Stone Cold Steve Austin

Steve Austin (born Steven James Anderson on December 18, 1964, later Steven James Williams),[4] better known by the ring name Stone Cold Steve Austin, is an American actor, producer, television host and retired professional wrestler.

Stone Cold Steve Austin
Austin at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con
Steven James Anderson

(1964-12-18) December 18, 1964
ResidenceMarina Del Rey, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of North Texas
OccupationProfessional wrestler, actor, television host, producer, podcast host
Years active1989–2003 (wrestler)
1998–present (actor)
Kathryn Burrhus
(m. 1990; div. 1992)

Jeanie Clarke
(m. 1992; div. 1999)

Debra Marshall
(m. 2000; div. 2003)

Kristin Feres
(m. 2009)
Ring name(s)Steve Austin
The Ringmaster
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[1]
Billed weight252 lb (114 kg)[1]
Billed fromVictoria, Texas[1]
Trained byChris Adams[2][3]
DebutSeptember 30, 1989
RetiredMarch 30, 2003

Austin enjoyed a successful career as "Stunning" Steve Austin in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from 1991 to 1995. After a brief stint in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in late 1995, he signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) as The Ringmaster. Rebranded as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin the following year, he gained significant mainstream popularity as a brazen, vulgar, beer-drinking antihero who routinely defied the establishment and his boss, company chairman Vince McMahon.[5][6] This persona of Austin's became the "poster boy" of the Attitude Era,[7] a boom period in WWF business in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He also introduced the long-standing "What?" chant in professional wrestling.[8] A number of prominent industry figures, including McMahon, have declared Austin to be the biggest star in WWF/WWE history and stressed that he surpassed the popularity of Hulk Hogan.[9][10][11][12][13] Veteran professional wrestling journalist Wade Keller remarked that Austin is "in every conversation for the greatest wrestling act of all time", as well as for "the most profitable and the most influential".[14]

Austin held 19 championships throughout his wrestling career, as he is a six-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion, a two-time Intercontinental Champion and a four-time WWF Tag Team Champion—thus making him the fifth Triple Crown Champion in WWE history—while also being a two-time WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, a two-time WCW World Television Champion, a one-time WCW World Tag Team Champion and a one-time NWA World Tag Team Champion in WCW. He was also the winner of the 1996 King of the Ring tournament as well as the 1997, 1998 and 2001 Royal Rumbles, making him the only three-time winner of the event. Furthermore, he was awarded the unsanctioned Million Dollar Championship by Ted DiBiase.

Austin has main evented multiple pay-per-view events for the WWE, including three WrestleManias (XIV, XV and X-Seven). He was forced to retire from in-ring competition in 2003 due to a series of knee injuries and a serious neck injury. Throughout the rest of 2003 and 2004, he was featured as the Co-General Manager and Sheriff of Raw. Since 2005, he has continued to make occasional appearances and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by Vince McMahon. In 2011, Austin returned to WWE to host the reboot of the reality series Tough Enough.

Early life

Austin was born in Austin, Texas.[15] His parents, James and Beverly Anderson (née Harrison), divorced when he was around a year old. His mother moved to Edna, Texas, and in 1968, married Ken Williams.[16] Austin adopted his stepfather's surname and later, legally changing his name to Steven James Williams. Austin has three brothers (Scott, Kevin, and Jeff) and one younger sister (Jennifer).[17] Kevin is less than a year younger, and Austin has hypothesized in his autobiography that their father may have left because he could not handle another child so soon.[18] Austin spent most of his childhood in Edna, Texas.[4] After finishing his schooling from Edna High School, Austin got a football scholarship at Wharton County Junior College, followed by a full scholarship at the University of North Texas.[17]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1989–1990)

Deciding to become a wrestler, Austin joined Chris Adams' school in the Dallas Sportatorium, where Adams also wrestled for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). Adams' training was purely technical, teaching Austin the moves, but nothing relating to kayfabe (still somewhat a guarded secret at the time) or business. His first lesson in that came from Tony Falk, the referee in his 1989 televised WCCW debut against Frogman LeBlanc, who called the spots to lead him to a pinfall and a $40 payday.

Initially working under his real name, he was named Steve Austin by Memphis booker Dutch Mantell during the merger of World Class and the Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) into the United States Wrestling Association (USWA). The name change occurred to avoid confusion with "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, a well-known wrestler during that time. Austin later returned to Dallas, managed by Percy Pringle and accompanied by Jeannie Adams (Adams' ex-girlfriend and Austin's girlfriend at the time) and feuded with Adams and his wife Toni.

Austin then left the USWA in 1990 and signed with WCW the next year. It was during this time Austin adopted the "Stunning" nickname that followed him to WCW.

World Championship Wrestling

The Dangerous Alliance (1991–1992)

Austin was originally paired with a valet named Vivacious Veronica,[19] but was later joined by Jeannie Adams, known as "Lady Blossom".[3][19] Just weeks after his debut, Austin defeated Bobby Eaton for his first WCW World Television Championship on June 3, 1991 and later that year joined Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance.[3][20] Austin lost the WCW World Television Championship to Barry Windham in a two out of three falls match on April 27, 1992, but regained the title from Windham on 23 May and enjoyed a second lengthy reign as champion before losing the title to Ricky Steamboat on September 2, while The Dangerous Alliance disbanded shortly thereafter.[21] At Halloween Havoc on October 25, Austin replaced Terry Gordy, teaming with "Dr. Death" Steve Williams to wrestle Dustin Rhodes and Windham for the unified WCW and NWA World Tag Team Championships.[21] The teams wrestled to a thirty-minute time limit draw.[21]

The Hollywood Blonds and The Stud Stable (1993–1995)

In January 1993, Austin formed a tag team known as The Hollywood Blonds with Brian Pillman.[3] They won the unified NWA and WCW World Tag Team Championship on March 3 by defeating Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas and held the title for five months.[3] At Clash of the Champions XXIII on June 16, the Blondes faced Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in a two out of three falls tag team title match and were defeated, but retained the title as one fall had been determined by a disqualification.[22] At Clash of the Champions XXIV on August 18, Austin and Pillman were scheduled to defend their title against Anderson and Paul Roma, but a legitimate injured Pillman was replaced by Steven Regal, with whom Austin lost to Anderson and Roma.[23]

With Pillman still injured, Austin joined Colonel Robert Parker's Stud Stable.[24] After Pillman returned, Austin betrayed and defeated him in a singles match at Clash of the Champions XXV on November 10.[25] At Starrcade on December 27, Austin defeated Dustin Rhodes in a two out of three falls match with two straight falls to win the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship.[3] Austin lost the title to Ricky Steamboat on August 24, 1994 and was scheduled to face Steamboat in a rematch for the title at Fall Brawl on September 18, but Steamboat was unable to wrestle due to a legit back injury and Austin was awarded the title by forfeit. His second reign with the title ended just minutes later when he lost to Steamboat's replacement, Jim Duggan, in a match that lasted thirty-five seconds.[26] Austin unsuccessfully challenged Duggan for the United States Heavyweight Championship at both Halloween Havoc on October 23 and Clash of the Champions XXIX on November 16.[27][28]

After returning from a knee injury in early 1995, Austin took part in a tournament for the vacant WCW United States Heavyweight title, where he defeated Duggan via countout in the first round, but lost to Randy Savage in the quarterfinals. In June 1995, Austin was fired by WCW Vice President Eric Bischoff after suffering a triceps injury while wrestling on a Japanese tour—Bischoff and WCW did not see Austin as a marketable wrestler.[3][29] Additionally, Bischoff thought Austin was hard to work with.[30]

