Top 5 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin Moments
Today is a special day among wrestling fans–“Stone Cold” Steve Austin Day (3/16, get it?). In honor of the man and his day, let’s take a look back at the five greatest “Stone Cold” moments in his WWF/E career.
5) Austin Wins His First WWF Championship
A changing of the guard took place on March 29, 1998. Austin defeated Shawn Michaels to win the WWF Championship at WrestleMania XIV. Michaels left active competition for several years after this match to nurse a back injury, leaving Austin as the undisputed top draw in the company. His title run also sparked the beginning of a shift in the Monday Night Wars, helping WWF overcome WCW in a years-long ratings battle and, eventually, buy out their competitor.
4) Owen Hart Breaks Austin’s Neck
The event: SummerSlam 1997. Austin is booked to win his first WWF singles championship that night, beating Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. The match is best known as the match in which Hart broke Austin’s neck with a botched piledriver. After enough stalling, Austin was able to roll up Hart to get the pin and win the match. However, Austin’s injury was so severe that he had to be carried back to the locker room by officials. He would also have to vacate the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships because he would be out of action for three months.
Austin’s broken neck and subsequent title vacation set up our #3 moment.
3) Austin Stuns McMahon for the First Time
Ever wanted to tell your boss where to stick it? Austin became known for telling Vince McMahon what he thought, and it all began on September 22, 1997, in Madison Square Garden. That night, Austin was stripped of his titles. He tried to attack Owen Hart while Owen was giving a speech in the ring. Austin nearly attacked a policeman before Vince stepped in to diffuse the situation. Vinny Mac got stunned for his efforts, and Austin was hauled off by New York’s finest. The feud is still one of wrestling’s most legendary and provided some of the greatest material during the Attitude Era.
2) WrestleMania XIII: Austin Goes the Distance with Bret Hart
This match solidified Austin as a main eventer in the WWF. His feud with Bret “Hitman” Hart culminated with this submission match. In a rare double turn, Hart became a heel and Austin became a face after Hart continued to attack Austin after he passed out and the match had ended. One year later, Hart would be out of the WWF and Austin would be the company’s franchise player.
1) The Genesis of “Austin 3:16″
King of the Ring 1996 is where it all began. Hunter Hearst-Helmsley was originally booked to win the tournament. That all changed after the Madison Square Garden incident. “Triple-H” was temporarily made a jobber to the stars as punishment for his part in the incident, opening the door for Austin to begin his rise to superstardom. Austin beat Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the tournament final. In his coronation speech, Austin coined the “Austin 3:16″ phrase, signaling the start to the WWF’s Attitude Era.
Austin explains how “Austin 3:16″ came about in this clip.