In the multiple decades known as the WWE, there have been Superstars, Icons, Legends and The Future. But in the times of past, present and future, every era has had at least one individual that paved the way for The Future.
Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker are yesterday's Triple H, John Cena and of course, The Undertaker. Edge and Randy Orton are today's Rock and Mick Foley.
But despite all that, one act has been often imitated, but never duplicated. Many have tried, but they've all failed miserably at it. In between the Rocks, Hogans, Takers, Edges, Games, Cenas and Ortons, there was only one who stood above the crowd...
That man is, was and forever will be known as Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Little was known about Steven Anderson-Williams before he became WCW's "Stunning" Steve Austin. In fact, not many know that it was while competing on the independent circuit with "Dr. Death" Steve Williams that he was dubbed Steve Austin.
But the person everyone knows is the one this guy from King of the Ring '96:
“You talk about your Psalms; you talk about John 3:16...Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”
Who knew that one statement would lead to bigger and better things?
Obviously not Eric Bischoff. It was Bischoff fired Austin while he was wrestling in Japan because he was "unmarketable." But what was worse is that he didn't even have the balls to tell him face to face...he did it through a phone call...from ATLANTA!!
Following his termination, he was approached by Paul Heyman to come to ECW and was given the power to vent and voice his opinion about his WCW Termination.
In the process, he was embroiled in a rivalry for the ECW Championship with Mikey Whipwreck and ECW's version of Stone Cold, The Sandman. During his tenure, he caught the eye of Vince McMahon.
McMahon was in the process of building an empire known as the World Wrestling Federation. He already had an A-List of superstars including the Legendary Hart Family, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker...but he needed a suitable replacement for the departing Hulk Hogan, who was going South to WCW.
He didn't know it yet...but he found his replacement in the form of Steve Austin.
Following his KOTR victory, Austin became a thorn in the sides of all who crossed his path. From Savio Vega to Bret Hart, Austin held nothing back and offered no apologies for his actions. Even his own partner and friend, the late Brian Pillman wasn't safe from the anarchy and hell unleashed by Austin 3:16.
But it was a submissions match against The Hitman that would cement the future of this tough as nails superstar.
Austin never tapped out in this match, but he did earn the respect of everyone following the match. This was enough to give him the push he needed to become the main eventer he was told he would never be.
After a pair of stints as Intercontinental Champion, as well as rivalries with The Rock and Owen Hart, Austin was poised to move on to bigger and better things...
And it would start at the 1998 Royal Rumble.
In 1998, the WWE moved into The Attitude Era. With it came the Nation of Domination led by Faarooq and The Rock, The Undertaker-Mankind War, the return of Legion of Doom, the original D-Generation X...
And a man known simply as The Texas Rattlesnake.
While The Rock was embroiled in a battle with Ken Shamrock, Stone Cold was battling the world. Following his second straight Rumble victory, Austin was poised to obtain superstar status at Wrestlemania XIV. The problem?
The faction that would attempt to keep him from immortality: DX and their new friend, "Iron" Mike Tyson.
In the end though, the Austin Era would begin with a pair of stunners: One to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania and another to Vince McMahon the next night on RAW.
But the best was yet to come for the Victoria, Texas native...
TO BE CONTINUED...