Extreme Championship Wrestling (1995)

Austin was contacted by Paul Heyman of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), who had managed him in WCW.[3] Heyman hired Austin to do in-ring interviews as he still had not recovered from his injury enough to wrestle.[31]

While in ECW, Austin used the platform to develop his future "Stone Cold" persona, as well as a series of vignettes running down WCW in general and Bischoff in particular, most memorably in several promos that mocked his then-status as Nitro host by introducing Monday NyQuil, where he was joined by "Bongo" (a set of drums, meant to represent Steve "Mongo" McMichael) in promoting the show "where the big boys play with each other".[3][31] Several wrestlers have credited ECW as the place where Austin developed his microphone skills.[30] Austin has credited Heyman as the man who taught him how to cut a promo.[32] While with ECW, Austin was known as "Superstar" Steve Austin[33] and had a match with The Sandman and feuded with Mikey Whipwreck.[33]

Whipwreck, who was the ECW World Heavyweight Champion at the time, defeated Austin for the title at November to Remember on November 18.[34] During this time, Austin learned Whipwreck's finishing move (the Whipper-Snapper) and would adopt it and popularize it in his later career as the Stone Cold Stunner. The Sandman defeated Austin and Whipwreck in a triple threat match at December to Dismember on December 9 for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.[35] Heyman would later state that he had wanted Austin to win the title, but Austin had refused because he felt he was more effective "as the hunter, rather than the hunted".

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/WWE

The Million Dollar Corporation (1995–1996)

Austin joined the WWF after Kevin Nash and Jim Ross helped convince WWF's owner Vince McMahon to hire him in late 1995.[3][33] He debuted on January 8, 1996 episode of Raw and was awarded the Million Dollar Championship[36] by his manager, Ted DiBiase.[3] Austin had his debut match on January 15 episode of Raw where he defeated Matt Hardy.[37] Initially, Austin wrestled as The Ringmaster, but his full name was acknowledged by announcers, although it was not part of his official billing.

While making his first pay-per-view appearance at the Royal Rumble on January 21, where he was scripted to be among the final four wrestlers in the ring, which could have given him an early push; however, Austin failed to hang onto the ropes after Fatu clotheslined him over and slipped out of the ring early.[38] Austin wrestled Savio Vega on March 11 episode of Raw to a double count-out,[39] before defeating Vega in his first WrestleMania appearance at WrestleMania XII on March 31.[40] At In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies on April 28, Austin lost to Vega in a rematch. At In Your House: Beware of Dog on 26 May, Austin lost a Caribbean strap match to Vega. In accordance with the pre-match stipulations, DiBiase was forced to leave the WWF, giving Austin the opportunity to forge his own path.[41] Austin later told announcer Dok Hendrix that he had purposely lost the match in order to rid himself of DiBiase, who in reality was headed for rival promotion WCW.

Austin soon thought the Ringmaster idea was weak and so asked for a change.[30] The WWF gave Austin a list with names inspired by hitman "The Iceman" Richard Kuklinski, including Otto Von Ruthless, Ice Dagger, Fang McFrost and Chilli McFreeze.[30] Austin shaved his head bald and grew a goatee on February 19, while on March 11 "The Ringmaster" moniker (now merely a prefix to his ring name) would be discarded in favor of his most famous nickname, "Stone Cold". The name itself was inspired by a cup of tea,[42] while his persona for the new name was inspired by Kuklinski.[43]

Austin 3:16 (1996–1997)

"You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn't get you anywhere! Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16... Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!"[44]

Austin addressing Jake Roberts in his infamous coronation promo at King of the Ring 1996

Austin's rise to stardom began at the 1996 King of the Ring, where he won the King of the Ring tournament by defeating Jake "The Snake" Roberts in the finals.[3][41] At the time, Roberts was portraying a born-again Christian, so after the match, Austin cut a famous promo during his coronation, mocking Roberts' religious faith and proclaiming the now iconic catchphrase "Austin 3:16" as a derision of the Bible verse John 3:16. Austin's win and rise to stardom proved to be an untelegraphed stroke of luck. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was originally scheduled to win the tournament, but plans changed as he was punished for taking part in the infamous Curtain Call incident that had transpired earlier that year.[45] "Austin 3:16" ultimately became one of the most popular catchphrases in wrestling history[3] and subsequently the slogan became one of the best-selling T-shirts in WWE merchandise history.[46]

Throughout August and September, Austin spoke about Bret Hart, challenging him constantly and taunting him relentlessly, before Hart finally returned on October 21 episode of Raw and challenged Austin to a match at Survivor Series, which he accepted.[47] During an episode of Superstars taped on October 27, old friend Brian Pillman conducted an interview with Austin regarding his upcoming match. After Pillman inadvertently complimented Hart, Austin grew angry and attacked him. He then proceeded to wedge Pillman's ankle in between a steel chair and stomp on it, in storyline breaking his ankle.[48] This would lead to the infamous "Pillman's got a gun" segment on November 4 episode of Raw, where-in Austin broke into Pillman's home while he was nursing his injury, in an attempt to confront him. However, Pillman had been anticipating him and was armed with a pistol. Just as Austin broke in, Pillman aimed his gun at him ready to fire, before the episode cut to commercial break. The segment was highly controversial for its perceived violence and rare use of profanity in WWF programming, with Pillman using the expletives bitch and fuck. The segment is also credited for paving the way for WWF's shift to more mature and adult programming.[49]

At Survivor Series, in a match to determine the number-one contender to the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, Austin lost to Hart when Hart used the turnbuckle to push himself backward while locked in the Million Dollar Dream and pinned Austin.[41] During the 1997 Royal Rumble match, Austin was originally eliminated by Hart, but the officials did not see it, and he snuck back into the ring and eliminated Hart by throwing him over the ropes, winning the match himself.[50] This led to the first-ever pay-per-view main event of Austin's WWF career at In Your House 13: Final Four where he competed in a Four corners elimination match against Hart, The Undertaker and Vader for the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship after previous champion Shawn Michaels relinquished the belt due a knee injury. Austin was eliminated early from the four-way match at the event after injuring his own knee, and Hart would eventually go on to win the match and the championship.[51] However, Hart lost the title the next night on Raw Is War to Sycho Sid due to Austin's interference, continuing their feud.[52] At WrestleMania 13, Hart defeated Austin in a highly acclaimed submission match with Ken Shamrock as a special referee. During the match, Austin had been cut and was bleeding profusely from his face, but he still refused to tap out when Hart locked in his Sharpshooter. Austin finally passed out from blood loss, still held in the Sharpshooter, and lost the match. After the bell, Hart continued to hold the Sharpshooter on Austin, who despite his wounds refused any assistance back to the locker room, thus turning Hart heel and Austin babyface in a rare double-turn.[41] However, Austin portrayed an anti-hero instead of a traditional babyface. Austin eventually got his revenge on Hart in the main event of In Your House 14: Revenge of the 'Taker, defeating him a match to determine the number one contender to The Undertaker's WWF World Heavyweight Championship.[53] Austin won when Hart was disqualified due to assistance from The British Bulldog, earning him a title match against The Undertaker at In Your House 15: A Cold Day In Hell. Austin faced Hart once again in a street fight on April 21 episode of Raw Is War, injuring his opponent's leg with a steel chair during the bout. The match was ruled a no contest, but Austin proceeded to beat Hart while he was on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance. At A Cold Day In Hell, Austin had the Undertaker down with the Stone Cold Stunner, but distracted by timely interference on the part of Brian Pillman, Undertaker then managed to hit Austin with a Tombstone Piledriver and achieved the victory.[54]

