Weight: 252 lbs
Real Name: Steve Williams
Hometown: Victoria, Texas
Other Names: Steve Williams, "The Stevester" (ECW), "Stunning" Steve Austin(WWF), The Ringmaster (WWF), "The Extreme Superstar" (ECW), "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (WWF), The Rattlesnake (WWF)
Wrestler Since: 1989
Finishing Maneuver: Million Dollar Dream, Stone Cold Stunner
Previous PWI 500 Rankings: #13(2002), #2(2001), #1(1999), #1(1998), #3(1997), #22(1996), #43(1995), #6(1994), #23(1993), #10(1992), #31(1991)
Other Related Websites:
History: (Last Updated: 9/15/2006)
Hollywood Blondes - Rollercoaster Bio
Two Man Power Trip - Rollercoaster Bio
Steve Austin - IMDb Bio
Steve Austin - Online World of Wrestling Bio
Steve Austin - Wikipedia Bio
Weight: 252 lbs
Real Name: Steve Williams
Hometown: Victoria, Texas
Other Names: Steve Williams, "The Stevester" (ECW), "Stunning" Steve Austin(WWF), The Ringmaster (WWF), "The Extreme Superstar" (ECW), "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (WWF), The Rattlesnake (WWF)
Wrestler Since: 1989
Finishing Maneuver: Million Dollar Dream, Stone Cold Stunner
Previous PWI 500 Rankings: #13(2002), #2(2001), #1(1999), #1(1998), #3(1997), #22(1996), #43(1995), #6(1994), #23(1993), #10(1992), #31(1991)
Other Related Websites:
History: (Last Updated: 9/15/2006)
There is no doubt that Steve Williams has acheived what almost every other professional wrestler has dreamed about. Few careers have been grander than the Rattlesnake's, as he led the charge of the World Wrestling Federation (later known as World Wrestling Entertainment) when they needed him most. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin has arguably become one of the most famous wrestlers of all time, matching the popularity of guys like Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair, among others. He created the Attitude of a generation.
Williams began his wrestling career under his own name, training out of Chris Adams' Texas pro wrestling school. He debuted in December 1989, only 7 days before his 25th birthday, and came out victorious, defeating Frogman LaBlanc. Williams would only wrestle a few more times under his real name, however, before he decided to change it so that he would not be confused with "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, a growing star in the wrestling business. He soon became known as Steve Austin, a name that has followed him his entire wrestling career.
USWA: 1990 - 1991
Austin began making a name for himself in the United States Wrestling Association, where he briefly teamed with his teacher/coach, Chris Adams. The two soon broke up and had a wild feud throughout 1990, especially after Austin began coming out with Adams' ex-wife, Jeannie Clarke. With Percy Pringle as his manager, Austin became one of the tougher heels in the USWA, while also wrestling elsewhere. The list included the Texas Wrestling Federation, where Austin won the TWF Tag-Team Titles with the California Stud in November '90, beating Abdullah the Butcher & the Angel of Death. Austin & the Stud would hold the belts until the TWF's closure in May '90. Austin also continued his run in the USWA, having many epic battles with Jeff Jarrett over the Southern Title. Austin came close many times, including an apparent win over Jarrett in January '91 that was reversed due to Austin using his feet for leverage on the pin. But he was never able to gain the gold officially, and left the USWA with Jeannie in April '91 to try out World Championship Wrestling.
"Stunning" Steve Austin arrived in WCW with a new valet, Vivacious Veronica, debuting at Clash of the Champions XV. He took on Joey Mags, and made an immediate impression, giving Mags the Stun Gun and winning in 30 seconds. After only a few matches, however, Austin dropped Veronica and once again took on the services of Jeannie Clarke, who was now his wife. Her name was changed as well, as she became "Lady Blossom". It didn't take long for Austin to start making an impression on the WCW fans. In June '91, Austin gained his first gold, defeating Bobby Eaton for the WCW Television Title. Austin then teamed with Terrance Taylor against Eaton & PN News at the '91 Great American Bash in a "Capture the Flag Scaffold" Match. Surprisingly, none of the wrestlers took the long plunge, as Eaton managed to get his team's flag and return to his side, taking away the win.
Austin went on over the next few months to defend the WCW TV Title, while also competing in the WCW United States Heavyweight Title Tournament, where he beat Tom Zenk and Barry Windham to reach the finals. But the title unification was not to be, as Austin fell to Sting, keeping him from the US gold. At Clash of the Champions XVI, Austin first competed in a "Battle Royal", but was tossed out, with El Gigante lasting until the end. Later that night, Austin put the Television Title on the line against Tom Zenk, and got some help from Lady Blossom, who handed Austin a foreign object while he was trapped in a sleeper, allowing him to knock out the Z-Man for the tainted victory. Austin's next challenger was Dustin Rhodes, whom he faced for the gold at Halloween Havoc '91. It was a bloody affair, as both Austin and Rhodes were cut open during the match. Austin appeared to be in trouble, as Rhodes caught him with a Top-Rope Bulldog at the end. But time ran out, as Austin survived with a 10-minute Draw.
At Clash of the Champions XVII in November '91, Austin again had to put the Television Title on the line, as he went against PN News. News was a strong opponent (thanks to his weight), but Austin still had Lady Blossom at ringside to help out, distracting PN News and causing him to chase her around the ring. This allowed Austin to leap out of the ring and nail him, before bringing PN News back in for the pinfall victory, again staying the champion. This was one of the last appearances of Lady Blossom, though, as Austin's image would soon have a major make-over. At the time, Paul E. Dangerously (now known as Paul Heyman) was declaring war on WCW for firing him. To continue the war, he brought together the Dangerous Alliance, with wrestlers like "Ravishing" Rick Rude, "The Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko, and "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson. Dangerously also bought Austin's contract from Lady Blossom, bringing Austin into the Alliance as well.
At Starrcade '91, Austin teamed up with fellow Dangerous Alliance member Rick Rude in a "Random Draw" Match against Van Hammer & Big Josh. Having beaten the odds by being allowed to team together, Austin & Rude worked over their foes, with Rude eventually giving Van Hammer the Rude Awakening to move on. Both wrestlers then went into the "Battle Bowl" later that night, which was a 2-Ring Battle Royal; 1 ring was filled with all the winners, and the objective was to throw your opponents into the 2nd ring, then eliminate them over the top rope from there. Austin & Rude worked together in the match (along with Arn Anderson), staying alive as a group. Austin made it to the final four this way, along with Rude, Ricky Steamboat, and Sting. The Dangerous Alliance members tried to team again against their foes, but Rude accidentally caught Austin, allowing him to be eliminated. Steamboat and Rude then eliminated each other, making Sting the ultimate winner of the Battlebowl.
Austin & Rude got a rematch against Steamboat & Sting at Clash of the Champions XVIII, but Steamboat & Sting again came out on top, with both men pinning Austin at the end of the match. Austin's next big match was at Superbrawl II, where he teamed with fellow Dangerous Alliance member Zbyszko against Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham. Windham was hot against the Alliance, after having his hand broken by Zbyszko (and the rest of the group) back at Halloween Havoc '91. The two teams fought it out, with Windham continually going after Zbyszko, while Austin fought regularly with Rhodes. In the end, Rhodes shoved Zbyszko off the turnbuckle, and Windham got a huge top-rope clothesline for the victory, keeping Austin out of the win column for the year.
Austin's problems would continue in April '92, when he lost the WCW Television Title to Windham. But Austin didn't stay down long, coming back a few weeks later to regain the belt (with the help of Paul E. Dangerously). Austin then joined the rest of the Alliance (Rude, Zbysko, Eaton, & Anderson) against Sting, Windham, Rhodes, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, & Nikita Koloff in a violent Wargames match at Wrestlewar '92, which was won by Sting's team after more than one wrestler was bloodied, including Austin. Next up for Austin was the NWA World Tag-Team Title Tournament, where he teamed up with Rude to go for more gold. They were successful in their first tournament match at Clash of the Champions XIX, where they beat Marcus Bagwell & the Z-Man with the Rude Awakening. However, in the second round, they fell to old Dangerous Alliance rivals Windham & Rhodes, putting them out of the tournament.
Austin & Rude continued to feud with Windham & Rhodes over the next month, facing them again at the '92 Great American Bash. Once again, it was a solid match, but also again, Austin & Rude fell, when Austin gave Rhodes a piledriver, only to be caught by the legal man, Windham, who gave Austin a Flying Clothesline for the win. Austin next began feuding with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat over the Television Title, with Paul E. Dangerously interfering as much as possible in their matches. This led to Clash of the Champions XX in September '92, where the WCW committee put Dangerously in a cage at ringside to keep him from getting involved in the No Disqualification TV Title match. Austin worked to survive the match without his manager, focusing heavily on Steamboat's bruised ribs. But Steamboat used his own tactics, tricking Austin by going under the ring, then coming up behind him and coming off the turnbuckle with a Bodypress for the win, taking away Austin's Television Championship.
Soon afterwards, Dangerously left WCW (going on to take over a little federation called ECW), breaking up the Dangerous Alliance and leaving Austin on his own. Austin got another opporunity at gold in a strange way at Halloween Havoc '92, when Dr. Death Steve Williams' tag-team partner, Terry Gordy, was fired from WCW. Thus, Austin (real name Steve Williams) teamed with his namesake for one night, going against the NWA/WCW Unified Tag Champs, Windham & Rhodes. Surprisingly, Austin & Williams seemed to work well together, going the distance with the champions. The ending was wild, as, first Windham was pinned, seemingly making Austin & Williams the tag champs. However, the ref ruled (correctly) that Windham wasn't the legal man. Rhodes was, as he jumped in with a bulldog on for a pin, only to have the timekeeper ring the bell a minute early, causing the distraction! In the end, Rhodes caught Austin with a Tombstone, but time then finally ran out, causing the Draw after an amazing match.
After a few months of staying out of the spotlight, Austin returned in a big way, joining up with "Flyin'" Brian Pillman to form the great tag-team, the Hollywood Blondes. The team started off 1993 feuding with the tag champs, Austin's nemesis Steamboat & his partner Shane Douglas. They first faced off at Clash of the Champions XXII, but the Blondes were DQ'ed when they used one of the titles to bash Douglas with. The Blondes continued to feud with the Unified Tag Champs over the next month, while also taking time at Superbrawl III to beat down Marcus Bagwell & Erik Watts. A few weeks later, in March '93, the Blondes took advantage of Douglas' absence (he would later leave the company) by beating Steamboat & substitute Tom Zenk, becoming the NWA & WCW Unified Tag-Team Champions.
