There’s a very small list of names that can truly say they have transcended the industry of professional wrestling and into general pop culture. Stone Cold is one such name. The beer-swilling, authority-hating, Texas Rattlesnake is beloved by wrestling fans everywhere and he remains one of the most popular figures in the history of WWE. Here we take a look at 10 of our favourite Austin moments.
10. You and Me (And The Bottle Makes Three) – Stone Cold Interviews The Undertaker
Who would have guessed that amongst the many talents Stone Cold possesses, it would be his social skills that keep him in the limelight? From movies to gameshow host, Austin has tried his hand in a few different media outlets but one in particular has proved to be a hit with wrestling fans.
Presenting his very own podcast, The Broken Skull Sessions sees the usual no-nonsense Stone Cold approach applied to interviewing wrestlers past and present. The most infamous moment on the show occurred on a WWE Network version of the show, as The Texas Rattlesnake sat down with The Undertaker.
Fans were treated to two episodes of the pair trading war stories and slugging back shots of Jack Daniels. A fascinating watch that will leave any wrestling fan from the 90s smiling from ear to ear.
9. A One Word Annoyance – What!?
Back in 2001 Stone Cold was in full heel mode, leading the Alliance of WCW and ECW in a reign of terror. A large section of the WWE Universe regard this is as not only the worst storyline in WWE history but also one of the worst phases in Stone Cold’s illustrious career.
It did, however, give birth to a chant that crowds still use today. However, it must be pointed out, it is not necessarily a popular one depending on its usage. Before the Yes! chant took crowds by storm, another one-word chant dominated promos. What?
As Stone Cold berated members of his team, he also repeatedly asked “What?” after every line his sparring partner spoke. It subsequently became tradition for arenas to shower every Superstar cutting a promo with “What?” chants to put them off their stride. 20 years on and the much-maligned chant can still be heard today, something that Austin addressed on his own podcast.
“Do I regret it,” he said. “Hell no I don’t regret it. People had so much fun doing that back in the day, and you know what? We put the word ‘what’ and a question mark on the front of a t-shirt, and it sold a buttload of t-shirts. It was highly effective for me. I don’t regret it. If anything, the talent can still use that to work for them.”
8. A Rivalry Is Born — Stone Cold Stuns Mr McMahon
As has been well documented over the years, rivals WCW began to muscle in on WWE’s dominance of professional wrestling in the late 90s. It sparked one of the hottest periods in the industry’s history and the Monday Night Wars were born.
Until that time, Vince McMahon had been known as the professional commentator rather than the owner of the then WWF. This all began to change as the dastardly Mr McMahon persona came to the fore and became embroiled in a rivalry for the ages with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
It was a perfect match, providing the yin to the other’s yang, the salt to the other’s pepper. Tapping into an audience that would love nothing more than to challenge their boss, viewers tuned in to live vicariously through Austin raising hell and making his boss miserable. The first Stone Cold Stunner McMahon took may not have looked pretty but it created a foundation WWE would build on for decades to come.
7. The Torch Is Passed — Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels WrestleMania XIV
After stints in WCW and ECW, the real breakout moment for Austin played out on the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania. With the champion and face of the company, Shawn Michaels, struggling with serious injuries, Stone Cold had the chance to not only capture the WWE Championship but solidify himself at the top of the company in one match.
The added attraction of a Mike Tyson at the peak of his popularity, as special guest enforcer for the match, certainly helped catapult Austin’s name into pop culture infamy. Interviews with The Undertaker have since revealed that Shawn Michaels wasn’t 100% sold on dropping the title that night to Austin so the Deadman had taped his hands ready to ensure everything went according to plan.
HBK needn’t have worried as the era of Austin boomed in the years following the Rattlesnake’s first taste of a WWE Championship victory.
6. “His Face Is A Crimson Mask” – WrestleMania 13: Bret Hart vs Stone Cold
There’s a famous saying in wrestling: ‘you don’t need to win to go over’. To translate, a wrestler doesn’t need to win to look good. A perfect example of this mantra occurred at WrestleMania 13 when Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart went up against Austin in a Submission match.
As someone who has never been associated with making people tap out, fans wondered how Stone Cold could possibly beat Hart and his infamous Sharpshooter. What couldn’t be expected was the absolute classic the pair would put on. Brawling all over the arena, the match would end with one of the most famous images in wrestling history.