On 26 May episode of Raw Is War, Austin partnered with the returning Shawn Michaels, as they both had a mutual enemy in the Harts. They defeated Owen Hart and The British Bulldog for the WWF Tag Team Championship, his first title in the WWF.[55] Despite being champions, the two constantly argued and ultimately faced each other in a match at King of the Ring, which ended in a double disqualification after both men attacked the referee.[56] On July 14, Michaels was forced to vacate his title due to an injury.[57] That same night a tournament was held to determine who would face Austin and a partner of his choosing for the vacant championship. Hart and Bulldog won the tournament, with Austin refusing to pick a partner and choosing to wrestle the former tag team champions by himself.[58] Late in the match, a debuting Dude Love came out to offer assistance. Austin accepted and the duo won the match and the titles, making Austin a two-time tag team champion.[59] Austin continued his feud with the Hart family, becoming embroiled in a heated rivalry with Owen Hart, who pinned a distracted Austin and secured victory for The Hart Foundation in the ten-man Tag Team match main event of In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede, where Austin was partnered with Ken Shamrock, Goldust and The Legion of Doom.[60]

At SummerSlam, Austin and Owen Hart faced each other with Hart's Intercontinental Championship on the line and an added stipulation that Austin would have to kiss Hart's buttocks if he lost.[58] During the match, Hart botched a Tombstone Piledriver and dropped Austin on his head, resulting in a legitimate broken neck and temporary paralysis for Austin. As Hart stalled by baiting the audience, Austin managed to crawl over and pin Hart using a roll-up to win the Intercontinental Championship. A visibly injured and dazed Austin was helped to his feet by a number of referees and led to the back.[61] Due to the severity of his neck injury, Austin was forced to relinquish both the Intercontinental Championship and the Tag Team Championships. On September 22, on the first-ever Raw to be broadcast from Madison Square Garden, Hart was giving a speech to the fans in attendance. During his speech, Austin entered the ring with five NYPD officers following and assaulted Hart. As it looked like Austin was going to fight the officers, Vince McMahon ran into the ring to lecture Austin about why he could not be physically able to compete. After telling McMahon that he respects the fact that he and the WWF cared, Austin attacked McMahon with a Stone Cold Stunner, leaving McMahon in shock. Austin was then arrested as part of the storyline. Austin was sidelined until Survivor Series. However, in the interim he made several appearances, one being at Badd Blood where he was involved in the finish of a match between Hart and Faarooq, which was the final match in a tournament for the Intercontinental Championship. Austin hit Faarooq with the Intercontinental Championship belt while the referee's back was turned, causing Hart to win the match.[58] Austin's motive was to keep the Intercontinental Championship around Hart's waist, as demonstrated when he interfered in Hart's matches on the October 20 and 27 episodes of Raw Is War.[58] Austin regained the Intercontinental Championship from Hart at Survivor Series.[62]

With Hart out of the way, Austin set his sights on The Rock, who stole Austin's title belt on November 17 episode of Raw Is War after Austin suffered a beating by his Nation of Domination stablemates.[58] In the weeks to come, The Rock began declaring himself to be "the best damn Intercontinental Champion ever".[58] The Rock kept possession of the title belt until D-Generation X: In Your House on December 7, when Austin defeated him to retain the title and regain possession of the title belt.[63] As Austin had used his pickup truck to aid in his victory, McMahon ordered him to defend the title against The Rock the next night on Raw Is War.[58] In an act of defiance, Austin forfeited the title to The Rock, before tossing the title belt into the Piscataqua River.[1]

Feud with Vince McMahon (1997–1999)

After Bret Hart's controversial departure for WCW, Austin and Shawn Michaels were the top stars in the company. Austin won the 1998 Royal Rumble, lastly eliminating The Rock.[64] The next night on Raw Is War, Austin interrupted Vince McMahon in his presentation of Mike Tyson, who was making a special appearance, over the objection of McMahon referring to Tyson as "the baddest man on the planet". Austin flipped off Tyson, which led to Tyson shoving Austin much to McMahon's embarrassment, who began to publicly disapprove of the prospect of Austin as his champion. Tyson was later announced as "the special enforcer" for the main event at WrestleMania XIV, although he appeared to be aligning himself with WWF World Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels' stable D-Generation X.[3][65] This led to Austin's WWF World Heavyweight Championship match against Michaels at WrestleMania XIV, which he won with help from Tyson, who turned on DX by making the deciding three-count against Michaels and later hit him with his knock-out punch. This was Michaels' last match until 2002 as he had suffered two legitimate herniated discs and another completely crushed at the hands of The Undertaker in a casket match at the Royal Rumble.[3] With Michaels' absence and winning the WWF World Heavyweight title, the Austin Era was ushered in.[3]

On the Raw Is War after Austin won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, Vince McMahon presented him with a new title belt and warned Austin that he did not approve of his rebellious nature and that things could be done "the easy way or the hard way". Austin gave his answer in the form of another Stone Cold Stunner. This led to a segment a week later where Austin had pledged a few days prior in a meeting to "play ball" with McMahon, appearing in a suit and tie, with a beaming McMahon taking a picture of himself and his new corporate champion. The entire thing was a ruse by Austin who in the course of the segment proceeded to tear off the suit, tell McMahon it was the last time he would see Austin dressed like this, punch his boss in the "corporate grapefruits" and take another picture of the two of them while McMahon was doubled over in pain. In April 1998, it appeared Austin and McMahon were going to battle out their differences in an actual match, but the match was declared a no contest when Dude Love made an appearance. This led to a match between Dude Love and Austin at Unforgiven: In Your House, where Austin hit McMahon with a steel chair, then the following month they had a rematch at Over the Edge: In Your House for the WWF Championship. Austin managed to retain the title despite McMahon acting as the referee and his "Corporate Stooges" (Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson) as timekeeper and ring announcer, respectively. McMahon continued to do everything he could to ruin Austin and he finally scored a big victory for his side at King of the Ring.[3] Austin lost the WWF Championship to Kane in a First Blood match after The Undertaker accidentally hit him with a steel chair while the ref was incapacitated, despite Austin having knocked Kane unconscious and thwarted an earlier intervention by Mankind.[3]

Austin further angered McMahon by winning back the championship the next night on Raw Is War.[3] Austin also emerged victorious against The Undertaker at SummerSlam. In response, McMahon set up a Triple Threat match at Breakdown: In Your House, where The Undertaker and Kane pinned Austin at the same time. McMahon decided to vacate the WWF Championship[3] and award it based on a match between The Undertaker and Kane, in which Austin was the guest referee on Judgment Day: In Your House. Austin refused to count for either man and attacked both towards the end of the match. McMahon later fired him, although Austin got revenge by kidnapping McMahon and dragging him to the middle of the ring at "gunpoint", which ended up being a toy gun with a scroll that read "Bang! 3:16". During that segment, McMahon also learned that Stone Cold was later re-signed by his son, Shane McMahon. In the semifinals of the Survivor Series tournament to award the vacant WWF Championship, Austin lost to Mankind after Shane double-crossed Austin. The next night on Raw Is War, Judge Mills Lane ruled that The Rock had to defend his newly won WWF Championship against Austin that night, as stipulated in the new contract Austin had signed two weeks earlier with Shane. The Undertaker interfered and hit Austin with a shovel, earning Austin a disqualification victory. However, because the title would not change hands via disqualification, The Rock still kept the championship. At Rock Bottom: In Your House, Austin defeated The Undertaker in a Buried Alive match after Kane performed a Tombstone Piledriver on The Undertaker into the grave. With this victory, Austin qualified for the 1999 Royal Rumble.

