|Photo Credit: WWE.com|
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Three Favorite Matches: vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13, vs. The Rock at WrestleMania X-7, with Triple H vs. Chris Jericho and He Who Shall Not Be Named on RAW in June 2001
Three Favorite Moments: "Austin 3:16 says I just whupped your ass!", defeating Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XIV, supermarket brawl with Booker T
Brandon Stroud is going to mock me for this, but I was barely aware of Steve Austin before he came to the WWF. When I was younger, all I knew about WCW was that Ric Flair wrestled there regularly and that Hulk Hogan took the money and ran there when the steroid shit hit the fan, but apparently, Austin was doing some really killer stuff with Brian Pillman and Ricky Steamboat and even Flair himself. So, it stands to reason that maybe I'd have enjoyed that run and appreciated him more if I was a viewer of WCW in those days.
That being said, the guy is #2 on my list of favorite wrestlers ever with me only having seen his run in the WWF, so you know he meant something to me. He was the guy who singlehandedly kept my interest in wrestling until Rocky came into his own, making the WWF must-watch at the main event level while Vince Russo did his best to shit up the undercard with bullshit weaksauce worked shoots that tried to capitalize on the worked shoot stuff that Austin was using to make himself THE MOTHERFUCKING MAN. He had an attitude, hell, he embodied Attitude, and for that, he helped make the WWF a boatload of money, but more importantly, he helped entertain me. That's far more important in my book.
You gotta understand something about me back in the late '90s. I was a bookish nerd, a devout Catholic who listened to everything his high school theology teachers told him, and always wondered about why people broke rules and why people just couldn't live under the letter of the law. I dare say that when Austin broke out, he started to change my world view, because what he was doing was so fucking cool. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to latch onto the cool guy, so in a way, Austin made me the person I am today, a guy who isn't really afraid to question authority or wonder if the world might be a better off place with a little bit of chaos here and there. It may sound pretentious, but I don't give a shit. It's all true.
And on top of that, it's hard not to admire a guy who could back it up in the ring. I mean, Hogan was all well and good and all, but his matches were very limited at times. Yeah, it was the role he was asked to play, but there comes a time when it gets old seeing Hogan go up against giant, immobile guys who can't move, especially when the Intercontinental and Tag Title scenes were so fresh, athletic and vibrant. With Austin, he was following in the footsteps of maybe the most athletic top guys in WWF history to that point, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. He didn't come along and replace them as much as he shattered their auras as "the guy", but he also didn't do it by doddering around like Hogan either. Even after he had gotten hurt at the hands of an accidental botched piledriver by Owen Hart, Austin still was able to work some really good, really fun brawls against guys like Triple H, Mick Foley and The Rock.
So there it stands, my fandom for Steve Austin still remains at a fever pitch, especially to the point where if he came back for one more match, I may just lose my shit, especially if that match is against CM Punk, which is something that everyone is hoping happens. I'm never going to forget Austin's impact on my life or on my viewing habits as a wrestling fan. And who knows, one of these days, maybe I'll seek out his WCW and ECW runs and grow to appreciate him even more. Maybe that'll get B-Stroud off my back.