On Saturday night, April 4, 2009, former WWE superstar, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin will be inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame. The list of current inductees currently has greats such as Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Andre the Giant and several others and Stone Cold's name might be the biggest of them all. No superstar has made as much of an impact as the "Texas Rattlesnake."
Some people might argue that Hulk Hogan is wrestling's most popular superstar of all time, but no generation has seen a superstar quite like "Stone Cold." Austin made such an impact that fans started to cheer for the bad guy for once. He made fans boo their most beloved hero in Bret "Hitman" Hart and cheer the ultimate "bad ass." It's been a long and tough road for Austin, but he's finally getting his due.
Steve Austin made his WWE debut as the "Ringmaster" in 1995 and was managed by the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. Austin went from carrying around the "Million Dollar Belt" to showering Vince McMahon and the Rock in a beer bath.
Austin overcame several obstacles in his life, such as being released from WCW by Eric Bischoff in 1995 while being on the shelf with a triceps injury. Austin was known as "Stunning" Steve Austin and formed a partnership and friendship with the late, "Flyin'" Brian Pillman, to form the "Hollywood Blondes."Austin won the U.S. Title, Television Title and the Tag Team Titles with Pillman as his only belts in WCW.
Austin never got the respect he deserved in WCW, and used his firing as motivation to excel. He signed with ECW and performed some of the funniest and strongest promos he's ever done. He made a parody out of Hulk Hogan when he dressed up as him and started to act like him in hilarious promos. He wasn't in ECW very long and joined the WWE in late 1995.
Austin had a long and entertaining feud with Savio Vegathat led to leather-strap match at Wrestlemania 12. From there, Austin started to make a name for himself. In June 1996, Austin won the prestigious "King of the Ring" tournament and gave birth to infamous "Austin 3:16." After defeating Jake "the Snake" Roberts in the finals, Michael Hayes interviewed him and Austin said, "You thump your bibles and talk about John 3:16...well Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!"
From there, millions of fans in arenas all over the world had signs saying "Austin 3:16" and started to cheer for one of the most intriguing superstars they'd ever seen. His feud with Bret "Hitman" Hart was his best fued and this feud was his stepping-stone to stardom.
He and Hart had a submission match at Wrestlemania 13 and when Hart had Austin trapped in his finishing move called "the Sharpshooter", Austin refused to quit. His face was bloody and he was screaming in pain, but instead of tapping out, he passed out from the pain. He gained respect from Hart, the fans and everybody in the WWE.
McMahon was smart and used Austin's marketability to his advantage. He made t-shirts that said "Austin 3:16" and told Steve to simply be himself when he went to the ring. Nobody knew what was in store for them. Fans went nuts every time they heard the glass shatter from Austin's theme music and he started to become wrestling's most popular superstar.
In March 1998, Austin put his name into history when he won his first WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 14. Austin won the Royal Rumble in 1997, but never got his shot for the title at 'Mania. In January 1998, Austin won the Royal Rumble and got his shot at WWE Champion, "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania. Not only was this a great feud and match, but even "Iron" Mike Tyson got involved in this extravaganza when he was the special referee.
Michaels sustained a back injury prior to the match and looked injured throughout the entire match with Austin. The match was a classic and for the finish, Michaels' finishing move, "Sweet Chin Music" got reversed into Austin's "Stone Cold Stunner" and Tyson counted to three as Austin covered him for the pin.
This was a special moment for Austin and a turning point in pro wrestling. The era for WWE turned into the "Attitude Era" and Steve Austin was the leader of this generation of new and entertaining superstars such as "The Rock", Triple H, Kane, Mankind and several others. It was a passing of the torch when Michaels lost to Austin, because Michaels was the top dog in WWE before losing the title to Austin.
Austin gained so much momentum from the match that he started making noise everywhere. He was seen on commercials for ESPN, acted in USA Network's "Nash Bridges", wrestled Regis Philbin on "Regis and Kathy Lee" and people everywhere knew who "Stone Cold" was.
Austin's career took off and had some great feuds with the "Rock," Triple H, Dude Love, Undertaker and several others. No feud was as famous and historic as his feud with WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon. Nobody had ever "crossed the boss" before like Austin had. He spit in the face of authority and fans watching at home wished they could do the same to their boss.
Some hilarious promos and vignettes occurred in this feud, such as: Austin breaking into Vince's hospital room and beating him up, Austin bringing a Zamboni to the ring and showering Vince, Shane McMahon, and "the Rock" with beer from a hose and so many other great moments.
After a career of winning the WWE title six times, Intercontinental Title twice and the Tag-Team Title four times, Austin was forced into retirement after his match with "the Rock" at Wrestlemania 19 in 2003. His neck injuries were too much for him and he had to call it quits in the ring. Austin's wrestling career may have been over, but he still made an impact in WWE when he appeared.
He was the Raw general manager, special referee for the Goldberg-Brock Lesnar match at Wrestlemania 20 and made several other appearances for WWE. The reaction from the fans was always the same ever time they heard the glass shatter. He has acted and starred in WWE Films' movie entitled "The Condemned."
His legacy and career has made the most important impact on wrestling, because if it weren't for Austin, there never would have been an "Attitude era" and maybe WCW would have won the Monday night wars back in the late 1990's. People might say Hogan's the best and most popular wrestler in pro wrestling history, but if they looked at the impact and popularity of "Stone Cold", they'd realize it is Austin who is the most popular wrestler ever.
When Austin gets inducted into the Hall-of-Fame on April 4, remember his legacy and impact and realize anybody can overcome obstacles in their lives to succeed. He was an example of toughness, charisma, class and heart and nobody will ever forget him. It will be interesting to see who inducts him in since it was he who inducted Bret Hart into the Hall a few years ago.
Will Hart make a return to do the same? It's doubtful but one never knows. In case you haven't seen some of Austin's classic matches and moments, I suggest you go to websites online or DVD stores to check them out.
On April 4, Austin will achieve greatness and wrestling immortatility when he's inducted and there's not too many other guys I'd rather see inducted than Austin. Raise your beers and salute one of the best superstars of all-time. Cheers to you Steve!