Austin's next definitive chance to exact revenge on Mr. McMahon came during the 1999 Royal Rumble match. On Raw Is War, McMahon drew Austin's entry number with the obvious intention of screwing him over. Austin drew entry number one, while McMahon drew number two thanks to WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels. During the Royal Rumble match, McMahon slipped out of the ring and into the crowd as Austin chased him down. It turned out to be a trap as McMahon led Austin into the lobby restroom where he was ambushed by members of The Corporation. Austin was injured and taken away in an ambulance. With Austin gone and not in the Rumble match, McMahon joined the announcers' table in calling the match. Later on, however, Austin returned in an ambulance and re-entered the Royal Rumble, delivering a Stone Cold Stunner to Big Boss Man and eliminating him. With the assistance of The Corporation and a last-minute interference from The Rock, Austin was eliminated by McMahon himself, who won the 1999 Royal Rumble.[3]

With McMahon turning down his number-one contender spot against The Rock, WWF Commissioner Michaels awarded Austin the title shot the next night on Raw Is War. At St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Stone Cold got a one-on-one match against McMahon in a steel cage match, with the WWF Championship opportunity at WrestleMania XV at stake.[3] During the match, Paul Wight made his debut, breaking through from under the ring and attacking Austin. Wight's attack propelled Austin into the side of the cage forcing the cage to give way and dropping Austin to the floor first, making him the victor.[3] Austin defeated The Rock at WrestleMania XV to win his third WWF Championship.[3] Austin faced The Rock in a rematch at Backlash, in which Shane McMahon was the referee. During the match, Vince McMahon approached the ring, only to hand Austin back his Smoking Skull title belt and take Shane out of the proceedings. Austin won the match when another referee made the count. Austin would lose the title to The Undertaker at Over the Edge. Due to events revolving around Vince McMahon, Stephanie and Linda McMahon made Austin the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company as part of the storyline. Vince and Shane McMahon challenged Austin to a handicap ladder match at King of the Ring with the CEO title on the line, which the duo of father and son won. The next night on Raw Is War, Austin made it clear that while he was the CEO of the company he could have a title shot at any time and place to be determined by himself. Austin made the WWF Championship match that night on Raw Is War and defeated The Undertaker to win his fourth WWF Championship. However, after he won it The Undertaker came and hit him with the title belt, leading to a First Blood match between the two at Fully Loaded, where Mr. McMahon stipulated that if Austin lost he would never be able to wrestle for the WWF Championship again, and if Austin won he would never see McMahon again. Austin won after interference from X-Pac, hitting The Undertaker with a TV camera and gave McMahon a goodbye Stone Cold Stunner.

Rivalry with Triple H and The Alliance (1999–2001)

Austin held on to the WWF Championship until SummerSlam, when he lost it to Mankind in a triple threat match also featuring Triple H.[3] Triple H was originally scheduled to win his first championship at the event, but Austin refused to drop it to him, believing Triple H was not over enough with the crowd yet, so Mankind would be used as a transitional champion, dropping the title to Triple H the next night on Raw Is War. Austin would get his rematch at No Mercy against Triple H, but he lost after The Rock accidentally struck him with a sledgehammer shot meant for Triple H. When Survivor Series rolled around, Triple H was still champion. Austin was booked into a Triple Threat match for the WWF Championship against Triple H and The Rock. However, at the event, Austin was run down by a car in the parking lot.[3] Austin then underwent neck surgery by Dr. Lloyd Youngblood, due to Austin's injury from the piledriver at SummerSlam two years prior.[66] He was away for a nine-month rehabilitation, with the car angle being used to write him off television.[3]

In April 2000, Austin appeared at Backlash, attacking Triple H and Vince McMahon to help The Rock reclaim the WWF Championship. After Austin's official return at Unforgiven, Commissioner Mick Foley led an investigation to find out who ran Austin down at Survivor Series.[3] Rikishi admitted to being the driver because "he did it for The Rock". Rikishi felt that Austin occupied the top spot in the company and with Austin gone, The Rock, a fellow Samoan, would finally be able to ascend to the top of the company. At No Mercy, Austin faced Rikishi in a No Holds Barred match. During the match, Austin attempted to drive his truck into Rikishi, who by that time was a bloody mess. Before he could, he was stopped by officials, with the match being deemed no contest. Austin was (kayfabe) arrested and later bailed out by Commissioner Foley. During a handicap match against Rikishi and Kurt Angle, Triple H came down with the apparent intention of teaming with Austin. After clearing the ring, Triple H smashed his sledgehammer over Austin's head and revealed it was actually him behind the whole scheme, devised to shield the WWF Championship from Austin and end his career. At Survivor Series, Triple H had plotted to run Austin down again during their match but his plot failed when Austin lifted Triple H's car with a forklift, then let it drop 20 feet. Austin won his third Royal Rumble in January 2001,[67] last eliminating Kane. His rivalry against Triple H ended at No Way Out in a Three Stages of Hell match, with Triple H beating Austin two falls to one.

With The Rock defeating Kurt Angle for the WWF Championship at No Way Out, Austin was set to face The Rock at WrestleMania. In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, animosity grew between Austin and The Rock, stemming from Austin's wife, Debra, being assigned to be The Rock's manager by Mr. McMahon. At WrestleMania X-Seven, Austin faced The Rock for the second time. Just before the match began, it was announced that the match had been made no disqualification. Midway during the match, Mr. McMahon made his way to ringside. He then prevented The Rock from pinning Austin on two separate occasions and provided Austin a steel chair to hit The Rock with. Austin then hit The Rock several times with the chair and pinned him to win the WWF Championship for the fifth time.[3] After the match, Austin shook hands with Mr. McMahon, turning Austin heel.

He altered his character considerably over the next few months; in a deliberate turn from the rebellious and anti-establishment character beloved by the fans, Austin became a whiny, temperamental primadonna who complained incessantly when he felt he was not getting the respect that he deserved. He also developed an infatuation with McMahon, going to great lengths to impress him, even going so far as to hug him and bring him presents. McMahon, though visibly uncomfortable and wary by the attention, was still grateful to have Austin with him instead of against him. During a steel cage match with The Rock in a rematch for the title, Triple H came down to the ring with a sledgehammer. After teasing a face turn, Triple H instead turned on The Rock. Together, Austin and Triple H viciously attacked The Rock and put him out of action. Austin further cemented his heel turn the following Thursday on SmackDown!, when, during an interview with Jim Ross about his actions at WrestleMania, he thought Ross was denouncing their friendship and then proceeded to attack and brutally assault Ross. Austin and Triple H became a team and called themselves The Two-Man Power Trip.[3]