Austin & Pillman didn't see a reason to give Steamboat & Zenk a rematch, since they had the belts. But when they lost to a pair of masked "Luchadors", Los Dos Hombres, who were later revealed to be Steamboat & Zenk, in a Non-Title Match, they had no choice, as the two teams faced off against each other in a "Steel Cage" Match at Slamboree '93. It was a heavy-duty match, with Steamboat scoring an incredible Crossbody from the top of the cage on both Blondes. Steamboat then made the cover, but the timekeeper bell again rang at two, even as the Blondes kicked out, causing a controversy from the fans. Later on, Austin caught Zenk with the Stun-Gun for the victory, allowing his team to retain the Unified Tag-Team Titles.
The Hollywood Blondes next started a feud with "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair & "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson, who were reconstructing the IV Horsemen at the time. The two groups had a memorable war of words over the next few weeks, with the Blondes doing a hilarious spoof entitled "Flair For The Gold" (parodying Flair's wrestling video, Flair For The Gold). The two teams met in a "Three Falls" Match at Clash of the Champions XXIII, with the Blondes being the full-fledged heels against such a popular team. The Blondes lived up to the fans' expectations, as they cheated whenever they could, including both Austin & Pillman choking Flair with a towel at one point. Flair managed to get the first fall for his team, though, getting a Flying Forearm on Pillman for the pin. This made the Blondes more desperate, as one more fall would cost them the belts. They fought hard, focusing on Anderson's injured knee, but everything seemed bleak at the end, as Flair got Austin in the Figure Four. Before Austin could tap, though, Barry Windham (who had been feuding with Flair & Anderson after refusing to become a Horsemen) attacked, causing the DQ. The Blondes lost the match, but, thanks to a DQ finish being involved, stayed the Unified Tag-Team Champions.
The Blondes continued their feud with the IV Horsemen at the next show, Beach Blash '93, this time facing Anderson & the newest Horseman, "Pretty" Paul Roma. Things really didn't look good for the Blondes, since, ironically, tapings had already been done showing Anderson & Roma with the Titles! However, in a surprise to everyone who saw the tapes, Pillman reversed a roll-up by Roma on Austin, causing Austin to get the pinfall victory, retaining the titles. This caused a minor controversy at WCW, as Pillman had an ankle injury soon afterwards, causing Austin to have to find a new partner to 'drop' the titles to Anderson & Roma (due to them having the titles in later airings of WCW Saturday Night). Austin teamed up with Lord Steven Regal for the match at Clash of the Champions XXIV, with Regal accidentally hitting Austin with an umbrella, allowing him to be rolled up and pinned, losing the titles to the Horsemen.
While Pillman was out injured, Austin concentrated on Dustin Rhodes and the United States Heavyweight Title, working to get himself some singles gold. He and Rhodes met at Halloween Havoc '93, with Austin being the main aggressor in the match. He also showed that he was still willing to cheat to win, pinning Rhodes with his feet on the ropes, as referee Nick Patrick counted to 3. However, as Austin celebrated winning the title, Patrick, who had seen the legs at the last second, threw out the finish, then ordered the match restarted! While Austin argued with Patrick, Rhodes came up from behind and rolled Austin up, getting the quick pinfall to retain. Austin, afterwards, was not a happy camper, blaming the referee for Rhodes "getting lucky", then attacking Rhodes with the US belt before leaving with the stolent gold.
After the loss, Austin decided to get himself a manager once again, and acquired the services of Colonel Parker. This subsequently caused the break-up between the Hollywood Blondes, as Austin was talked into turning on Pillman when he came back from his injuries. Austin and Pillman met at Clash of the Champions XXV, with Col Parker being instrumental in Austin getting the win over his former partner. Next up for Austin was the Battlebowl in November '93, with Austin being randomly paired with one of his old rivals, Ric Flair! The two 'teamed' together in the Qualifying Round against Maxx Payne & Too Cold Scorpio, with both men having problems working together. At one point, Flair walked away from a tag, leaving Austin to get beaten down by Scorpio. Flair later tagged himself in, though, causing even more stryfe. Despite all this, however, Austin & Flair managed to get the win, with Flair forcing Payne to tap out. Later on, Austin competed in the Battlebowl final, with Austin getting some revenge on one rival by dumping out a bloody Dustin Rhodes to make it to the final four, along with Flair, Sting, and Vader. After Flair had to be stretchered out, Austin & Vader double-teamed Sting, but Sting came back, causing Vader to accidentally splash Austin the corner, then dumping Austin out. Vader came back to win the Battlebowl, with Austin once again coming close, but not getting to the top of WCW.
Life wasn't terrible for Austin, though, as he continued his feud with the US Champion, Rhodes. The two wrestlers met in a "Three Falls" Match at Starrcade '93, with Austin determined to prove that Rhodes' earlier win was a fluke. The two men showed their hatred of each other, brawling to the outside at one point, with Austin getting knocked over the guardrail. They went back into the ring, fighting it out, with Colonel Parker trying to get involved for his man. This caused Rhodes to whip Austin towards Parker, but Austin, thinking of the big picture, flipped over the top rope, which was illegal at the time. This caused the DQ, giving Austin the first fall. A frustrated Rhodes attacked Austin soon afterwards, bloodying him by hammering him against the post. He seemed to have complete control, but surprisingly, the lights went out, causing the distraction. When the lights finally came back up, Austin had the confused Rhodes cradled in the corner, holding his tights to win the 2nd fall, and, thus, the match. Despite the DQ earlier, Austin was given the United States Championship, his third different title in WCW.
Austin's feuds with Rhodes & Pillman would lead him into a "Thundercage" Match at Superbrawl IV, teaming with his old Dangerous Alliance bud "Ravishing" Rick Rude and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff against Rhodes, Pillman, & Sting. Austin tried to use his smarts early in this one, faking a knee injury, then rolling up Sting for a 2 count. Austin then took some brutal hits on the outside as the match continued, with several wrestlers getting cut open. In the end, Austin got hit by a Rhodes splash (helped by a press from Sting) and was pinned, taking a big loss. Still, Austin had some momentum, still competing as the US Champ, and he did well in the March '94 European Cup Tournament, defeating Too Cold Scorpio and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat before falling to the eventual winner, Sting.
Going into the next month, Austin had to fend off an international star in the Great Muta, taking him on at Spring Stampede '94 with Austin's US Title on the line. It was a competitive match, with Austin in trouble as it went on, despite Colonel Parker's aid. But the Great Muta made a cardinal mistake, tossing Austin over the top rope, which allowed Austin to get the victory via DQ, retaining the title. Austin next fought against Johnny B. Badd (later known as Marc Mero in the WWF) at Slamboree '94, once again trying to stay the champion. Parker again lent his aid, but nearly cost Austin the match, after Austin, trying to nail Badd, hit Parker instead, allowing Badd to get a roll-up for 2. But Austin soon came back, rolling Badd over with the tights to get another title defense under his belt.
In June '94, Austin surprisingly fired Colonel Parker, wanting to do things on his own. He faced Badd in a rematch at Clash of the Champions XXVII, with many people wondering if he could get the win without his manager's distractions at ringside. Well, Austin found a way to stay the champion, using a foreign object to smack Badd in the head with, then rolling him up, getting the 3 count. However, a second ref came down, spotting the foreign object, and restarted the match, with Badd rolling up Austin from behind to get the win! There was confusion afterwards, with both refs arguing about the decision. A compromise was soon reached, with Austin losing via DQ for using the foreign object. Therefore, Austin lost the match, but stayed the US Champion, despite Badd's complaints about the finish.
Austin would next feud with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat for the next few months, meeting him at Bash At The Beach '94. The two put on a strong match, with Austin using his usual heel tactics, including faking a knee injury. Austin also had some fun with Steamboat, choking him on the ropes, then causing his hand to 'wave' to the camera. Late in the bout, Austin was in trouble, with Steamboat going up on the turnbuckle. But Austin used the ref as a shield, then caught Steamboat on the way down, rolling him over for a quick pin, once again with a handful of tights, to retain the strap. Austin'a luck would run out a month later, though, at Clash of the Champions XXVIII, as Steamboat won the rematch with a small package, taking away Austin's US Title.
Austin was scheduled for a rematch against Steamboat at Fall Brawl '94, but injuries that Steamboat gained during their earlier match kept him from competing, with it later being called a "career-ending injury". Since Steamboat was injured, Commissioner Nick Bockwinkle awarded Austin the US Title at the event, making him a 2-time champion. However, Bockwinkle had a surprise for Austin, saying that he had to defend the belt that night, despite Austin's complaints. Austin then found that he had to face recent WWF jumpee "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan! Austin, unprepared, got attacked by Duggan, then splashed, surprisingly losing the match, and the US Title, in about 30 seconds! It was a humiliating defeat for Austin, and the start of his decline in WCW.
Austin got a rematch against Duggan at Halloween Havoc '94, in a bout that lasted significantly longer than the first one. However, Austin was still on the defensive much of the match, and used the wrong tactic in reversing Duggan's football tackle, sending Duggan flying over the top rope. This earned Austin the DQ loss, keeping him from the US Title. A similar result took place at Clash of the Champions XXIX, as Austin again lost via DQ, losing his cool during the match. He just couldn't seem to get Duggan's number. Soon after, Austin injured his knee, putting himself on the shelf for the rest of the year.
Austin made his return in February '95, coming back under the tutelege of Colonel Robert Parker. There were some thoughts that Austin might rejoin "Flyin'" Brian Pillman to bring back the highly successful Hollywood Blondes, but for some reason, it never occurred, as Austin stayed in the mid-card of WCW, rarely getting any title opportunities. In May '95, Austin looked into leaving the company, but was talked back into it by Eric Bischoff, who was currently running WCW. Austin's knee continued to trouble him, though, and during a tour of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Austin tore his triceps muscle, putting him on the injured reserve list once again. In what's usually considered one of the biggest mistakes in WCW history, Bischoff opted to call Austin on the phone and fire him in September '95, despite his injury. Bischoff later was quoted by Austin as saying that Austin wasn't marketable as a main event wrestler.
