A few months after the Texas Rattlesnake won his first WWF Championship, he found a new enemy in the form of Vince McMahon.
Following Austin’s Stone Cold Stunner the night after Wrestlemania, McMahon tried everything in his power to either make Austin the perfect corporate patsy or get the gold away from him.
The first guy given this dubious task was none other than one of Mick Foley’s alter egos: Dude Love.
Love originally came out to try to make peace between the two men, but following a nut check by McMahon, Love went from scapegoat to No. 1 Contender. One month later, Love got his first shot to be champion at a pay-per-view called Unforgiven.
Unfortunately, Love came up short of his goal following a barrage of interference from McMahon and his double trouble goons, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco.
But the endgame for the match came Austin wrapped a chair around his McMahon's head, delivered a Stunner to Dude Love, and counted his own three-count to secure the win and remain WWF Champion.
But McMahon had another idea in mind: If I can’t do it from the outside, then I’ll do it from the inside. With that, Love was tabbed again to face Austin at a pay-per-view called Over The Edge.
In this pay-per-view, however, Patterson and Brisco were given specific jobs that placed them as close to the action as possible. As for McMahon, he dubbed himself the special guest referee. Unfortunately for him, in the process of trying to screw Austin, he also provoked one dangerous phenom: The Undertaker.
In the end, it was Undertaker who played the equalizer. Thanks to an inadvertent shot to the skull, McMahon executed a fast count on the wrong guy (sort of), and Austin walked out of Over the Edge the WWF Champion once more.
Austin continued to reign as champion until he lost it to Undertaker’s brother, Kane. But 24 hours later, the Big Red Machine lost the gold to the Rattlesnake.
Then Vince found a secure plan that would literally guarantee that he would have his own champion: Put the Brothers of Destruction together to take out Austin at a pay-per-view called In Your House: Breakdown.
Austin lost his gold and was unable to acquire it once again for the remainder of 1998. But in 1999, Austin found himself in familiar territory when he entered the Royal Rumble.
The plan was simple: Keep Austin from winning the gold. Around this time, The Rock was McMahon’s golden child and was bestowed the right to be WWF Champion.
Rock defeated Mankind (another of Foley’s alter egos) at that exact same Rumble. But thanks to The Rock and Shane McMahon, Austin was screwed out of his right to win another Rumble as Vince entered himself into the Rumble and eliminated Austin.
The next night, Commissioner Shawn Michaels decided that Austin and McMahon would indeed lock horns one more time, but this time they would battle inside a steel cage at next month’s pay-per-view, ironically dubbed St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Austin not only defeated his nemesis, but thanks to The Big Show’s inadvertent toss into the cage, Austin became the first and only guy to win the match via Show-tle Launch.
Austin won the match and earned his spot in the main event at WrestleMania. His opponent(s): The Rock and the Corporation. Leading up to the anarchy that was Wrestlemania XV, Austin did everything in his power to get the upper hand, even giving the entire Corporation a beer bath.
But at Wrestlemania, it was all about business. The Rock had the upper hand so to speak as McMahon made sure that the Corporation would have friends in high places.
Big Show and Mankind battled to decide who would be the official for the match. When Mankind won the bout, Show took him out, sending him to the hospital. But Mankind didn’t stay long as he made his return just in time to help Stone Cold get the victory and once again become WWF Champion.
In two years, Austin was in two WrestleMania main events, and he won both matches. He was on top of the world.
Unfortunately, his world came crashing down when he was rundown several months later by an unknown driver. He was sidelined for almost a year and was forced to relinquish the WWF Championship.
Austin would be unable to continue his impressive WrestleMania streak. He had to watch on the sidelines as Vince McMahon found himself a new puppet, Triple H.
The Game survived as WWF Champion at Wrestlemania, but thanks to Linda McMahon and a returning Austin, The Rock was able to reclaim the gold. Austin would return several months later in an attempt to find out who ran him down a year earlier at Survivor Series.
Austin returned to competition the following month in a Six-Man Hell in a Cell Match with Kurt Angle coming in as Champion.
Though unsuccessful in his attempt to become champion, he did manage to find out who was the man that ordered the hit: None other than The Game himself.
The next month, Austin was back in the Royal Rumble, but a sneak attack from Triple H almost cost him a chance at redemption. But a bloodied Stone Cold made his way into the rumble, took out several superstars, and managed to run the table and win the 2001 Royal Rumble.
The next month, he got his complete revenge on Triple H in a Three Stages of Hell Match.
Though he lost, he got the last laugh as he delivered a Stone Cold Stunner to The Game before leaving the ring. That same night, The Rock defeated Kurt Angle to become WWF Champion, ensuring that he would meet Austin at Wrestlemania X-7.
What followed would shock the world,
At Wrestlemania XVII, Stone Cold Steve Austin shocked the world when he joined forces with his long time nemesis Vince McMahon to become WWF Champion for the fourth time. For several months, Austin, along with McMahon and Triple H, ruled the WWF with an iron fist.
But Austin found himself alone when his partner went down with his first quadricep injury.
From then on, Austin found himself in the middle of a tri-company war with ECW and WCW. But at the Invasion pay-per-view, Austin turned on the WWF and stunned his partner Kurt Angle to give The Alliance a victory.
With Austin as Team Captain, The Alliance dominated the WWF for several months. That is until an old foe came back to even the odds.
The Rock returned to destroy The Alliance’s dream of being on top of the world. With that, the battle for undisputed supremacy officially began when the WCW and WWF Championships were combined.
At Armageddon, Austin got screwed once more by McMahon with the help of Booker T. Thanks to Booker T, Chris Jericho laid claim to the WWF Undisputed Championship.
But Austin didn’t stay away long, as in the process of becoming champion once more, he brought a catchphrase along with him to 2002.
By the end of 2001 and beginning of 2002, Austin had everyone saying one simple word, one simple question, and one simple phrase:
Thanks to this one phrase, Austin skyrocketed into the new year with a shot to regain the gold at No Way Out. But thanks to the Original nWo, Austin was denied his chance to regain the top spot.
But it didn’t take long to get even. While The Rock was given the task of facing the legendary Hulk Hogan, Austin was set to face one-half of the Outsiders, Scott Hall.
At Wrestlemania XVIII, Austin delivered a Stone Cold Stunner so huge that it literally launched Hall into the air. Following the victory, Austin never saw another chance to regain the WWF Championship.
In fact, Austin became a backseat driver following the splitting of the shows.
So what was next for the Texas Rattlesnake now that his dreams of being champion was officially over?
That answer came in the form of Vince McMahon’s boldest move yet.