Austin and Triple H ran roughshod over all their opponents, until coming up against The Undertaker and Kane. After defeating Kane and The Undertaker for the WWF Tag Team Championship at Backlash, they held the tag team titles, the WWF Championship (Austin) and the Intercontinental Championship (Triple H) all at once. At Judgment Day, Triple H lost his Intercontinental title to Kane. The following night on Raw Is War, Austin and Triple H wrestled against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit with the tag team titles on the line. Midway through the match, Triple H tore his quadriceps muscle.[3] As planned, the team lost the tag team titles at the end of the match when Triple H accidentally hit Austin in the stomach with a sledgehammer, but the injury to Triple H, which kept him out for the remainder of the year, forced the WWF to go in another direction. Austin officially broke up The Power Trip on that week's SmackDown!, criticizing Triple H for his injury and for hitting him with the sledgehammer. He continued to align himself with McMahon and began feuding with Jericho and Benoit by himself, with Kurt Angle joining the group as Triple H's replacement. For most of the next month leading to King of the Ring, he repeatedly fell victim to a double submission involving Jericho's Walls of Jericho and Benoit's Crippler Crossface. Though he did not wrestle as he was nursing a hand injury, he continued to feud with the reigning tag team champions, eventually costing them the titles on the SmackDown! preceding King of the Ring against the Dudley Boyz. At King of the Ring, Austin defeated Jericho and Benoit in a Triple Threat match, despite interference from the debuting Booker T. Stone Cold suffered a back injury during the match after Booker T dropped Stone Cold through the announcer's table.

After King of the Ring, Austin was left without a feud as Benoit was lost for the next year after neck surgery and Jericho moved on to other things. He began a small spat with Angle over who was McMahon's biggest supporter. Meanwhile, the purchase of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) by McMahon began to bear fruit as The Invasion began. McMahon was not able to fight off the invading WCW wrestlers, and when they formed an alliance with a group of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) alumni that were signed to the WWF and both Shane and Stephanie McMahon were now aligned against their father, McMahon's empire began to crumble and he had zero help from his two biggest stars at the time. Austin made it known that he was against teaming with Angle, whom Austin saw as both a threat to his WWF Championship, as well as an annoying tag-along. Finally, a frustrated McMahon called Austin out and demanded that he bring "the old Stone Cold" back, even going as far as asking Austin to give him a Stone Cold Stunner, so he could effectively captain a team of WWF wrestlers in a ten-man tag team match at the upcoming InVasion pay-per-view in July. A dejected Austin initially refused, but on the following episode of Raw Is War he returned to his old ways and hit Stunners on every member of the Alliance, turning face again. At InVasion, Austin captained the WWF team consisting of himself, Angle, Jericho, and The Undertaker and Kane against the team of WCW's Booker T and Diamond Dallas Page and ECW's Rhyno and The Dudley Boyz. Late in the match, however, as Angle had Booker in the ankle lock, Austin turned on Angle by Stunning him and joined the Alliance, turning Austin heel once again.[3] The reason why Austin did this was that he felt McMahon was grooming Angle to take over his spot, that he was trying to get in touch with The Rock to return, and that he himself was "unappreciated" when McMahon insisted that he return to the old Austin. Austin was immediately made the Alliance's new leader and began to feud with Angle over his WWF Championship.

Austin lost his title to Angle at Unforgiven by submitting to the ankle lock, but began badgering Angle for a rematch due to his hand being under the ropes. Austin received that rematch on October 8 episode of Raw and won the title after WWF Commissioner William Regal betrayed Angle and joined the Alliance.[3] Austin then began feuding with Alliance member Rob Van Dam, who was the only member of the Alliance to be cheered by the fans despite the villainous tactics of the group. Austin faced Angle and Van Dam at No Mercy later that month and won by pinning the latter. On October 29 episode of Raw, Angle joined the Alliance and became the second most powerful wrestler in the group. Survivor Series was coming up[3] and it was ultimately decided to have a winner-take-all Survivor Series tag match with the winning team becoming the surviving entity. Austin was chosen to captain team Alliance, which consisted of Angle, Shane McMahon, Van Dam, and Booker T, against Team WWF which was captained by The Rock, who had returned the week following Austin's betrayal of the WWF at InVasion. The Rock's team included Jericho, Kane, The Undertaker and Big Show.

At Survivor Series, Austin was one of the last two wrestlers in the match, with The Rock being the other, and was the last remaining hope for the Alliance to survive. Late in the match, Austin attempted to win the match with the Rock Bottom, the Rock's finishing maneuver but failed to earn a three count. He then kicked out of his own Stone Cold Stunner, which the Rock nailed on him, and attacked two referees including Alliance referee Nick Patrick. With the officials down, Angle ran to the ring and picked up Austin's title belt. He then entered the ring and struck Austin with it, betraying the Alliance and enabling The Rock to hit the Rock Bottom on Austin for the pin and the victory. With that, the InVasion ended, the Alliance was forced to disband, and Austin's future in the company was in question. Eventually, McMahon decided he was going to strip Austin of the title and award it to Angle for his actions. Just before he could, Ric Flair returned to the WWF for the first time since his 1993 departure and announced he was now half owner of the company. Austin returned moments after this announcement and attacked Angle and McMahon for their actions. He was then handed his title belt by Flair and celebrated with him in the ring, turning him face once again.

Flair then decided that Austin would face off against The Rock, who was still in possession of the former WCW World Heavyweight Championship (which was renamed the World Championship), at the upcoming Vengeance pay-per-view in December to unify the titles. However, since Austin was still feuding with Angle and Rock had an unresolved feud with Jericho over his own title, McMahon overruled Flair and said that both men would wrestle their respective rivals for their respective titles at Vengeance, with the winners to face each other and the winner of that match to be crowned Undisputed WWF Champion. Austin won his first match by defeating Angle and faced World Champion Jericho in the unification match. Austin lost the match and his title after McMahon and Booker T interfered. Immediately after, Austin and Booker T began feuding which led to various fights in strange venues, such as a church confessional, a bingo hall and a supermarket.

Final feuds and retirement (2002–2003)

In the 2002 Royal Rumble on January 20, Austin entered at number nineteen and lasted until the final four, but was eliminated by Kurt Angle. He returned to the ring and hit the remaining competitors with a steel chair.[68] On January 28 episode of Raw, he defeated Angle to earn a shot at Chris Jericho's Undisputed WWF Championship at No Way Out.[69]

In the build-up to No Way Out, McMahon had signed the New World Order (nWo), who immediately began a feud with Austin. Austin refused a beer gift from the nWo, and they cost him his match against Jericho later that night.[70] Problems were beginning to surface backstage, however, as Austin was reported as being unhappy regarding Hulk Hogan's return to the WWF. He was reported as refusing to lose to Hogan in a proposed match at WrestleMania X8, while Hogan reportedly told McMahon the same regarding losing to Austin. In recent years, Austin has this to say about why the match never took place: "I guarantee you, if my head had been at a little different place, then by all rights, a [match] should have happened", Austin told JR. "Physically and mentally where I was at, I could go. I think Hogan probably would have been a step or two behind that. That wasn't acceptable to me, and I didn't want to slow myself down. I say that with all due respect to Hulk Hogan because he had a hellacious run. That was my thought process back in the day. I didn't think we could deliver".[71] Consequently, the match was re-billed as The Rock defeating Hogan, whilst Austin defeated Scott Hall, climaxing his feud with the nWo.

