Besides being one of the most popular, dangerous and rebellious Superstars in the history of WWE, Stone Cold Steve Austin is also a six-time WWE Champion, the only three-time Royal Rumble Match winner and a King of the Ring winner, among many other distinctions. He has also won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania on three separate occasions.
Stone Cold is arguably the most popular WWE Superstar of all time, but he has been very quiet since WWE Homecoming in October. But Stone Cold has finally broken his silence. The Texas Rattlesnake recently conducted an interview with WWE.com and talked about some of the greatest wrestlers to ever come out of Texas. Stone Cold brought up names like Dusty Rhodes, the Funks and even Shawn Michaels. But one name he didn't mention was JBL. He gave the former WWE Champion credit for being from Texas, but he left it at that.
JBL took notice of the interview and was irate. The media maven was so enraged that he called out Stone Cold. He didn't even call out the Texas Rattlesnake for a match. Instead, JBL called him out for a Beer Drinking Contest at Saturday Night's Main Event. Stone Cold's beer-drinking antics are legendary, but JBL wanted to beat Stone Cold at his own game.
The Wrestling God had 25 beers each set up for himself and Stone Cold. He said he didn't want to get tipsy, so the winner would be determined by who could drink the most beers in one minute. JBL said he wanted to do it like the old days in Texas - back to back. Stone Cold didn't trust JBL, so moments after the contest began, Stone Cold snuck up on JBL and caught him - JBL had been spilling his beer instead of drinking it. Relizing he was caught, JBL threw a beer at Stone Cold and retreated. But the Wrestling God's WrestleMania 22 opponent, Chris Benoit, came out and threw him back in the ring. Stone Cold made JBL pay the price and after drenching him with beer, he hit him with a classic Stone Cold Stunner.
Stone Cold's claims to fame are many, but he is perhaps best remembered for his battles with WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon that began in 1998. The rivalry led to Stone Cold occupying many unique roles outside the ring, including a stint as WWE CEO. In fact, it was Mr. McMahon who spoke out against Stone Cold's return during a meeting with the WWE Board of Directors to decide The Rattlesnake's reinstatement — yet another battle against Mr. McMahon that Stone Cold won.
While a neck injury may have forced Stone Cold to stop competing in the ring after WrestleMania XIX, he continues to be a star. And since he recently signed a three-picture deal under the WWE Films banner, he will soon be thrust back into the international spotlight.
But whether it's Hollywood or in the WWE ring, Stone Cold will always be a trash-talking, beer-swilling, finger-gesturing, ass-kicking son of a bitch ... and he, and the millions of WWE fans around the world would not have it any other way.
Stone Cold Steve Austin broke into the world of sports-entertainment in 1990 in Texas, where he was trained by “Gentleman” Chris Adams. It was against Adams that Stone Cold had his first heated rivalry. It only fanned the flames when Steve took on Lady Blossom, Adams’ ex-wife, as his manager.
Stone Cold’s USWA tenure lasted about a year before he moved on to WCW. There, he won the WCW Television Championship immediately under the moniker of “Stunning” Steve Austin. It would be the first of two TV championship reigns while in WCW.
Stunning Steve became a member of a faction known as the Dangerous Alliance in late 1991, aligning himself with the now-notorious Paul Heyman. The formidable group consisted of Steve, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and Larry Zbysko.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat would wrest the Television Championship from Stone Cold at Clash of the Champions, and the Alliance split up not long after. But this series of events had a silver lining, as Stone Cold found chemistry and substantial success teaming with Brian Pillman as “The Hollywood Blondes.” The two would strut to the ring, taking turns playing the role of film director and movie star under the lights and before the attentive crowd.
Their “breakthrough hit” (and Steve’s revenge) came on March 2, 1993, when the Hollywood Blondes won the WCW Tag Team Championship from Steamboat & Shane Douglas. This marked the start of the Blondes’ “Brush with Greatness” tour, where they fought lesser-known and “never-will-be” wrestlers each week. This, Steve said, was their “brush with greatness.”
