Early career: WCWEdit
"Stunning" Steve Austin joined the National Wrestling Alliance in 1991 (which became WCW shortly thereafter) and quickly won the WCW Television Championship. He joined Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance shortly afterwards, and then lost and re-gained the title later in the year. His second reign was ended by Ricky Steamboat in September 1992.
In 1993, as one-half of the "Hollywood Blonds" with the late Brian Pillman. The Blonds won the WCW Tag Team Championship by defeating Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas. They held the tag belts for five months, finally losing them to Arn Anderson and Paul Roma, when Brian Pillman was injured and had to be replaced by Steven Regal.
At Starrcade 1993, Austin won the United States Championship from Dustin Rhodes. He held the belt until August of 1994 when he was defeated again by Ricky Steamboat. A month later, at WCW Fall Brawl, Austin was awarded back the US title when Steamboat couldn't make it to the match due to injury, only to lose it to Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a 35-second match. About a year later, Austin was fired from WCW by Eric Bischoff while Austin was out with an injury.
1995-96: ECW & The RingmasterEdit
In 1995, Austin was released from WCW, as Eric Bischoff and other management did not see him as a marketable wrestler. Paul Heyman, Austin's old manager, called him up and offered him a new job working for his promotion, ECW. Austin accepted, and began laying the groundwork for what would become his "Stone Cold" persona.
At the very end of 1995, Steve Austin was brought into the WWF by The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, and was known as "The Ringmaster," supposedly the best technical wrestler in the world. DiBiase was so impressed by The Ringmaster's abilities, he awarded him the Million Dollar Championship. The Ringmaster used the Million Dollar Dream — DiBiase's finishing maneuver — as his own finisher.
Over the next several months, Austin would feud with Savio Vega, mostly over the Million Dollar Championship. This included a victory over Vega at Wrestlemania XII. The Ringmaster would continue his path of domination until In Your House: Beware of Dog, where he lost a Caribbean Strap Match to Vega. This match had the stipulation that if Austin lost, Ted DiBiase would have to leave the WWF. After the match, Austin told announcer Dok Hendrix that he had lost the match on purpose, because he claimed that the Million Dollar Man was holding him back.
Immediately following the departure of DiBiase from the WWF, The Ringmaster became known as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, a name that he claimed was better-suited to his personality. He also developed the Stone Cold Stunner and began using that as a replacement to the Million Dollar Dream.
Just month later, Austin won the King of the Ring tournament, defeating Jake The Snake Roberts in the finals. He took the microphone and proclaimed, "You talk about your psalms, and your John 3:16s... Well Austin 3:16 says 'I just whipped yer ass!'" The next night on Monday Night Raw, "Austin 3:16" signs FILLED the arena, and the WWF went to work to produce Austin 3:16 t-shirts.
With his new claim to stardom firmly established, Austin went after who many saw as the top dog in the WWF at the time - The Hitman, Bret Hart. Stone Cold would taunt Bret's trademark pink tights, and even proclaimed, "If you put the letter 'S' in front of 'Hitman,' you have my exact opinion of Bret Hart." After months of taunting, Bret finally returned to the WWF at the 1996 Survivor Series and met his newest rival, face-to-face. Austin and Hart went toe-to-toe, but it was when Austin put on the Million Dollar Dream that Bret kicked off the turnbuckles and landed on top of his opponent to score the pinfall.
While taunting and antagonizing Bret Hart, Austin was a part of one of the most infamous scenes on Monday Night Raw, Pillman's Got A Gun. Austin had recently broken his old friend Brian Pillman's ankle (in reality, Pillman needed surgery and this was how he was written out of the show), but had decided that that wasn't enough - He was headed to Pillman's house to end their friendship, once and for all. WWF announcer Kevin Kelly sat with Pillman and his wife, Melanie, as they prepared for Austin's engagement. During the show, Pillman pulled a 9mm Glock pistol out from under the covers, exclaiming that he was ready for anything Austin could bring. When Austin finally broke into the Pillman household, the screen faded to black, gunshots could be heard, as well as a lot of screaming from Melanie and Kevin Kelly. Shortly before Raw ended, viewers saw friends of Pillman dragging Austin from the house, while Pillman aimed the gun at him and said he wanted to "kill that son of a bitch!" Austin seemingly managed to escape getting shot, and went on to his Survivor Series match with the Hitman. Bret won by pinfall, by reversing a Million Dollar Dream into a pinning combination.
1997: The road to successEdit
At the 1997 Royal Rumble, Stone Cold solidified himself as one of the most dominant WWF Superstars on the roster by quickly eliminating several opponents in a row and spending several minutes in the ring on his own, until the entry of Bret Hart. During the confusion of the Royal Rumble match, Hart threw Austin over the top rope, eliminating him. However, the referees never saw Austin's elimination, and the Rattlesnake re-entered the ring, eliminating Vader, The Undertaker, and Bret Hart.
WWF Interim president Gorilla Monsoon declared that they could not go back and change the record books, but the justice could be corrected. The following month's In Your House event was titled "Final Four," where the main event pitted Austin, Hart, Taker, and Vader against each other, with the winner to face Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 13 for the championship. However, just ten days before Final Four, Shawn Michaels was told by doctors that he would never wrestle again due to a knee injury, and Shawn relinquished the WWF Championship. The Final Four match was now for the championship, which Bret Hart won. However, next night on Raw, Bret defended his title against Sycho Sid. Due to interference from Stone Cold and a steel chair, Hart lost the match and the championship.