Austin no-showed the Raw after WrestleMania and took a week-long break without the company's consent, citing exhaustion. McMahon claimed his actions caused fury among fans who had paid to see him that night. Austin returned on April 1, 2002 episode of Raw, the first of the new "brand extension" era. The show was centered on which show he would sign with, and he ultimately chose Raw. Austin entered a feud with The Undertaker that resulted in a number-one contender's match for the Undisputed WWF Championship at Backlash, which Austin lost despite having his foot on the rope when he was pinned. He would later be betrayed by Big Show, who went on to rejoin the nWo and Ric Flair. Austin then defeated Big Show and Flair in a handicap match at Judgment Day. In a May 2002 interview on WWE's Internet program, Byte This!, Austin stunned the company and fans by launching a verbal attack on the direction the company was heading in and slated the creative team for not using him the way he felt they previously did.[72] The commentators struggled to keep Austin's opinions on a neutral wavelength, leading to the WWE apologizing to fans for the outburst and stated it was not part of Austin's current or upcoming storylines. McMahon responded a week later on the same show playing down the outburst, claiming that Austin was merely the type of wrestler who was occasionally difficult to work with.

The WWE rehired Eddie Guerrero for Austin to feud with, while also prepping Austin for a feud with Brock Lesnar. However, Austin balked at the proposition that he lose a King of the Ring qualifying match on Raw to Lesnar, and ultimately walked out of the company.[73] Austin later explained that he thought hot-shotting a rookie made Austin look weak, and airing the match on free TV with no build-up did not give Lesnar a proper stage for such a big win over a star of Austin's magnitude. Further fanning the flames amongst Austin's growing number of detractors was a well-publicized domestic dispute incident between Austin and his wife Debra (see below).[73]

After Austin again no-showed June 10 episode of Raw, his storylines were dropped.[73] Austin walked out again, publicly stating he felt bad storylines were presented to him by the creative team. This time his departure was for good.[73] McMahon, along with longtime Austin supporter and real-life friend Jim Ross, buried Austin on WWE programming, referring to him as "taking his ball and going home" because he was not getting his way, whilst also explaining to the fans that neither he nor Ross was able to persuade Austin to change his mind. McMahon insisted that Austin owed an apology to all the fans across the world, especially those who paid solely to see him that night. McMahon toasted to Austin's career with a beer thanking him for all his hard work nonetheless. The same night, Austin's entrance theme was played during an in-ring segment by Ric Flair, but it was transitioned to Eddie Guerrero's theme and he entered the arena. The Rock also made an appearance on Raw that night, despite being drafted to SmackDown!, and announced his frustrations towards Austin and threw a can of beer at McMahon. Austin's merchandise continued to sell greatly in the weeks following his departure, however; with no sign of a return likely to be seen, the company stopped marketing his character and his merchandise and removed his profile from

For the remainder of 2002, Austin kept a low profile and did not make any public appearances. It was reported, however, by the end of the year, Austin and McMahon met and resolved their differences. He then agreed to return to the company in early 2003. In an interview with WWE Raw Magazine, he announced deep regret over the situation that led to his departure and the way in which he had left, and deeper regret over inaccurate speculation regarding his alleged grudges held against other WWE wrestlers, claiming he had no problem with Scott Hall rejoining the company. However, he admitted he still held strong reservations about his singles match with Hall at WrestleMania only lasting seven minutes and felt the build-up to the match did not live up to the expectations of his fans or Hall's, and was angered by speculation suggesting he disagreed with Kevin Nash re-joining the company, insisting he and Nash have always been good friends. In an interview with Vince McMahon on his podcast in 2014, Austin revealed for the first time that McMahon had fined him $650,000 upon his return, but he was able to lower the amount to $250,000.[74]

Austin confessed he had a major rift with Triple H's role in the company upon his return in 2002 but insisted as of 2003 they resolved their issues. In addition, he claimed a brief dispute with The Rock was resolved quickly upon his return, and that none of his disputes with the talent roster continued or played the major part in his departure. In February, Austin returned at No Way Out by defeating Eric Bischoff. Austin would wrestle only one match between then and WrestleMania, in another short match against Bischoff on Raw. He entered a feud with The Rock, who returned about the same time as a smug, Hollywood sell-out heel. The Rock was offended that the WWE fans voted for Austin in a WWE Magazine poll to determine the 'Superstar of the Decade'. He expressed his frustration at having never defeated Austin at WrestleMania, and challenged Austin to a match at WrestleMania XIX. Austin was then defeated by The Rock at WrestleMania XIX, in Austin's final match.[75]

The night after on Raw, Austin was kayfabe fired by Bischoff on medical grounds. The next day, Austin gave an interview on officially announcing his retirement from wrestling, although he stated that he and Vince McMahon had reached an agreement which would see Austin appear in a non-wrestling role on a weekly basis. In reference to Bischoff firing him on Raw that week, he said that although firing was for storyline purposes, he admitted the medical problems read out on Raw were legitimate, and mainly related to his injury sustained at SummerSlam in a match with Owen Hart in August 1997, which had begun to seriously plague him since late 2001.

Sheriff of Raw (2003–2004)

The following month, Austin began his non-wrestling career with WWE and began a fresh storyline when he was brought back by Linda McMahon as the Raw Co-General Manager. He continued this storyline for the remainder of the year, still showing wrestling moves including the Stone Cold Stunner and several exchanges of punches and kicks, although limiting regularity of these being performed. On November 17, 2003, episode of Raw, Austin was "fired" from Raw as the result of a stipulation in a match at Survivor Series where Austin's hand-picked team of wrestlers failed to beat Bischoff's team of wrestlers. After Survivor Series, Mick Foley would become the new Co-General Manager of Raw, and began a (kayfabe) petition to have Austin re-instated. Austin quickly returned to WWE television before the end of 2003 when he was part of the Tribute to the Troops taped live in front of U.S. troops in Iraq, posing and attacking Mr. McMahon. He returned to Raw on December 29 as its "Sheriff", giving a Stone Cold Stunner to Eric Bischoff and rehiring Shawn Michaels, who had just been "fired" by Bischoff.

Austin appeared on-and-off as 2004 began, culminating in him being the special guest referee for the Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg match at WrestleMania XX.

Sporadic appearances (2005–present)

Austin made his first appearance on WWE programming in a year at WrestleMania 21 where he was confronted by Roddy Piper in Piper's Pit, until Carlito interrupted to insult both. This resulted in Carlito receiving a stunner from Austin and Piper throwing him out of the ring. The segment ended with Austin and Piper celebrating with beer until Austin gave Piper a Stone Cold Stunner as well. Austin was involved in the concluding segment at ECW One Night Stand in which he had a beer bash with the ECW locker room and brawled with the anti-ECW invaders, led by Eric Bischoff. He returned at Raw Homecoming, delivering Stone Cold Stunners to Mr. McMahon, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Linda McMahon.[76] An angle including Jim Ross being fired led to a match in which Austin agreed to face Jonathan Coachman at Taboo Tuesday, with the stipulation of Ross regaining his announcing job had Austin won and Austin losing his own job had he lost. Austin hurt his back prior to the match and could not wrestle unless he was heavily medicated, so the match was canceled. To explain away his failure to appear at Taboo Tuesday, Vince McMahon said on Raw that Austin had been involved in an accident, thus preventing him from competing. Batista substituted for Austin, defeating Coachman along with Vader and Goldust. The stipulation was dropped due to Austin not competing.[77] He returned to WWE briefly to face John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) in a beer drinking contest at March 18, 2006, episode of Saturday Night's Main Event XXXII. Austin inducted Bret Hart into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 1, 2006.[3]