In August 1993, Pillman was injured and the disintegration of the Hollywood Blondes began. In Pillman’s place, Steve teamed with William (Lord Steven) Regal for a tag title defense at Clash of the Champions against Arn Anderson & Paul Roma. It was the Horsemen’s night; they captured the WCW Tag Team Championship. Out of building frustration, Steve turned on Pillman, then defeated his former partner at Clash of the Champions in November.
By December, Steve had his sights set on Dustin Rhodes’ WCW United States Championship. Steve took that belt in decisive fashion at Starrcade that month, beating Rhodes with two straight falls in a best-of-three title bout.
Steve held the United States Championship through the first half of 1994, at which time he renewed his unsettled rivalry with Ricky Steamboat. The Dragon struck first and took the U.S. Championship at Clash of the Champions in August. But Steve was awarded the championship via forfeit when Steamboat couldn’t answer the bell for their scheduled pay-per-view rematch at September’s Fall Brawl.
Soon after, Steve departed for a tour through Japan. While there, he suffered a knee injury and was written off by WCW. Head of WCW Eric Bischoff fired Steve over the phone. Injured and unemployed, Steve went home to rehabilitate his knee and drink plenty of beer.
While recuperating, he received an unexpected phone call from ECW owner Paul Heyman, his former WCW manager. Heyman offered Steve a forum to air his grievances about WCW. He gave Steve a microphone and told him run wild with it. What followed were a series of scathing commentary segments, including “Monday Nyquil” mocking WCW’s Monday Nitro television broadcast. When “Superstar” Steve Austin let his passion and personality out, he struck a chord and caught on with the fans like never before.
In January 1996, Steve received an opportunity to join WWE as Ted DiBiase’s “Million Dollar Champion.” Using the moniker of “The Ringmaster,” Steve battled Matt Hardy and Marty Jannetty before experiencing his first WrestleMania (XII) in a win over Savio Vega. But at the In Your House event titled “Beware of Dog,” Steve lost a special Strap Match to Vega. As a result, DiBiase was forced to leave WWE.
Without DiBiase holding the reins, Steve had the opportunity to strike out on his own. He promptly declared that he lost to Vega on purpose to get rid of the overbearing DiBiase. Now, he was his own man in WWE, and would be known as “Stone Cold Steve Austin.”
A defiant Stone Cold won the 1996 King of the Ring tournament in June, defeating Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the finals. It was then that Stone Cold gave his famous “3:16” speech putting every WWE Superstar on notice. And this loner backed up all the talk — pummeling anyone who crossed his path.
He began badmouthing Bret Hart, who was on hiatus from WWE, but before he could get his hands on Hart, a familiar face arrived on the scene: Brian Pillman. This go-around wasn’t so smooth. In fact, the conflict spilled outside the wrestling ring and into their personal lives. On Nov. 4, 1996, Stone Cold Steve Austin broke into Pillman’s Kentucky home. The raid compelled Pillman to defend himself with potentially lethal force.
Stone Cold survived. Two weeks later at Survivor Series, Bret Hart answered the longstanding challenge. Their rivalry continued through Royal Rumble. There, in a classic moment, entrant No. 5 Stone Cold was eliminated by Hart while the referees were diverted. Seizing the opportunity, The Rattlesnake slithered back into the ring undetected. He then proceeded to eliminate Undertaker and Vader — last tossing Hart. So, Stone Cold Steve Austin was declared the Rumble’s controversial winner.
When Hart later claimed the vacated WWE Championship, it infuriated Stone Cold. The next night on RAW, Stone Cold interfered during Bret’s match with Psycho Sid, costing Hart the championship. This led to a Submission Match at WrestleMania 13. Stone Cold refused to tap to the Sharpshooter, but he eventually passed out from excessive blood loss, ending the bout. The image of Stone Cold caught in the Sharpshooter will forever be remembered as one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history.