At Wrestlemania 13, Bret Hart and Steve Austin faced each other in a submission match, refereed by the UFC's Ken Shamrock. During the match, the WWF fans swayed away from Hart and towards Austin, effectively creating a "double-turn" (where the face becomes a heel, and the heel becomes a face). Hart was declared the winner when Austin passed out from blood loss, while being applied in the Sharpshooter. However, as pointed out by commentator Jim Ross, "Austin never gave up."
Shortly after Wrestlemania, Bret Hart re-founded the Hart Foundation with his brother, Owen Hart, and their brother-in-law the British Bulldog. In June, Owen and Bulldog challenged a returning Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin to a tag team championship match. HBK and Stone Cold won the match and the WWF Tag Team Titles, but had to face each other at King of the Ring, the following week.
Just weeks after their match, Shawn disappeared from the WWE due to injury, and as a result, he and Austin were stripped of the tag team titles. The WWF held an eight-team tournament to determine who would face Austin and a partner of his choosing for the titles. Owen and the Bulldog won, determined to win their championships back. Unfortunately, Austin's newest partner, Mick Foley's alter ego, Dude Love, proved to be too much for the former champs to bear, and Stone Cold found himself with another unlikely tag team champion.
At Summerslam 1997, Austin faced Owen Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Title. In one of the most tragic events in wrestling history, Owen mis-cued his piledriver, and broke Stone Cold's neck, temporarily paralyzing Austin in the middle of the match. Austin recovered and quickly covered Owen for the title, but just weeks later was stripped of both the Intercontinental and Tag Team championships.
Austin's future in the WWF was in question, with a broken neck. But he returned and, in November, defeated Owen for the Intercontinental Championship a second time. Austin decided that the "piece of tin" wasn't worth his time, and set his sights on the World Wrestling Federation Championship, handing over the IC title to The Rock, in the process.
1998-99: Austin vs McMahonEdit
The 1998 Royal Rumble saw a repeat winner in Steve Austin. It also saw Shawn Michaels retain the WWF title over the Undertaker, setting up for the former partners' encounter at Wrestlemania XIV. Mike Tyson was scheduled as the special guest enforcer, but soon thereafter showed his loyalty to HBK and his new faction, D-Generation X. During the match, the referee was knocked unconscious. After delivering a Stone Cold Stunner, The Texas Rattlesnake covered Michaels, and Tyson came in to count the 1-2-3. Austin was the new WWF Champion. However, WWF Chairman, Mr. McMahon, didn't think that the rebellious Austin was the kind of champion he wanted to represent his company, and had decided to take matters into his own hands...
The night after Wrestlemania XIV saw Vince McMahon award Austin with a new WWF Championship belt. Austin accepted the new belt, and gave McMahon a Stunner in exchange. This set forward what many perceive to be the turning point in the Monday Night Wars, where the WWF finally began overtaking rival organization, WCW: Austin vs. McMahon.
For the remainder of the year, Vince McMahon set challenger after challenger after Austin, including Stone Cold's former tag team partner Dude Love at May's Over the Edge Pay-Per-View, and Kane at King of the Ring; though Kane was able to win the championship match with assistance from his brother, The Undertaker, Austin won the WWF championship back the following night on Raw). In July of 1998, Austin had a custom-designed WWF Championship belt designed for him, with a "Smoking Skull" centerplate and a snakeskin pattern on the back. McMahon sent The Undertaker after Austin at both Fully Loaded and Summerslam, partially to restore the proper WWF Championship belt, but Undertaker failed. It was at September's Breakdown: In Your House when McMahon sent both Kane and The Undertaker after Austin in a triple threat match that they were finally able to overwhelm Stone Cold, but the Brothers of Destruction both pinned the champion at the same time; As a result, the championship was upheld, with a tournament to determine a new champion at the Survivor Series 1998: Deadly Game event. The WWF Championship was won by The Rock, who traded the title back-and-forth with Dude Love's alternate persona, Mankind, over the winter months.
At the Royal Rumble 1999: No Chance In Hell, Austin and McMahon were the number 1 and 2 entrants, respectively. McMahon's Corporate Team attacked Austin, dragging him out under the bottom rope, and hospitalizing him. Vince joined Michael Cole and The King on commentary during the remainder of the match, until the Texas Rattlesnake hijacked an ambulance and returned to the match. Austin managed to seemingly win the Royal Rumble match, but Mr. McMahon, who was never eliminated, re-entered the ring and dumped Austin over the top rope, screwing Austin out of a championship match. Also at the event, The Rock won the WWF title back from Mankind in one of the most brutal matches in WWF history.
February's In Your House: St. Valentine's Day Massacre saw Austin and McMahon square off in a steel cage match. If Austin won, he would earn the #1 contender's spot for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania XV. Paul Wight made his WWF debut by throwing Austin THROUGH the steel cage, which, in turn granted Austin the victory. The stage was set: At Wrestlemania XV, Mr. McMahon's "Corporate Champion," The Rock, would face Mr. McMahon's arch-rival, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Important events to cover:
- CEO of WWF
- Run over
- Return/Power Trip
- Hall of Fame