Steve Austin as WWE champion (from WWE.com)
It’s easy for fans to trash Steve Austin’s 2001 WWE Championship reign.
“They turned Austin heel too soon.” “It was bad for business.” “People weren’t ready to boo Austin.”
These are all perfectly valid points.
But what most people don’t remember is just how great—and refreshing—Austin’s heel act really was. After spending so long stuck as a beer-drinking redneck, the star was finally allowed to show off just how phenomenally versatile a performer he is.
Playing the part of the insecure, highly paranoid crazy man, the star was a revelation. In backstage segments with Vince McMahon, Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle, he demonstrated out-of-this-world comedic timing and ability. Come on; watch these clips and tell me you can’t laugh at the absurdity of Austin trying to console McMahon by singing a few tunes.
It may not have had the same commercial appeal as his babyface work in the '90s, but from a critical stand-point, this was one of Austin's best title runs ever.