From there, things only escalated until The Rattlesnake was warring with the entire Hart family. In May 1997 on RAW, Steve was forced by WWE to team with Shawn Michaels. Together, they did win the World Tag Team Championship from Owen Hart & British Bulldog, but they still despised each other. When they fought at King of the Ring, the whole Hart Foundation jumped both of them.
This led to an epic 10-man tag-team match at Canadian Stampede in 1997, which was the culmination of a host of rivalries. The match pitted The Hart Foundation (Bret, Owen, British Bulldog, Pillman & Jim Neidhart) against Stone Cold, Ken Shamrock, Goldust & Legion of Doom. When the Harts won on their home turf, Stone Cold was booed out of the building. It didn’t faze him, and at SummerSlam, he challenged Owen for the Intercontinental Championship.
During the match, Owen broke Stone Cold’s neck with a piledriver. Stone Cold not only miraculously finished the match, but he won the championship. There was no realistic way for him to defend the Intercontinental Championship in his condition, however, so he had no choice but to forfeit the championship and begin rehabilitation.
Incredibly, The Rattlesnake came back just one month later to cost Owen & British Bulldog their World Tag Team Championship. This renewed the hatred, but Mr. McMahon wasn’t convinced he could safely allow the rivalry to resume. To cover WWE, Mr. McMahon demanded that Stone Cold sign a liability waiver before he could compete. Stone Cold complied, and at Survivor Series in 1997, he defeated Owen to recapture the Intercontinental Championship. But there was a hungry competitor waiting for an opportunity to challenge for that championship — Rocky Maivia, who is better known today as The Rock.
Stone Cold Steve Austin fought back the challenger at the D-Generation X pay-per-view, but Mr. McMahon demanded that he defend the championship again against Maivia the following night on RAW. Stone Cold refused on principle. Instead of simply disobeying Mr. McMahon, Stone Cold sent him a message by tossing the Intercontinental Championship belt into a New Hampshire river. Furious, McMahon stripped Stone Cold of the championship and awarded it to Maivia as a “forfeit victory.” The animosity created between Stone Cold and Mr. McMahon based on these events officially marked the start of one of the best-known rivalries in the history of sports-entertainment. Stone Cold and Mr. McMahon would trade moments of triumph and outrage for the better part of the next two years — constantly trying to make life miserable for the other.
Despite all of McMahon’s efforts, The Rattlesnake won the 1998 Royal Rumble Match — last eliminating The Rock. In a high-profile follow-up for the WWE Championship, Stone Cold then beat HBK at WrestleMania XIV with “Iron” Mike Tyson as special guest referee. After the match, Mr. McMahon explained that he was fed up with Stone Cold’s rank behavior — that either he’d become a well-mannered “Company Champion” … or else. Stone Cold responded with a stunner on the boss.
On April 13, 1998, it appeared the WWE fans would finally get to see Stone Cold and Mr. McMahon battle out their differences in the ring on RAW. But the match was declared a No-Contest when Dude Love made a shocking appearance, coming between the boss and Stone Cold.
McMahon continued to do everything he could to ruin The Rattlesnake, and he finally scored a big victory for his side at the 1998 King of the Ring tournament. There, Stone Cold lost the WWE Championship to the “Big Red Monster” Kane in a First Blood Match.
McMahon couldn’t savor the victory for long. Stone Cold further infuriated his nemesis by winning back the championship the next night on RAW. Stone Cold delivered another blow to McMahon by taking away the World Tag Team Championship a month later alongside the Undertaker. It was a combustible combination, leading to a match between them at SummerSlam. Stone Cold emerged victorious — something Mr. McMahon couldn’t tolerate. So, the boss set up a Triple Threat Match at Breakdown in September. It proved to be more like a Handicap Match in the end, as half-brothers Undertaker and Kane pinned Stone Cold simultaneously.