Shortly thereafter, the "Stevester" appeared in Extreme Championship Wrestling, parodying "The Hulkster" Hulk Hogan. This was the birth of "The Extreme Superstar" Steve Austin, which was the beginning of the Stold Cold Era. Austin mainly worked on the mic during his time in the federation, still recovering from the injury that cost him his job with WCW. He repeatedly brought up Eric Bischoff, the man in charge of WCW at the time, insulting him whenever possible. He also inserted himself into the main event of ECW, challenging Mikey Whipwreck on numerous occasions for the ECW World Title. Austin found a way to get that shot at November To Remember '95, when he attacked the scheduled #1 Contender, the Sandman, taking him out of the match. Austin then took his place against Whipwreck for the ECW World Title, saying that, for the next few minutes, Whipwreck's name would be "Eric Bischoff". Austin allowed this to channel his rage, dominating Whipwreck in the early going. It seemed inevitable that Austin would win the championship, especially after Stunning Whipwreck. But Austin played to the fans a little too much, allowing Whipwreck to roll Austin up to get the 'upset' win.
Austin got another shot at December To Dismember '95, taking on Whipwreck(c) and the Sandman in a "Three Way Dance". Austin was again strong in the match, and in fact eliminated the champion first, pinning Whipwreck. This left Austin and the Sandman, and the two men had a bitter brawl, with the Sandman surprisingly getting the win, and the ECW World Title, by pinning Austin with his feet on the ropes. Once again, Austin felt robbed of the gold. Still, Austin's rising talent and character in ECW had opened some eyes about his future in the business, with Austin soon being contacted by Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation, leading to Austin, in one year, being part of all three big organizations in American wrestling at the time.
Austin entered the World Wrestling Federation as an employee of "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, being dubbed the RingMaster (for his abilities in the ring, rather than anything he wore). On December 18th, 1995, the RingMaster appeared on the Brother Love show with DiBiase. It was all for the RingMaster, as he was awarded DiBiase's Million Dollar Belt (an unsanctioned title that DiBiase had held in the WWF, on and off, since 1989). This immediately made the RingMaster a factor to be reckoned with, as he became the main bodyguard for DiBiase going into the next year.
The RingMaster's first big match-up was at the '96 Royal Rumble, where he entered as the 24th wrestler, a good number. He eliminated "Sparkplug" Bob Holly, but was then later tossed out by Fatu, ending his first shot at stardom. The Rumble was later won by Shawn Michaels. Austin, soon wrestling under his "real name", "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, instead of as the RingMaster, next started feuding with Savio Vega, who had been Austin's tag-team partner briefly before Austin turned on him, leaving him laid out in the ring. Vega got some revenge later on, though, attacking Austin while wearing the match of the Carribean Kid. Austin and Vega would battle for the next three months, with Austin facing Vega at Wrestlemania XII. When the ref got bumped, Austin used the Million Dollar Title (given to him by DiBiase) to knock Vega out cold. Austin then put a 'submission' hold on the downed wrestler, as DiBiase revived the ref, getting him to call for the bell and give Austin the victory.
The feud continued for another few months, with Austin and Vega doing what they could to take out the other man, including fighting each other in a Dark Match at Good Friends, Better Enemies, with Vega getting some revenge with a victory. They finally decided on a "Caribbean Strap" match at Beware of Dog II in May '96 (the first Beware of Dog had power issues, causing much of the show to be missed by fans, prompting the new card). DiBiase was so confident in Austin that he put his WWF career on the line. Unfortunately for DiBiase, Austin had decided to get rid of DiBiase, and thus, near the end of the match, when both men had tagged three of the four corners, Austin 'accidentally' sent Vega into the fourth corner, giving Vega the victory and ending DiBiase's run with the company (he later went to WCW and joined the nWo).
With DiBiase no longer backing him, Austin started working for himself, becoming more and more like "Stone Cold". He entered the '96 King of the Ring Tournament in June as one of the long-shots to win. Austin first beat down "Sparkplug" Bob Holly, then took out his old nemesis Savio Vega. This put Austin in the Final Four at the PPV, the '96 King of the Ring, where he faced off against an adversary from WCW, "Marvelous" Marc Mero (formerly Johnny B. Badd). In a bloody match that later required stitches for Austin, he won out, making it to the finals against Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who had been injured in an earlier match. Austin dominated the Snake, hammering him repeatedly before ending it with the Stone Cold Stunner. This made Austin the King of the Ring, a major step in any WWF wrestler's career at the time. During his victory speech, Austin made fun of Roberts' belief in the Lord, saying that "Austin 3:16 says that I just kicked your ass!" This quote quickly caught on, helping to launch Austin's career into the stratosphere.
After winning King of the Ring, Austin started challenging the biggest and the best to go at, mainly focusing on the "retired" Bret "Hitman" Hart. He started forfeiting matches, then attacking the guys who were supposed to be his opponents afterwards, saying that they weren't worth it. He also took out anyone who mentioned Bret Hart's name, including his former partner in WCW, "Flyin" Brian Pillman. Austin definitely had an impact, winning a "Free-For-All" Match (aka a Dark Match) over former WWF Heavyweight Champion Yokozuna before Summerslam '96, winning in part due to Yokozuna breaking the ring ropes due to his weight. At Buried Alive in October '96, Austin was scheduled to take on Savio Vega one last time. But Vega, due to injuries, had to pull out, leaving Austin to go against another wrestler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. The two had a competitive match, with Austin being helped by Mr. Perfect, who, due to his feud with Helmsley, came down and took Helmsley's valet. Austin later caught Helmsley with the Stunner for the victory, continuing his climb to the top.
Austin's main goal stayed the same, though, as he continued to taunt Bret Hart, with announcer Jim Ross letting everyone know that Hart would be coming back to the WWF. Finally, Hart returned to answer Austin's challenge, leading to a match at the '96 Survivor Series. It was a great bout, going from the ring to the Spanish announcers' table and back in again. Austin did get the Stunner on Hart, but took too long to make the cover. A frustrated Austin tried two more covers quickly thereafter, but just couldn't keep Hart down. A few minutes later, after weakening Hart with a Texas Cloverleaf, Austin locked on the Million Dollar Dream (his former manager's submission finisher), only to have Hart get to the ropes and flip off, pinning Austin's shoulders to the mat to steal the victory. Austin had another run at Hart at the WWF Middle East Cup Tournament, after Austin had beaten Bret's brother, Owen Hart, and the Undertaker to reach the finals. But Bret won out, again keeping Austin from the big WWF victory.
Austin's next push came at the beginning of the new year, when he entered the '97 Royal Rumble. With the winner getting a World Title shot at the next Wrestlemania, there was a lot on the line. Despite drawing #5, Austin hung around, eliminating 10 wrestlers in the event. Although he was actually tossed out by Hart late in the match, the refs didn't see it, so Austin reentered and got rid of the Undertaker, Vader, and Hart to win the Rumble and earn the title shot. However, President Gorilla Monsoon had different ideas, setting up a Final Four match at the next PPV, due to Austin having being eliminated before winning. It was supposed to be for the title shot, but when Shawn Michaels was forced to vacate the Heavyweight strap due to a knee injury, the belt went up for grabs. The match went down between Austin, Hart, Vader, and the Undertaker. Unfortunately, Austin was eliminated first by Hart, mainly because of a slight knee injury. Hart went on to win the match and the World Title, but Austin wasn't through with Hart, as he hit Hart with a chair the next day on Raw to cause him to lose the belt to Sid.
Austin and Hart continued to feud for the next month, leading up to Wrestlemania XIII, and things began to change between the two wrestlers. While Hart began to take heat from the crowd for his 'whining' about being cheated out of the belt, Austin began to earn more respect. The match at Wrestlemania was signed under I Quit rules, with Ken Shamrock as the special referee. The match continued to flip-flop, as both wrestlers used whatever submission holds they could. Austin was put in a Figure-Four on the ringpost at one point, but managed to escape. He was later badly cut open, bleeding from the forehead, but continued to fight back, with portions of the audience in attendance on his side. In the end, Hart put Austin in the Sharpshooter for the second time, after Austin had powered out of the first one, and Austin passed out from the pain. Afterwards, Hart viciously attacked the unconscious Austin until Shamrock made the save, immediately switching the roles of face and heel. Austin, after one match, was now a fan favorite.
The feud with Hart grew larger and larger as the weeks went on. The Hitman reformed the Hart Foundation with his brother Owen, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, the British Bulldog, and "Flyin" Brian Pillman. This Canadian force immediately began having wars with Austin and his allies, creating a war between two countries in the WWF. At the next PPV, IYH: Taker's Revenge, Austin had Hart in his own version of the Sharpshooter, only to be attacked by the British Bulldog, giving him the win via DQ. At Raw the next night, a furious Austin challenged Hart to a Street Fight match, brawling with him all over the place. Austin eventually badly injured Hart's knee with a chair, then continued to attack him in the ambulance, making sure that the damage was done. Having taken out Hart, Austin became the next in line for a World Title shot, and took on the Undertaker at IYH: A Cold Day In Hell. When Austin started to take the advantage, though, the Hart Foundation again interfered, costing Austin the belt and continuing their war.
In his battles with the Hart Foundation, Austin began to ally himself with "The Heart Break Kid" Shawn Michaels. Although neither wrestler liked each other, they continued to help each other out, since they had a common foe. Near the end of May '97, the two got into a match against Owen Hart & the British Bulldog, the WWF Tag-Team Champions. Austin was able to take out the Bulldog and get the pinfall, giving him and Michaels the belts despite their mutual hatred of each other. As a result, the two champs faced off at King of the Ring '97 in a brutal match, both for the wrestlers and the referees. Two refs were taken out by finishers during the bout, leading to the match being thrown out by #3. A few weeks later, Michaels disappeared from the radar, leaving Austin without a partner. Many wrestlers tried to work their way into the belts, including Mankind (Mick Foley). Austin stunned Mankind instead. The next week, Austin faced off, alone, against Owen Hart & the British Bulldog. During the match, the lights hit, and Foley came out, dressed up as a new character, Dude Love. With his help, Austin won the match, making the belts firmly his again. As a result, Austin shook Dude Love's hand, making him his new partner.