Austin returned to WWE programming (appearing on Raw, ECW, and SmackDown!) in March 2007, partially to promote his starring role in the release of WWE Films' production, The Condemned. On March 31, 2007, Austin inducted Jim Ross into the WWE Hall of Fame. At WrestleMania 23, Austin, as a special guest referee, officiated the match between Bobby Lashley and Umaga. The stipulation for the match was that if Lashley lost, Donald Trump's head would be shaved, and if Umaga lost, Mr. McMahon's head would suffer that fate. During the match, Austin delivered Stone Cold Stunners to Umaga, Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Donald Trump. Lashley won the match and Trump, Austin and Lashley then shaved Mr. McMahon's head. Austin ended by hitting the Stone Cold Stunner on McMahon, as well as Donald Trump.[78] He then appeared in a video on June 11 episode of Raw as part of "Mr. McMahon's Appreciation Night", where he shared his thoughts on his past feuds with McMahon.[79] Austin appeared on August 18, 2007 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, as a possible illegitimate child of Mr. McMahon and stunned McMahon and Jonathan Coachman. He then appeared at SummerSlam to aid Matt Hardy in battling Montel Vontavious Porter in a beer drinking contest. The match ended in a no contest after Austin handed a beer to MVP and gave him the Stone Cold Stunner.[80] Austin made another appearance at Cyber Sunday, where he guest refereed a World Heavyweight Championship match between Batista and The Undertaker. On November 5 episode of Raw, Austin made an appearance to confront Santino Marella for criticizing The Condemned.[81] The argument ended as Marella received a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin, who then walked backstage only to return with a Budweiser beer truck to hose down Marella and his valet Maria with beer.[81] Austin appeared on the Raw 15th Anniversary special, attacking Vince McMahon. On October 26, 2008, at Cyber Sunday, Austin was the special guest referee during a match between Batista and Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship.[82]

On January 12, 2009 on Raw, Austin was announced to be the first member of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2009.[83] He was inducted by his long-term on-screen rival Vince McMahon, who referred to Austin as "the greatest WWE [wrestler] of all time". During the induction, Austin said he was officially closing the door on his wrestling career and starting a new chapter in his life.

Austin appeared as the guest host of Raw on March 15, 2010, episode, where he moderated a contract signing between Vince McMahon and Bret Hart for their match at WrestleMania XXVI. In early 2011, Austin was announced as the head trainer and host for the revival of Tough Enough. On March 7 episode of Raw, Austin interrupted the contract signing of the special guest referee to the Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler match at WrestleMania XXVII, originally scheduled to be John "Bradshaw" Layfield; Austin attacked Layfield and signed the contract instead.[84] Although Lawler won by submission, the Anonymous Raw General Manager reversed the decision and disqualified Lawler, claiming that Austin had "overstepped his authority". He appeared on Raw the following night with the cast from Tough Enough, while also getting into an altercation with The Miz and Alex Riley. On June 6 episode of Raw, Austin appeared to declare Andy Leavine as the winner of Tough Enough. He also served as the special guest referee in the evening's tag team main event, John Cena and Alex Riley against The Miz and R-Truth, hitting Miz with a Stone Cold Stunner and aiding Cena. However, the Anonymous Raw General Manager chimed in and the Anonymous Raw General Manager's ringside mouthpiece Michael Cole announced that since Austin had abused his authority as referee, The Miz and R-Truth had won via disqualification. Austin did not take kindly to the Anonymous Raw General Manager overturning his decision and Cole also received a Stone Cold Stunner, which was followed with another Attitude Adjustment courtesy of Cena. Austin and Cena closed the show, celebrating with a beer bash. Austin appeared as the special guest General Manager on the "WWE All-Stars" episode of Raw. During the show, Austin destroyed the Anonymous Raw General Manager's laptop by running over it with his ATV.

Austin appeared at WrestleMania XXX on April 6, 2014, with Hulk Hogan and The Rock in the opening segment.[85] Austin made an appearance on October 19, 2015 episode of Raw, introducing The Undertaker and promoting the WrestleMania 32 event.[86] Austin again appeared on Raw the following week, where he promoted the WWE 2K16 video game in a backstage segment.[87]

At WrestleMania 32 on April 3, 2016, Austin, alongside Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels, confronted The League of Nations, where Austin delivered a Stone Cold Stunner to Rusev and King Barrett. While Austin was celebrating with Michaels and Foley, The New Day tried to convince Austin to dance with them in celebration. While Austin reluctantly at first danced along, he attacked Xavier Woods with a Stone Cold Stunner.[88]

On Raw's 25th anniversary episode on January 22, 2018, Austin appeared and performed a Stone Cold Stunner on Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon.[89] On July 22, 2019, Austin appeared on the Raw Reunion episode and raised a toast alongside Triple H, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and various other fellow wrestlers of his era. On September 9, 2019, Austin made an appearance on Raw at Madison Square Garden for the contract signing between Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman. He also stunned A.J. Styles.

Other media

Acting and hosting

Austin had guest roles on Celebrity Deathmatch and Seasons 4 and 5 of CBS's Nash Bridges, where he played San Francisco Police Department Inspector Jake Cage. He has appeared on V.I.P and Dilbert. His motion picture debut was in a supporting role as Guard Dunham in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard. Austin had his first starring film role, as Jack Conrad, a dangerous convict awaiting execution in a Salvadoran prison, who takes part in an illegal deathmatch game that is being broadcast to the public in the 2007 action film The Condemned.

In 2010, Austin appeared in The Expendables as Dan Paine the right-hand man for the primary antagonist of the film James Munroe, played by Eric Roberts, and bodyguard with Gary Daniels who plays The Brit. Shortly after Austin re-teamed with Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels in Hunt to Kill.

It was his last American theatrical release film until 2013. Austin appeared as Hugo Panzer on television series Chuck. He has also starred in Damage, The Stranger, Tactical Force, Knockout, Recoil, Maximum Conviction, and The Package.[90]

In April 2013, Austin started a weekly podcast named The Steve Austin Show which is family-friendly, while his second podcast The Steve Austin Show – Unleashed! is more adult-oriented. Both shows are available at PodcastOne.[91] As of May 2015, the podcasts averaged 793,000 downloads a week and had nearly 200 million overall downloads.[92] In February 2018, Austin announced that the "Unleashed" version of the podcast had been dropped and merged with the family-friendly version in order to appeal to more sponsors.[93] The podcast has also transitioned to a live broadcast for the WWE Network (podcasted after a short exclusivity period) with monthly specials since 2014.[94]

Austin hosted the reality competition show Redneck Island on CMT, which began in June 2012[95] and concluded with its fifth season in April 2016.[96] In July 2014, his reality competition show Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge premiered on CMT.[97] The show entered into its fifth season in September 2017.[98]

Video games

Stone Cold has appeared in almost all of the WWF/E video games from 1998's WWF War Zone onwards, with the only exceptions being WWE SmackDown vs. Raw, WWE Day of Reckoning and WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009. He also appears in WCW: The Main Event.[99] Austin has also appeared as the cover athlete for several video games, including WWE 2K16.[100]


