Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Looking back at Steve Austin's best matches

Rumors have floated for years about a return of Steve Austin to the ring. The long time veteran retired from the ring in 2003, but the Texas native is still in good shape. On his Steve Austin Show podcast, the former Stone Cold has discussed a return on more than one occasion, but outside a few non-wrestling appearances on WWE events has done little in the wrestling world. Instead his focus has been on reality shows like “Redneck Island” and “Broken Skull Challenge” as well as his twice a week podcast. On a recent show, Paul Heyman even tried to goad the Texas Rattlesnake into a match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXXII.

Whether or not Steve Austin ever wrestles another match, the man born Steven Williams has a resume of great matches to look back on. From his early Texas days to WCW to his short run in ECW all the way through his superstardom in WWF, Austin brought a fiery resolve to the wrestling ring. While his future may be in question, he wrestled tons of great matches. Here are five of his best.

Note: I have included clips where I could find them, but all five of these battles are now available on the WWE Network with far superior quality.

Image Credit: WWE.com
Stone Cold Steve Austin versus The Rock

At Wrestlemania XV, two of the biggest stars in wrestling history met. The Rock was a dominant champion, backed by Vince McMahon’s Corporation and protected by nefarious tactics. But Austin’s title shot served to ruin The Rock’s day. After a brutal contest, Steve Austin came out on top and won his second Wrestlemania main event. By shows end, he even stood tall over his arch-nemesis Vince McMahon.

The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin... by BruceSpringsteenNorway
“Stunning” Steve Austin and “Flyin” Brian Pillman vs. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson

After just a couple years in the business, Steve Austin found his way to WCW. After a few months as a singles competitor, he started teaming with Brian Pillman as the Hollywood Blondes. The team quickly took off and soon were a top heel team. When Flair returned from his WWF run, the Blondes took to mocking Flair’s age. (Keep in mind this was over twenty years ago.) This led to a classic three falls match at Clash of the Champions 23 against Flair and long time ally Arn Anderson that proved a classic of tag team wrestling. This one needs to be seen to be believed.

Ric Flair & Arn Anderson vs The Hollywood... by zep81videos
Two out of three falls: Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Triple H

No Way Out 2001 ended a months-long feud between Stone Cold and the man behind a hit-and-run attack that put Austin out for nearly a year. The feud with Triple H was brutal and the only way it could end was with an equally brutal two out of three falls match. Because of this, WWE debuted the Three Stages of Hell, with each fall having a different stipulation. By the time they passed a singles match, a street fight and ended inside a steel cage, neither man could stand. Ultimately, it came down to Triple H falling atop Austin after both bashed each other with weapons to end a brilliantly built forty minute battle.

Stone Cold Steve Austin versus The Rock

Not a typo, as Steve Austin faced The Rock in two Wrestlemania main events and both were classics. This meeting took place at Wrestlemania X7 and both men walked in as fan favorites. The battle was built around two legendary competitors that wouldn’t quit against their foe. Austin and Rock through their own finishers without success, each other’s finishers without success and tore the house down in a classic battle. But in the end it took an unbelievable alliance to give Austin his second “Wrestlemania” victory over the Rock.

Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Bret Hart

Wrestlemania 13 was far from the best WWF pay-per-view of all time. But one match shined past everything else on the card as the devilish Austin took on the virtuous Bret Hart in a submission match. But in the midst of the brutal contest between the two men, something fascinating happened. Hart, already upset with the more bloodthirsty fans of the Attitude Era, locked Austin in painful holds and landed cheap hits to get ahead. But Stone Cold refused to give up, even as he bled profusely in the match. The final visual of the battle was Austin locked in a Sharpshooter, blood pouring from his head, until he finally passed out from pain and blood loss. Guest referee Ken Shamrock stopped the match. While Hart won, he was far away from the fan’s favor. Meanwhile, the biggest hero of the late 90s was now firmly on the side of the fans.

While I am not personally a fan of too many veterans returning for a big match on one of WWE’s big events, I have to admit that I find Austin versus Lesnar intriguing. It may never happen, but one can only dream of what could have been.

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