In August '97, Austin locked his crosshairs onto the Intercontinental Champion, Owen Hart. The two had some brutal fights leading up to Summerslam '97, where they went at it in one-on-one action. During the fight, though, Austin was dropped on his neck by Owen, when a tombstone piledriver went wrong. Austin laid on the mat for a minute, with the ref checking on him, while Owen stalled on the ropes. Austin then somehow got up and got a cradle pin for the victory, winning the IC strap. It was later found that Austin had a bruised spine along with other injuries, making it a very serious injury. This made sure that Austin couldn't wrestle, and at Ground Zero, Austin & Dude Love were ordered to vacate the tag-team titles, since Austin couldn't wrestle. Austin delivered two stunners, one to Jim Ross and the other to Owen Hart, which helped the Headbangers win the belts. Later on, Austin would have to vacate the Intercontinental Title as well, which led to a Stunner for Commissioner Slaughter. The next week, Austin would finish off the 'trifecta', getting the Stunner on the WWF President, Vince McMahon. This was the beginning of the feud that brought the WWF back to the top of the ratings.
Austin continued to go after the man who injured him, Owen Hart, who soon issued a restraining order against the Rattlesnake. Austin didn't care, though, always finding a way to attack him, including posing as one of Hart's riot squad. Austin also signed a liability waiver, which allowed him to wrestle again despite the injury. At the '97 Survivor Series, Austin and Hart faced off one more time for the Intercontinental Title. In an utter brawl that went to the back at one point, Austin managed a Stone Cold Stunner and won despite the injury, once again becoming the Intercontinental Champion. After the match, Team Canada attacked, but Austin gave each a stunner, showing his power.
Austin next feuded with the Nation of Domination, mainly focusing on Rocky "The Rock" Maivia. At one Raw, while Austin was fighting with the rest of the NOD, Maivia stole the IC Title, keeping it for himself. This made Austin target Maivia on more than one occasion. At one show, Maivia's beeper went off, showing the number "316". The two battled it out for the title at Degeneration X, with Austin driving to the ring in his "3:16" pickup truck. Before the match, the NOD tried to take out Austin, but Austin responded by backdropping D'Lo Brown through the windshield of the truck. Austin then entered the ring and fought Maivia for the actual match. During the fight, Austin accidentally stunned the referee, taking him out. Later on, after a second ref had come down, Austin took out Maivia with another stunner and won the match, staying the Intercontinental Champion.
At the next Raw, Vince McMahon overturned the decision, saying that Austin's attack on the referee caused him to lose the match. He said that Austin had to forfeit the belt to Maivia. Austin did things his own way, though, assaulting Maivia, then leaving with the IC Title. A week later, Austin was shown throwing the belt into a river, thus 'forfeiting' it. For the next few weeks leading into 1998, Austin repeatedly said that he wanted a shot at the World Title, taking out any opposition in his way. This led up to the '98 Royal Rumble, where the winner would get a title shot at the next Wrestlemania. Before the event, a price was put on Austin's head, making sure that everyone was waiting to try to take him out during the night. But Austin stayed in the crowd, only coming out through it when his number was called late in the main event. Austin eliminated seven wrestlers, including Rocky Maivia at the end with a stunner, to win the event, earning himself a World Title shot against his former partner, "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels.
During the build-up to the big event, Austin got in the face of boxer Mike Tyson, causing a shoving match between them. It was later announced that Tyson would be the ringside enforcer at the main event match between Austin & Michaels. For the next few months, Austin and his new allies, Owen Hart, Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), & Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk) feuded with Shawn Michaels and his stable, Degeneration-X. The two groups faced off at No Way Out '98 (sans Michaels, who defended his belt), with Austin taking out Billy Gunn for the victory. After the match, Austin also gave a stunner to Degeneration-X's female valet, Chyna, causing a small uproar.
As the World Title match grew closer, it was announced that Mike Tyson had joined up with Degeneration-X, putting the odds severely against Austin as he went into Wrestlemania XIV. However, Tyson did his job, keeping Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Chyna away from ringside as the match commenced. Both wrestlers had the advantage at some point, as it went back and forth. Near the end, the ref was taken out, and Michaels seemed to be on the verge of victory. But he missed the Sweet Chin Music, allowing Austin to come back and hit the stunner. Tyson rolled into the ring and made the count, giving Austin his first-ever WWF World Title. Postmatch, Austin gave Tyson a "3:16" shirt. When Michaels angrily confronted him about it, Tyson ko'ed him, then put the shirt on, showing his admiration for Austin. The two then left the ring, with Austin celebrating his victory.
At the next Raw, Austin was presented a brand-new World Title by Vince McMahon, who publicly backed him. Austin responded with a stunner for Vince, which got him arrested and taken away by the police. McMahon returned the next week with a "tamed" Steve Austin, who was wearing a suit. Austin also had a camera with him, and asked for a picture, since he said it was the last time he would be seen in a suit. He then attacked McMahon again with a low blow, took a picture, and left. The war between Austin & McMahon began to breathe life back into a 'stale' WWF, as the ratings began to climb, especially when another of Austin's former allies, Dude Love (Foley), turned on him, joining up with McMahon instead. The two wrestlers met up in a wild brawl at Unforgiven '98, with interference from McMahon at ringside. It eventually went back to the stage, where Austin tossed Dude Love 6 feet down to hard concrete, before making their way back to the ring. At one point, after the ref was taken out, Dude Love got the Mandible Claw on Austin. McMahon was unable to revive the ref, though, and Austin escaped the submission hold. Dude Love then tried to hit Austin with a chair, but had it blocked back into him. Austin then used the chair to knock out McMahon, before hitting the stunner on Love and making the cover. With the ref out, he counted his own 1-2-3, giving himself the win. McMahon didn't see it that way, though, later giving Dude Love the win via DQ because of Austin's use of the chair.
Austin continued to feud with the "Corporate" Dude Love in the next month, while McMahon continually worked things against him. For the rematch between Austin & Love scheduled for the next PPV, McMahon made himself the special referee, and put his stooges, Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco, as the ring announcer and timekeeper, respectively. Obviously, the odds were against Austin. As the PPV came closer, McMahon, wearing a mask, attacked Austin during a Street Fight match against Patterson & Brisco. Austin later got McMahon arrested for assault, forcing McMahon to have to apologize to the Rattlesnake so that he wouldn't go to jail. McMahon also had to allow a special enforcer at ringside to keep things 'fair'. At Over The Edge '98, Austin brought the Undertaker with him as the enforcer, which managed to balance out the influence of McMahon and his stooges. During the wild, hardcore brawl, McMahon, the referee, was knocked out. A bleeding Austin then got his stunner on Dude Love, but the count by a substitute ref was blocked by Pat Patterson. The Undertaker managed to get rid of Patterson & Brisco, though, allowing Austin to get another stunner and the win, retaining the title.
Soon after the victory, Austin was ambushed from Mankind (Foley under another guise) and his ally, Kane. This started a growing feud between Austin & the Undertaker and Kane & Mankind. McMahon, though, forced some tension between Austin and the Undertaker, as they headed towards Austin's match against Kane at the '98 King of the Ring. The match was signed as a First Blood match, with the added stipulation that Kane would set himself on fire if he lost. A week before the match, Austin was in the ring, insulting Kane, During the bout at the PPV, both Mankind and the Undertaker became involved (with both badly beaten up after their Hell In The Cell match). Also, the cage continued to strangely raise up and down during the brawl. At the end, the Undertaker accidentally hit Austin with a chair while swinging at Mankind, cutting him open. When the referee woke up and saw Austin bleeding, he awarded the win, and the World Title, to Kane.
A day later, Austin demanded a rematch against Kane on Raw, since Kane had not been the one to make Austin bleed. Surprisingly, against the wishes of Paul Bearer and Vince McMahon, Kane accepted, setting up the match. After a violent brawl, with more interference from Mankind and the Undertaker, Austin got a stunner to land, pinning Kane and regaining the WWF World Title. After the match, though, instead of celebrating with his erstwhile ally, Austin stunned the Undertaker as well, putting even more animosity between the two men. McMahon capitalized on this, making the Undertaker the #1 Contender to the World Title.
A match was also signed for the next PPV, pitting Austin & the Undertaker against Kane & Mankind, who held the tag-team titles. In the weeks leading up to the match, things grew worse between the two 'partners'. The Undertaker began to no-show matches, leaving Austin in handicap bouts. This continued up to Fully Loaded '98, where speculation was rampant that Austin would be fighting alone again. McMahon and his stooges said that if the Undertaker didn't show, Austin's new partner would be the Brooklyn Brawler. Fortunately for Austin, the Undertaker did show, although both men flicked each other off during the match. Despite this, the Undertaker made a reluctant hot tag to Austin near the end and took out Kane for the victory, winning the tag titles for the duo. After the match, the Undertaker left Austin in the ring and walked out with both belts.
Problems between Austin & the Undertaker continued into the next month, although both wrestlers worked things out enough to retain the tag-team titles for a few more weeks. They finally lost the belts in August during a four corners match to Kane & Mankind, with Owen Hart & Rocky Maivia and the New Age Outlaws as the other participants. Things then broke down between the two allies, as Kane, dressed as the Undertaker, attacked Austin. When Austin fought back and threw Kane into a hearse, the Undertaker, sitting in the front seat, drove off, saving his brother. Austin brawled with both brothers at one time or another going into Summerslam '98, where he took on the Undertaker with the title on the line. During the match, Kane came out, but was ordered to the back by the Undertaker, keeping the match fair. Austin later took a vicious hit, when the Undertaker threw him on the Spanish announcers' table, then came off the apron with a legdrop, hitting hard enough for Austin to start spitting blood. But the Rattlesnake later made a comeback, low-blowing the Undertaker while he was walking the ropes, then hitting the Stone Cold Stunner for the victory. Afterwards, the Undertaker handed Austin the belt, while a suspicious Kane watched from the ramp.
Vince McMahon continued to work against Austin's best interests after Summerslam, setting up a Triple Threat match for the next PPV between Austin, the Undertaker, and Kane. McMahon later added the stipulation that neither brother could pin each other, meaning that Austin would be fully targeted by both. Austin took the news with his usual flair, hitting a stunner on McMahon, then preparing for the match with a short feud with UFC star Ken Shamrock. Austin then went after McMahon at every opportunity, disguising himself as different individuals to get close enough. He also said to expect "Austin 666" at the PPV, Breakdown. The match went about as expected, with Austin trying to overcome impossible odds against the Undertaker & Kane. Although the brothers showed some dissention early on, they finally settled things, with both making the pin on Austin, taking away the gold.