Held in the Sharpshooter after his face had been busted open, Stone Cold refused to tap out, instead choosing to scream in agony. Blood pouring over his face to the point of making his features unrecognisable, Austin instead passed out. He may have lost the match but fans instantly gravitated to the never say die approach displayed on the night.
5. Coors Blimey! Stone Cold Delivers A Beer Bath To The Corporation
Glass breaking, Stunners and Beer. Three things synonymous with Steve Austin. Ask any wrestling fan and they’d be lying if they didn’t admit to trying to down a couple of beers Stone Cold style. Such is the relationship between Austin and beer, the Texan even has his very own IPA in the USA.
Ahead of his match with The Rock at WrestleMania XV, beer once again provided one of the most memorable moments in WWE history. Interrupting Vince McMahon and The Rock’s braggadocious claims that latter would easily retain his Championship, a Coors beer truck smashed through the arena to ringside.
Climbing on the truck’s bonnet, Austin used a hose to spray anyone in the ring with beer. The shots of Vince McMahon losing his balance from the force of the blast is simply hilarious. As camera pans to The Corporation wringing out their suits, Austin delivers his notorious one finger salute for everyone to see.
4. My Way Or The Highway – Stone Cold vs. The Rock – Wrestlemania 17
It’s one of the most talked about matches in WWE. Most fans would list The Rock vs Stone Cold at Mania 17 as one of their favourite matches of all time. Everything from the grandiose surroundings of the Astrodome in Houston to the Superstars involved and the build-up to the event itself make this a firm favourite.
Even the pre-match vignette featuring Limp Bizkit’s Nu-Metal cult hit, My Way, is widely regarded as the best in its field (we have covered it in depth before). Austin’s shocking heel turn is a hotly debated topic but, if social media had existed in its current form, it would have been buzzing.
The pair met two years later for what would prove to be Steve Austin’s last WrestleMania match but is, for some reason, not held in as high regard.
3. “And that’s the bottom line” – Austin 3:16 Is Born
Religion and entertainment often make for uncomfortable bedfellows. After winning the King Of The Ring tournament, beating born again Christian Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts in the final, Stone Cold cut a promo that would define his career.
“You sit there and you thump your Bible and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16… Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”
Just one part of a promo that would hint at the more adult themes that WWE would pursue throughout the late 90s and early noughties, Austin 3:16 would also become one of the company’s all-time, best-selling t-shirts. Multiple celebrities to this day now replace John for their own name. Just another example of the pop culture phenomenon that is Stone Cold Steve Austin.
2. “Price check on a jackass” – Booker T And Stone Cold Brawl In A Supermarket
Amongst some of the brilliant in-ring moments Stone Cold has enjoyed, he has also created some of the funniest and most memorable segments in the company’s history. The best example of this came in the most unexpected setting imaginable.
Booker T suffered the wrath of Stone Cold inside a real supermarket. As nuts, flour and a whole range of condiments were used as weapons, nothing was off limits as WWE picked up an estimated $10,000-$15,000 bill for damages caused during shooting.
Some of the highlights? Stone Cold singing ‘That’s Amore’ while smashing a pizza over Booker’s head. Austin being locked behind the refrigerators, only to emerge out of the dairy fridges drinking milk. The finish saw a humiliated and beaten Booker T thrown over the checkout, as Stone Cold took off upon hearing police sirens approaching.
1. “Oh he’s talkin’. He’s talkin'”. — Austin Returns To Beat Up The Alliance
In the Summer of 2001, WWE was in the early stages of the much maligned ‘Invasion’ storyline and Stone Cold had been showing a softer, jovial side of himself in recent weeks. As the threat from their adversaries reached new levels Austin left the arena refusing Vince McMahon’s pleas to return to his old no-nonsense self.
With some of the biggest names in WWE such as Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle found themselves surrounded in the ring by their WCW and ECW counterparts, Austin fought his way from the parking lot laying out everyone in his path.
The crowd begins to chant Austin’s name and by the time the glass smashes at the beginning of his intro music, the entire arena explodes and goes batshit crazy. It is to this day one of the loudest crowd pops in WWE history. The commentary of an increasingly hoarse sounding JR providing the perfect soundtrack for the events unfolding.
Taking to the ring he delivers Stunner after Stunner after Stunner until it looks like his knees can no longer support him. Resting in the corner smiling, Austin looks on as team WWE clears house. Goosebumps. Every. Single. Time.