abuse and, for the most part, kept her mouth shut. Debra, however, is an independent woman and won't sit idle forever. When she does decide to act, there are going to be a whole lot of people in her cross-hairs. Will her husband be among them?