With no single winner, Mr. McMahon decided to vacate the WWE Championship and award it based on a match between Undertaker and Kane at the next pay-per-view. Since former champion Stone Cold was also involved in the original match, he was made special referee. In typical Stone Cold fashion, he screwed both competitors, hitting Stunners on both and stealing the championship for himself. Feeling he had no other recourse, Mr. McMahon fired The Rattlesnake for his actions.
Mysteriously, Stone Cold re-emerged having inked a brand-new five-year contract. Mr. McMahon was beside himself, and it was all the more aggravating when it was revealed that his son, Shane, was the McMahon to re-sign The Rattlesnake. With Steve back in the fold, there was a Survivor Series tournament to award the vacant WWE Championship. Stone Cold was building momentum toward his second WWE Championship, and in the semifinals against Mankind, he appeared a mere three-count from moving on to the final match. But acting referee Shane refused to count a pin for Stone Cold. Without a way to win, Stone Cold eventually succumbed to Mankind. The Rock would benefit most greatly, winning the tournament to become WWE Champion.
The Rattlesnake’s next definitive chance to exact revenge from Mr. McMahon came during the 1999 Royal Rumble Match. Stone Cold drew entry No. 1, while McMahon drew No. 2. Despite a vicious attack from McMahon’s Corporation, both lasted until the end. The odds proved insurmountable, however. With the assistance of the Corporation, Stone Cold was eliminated — making Mr. McMahon the Royal Rumble Match winner.
On Feb. 14, 1999, at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Stone Cold finally got a one-on-one match against Mr. McMahon — and it came in a Steel Cage. With a world championship opportunity at WrestleMania at stake, Mr. McMahon devised a large surprise. During the match, Big Show made his shocking debut, ripping off the side of the Steel Cage. But Show’s attack propelled Stone Cold to the area floor first, technically making him the victor. Stone Cold made the most of his chance, defeating the Corporation’s The Rock at WrestleMania XV for his third WWE Championship.
WWE then took as ominous turn when Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness and McMahon’s Corporation merged in an effort to overpower Stone Cold. It temporarily worked; Undertaker won the WWE Championship thanks to McMahon’s meddling. But Stone Cold had an equalizer for the Corporate Ministry: power granted by Linda McMahon, who named Stone Cold Steve Austin CEO of WWE. This was an intolerable development for Mr. McMahon, who placed himself and Shane in a Ladder Match against The Rattlesnake with control of the company at stake. Once again, Stone Cold would have won on the merits, but the McMahons had another game plan. When during the match Stone Cold scaled the ladder for the winning briefcase, it was mysteriously raised beyond his reach. This continued until the McMahons secured victory and full control of WWE.
But Stone Cold wouldn’t stay down for long. In fact, he bounced back in a big way the very next day — winning the WWE Championship by beating Undertaker. By Survivor Series in 1999, the Corporation’s Triple H was champion, and Stone Cold was supposed to get his chance to reclaim gold in a Triple Threat Match. Instead, he was run down by a car in the parking lot. What followed was neck surgery and a nine-month rehabilitation. But Stone Cold Steve Austin would eventually return for payback.
In October 2000, beer-swilling, trash-talking Stone Cold was back to annihilate Rikishi, who admitted to committing the vehicular assault. But in the process of beating him down, Stone Cold learned that it was actually The Cerebral Assassin behind the whole scheme — devised to shield the WWE Championship. So at Survivor Series in 2000, Stone Cold gave Triple H a taste of his own medicine: When The Game tried to flee the arena in his automobile, Stone Cold lifted it with a construction crane, then let it drop 30 feet. Triple H learned the hard way that there’s nothing Stone Cold won’t do.
Stone Cold then won the Royal Rumble Match for an astounding third time in 2001, last eliminating the Big Red Monster Kane. After coming up short against Triple H in a special best-of-three — featuring a traditional match, a Street Fight and a Steel Cage Match — Stone Cold decided to take drastic measures to ensure a stranglehold on WWE.