At the next Raw, Vince McMahon announced that, since they had both made the pin, Kane & the Undertaker would face off for the belt at the next PPV, Judgment Day. The Rattlesnake then came out in a zamboni, crashing the party, and later said that he would be the special referee for that match. For the next few weeks, Austin brutally attacked McMahon, going after him in his hospital room at one point with heart stimulators. This led to McMahon hiring a new bodyguard, the Big Boss Man, who attacked Austin at one point while wearing a mask. Austin also continued to feud with Kane & the Undertaker, leading up to Judgment Day '98, where he played the 'impartial' referee. Before the match, McMahon told Austin that he had to raise one of the men's hands as the winner, or else he would be fired. Austin, not caring about McMahon's ultimatums, did his best to make the match last longer. Due to his slow counts, Austin was chokeslammed by Kane at one point. Paul Bearer, the manager for both brothers at one time or another, then came to the ring and surprisingly hit Kane with a chair. Undertaker then also used the chair on him and made the cover, but Austin refused to count, instead using the chair on the Undertaker. He then counted both men out and declared himself the winner. Due to this, McMahon came out and fired Austin, apparently ending his WWF career.
Austin showed up at the next Raw, despite security's efforts to keep him out, and eventually 'kidnapped' Vince McMahon, threatening his life with a gun at the end of the show. After McMahon 'messed up' his trousers, Austin showed it to be a toy gun, then stunned his former boss. The next week, it was announced that Austin had been rehired by McMahon's son, Shane, and that the contract also stated that Austin would get a title shot. Having no other choice, McMahon put Austin into the 16-man World Title tournament at the '98 Survivor Series, to decide who the real champion was. In the first round, Austin faced the Big Boss Man, Vince McMahon's bodyguard. After three minutes or so worth of brawling, the Boss Man used his nightstick on Austin, getting himself disqualified in order to get some abuse on the Rattlesnake and make it harder for him to win.
But Austin got a breather when the X-Pac/Stephen Regal match went to a Double Countout, giving him a bye to the semi-finals. He next faced Mankind, who was being heavily backed by Vince McMahon, who was in a wheelchair at the time. During the match, Austin hit the Stunner on Mankind, but Vince jumped from his chair and took out the ref, showing that he could walk. Shane McMahon then ran to ringside, even as Austin hit a second Stunner, and made the 2-count, before flipping Austin off, surprisingly realigning himself with his father. Pat Patterson & Gerald Brisco then attacked Austin with chairs, which allowed Mankind to get the pin (with Shane counting) and eliminate Austin from the tournament.
In the finals of the tournament, the Rock defeated Mankind when Vince turned on his former ally, having the bell rung despite Mankind not submitting. McMahon, the Rock, and his allies then brutally assaulted Mankind, until Austin came running to the ring and made the save. He then stunned Mankind as well, keeping any friendship from redeveloping. At the next Raw, Austin demanded a title shot against the Rock, since Shane had promised him one when he re-signed him. As the two got it on in the main event, Ken Shamrock came to ringside and pulled out the referee. The Undertaker then attacked, knocking out Austin with a shovel and reigniting their bitter feud. The next week at a house show, Austin supposedly blacked out during a match, which got him put in a hospital. During the next Raw, the Undertaker & Paul Bearer were shown assaulting Austin, putting him out by suffocating him. Before they could do anything to the unconscious wrestler, though, Kane made the save, forming a strange alliance between himself & Austin. At Capital Carnage at the beginning of December '98, Austin fought in and won a Fatal Fourway match against Mankind, the Undertaker, & Kane. However, the Undertaker earned some revenge at the next Raw, when, after knocking out Austin with a chair during a match, put him on a cross and raised him into the air, leaving him hanging.
At Rock Bottom, Austin and the Undertaker fought in a Buried Alive match, a bout which really seemed to favor the Undertaker. The fight went to the ring and back multiple times, with various weapons coming into play, including shovels, stairs, chairs, and even a gas can left near the grave. Near the end, Austin hit the Undertaker with a Stunner and got him into the grave, then chased Paul Bearer away before he could interfere. The Undertaker then pulled himself out of the burial ground, only to have it explode behind him. Kane then came out of the grave and tombstoned the Undertaker back into it, leaving him out as Austin returned with a backhoe full of dirt, which he dropped on the Undertaker to bury him and win the match. Because of this, Austin was entered into the Royal Rumble '99, with the winner to get the Wrestlemania title shot against the Rock.
Unfortunately for Austin's chances, Vince McMahon again used a loophole, making Austin the #1 draw for the Rumble, while making himself #30. He also promised $100,000 to the wrestler who eliminated the Rattlesnake. McMahon's plans backfired, though, as Commissioner Shawn Michaels returned to move McMahon to #2, making him have to face Austin at the very beginning. Austin also caused the Rock to lose the World Title to Mankind, when he hit the Rock with a chair. At the '99 Royal Rumble, Austin and McMahon started the main event, with Austin predictably beating up McMahon. Vince then ran to the back (going under the bottom rope) with Austin chasing him (after eliminating #3, Golga). This turned into an ambush, as the Corporation attacked Austin in a rest room. Austin was taken away in an ambulance, while the Rumble continued on. Later in the night, Austin returned, driving the ambulance, and came back to the Rumble, eliminating Ken Shamrock, Billy Gunn, Test, X-Pac, Chyna, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Owen Hart, and the Big Bossman, leaving only himself and Vince McMahon, who had been commentating at ringside while everyone else fought. Austin dragged McMahon into the ring and proceeded to beat the hell out of him, until the Rock came to ringside to distract him. As Austin yelled at the Rock, McMahon came from behind and shockingly tossed him out, costing Austin the Rumble and the title shot.
On the next Raw, McMahon tried to vacate the World Title shot. Austin appeared on the Titon Tron, though, and, with Commissioner Shawn Michaels' help, got another shot at Vince McMahon, as they would wrestle in a steel cage match at the next pay-per-view, with the #1 Contender spot on the line. It was also listed in the contract that Austin couldn't attack Vince if they weren't involved in a match, which caused Vince to try and encourage Austin to attack him for the next few weeks, including having Austin have to fight in a Gauntlet match against the entire Corporation. At the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Austin wasted no time, attacking McMahon before the match officially started. He even chased McMahon up the side of the cage and knocked him off, sending the President of the WWF through the Spanish announcers' table. Austin then continued his assault, keeping the medics from stretchering McMahon off and instead throwing him into the cage, starting the match. Austin dominated the match, refusing clear opportunities to win to heap more abuse on McMahon. Near the end, Paul Wight (the Big Show) surprisingly came to the ring and entered the cage, attacking Austin. Wight threw Austin through the cage wall, which, while impacting Austin heavily, also gave Austin the victory.
With the win, Austin became the #1 Contender to the World Title, which was once again around the waist of the Rock. McMahon also tried to have Paul Wight named as the special 'enforcer' for the match, but this later fell apart as Wight & the Rock had a falling out, partially due to Austin's manipulations. The match was later declared a No DQ match, which looked to work against Austin, since so many people were against him. At Wrestlemania XV, McMahon called himself the referee for the match. That was denied, though, once again by Austin supporter Commissioner Shawn Michaels, and a regular referee was used. The match itself was a wild brawl, which saw no less than 3 referees go down from hits. The third one was taken out by McMahon, who then attacked Austin. But Mankind made the save, taking out McMahon, then becoming the 4th referee, even as Austin hit the Stunner on the Rock and got the pin, becoming the World Champion for the third time.
Austin's feud with the Rock continued to grow, as the Rock, with Shane McMahon at his side, held onto Austin's custom-made World belt. He threatened to drop the belt off of a bridge, as Austin had done years earlier with the IC belt. When Austin came to stop him, the Rock was able to knock Austin into the river, a hard fall. Austin later got some revenge, destroying the Rock's car with a monster truck, then knocking the Rock into a grave that was supposed to be for the belt. At Backlash '99, Austin & the Rock met again, this time in a No Holds Barred match. Shane McMahon made himself the special referee, and was obviously biased against Austin. Near the end, McMahon tried to hit Austin with the belt, only to hit the Rock instead. Austin then tried to make the pin, only to have Shane make a 2 count, then leave, only to be stopped by his father, Vince. Austin got the Stunner on the Rock, knocking him out, then made the cover, as Vince had Earl Hebner, the head WWF referee, come down and count to 3, giving Austin the win. After the match, Vince tossed the belt to Austin, giving him the gold he truly wanted.
It was soon learned that Vince had done what he did to try and get Austin on his side against the Ministry of Darkness, which was led by the Undertaker. Austin seemed to refuse at first, but when the Undertaker had Stephanie McMahon kidnapped, Austin came to her rescue, saving her from the Undertaker's symbol. Soon after, Shane McMahon joined with the Undertaker, forming the Corporate Ministry, a powerful unit of evil men which Austin opposed, along with Vince McMahon, the Rock, and the Union (Paul Wight, Mankind, Test, & Ken Shamrock). It was an utter war between the two factions, which led up to Austin facing the Undertaker and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (one of Shane McMahon's allies) in a Triple Threat match at the UK PPV, No Mercy '99. Despite the odds being against him, Austin came through, Stunning HHH and getting the victory, retaining the belt.
The war between the Corporate Ministry and the rest of the WWF continued to build in the next few weeks. At one point, the Undertaker tried to put Austin on a cross again, but Austin managed to reverse it, handcuffing the Undertaker to it again. The two wrestlers set up for a match at Over The Edge '99, with Shane McMahon assigned, once again, as the special referee. This time, stipulations were put into place that if Austin touched Shane, he would lose the match and the World Title. Vince McMahon countered that by making himself a referee as well, but was injured before the match. He tried to send replacements during the main event bout, but the Undertaker continued to take them out. Meanwhile, no matter what Austin did, Shane would not count the three for him to win. Near the end, with Shane down after an accidental shot from the Undertaker, Austin got the Stunner, putting the Undertaker down. Vince then came out, hurting, and tried to make the count, but was stopped by Shane. Austin got up to help Vince against his son, but was then rolled up by the Undertaker. A rapid 3 count by Shane gave the victory, and the gold, to the Undertaker, leaving Austin screwed out of his belt.
