When "Stone Cold" Steve Austin first invented the "What?" chant back in 2001, he accidentally started a trend with WWE crowds that is still around 18 years later. If a wrestler is cutting a promo, and the crowd is either bored or doesn't like them, they'll get the "What?" treatment every time they take a pause between sentences. Sometimes wrestlers are able to turn it around on the crowd (Alexa Bliss and The Miz are two current standouts), while some crumble under the pressure of having the crowd constantly interrupt them. Earlier this week the @WWEonFOX Twitter account, which has made waves recently for its witty behavior, tried to launch a campaign to stop the chant. Both tweets were later deleted.
"Can we stop the 'What' chants?" the account wrote during this week's Monday Night Raw when the chant started during a segment between Jerry "The King" Lawler and Rusev. "It's no longer 2001. xoxo"
"We saw people chanting it to @AngeloDawkins as he said goodbye to @WWENXT, and now to a 'Hall Of Famer' on RAW," a second tw That's not a sign of rebellion, it's a sign of disrespect. Now back to RAW."
Austin has discussed how the chant has stuck around in numerous interviews.
"I did it as a, you know, I was running heel at the time and I left that message on Christian's voicemail," Austin explained on an episode of Busted Open Radio earlier this year. "Every time I'd say something, I would kinda say, 'what?'. A long winded voicemail and I was like, man there's something here. I just thought it was kind of a way to jab someone like, 'Oh you're supposed to be like the World's Strongest Man...what?' You know? Kinda disrespect. I'm jabbing you, right? And so I figured, hey man, as a heel, no one had done that. It was something different. So that's the first way I was trying to use it. And then all of a sudden when I flipped back babyface and people started grabbing onto it, man it just turned into something where, you just had to put that pause in your cadence and they would come with that 'what' and it just kinda trained 'em to do it and they were feedin' off of it. A big part of being in WWE or in the wrestling business is that crowd wants to participate whether they lovin' you, hatin' you, cheering you, booing you, or whatever. Just involved in the match or listen to a promo, they want to be engaged or involved. It was a chance for them to be involved and participate as a part of the show."
"And they're still participating and they're saying, 'Austin why in the hell did you invent that, I wish you wouldn't have done it.' I would have never thought in a million years...I wouldn't have thought...way back in the day, that that would have the staying power or the legs that it has," he added.