Appropriately on April Fool’s Day, Stone Cold pulled a fast one on WWE’s fans and The Rock at WrestleMania, aligning with bitter enemy Mr. McMahon. By doing so, he was able to win back the WWE Championship. The next night on RAW, Triple H involved himself in a Steel Cage Match — attacking not Stone Cold but The Rock! This officially marked Stone Cold’s “deal with the devil” and formation of the alliance known as “Power Trip.”
The corporate faction seemed unstoppable. Corporate Steve was WWE Champion; Triple H was Intercontinental Champion; and at Backlash, they together became World Tag Team Champions, as well. They didn’t show vulnerability until May, when Y2J and Chris Benoit won the World Tag Team Championship — in part because Triple H tore his quadriceps muscle completely off the bone during the match. Everything had come full circle for Stone Cold, who just like in 1993 was left without his tag partner because of a serious injury.
Back out on his own defending the WWE Championship, Stone Cold battled both his rivals in a Triple Threat Match against Jericho and Benoit at King of the Ring.
In July, The Rattlesnake had shed the corporate image and was back in full rebellious form, leading Team WWE against the Alliance. But at Invasion, Stone Cold switched allegiances, joining Team WCW/ECW. It marked the beginning of a bitter dispute with Kurt Angle, who stepped up to command Team WWE in Stone Cold’s place. Doing his best to infuriate the Olympic gold medalist, Stone Cold threw Angle’s medals into a river. In a memorable moment of retribution, Angle doused Stone Cold and the Alliance with a blasting milk bath in shades of Stone Cold’s famous beer bath incident. The Alliance was forced to disband as a result of Team WWE’s victory at Survivor Series, but Stone Cold was able to protect his job through his WWE Championship.
On Feb. 17, 2002, Stone Cold was forced into a war with another infamous faction when the nWo interfered during his match for the unified world championship, spray-painting his back. As a result, Stone Cold began his pursuit of the group, culminating with a victory over Scott Hall before more than 67,000 fans at Toronto’s SkyDome.
All throughout, Stone Cold continued to clash with authority. He was constantly at odds with Ric Flair, who held the position of RAW owner at the time. Eventually things got so bad that Stone Cold Steve Austin walked out. He was gone for close to a year.
He returned at No Way Out in 2003, taking exception to another authority figure — Eric Bischoff. RAW’s General Manager had little patience for The Rattlesnake and considered him a liability, so he fired him the day after WrestleMania on RAW. One month later, Linda McMahon again came to Stone Cold’s aid, making him co-GM alongside Bischoff. It was thought that the two might be forced to work together and co-exist. Instead, they butted heads constantly and Stone Cold continued to raise hell every chance he got. Steve did his best to get under Bischoff’s skin, ordering such events as a “Redneck Triathlon” between himself and his counterpart at Bad Blood.
Feeling he was left with no other recourse, Bischoff devised a Survivor Series Match pitting his team against Stone Cold’s, with the loser out as General Manager. Fortunately for Bischoff, his team came out on top. The Rattlesnake vanished, but Santa Claus did make the SmackDown! brand trip for a very special “Christmas in Iraq.” In the ring and before the troops, Santa unmasked and delivered a Stone Cold Stunner on Mr. McMahon. It was the best present The Rattlesnake could have ever given himself.
Stone Cold then returned as the “Sheriff” of RAW, causing trouble, drinking beer and maintaining his own brand of discipline. He refereed Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania XX, stealing the spotlight by delivering a Stunner to each of them at the end of the match.
In April 2004, Stone Cold and WWE parted ways, which many thought would be permanent. But Stone Cold and WWE found common ground when the opportunity arose to utilize Stone Cold’s popularity and reputation in starring roles for WWE Films. Additionally, The Rattlesnake made his mark at WrestleMania 21 with two well-placed Stunners on turf of another famous WWE trash-talker — Rowdy Roddy Piper in Piper’s Pit.