Feature films

Year Title Role Notes
1999Beyond The MatHimselfDocumentary
2005The Longest YardGuard DunhamFilm debut
2007The CondemnedJack Conrad
2009DamageJohn BricknerDirect-to-video
2010The ExpendablesDan Paine
The StrangerThe StrangerDirect-to-video
Hunt to KillJim RhodesDirect-to-video
Whoop AssHimselfShort Movie
2011RecoilRyan VarrettDirect-to-video
KnockoutDan BarnesDirect-to-video
Tactical ForceTateDirect-to-video
2012Maximum ConvictionManningDirect-to-video
2013The PackageTommy WickDirect-to-video
Grown Ups 2Tommy Cavanaugh
2014Chain of CommandRay PetersDirect-to-video
2015 Smosh: The Movie Himself


Year Title Role Notes
1998–2002Celebrity DeathmatchHimself
1999–2000Nash BridgesInspector Jake Cage
2005The Bernie Mac ShowHimself
2010ChuckHugo Panzer
2011Tough Enough Host/Trainer
2012–2016Redneck Island Host
2014–2017Steve Austin's Broken Skull ChallengeHost
2019Straight Up Steve AustinHost

Personal life

Austin dated Kathryn Burrhus throughout high school and college, and the two married on November 24, 1990. Nonetheless, Austin pursued a relationship with Jeanie Clarke ("Lady Blossom"), with whom he was working. His marriage to Burrhus was quickly annulled on August 7, 1992,[101] and Austin and Clarke married on December 18, 1992. Together, they have two daughters, Stephanie (born in 1992), and Cassidy (born in 1996). Cassidy lives with her mother in England, while Stephanie resides in Los Angeles.[102] Austin also adopted Jade, Clarke's daughter with former boyfriend Chris Adams.[103] Austin and Clarke divorced on May 10, 1999. Jade lives in the U.S. with her husband and son.[102][104]

On September 13, 2000, Austin married wrestling valet Debra Marshall.[105] Austin filed for divorce from Marshall on July 22, 2002, and the divorce was finalized on February 5, 2003.[106]

In 2007, the Wrestling Observer newsletter reported that Austin legally changed his real name (Steven Williams) to his wrestling name Steve Austin.[107] In late 2009, Austin married his fourth wife, Kristin, with whom he splits his time between his home in Marina Del Rey, California and his property in Nevada that he has named the Broken Skull Ranch 2.0.[108][109] Austin owns a ranch near Tilden, Texas named the Broken Skull Ranch.

Domestic violence cases

On June 15, 2002, Debra Marshall called the police to the couple's home and told officers that Austin had beaten her on the head, back, and legs then stormed out of the house before police arrived. According to police reports, Debra suffered a swollen cheek and eye and bruises to her back and shoulder.[110] Austin called the house while officers were there and was told he was in trouble but declined a request to return to the house or report to the police station.[111] On August 14, 2002, Austin was arrested and charged with domestic abuse. He pleaded no contest on November 25, 2002, and was given a year's probation, a $1,000 fine, and ordered to carry out 80 hours of community service.[112] Marshall told Fox News that Austin beat her three times and that the 2002 incident was the result of roid rage.[113] She also stated that WWE knew of the abuse, working to conceal the bruises on her face, and kept her from revealing that Austin hit her, as it would cost the company millions of dollars.[114]

On March 26, 2004, Austin allegedly assaulted his girlfriend Tess Broussard during a dispute at his Texas home, according to a San Antonio Police Department report. Broussard claimed that Austin grabbed her and, after she began struggling, eventually threw her to the ground. Broussard landed on her hands and knees and later told officers she had injured her right hand. Broussard provided a written statement to police, who photographed her injuries.[115]

Professional wrestling style and persona

During his early years as a wrestler, Austin was a technical wrestler. However, after Owen Hart accidentally injured Austin's neck in 1997, Austin changed his style from technical to brawler.[116] His most famous finishing move is the Stone Cold Stunner, or simply Stunner.[117] During his time as The Ringmaster, he used the Million Dollar Dream as finisher, since it was Ted DiBiase's finisher. During his time in WCW, Austin used the Stun Gun as finisher.[118]

One of Austin's taunts during the Attitude Era was to show the middle finger.[119] In August 2001, Austin cut a promo, debuting his catchphrase "What?", which fans have used when they want to mock wrestlers during promos.[120][121]

Championships and accomplishments

See also


  1. Austin won the title for the first time when it was still known as WWF World Heavyweight Championship, but it was shortened to simply WWF Championship after he was presented a new championship belt the following night on Raw Is War.
  2. Championship not officially recognized by WWE.


  1. ""Stone Cold" Steve Austin profile". WWE. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  2. Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Stone Cold Truth (p.55)
  3. ""Stone Cold" Steve Austin bio". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  4. Steve Austin. The Stone Cold Truth (pp. 10, 12–13),
  5. Sammond, Nicholas, page 6
  6. Oliver, Greg (2007). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Shame: The Heels. ECW Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-55022-759-8.
  7. Stephen Kelly, Adam (December 1, 2014). "'Stone Cold' Says So: Steve Austin on Vince McMahon, the WWE and Hulk Hogan". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  8. Caldwell, James (April 3, 2012). ""Yes!" replacing "What?" chants?, Stone Cold responds". Pro Wrestling Torch. TDH Communications Inc. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  9. "Vince McMahon interview". Off the Record with Michael Landsberg. June 1, 2004. 3 minutes in. TSN. He [Austin] surpassed all of [Hulk] Hogan's records... in terms of merchandising and licensing, and pay-per-view and live events. Without question the most popular performer we've ever had.
  10. "WWE's Paul Heyman". The Steve Austin Show. Episode 185. January 12, 2015. 64 minutes in. PodcastOne. Retrieved January 20, 2015. [Austin was] the hottest thing in the history of WWE. Not Hulk Hogan, not Bruno Sammartino...nobody sold as much merchandise as [him], nobody sold as much pay-per-view as [him], nobody was drawing the gross dollars at these live events as [was] Stone Cold Steve Austin.
  11. WrestleMania XXIV: WWE Hall of Fame 2008 (bonus feature; Ric Flair's induction speech) (Digital Video Disc). WWE Home Video. May 20, 2008. Austin is the biggest star in the history of WWE. I'm so tired of saying [Hulk] Hogan's the biggest star of all time – it ends tonight.
  12. "John Cena interview". Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Season 7. Episode 43. March 19, 2009. American Broadcasting Company. 'The Texas Rattlesnake' [Steve Austin], he certainly is the biggest name in the history of our business. [Asked if Austin is 'bigger than Hulk Hogan'] Austin 3:16 is the biggest marquee in the history of the WWE.
  13. Soscia, Brian (December 20, 2011). "Christmas With WWE's CM Punk 2011". Beneath The Mat. Retrieved May 4, 2014. Austin [is] the biggest star in the wrestling business, period. Bigger than Hulk Hogan, by a landslide.
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  • Sammond, Nicholas (2005). Steel Chair to the Head: The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-3438-5.
  • Foley, Mick (2000). Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweat Socks. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-103101-4.
  • PSI Staff (2007). Pro Wrestling Illustrated Presents: 2007 Wrestling Almanac & Book of Facts. "Wrestling's Historical Cards". Kappa Publishing.
  • Austin, Steve; Ross, Jim (2003). The Stone Cold Truth. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-7434-7720-8.
Preceded by
"King Mabel"
King of the Ring tournament winner
Succeeded by
Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Preceded by
Shawn Michaels
The Rock
Royal Rumble winner
1997 & 1998
Succeeded by
Vince McMahon
Triple H
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