After a Raw off in mourning (Owen Hart's tragic death occurred at Over The Edge '99), Austin went back after his World Title, challenging the Undertaker to a rematch. The Undertaker later told Austin that he would soon be brought to see the "higher power". On the next Raw, after Vince McMahon surprisingly got a DQ win over the Undertaker, Austin was granted his title shot. Before he could get the victory after a Stunner, though, the Corporate Ministry charged the ring and ambushed him. Austin was then shown the face of the higher power under a robe, which angered him still more. It was later revealed that the "higher power" was none other than Vince McMahon, who once again became Austin's main foe, joining up with the Corporate Ministry. The odds were balanced soon after, when Vince's wife, Linda, stepped down from being co-CEO of WWFE, and gave her 50% of the company to Stone Cold, making him just as powerful as Vince. Austin used the power to his advantage, constantly making matches on Raws. He also booked a match for the next PPV, putting him against both Vince & Shane McMahon.
The match later evolved into a Ladder match, with both pieces of the CEO-ownership on the line. Meanwhile, Austin continued to enjoy the power of the office, working it so that Vince McMahon's office was filled with manure. When the '99 King of the Ring finally came around, Vince tried to convince everyone that Shane McMahon was injured, and replaced him in the match with Steve Blackman. However, G-TV revealed that Shane was actually fine, and he was quickly brought out and put back into the match. The brawl was mostly dominated by Austin, although the double-team of the McMahons gave them an edge at a couple of points, including when Vince shoved the ladder over, sending Austin toppling out onto the announcers' table. But Austin came back, stunning both McMahons, then climbing the ladder and reaching for the briefcase hanging overhead. Unfortunately for Austin, a Corporate Ministry stooge (it was never revealed who) raised the briefcase out of Austin's reach, keeping him from winning. Vince then climbed the ladder and slugged it out with Austin, until Shane shoved both of them over. Shane then climbed up, with the briefcase lowering for him, and got the victory, taking away Austin's booking power.
A day later, at Raw, Austin revealed that he had gotten a contract signed before King of the Ring '99, giving him the right to a World Title shot against the Undertaker that night. It also said that if the Ministry members interfered, Austin would win the belt. This left the Undertaker with only his manager, Paul Bearer, to interfere, evening things out. As the match progressed, Austin hit a Stunner on the Undertaker, only to have Bearer pull the referee out before he could finish the count. Austin went and took out Bearer, then reentered the ring. Later on, he got a second Stunner, which put the Undertaker down long enough for Austin to become a 4-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion. After the match, though, Austin was knocked out by the Undertaker, who busted him open with the belt. This led to the Undertaker challenging Austin to a First Blood match at the next PPV. Austin accepted, as Vince McMahon put the added stipulation on the line that, if Austin lost, he would never get another title shot, while if the Undertaker lost, Vince would disappear from television.
In the weeks building up to the PPV, Austin bleed many times, due to a cut on his head that kept reopening from the Undertaker's attacks. Austin fought back, though, as Fully Loaded '99 started. He took out Jeff Jarrett during the night, apparently for no reason, then later ambushed the Undertaker and cut him open as well, giving both wrestlers wounds before the First Blood match. During the match, the Undertaker took out the referee, to allow Shane McMahon to come to the ring to be the ref. Austin stopped that, hitting Shane with a Stunner, then taking out Vince as well when he tried to interfere. Later on, when the Undertaker was disposing of X-Pac (who had come out to interfere), Austin got a TV camera and slammed it into the Undertaker's head, cutting him open. When the original referee recovered, he gave the victory to Austin, allowing him to retain his title, as well as getting rid of Vince McMahon. After the match, Hunter Hearst Helmsley attacked Austin, cutting him open, but the Rock made the save. Austin then brawled with the Undertaker as the night came to a close.
Due to the assault at the PPV, Austin began feuding with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, battling him on numerous occassions. However, since the Undertaker, the Big Show, Mankind, and other wrestlers wanted to be the #1 Contender as well, a 'tournament' was set up, with Triple H and Mankind pinning each other in the final round. This put both into the main event of Summerslam '99, making it a Triple Threat match, with Jesse "The Body" Ventura as the special referee. The bout started out with Austin & Mankind double-teaming the wrestler they both hated, HHH. But Austin later turned on Mankind, making it every man for himself. During the match, Austin landed the Stunner on Mankind, but then was stopped from getting the win by a chair shot from HHH. Helmsley then made the pin, but Ventura refused to count due to the use of a foreign object. When Shane McMahon tried to protest, Austin Stunned him, followed by Ventura throwing Shane out of the ring. After both Austin & Triple H hit their finishers on each other in succession, Mankind got a double arm DDT on Austin and made the cover, shockingly getting the victory and taking away the World Title. After the match, HHH brutally attacked Austin with a chair, tearing some ligaments in the Rattlesnake's leg (actually, Austin wanted to take some time off to work on another show, Nash Bridges).
In September '99, Austin returned with a bang, jumping out of an ambulance and ambushing Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who had recently won the World Title from Mankind. Austin then tossed Helmsley into the ambulance, drove it out to the parking lot, and slammed it multiple times with a 6-wheeler. The next week, Austin was supposed to have a shot against Helmsley, but instead was arrested for "aggravated assault". He returned before the end of the show, though, and took on Helmsley in their match, but was disqualified when he used a chair on HHH, then the referee. At the next Smackdown, instead of granting Austin a rematch, Helmsley opted to take on Vince McMahon, who had broken away from Helmsley. Although Triple H dominated the match, Austin came down during it and Stunned both HHH and his valet, Chyna, then rolled McMahon on top for the pinfall, making Vince McMahon the World Champion! McMahon would soon vacate the belt, though, putting it up for grabs in a Six Pack match at Unforgiven '99. Austin became the Special Enforcer for the match, and would get a title shot against the winner at the next Raw. In return, he reinstated Vince McMahon to active duty in the WWF.
As the Enforcer, Austin kept things even during the vacant World Title Sixpack match between HHH, the Rock, the Big Show, the British Bulldog, Mankind, and Kane. He started out at the announcers' table, doing commentary while watching the fight. When striking referees came down, though, and took out 'scab' referee Jim Corderas before he could give the 3 count to the Big Show after a chokeslam on Mankind, Austin became involved, destroying the 'rebel refs', then becoming the man in charge in the ring. He tried to make an even count, even after the Big Show pulled him out of the ring during a pinfall. When the Bulldog hit the Rock with a chair, Austin returned the favor, knocking him out. But HHH took advantage of the situation, Pedigreeing the Rock and forcing Austin to give him the 1-2-3, giving the belt back to Helmsley. After the match, Helmsley bragged, putting the belt in Austin's face, and promptly was given a Stunner.
At the next Raw, it was found out that Austin wouldn't be getting his shot that night, but would instead be facing Helmsley in the main event of the next PPV, No Mercy '99 (the US version). Things between Austin & Helmsley continued to stay red-hot, as HHH repeatedly attacked Austin's friend, Jim Ross. Ross would later return the favor, attacking HHH from behind when Helmsley turned his back on him. Before Helmsley could recover, Austin came in and beat on Helmsley, with Ross's aid. Later on, Austin got some more revenge, throwing HHH into a locker room with a real rattlesnake. Helmsley was supposedly bitten, and later said he would retire because of the bites. It proved to be a ruse, as HHH attacked Austin during the 'retirement ceremony' and pulled off fake snake scars.
At No Mercy '99, Austin & Helmsley went at it in a No Disqualification match. Before the bout began, Vince McMahon appeared and took away Helmsley's sledgehammer, removing his most lethal weapon. This gave Austin an edge, and he used it, hitting Helmsley with everything in sight, including the boom camera. Triple H was later cut open, but continued to fight back, even after the referee was taken out, suplexing Austin onto the Spanish announcers' table. As the match progressed, Austin nailed the champion repeatedly with a chair. The Rock then came to the ring with the sledgehammer, and tried to hit Helmsley, but missed, hitting Austin instead. HHH then hit the Pedigree on the Rock before pinning Austin, retaining the belt and upsetting the Rattlesnake.
Since both Austin and the Rock wanted the shot at Helmsley, Vince McMahon set up a Triple Threat match for the Survivor Series. As the weeks before the event went by, Austin & the Rock both delivered beatdowns of Triple H, while obviously showing no friendship towards each other. They teamed up briefly, though, fighting against the reunited Degeneration-X, who aided Helmsley numerous times. With the aid of Kane and Shane McMahon, the foursome warred with Helmsley, Billy Gunn, Jesse James, & X-Pac in different matches, with Austin getting some aid at one point from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who handed him a chair that he used to brain Helmsley with (Austin was the special enforcer for the match). However, just a few days later, Helmsley lured Austin to the back, where he was smashed by a car, putting him in the hospital and out of the '99 Survivor Series match. It was later announced that Austin would need back surgery due to his old neck injury, and would be out for the next five months.
In April '00, it was announced that Austin would make his return at the next PPV, standing in the Rock's corner as he fought the champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Austin later appeared during a Smackdown, saying that he was on his own side, but still made an appearance during the main event match of Backlash '00, hitting Triple H with a chair and helping the Rock win the World Title. Austin then started searching for the person who drove the truck that had run him over and 'caused' his injury so many months ago. He appeared at Unforgiven '00 to see Shane McMahon, who claimed to have proof about who had been the driver. McMahon accused Steve Blackman of the act, saying that since Blackman had hit Ken Shamrock with a car in '99, he was the most likely suspect for doing the same to Austin. The Rattlesnake promptly hit the Stunner on Blackman, but then took out McMahon as well, since he knew that McMahon was just saying that because of his feud with Blackman. This led to weeks of surprise Stunners on various WWF wrestlers, including Commissioner Mick Foley, who had tried to suspend Austin for his unwarranted assaults. Foley later revealed who the driver was, though. After seemingly putting all the evidence towards the Rock, it was shown that Rikishi Phatu was actually the driver, due to Rikishi wanting to take out Austin, the white man, so that the Rock would get his rightful push.
Austin would go after Rikishi with a vengence for the next few weeks, especially after Rikishi assaulted Jim Ross at one point. Rikishi also tried to run over Austin again, but missed. At No Mercy '00, though, Austin had not shown up, leaving speculation that he was injured again. Rikishi came to the ring and demanded that Mick Foley proclaim him the winner via forfeit. Before this could happen, though, Austin drove his truck to the ring, then brawled with Rikishi, bloodying him with a chairshot. Austin then tossed Rikishi into the back of the truck and drove away, taking him outside to the parking lot. He threw Rikishi onto the asphalt, then pulled his truck back, planning on running Rikishi over and truly getting revenge. Unfortunately for Austin, the police were ready, stopping the attempted hit-and-run and arresting him. Thus, the actual match never took place, although Rikishi did take an awful beating at the Rattlesnake's hands. On the next Raw, Austin returned from 'incarceration', Stunning Rikishi. They would finally settle their feud in the next week, with Austin winning a Steel Cage match over the Phatu.
Austin next concentrated on another attacker, who had hit him with a wrench at a Smackdown. Rikishi, who supposedly knew his ally, put the blame at the feet of the Rock, his cousin. Austin & the Rock would exchange finishers over the next week, but it was later revealed that Hunter Hearst Helmsley was actually the attacker, which HHH brutally busted Austin open with his sledgehammer while Austin was brawling with Rikishi & Kurt Angle. Commissioner Foley later arranged for Austin to face HHH at the next PPV, in a No Disqualification match. Meanwhile, Austin, the Rock, and a few other wrestlers fought against Helmsley and his allies, the Radicalz, with Austin's group usually coming out on top.
At the '00 Survivor Series, nearly a year after Austin was run over by the car, he brutually went after HHH, not going for the victory so much as for taking Helmsley out of wrestling. At one point, he backdropped Helmsley through a table, then followed it up with the Stunner, but didn't make the cover. Instead, he grabbed a chair and tried to injure Helmsley's neck, only to have HHH escape and run to the back, with Austin following. The Radicalz assaulted Austin in the back, though, allowing Helmsley to apparently escape, getting into his car. But Austin came out of nowhere with a forklift, raising Helmsley's car into the air and smashing it back down onto the concrete. The match was then ruled a No-Contest, despite the "No Disqualification" rating.
In the next few weeks following the Survivor Series, Austin had brief feuds with Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, before Helmsley made his return, dropping Austin on a chair with a neckbreaker. Austin then battled with Helmsley, as well as getting back into the World Title hunt, being placed in the 6-man Hell In A Cell match at Armageddon '00 along with Helmsley, the Undertaker, Kurt Angle, the Rock, & Rikishi. Although Vince McMahon tried to stop the match due to its 'violence', the match took place, with all 6 wrestlers working to kill their opponents. The brawl was fearsome, with many close 2-counts being broken up by other wrestlers, including a Stunner by Austin on Angle. During the battle, Vince McMahon came out in a truck and tried to take the cage down, but was stopped by the police and Commissioner Foley. The truck stayed at ringside, though, and was later used on Austin, as Helmsley put his face through one of the windows. Later on, the Undertaker pushed Rikishi off the top of the cage and into the truck's bed. In the ring, Austin hit the Rock with a Stunner, but the pin was broken up by Triple H. While Austin and Helmsley brawled, Angle snuck in and made the cover on the Rock, winning the match and keeping the World Title. After the match, Austin landed another Stunner, this time on Angle.
As the year 2000 came to a close, Austin feuded briefly with Vince McMahon & Sir William Regal, aiding Commissioner Foley when McMahon tried to get him to resign. Austin also threatened Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, eventually earning a Number-One Contenders shot against Kane & the Undertaker, which he managed to win after interference from Rikishi distracted the Undertaker. This gave Austin his shot at Kurt Angle, who held the World Title, but before Austin could beat him, Hunter Hearst Helmsley again returned, taking out the referee and bloodying Austin with a steel pipe. Due to the attack, Austin brought Vince McMahon out and got his assurance that Austin would be in the Royal Rumble, with the added stipulation that he couldn't attack Helmsley, and vice versa, or else he'd lose his spot.
In the weeks leading up to the PPV, Austin & Helmsley challenged each other, with Austin eventually having the stipulation lifted so that he could Stun Helmsley at one point. At the '01 Royal Rumble, Austin interfered in the Helmsley-Angle World Title match, Stunning HHH to allow Angle to retain his belt. Austin then entered the Rumble at #27, only to be brutally ambushed by Helmsley on the way to the ring, cutting him open. Security got rid of Helmsley, finally allowing Austin to get to the ring with the final wrestlers, brawling with Rikishi before tossing Haku and Billy Gunn, leaving himself, the Rock, & Kane. After Kane managed to get rid of the Rock, Austin landed the Stunner on Kane, then used a chair to eliminate him, winning the Rumble for the third time in five tries.
Austin's feud with Helmsley continued into the next month, as a match was signed between them for the next PPV. The two attacked each other in the next few weeks, with multiple McMahons paying the price, including Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, who took a Stunner from Austin during a Monday Night Raw. The build-up continued as the match-up at the PPV was made a Three Falls match. At No Way Out '01, Austin & Helmsley faced off in the first 'fall', a regular match which featured Helmsley working over Austin's well-documented injured neck. Austin responded later in the match, though, finally landing a Stunner (after multiple blocks) to get the first pinfall of the night. This moved them to the second fall, which was fought under Hardcore rules. Austin held the advantage early on, hitting multiple suplexes onto the ramp, but was later cut open by a barbed wire 2x4. Austin later backdropped Helmsley through the Spanish announcers' table in a vicious spot. But HHH managed to get his hands on his sledgehammer, hitting Austin with it and following it up with a Pedigree to take the second fall, 28 minutes into the match. The third fall was fought in a cage, with Helmsley in charge and using the barbed wire around the ring. Austin came back with a slam off of the cage, then both men followed with their finishers for 2 counts. In the end, both hit each other with foreign objects, knocking each other down. Helmsley landed on top, getting the final pinfall and winning the epic match.
Despite losing at No Way Out, Austin was still given the shot against the new WWF World Champion, the Rock, at Wrestlemania, due to Austin having won the Royal Rumble. In the weeks building up to the PPV, Austin and the Rock had various confrontations, with Vince McMahon still floating around as a troublemaker, causing problems between the two wrestlers. The match-up between the two wrestlers was then made into a No-Disqualification match, raising the violence level. Austin went into Wrestlemania X-7 determined to regain the World Title, with both he and the Rock having face heat. Both tried their finishers early in the match, with both blocking the attempts, including Rock's attempt of a Stunner on Austin. They then battled to the outside, with Austin bashing the Rock's head open with a ring bell. The Rock would later return the shot, causing the Rattlesnake to bleed as well. They later ventured back into the ring, where a Stunner was reversed into a Sharpshooter by the Rock. After escaping, Austin applied a couple of Sharpshooters himself, followed by his old finisher, the Million Dollar Dream. The Rock then got his version of the Stunner for two, then later hit the People's Elbow, only to have Vince McMahon surprisingly make the save for Austin, who then got a version of the Rock Bottom on his opponent. Later, when the ref was knocked down, McMahon entered the ring and aided Austin again, leading to Austin pummeling the Rock with a chair, followed by the cover for the victory, winning the World Title for the fifth time. Afterwards, Austin & Vince McMahon shook hands, showing that Austin had 'sold his soul to the devil himself' to get the gold back.
At the next Raw, when the Rock demanded and got a rematch, Austin faced off with him in a cage match. Meanwhile, an angry Hunter Hearst Helmsley was shown questioning Vince McMahon, wondering where his place was in the mix. During the main event cage match, Helmsley came down to the ring, apparently turning face to help the Rock. Instead, he used his sledgehammer on the Rock, joining with Austin & McMahon to brutally beat the former champion, allowing Austin to keep his belt. On the following Smackdown, Jim Ross, Austin's long-time friend, tried to interview the Rattlesnake, who showed obvious rage towards the announcer. When a disappointed Ross turned his back to leave the ring, saying that he didn't know his friend anymore, Austin attacked him from behind, laying down a brutal beating that Vince McMahon encouraged, proving that Austin was now a full-time heel. For the next week, Austin and Helmsley would feud with the Hardy Boyz, since the Rock had been suspended indefinitely 'for his own good' by Mr. McMahon.
After the brief Hardy Boyz feud, Austin & Helmsley concentrated on the Brothers of Destruction, Kane & the Undertaker, who had returned to go after the heels and Mr. McMahon. After the two faces won the tag-team titles from Edge & Christian, it was announced that the two teams would face off at the next PPV with all three of their titles on the line (Helmsley was the IC champ at the time). Austin & Helmsley made sure to work in various assaults on the two brothers, focusing on Kane's injured arm, trying to make the injury worse as the PPV came closer, and not fully failing. At Backlash '01, the two teams had it out, with the larger, more powerful faces keeping the advantage at the beginning, before Austin & Helmsley concentrated again on Kane's arm. At one point, Helmsley hit Kane with his Pedigree, but Austin insisted on being the one to make the pin, which gave Kane enough time to recover and kick out. Later on, Austin hit the Stunner on Kane, then went off and brawled with the Undertaker, while Helmsley, hefting his sledgehammer that Mr. McMahon had been holding, pounded Kane and got the pinfall, winning the WWF Tag-Team Titles and giving the two men two titles each.
On the next card, Austin, Helmsley, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley & Vince were shown celebrating their victory. Austin also said he'd give a World Title shot to Kane, whose arm was still badly injured. Linda McMahon appeared on the Titon Tron, though, and said that Kane deserved the night off, but since Austin was wanting to defend the belt, he could do it against the Undertaker. This understandably angered Austin, who blamed Vince for his 'woman' interfering in his business. This was the time when Austin started to use his new quote: "I'm Stone Cold Steve Austin, and I don't deserve this!" When the Undertaker came out to the ring for the main event title match, Austin & Helmsley were shown in the back, viciously beating down Kane. The Undertaker then ran to the back and threw Helmsley into a door, knocking him out and leaving it a one-on-one fight between Austin and the Undertaker that went back to the ring. After a few minutes of back-and-forth action, a recovered Helmsley came to the ring and attacked the Undertaker with the sledgehammer, causing the DQ but making sure that Austin retained the belt. Afterwards, Austin & Helmsley beat down the Undertaker and Kane, with Austin putting Kane's injured arm between a chair and stomping on it.
With Kane temporarily out of the picture, Austin & Helmsley took every opportunity to double-team the Undertaker, including meeting him in a Handicap match at the British PPV, Insurrextion '01. However, the Undertaker fought through both men, managing to pin Helmsley to get the win. Since HHH was the one pinned, though, Austin still retained the World Title. The feud continued between Austin and the Undertaker in the next few weeks, as the Undertaker was given the World Title shot at the next PPV. Austin & Helmsley continued to work as a team, though, retaining the Tag-Team belts in various encounters, as well as doing well in the singles brackets, winning usually by cheating. Austin also made the feud with the Undertaker personal, bringing his wife into the picture. At Judgment Day '01, Austin first tried to aid Helmsley in his IC Title match against the returning Kane, but accidentally hit Helmsley with a chair, costing him the match and the belt. This caused some problems between Helmsley & Austin, but it was pushed aside, as Austin had to next defend the belt against the Undertaker.
In the main event, the two wrestlers went at it in a typically brutal match between them, starting on the outside before making its way back into the ring. The Undertaker's power gave him an advantage at one point, as he slammed Austin into the announcers' table. Austin came back by using a TV monitor, then took off a turnbuckle pad and slammed the Undertaker into it, bloodying him. Austin later used a chair on his foe, then got the Stunner, but only got a two count. The Undertaker then made a comeback, as Austin accidentally hit Vince McMahon with the chair, then was put in position for the Last Ride. Helmsley, however, had come to the ring, hitting the Undertaker with the sledgehammer to give Austin the pin and the victory, keeping him World Champ.
Due to Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho winning the Tag-Team Turmoil match at Judgment Day, Austin & Helmsley were forced to defend the belts against them at the next Raw. Before the match, Austin was shown searching for his wife, Debra, who had come back on the scene a few weeks before. When Austin finally found her, he cautioned her about wandering around on her own. The Undertaker then burst in, telling Austin never to mess with his wife again, or else Debra might be in trouble. Austin later blamed Debra for the mess, then went to get ready for the tag-team title defense, with obvious tension between him and Helmsley. During the Tag-Team Title defense, Austin was caught in the Walls of Jericho, but was saved by Helmsley (who injured himself in the save). Helmsley was later put in the Walls of Jericho on the announcer's table, while Austin & Benoit fought in the ring. Benoit landed his Flying Headbutt, but the referee wasn't there to make the count. When Benoit went to wake him up, Austin recovered, hitting the Stunner but only getting the two count before Jericho made the save. Jericho then got his Lionsault on Austin, but Triple H came in to break up the pinfall with the sledgehammer. He missed, though, striking Austin instead, before being taken out once more. Another Lionsault was landed, allowing Jericho to make the pin and take the tag-team titles away from Austin & Helmsley.
Austin would continue to battle the duo of Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit during the next couple of weeks, working with McMahon's help to screw both wrestlers out of chances to win the titles, including a reference to the Montreal screwjob at one point, when Austin put Benoit in a version of the Crippler Crossface and McMahon immediately yelled for the bell. The various screwjobs came back to haunt Austin, though, as Linda McMahon & Mick Foley gave Commissioner Regal to choice of either having Austin face Jericho & Benoit in singles matches at KOTR, or facing both in a Triple Threat match. Regal chose the Triple Threat match, enraging Austin, who later brutally beat Regal's aide, Tajiri. Austin began to show signs of being unstable, giving Vince McMahon a hug during one point after a freakish moment of silence between them. Austin later tried to get a petition signed to abolish the Triple Threat match, forcing various people to sign it, including Jim Ross, but the petition was torn up by Spike Dudley after Austin called his girlfriend, Molly Holly, a bimbo. Austin got revenge later that night, horribly beating the small-but-gutsy Spike in a World Title defense. On the next Raw, though, Austin teamed up with the Dudley Boyz against Spike, Jericho, & Benoit, and was put into both the Walls of Jericho & the Crippler Crossface, being forced to tap out.
Things continued to look bad for Austin, as the King of the Ring grew near. Not only would Austin have to fight off two tremendous contenders to keep the World Title, his instability started to scare off Vince McMahon, after Austin issued an ultimatum. He made Vince have to choose between the Rattlesnake and Vince's wife, who was working to take away half of Vince's money in the divorce settlements. Austin offered Vince multiple gifts at the Smackdown before the PPV, but then violently attacked Michael Cole for his comments about Vince a few weeks before. After Vince checked on Cole, convincing him not to sue the WWF, he walked away from Austin, saying that he had to defend the belt on his own. This meant that, at the PPV, Austin would have to defend the belt without his friend and ally, Vince, in his corner. As the '01 King of the Ring began, Austin was told the rumor that was flying around the arena, that if either Benoit or Jericho won the belt, it would be taken to WCW. Austin immediately called Vince, telling him what was going on, and was told that Vince was on his way.
When it came time for the main event, Austin was still trying to stall, waiting for Vince. The stalling failed, however, as both Benoit & Jericho attacked him, starting the match. Austin was double-teamed for a time, but a miscue by Jericho broke up the partners' teamwork, making it a true Triple Threat match. Early on in the match, Austin went for his Stunner on Benoit, only to have it surprisingly reversed into Benoit's version of the finisher, getting a two count. Later on, Austin was put in both the Crippler Crossface and the Walls of Jericho, and tapped. But the referee claimed that there had to be one winner, making the match continue. Austin was later put on the outside after a chair shot, then was shockingly assaulted by the WCW World Champion, Booker T! Booker hit the Axe Kick on Austin, then gave him the Bookend through the Spanish announcers' table, seemingly taking Austin out of action as the other two wrestlers fought it out. Austin, though, was later put into the ring by Jericho for a pin attempt, then left for dead. After Benoit was superplexed by Jericho, Austin came out of nowhere and made the pin, somehow overcoming the odds and staying the WWF World Champion.
At the next Raw, Booker T, with WCW owner Shane McMahon, appeared at WWF New York and challenged Austin, calling him out. Austin, who had been hanging out with still-friend Vince, reluctantly decided to head out to the restaurant, since they were at Madison Square Garden. He took Kurt Angle with him, who had been relaxing with the group. When they reached the place, they entered, looking for a fight, while Vince, back in the MSG ring, watched. Austin looked for his opposition, but was told that the two WCW members had already left. Back at the MSG, Vince called Booker T a coward, but then was surprised when his son Shane came out of the back. While Vince was watching Shane, Booker T entered the ring and assaulted Vince, hitting the Axe Kick, then running before the WWF wrestlers could catch him. The next week, due to Austin's suggestion, WCW wrestlers were allowed to compete on Raw. The first match signed was Booker T defending his WCW World Title against Buff Bagwell. During the match, both Austin & Angle ran out, coming to the ring and double-teaming Booker. They were joined, surprisingly, by Buff, allowing the three men to savagely beat the WCW champion and throw him out of the building. However, as soon as Booker was done, Austin & Angle turned on Buff, savagely beating him as well.
Austin continued to act strange at the next Smackdown, when he gave Vince McMahon a cowboy hat for a gift. He also gave a child's hat to Kurt Angle, who took it as a great prize. Austin then later sent Angle in his stead to go after Booker T, who took him out. On the next Raw, when ECW joined up with WCW, Austin mainly stayed in the backstage area with Vince, although he did proclaim himself the leader of the WWF team for the PPV, after Angle was again beaten by Booker T. At Smackdown, Austin told a heart-broken Vince that he had what would solve Vince's problems. He then got a guitar and began singing off-key various tunes, including "I am the champion". Later on that night, Vince came to the ring and called out Austin. He claimed that, to beat ECW/WCW, he didn't need the hugging, gift-giving, guitar-strumming Austin. He needed the old Stone Cold. McMahon then tried to entice Austin to hit him, even screaming to the crowd "If you want to see Austin beat the living hell out of Vince McMahon, give me a hell yeah!" Although the crowd gave an affirmative, Austin shook his head and left the ring, ignoring Vince's cries of "give me a Stunner, damnit!"
On the Raw a week before the important PPV, Austin started the show in a bar in Rhode Island, nursing a beer. Vince McMahon showed up and again talked to Austin, trying to inspire him into returning to his old form. Austin just turned away, though, ignoring him. For the majority of the night, Austin drank beer and shot pool. However, when Freddie Blassie gave an inspirational speech to the WWF superstars from a wheelchair, Austin listened from the bar, then tossed away the cue ball and smashed his poolstick, then left the bar in a hurry. At the end of the night, when the WWF squad was losing in a wild brawl with the ECW/WCW wrestlers, Stone Cold showed up, destroying separate groups of ECW wrestlers before making it to the main fracas in the ring. With the crowd going wild, Austin tore into the rival factions, delivering several Stunners and helping to clear the ring. He then stood tall alongside Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Kane & the Undertaker, the rest of the WWF team. It appeared the old Stone Cold was back.
At Smackdown, Austin appeared with Debra, while Vince celebrated the return of his money-man. Austin definitely looked like the old Stone Cold, dodging a hug from Vince, then knocking Vince out with a guitar shot after Vince tried to get Austin singing. Later that night, Austin teamed with Angle against Diamond Dallas Page & Rhyno. Austin quickly took charge, hitting rapid Stunners on both men. But when the 'Tron showed Diamond Dallas Page escaping with Debra in his truck, Austin immediately left the ring and ran outside, eventually fighting through a ECWCW/WWF brawl to chase DDP's vehicle, driving away in a limo. Meanwhile, Angle was severely beaten in the ring by the numerous ECWCW wrestlers. At Invasion, Austin led his team into the main event, the "Inaugural Brawl". The match lived up to its name, barely sticking to a tag-team format, as the two 5-man teams went at it. During the bout, Austin went down, apparently with a hurt knee, and was checked out by the trainer as the match continued. When everything broke down, only Angle and Booker T were left in the ring, with Angle getting his Angle Lock. Shockingly, though, Austin entered the ring and attacked Angle, hitting the Stunner, then rolling Booker T on top, getting the 3 count. Austin then celebrated with Team ECW/WCW, leaving his allies in the WWF behind.
ECW/WCW Alliance: 2001
On the next Raw, Austin talked to the fans he had betrayed, saying that he hadn't been appreciated. He pointed out how Vince McMahon had been "hugging" Kurt Angle behind his back. So he switched to a team that appreciated him. Angle then came out, coming to the ring, which became a brawl. Austin and Angle feuded for the next few weeks, with Austin helping Booker T take away Angle's WCW World Title. Austin also led the Alliance, congratulating those who won and beating on those who lost. He brought the Alliance down to the ring on one Raw, and brought Tazz into the ring. He showed some videotape, showing how Tazz had not gotten involved (he was the announcer) during a match between Shane McMahon and the Rock. Austin then attacked Tazz, and told the rest of the Alliance to attack him as well, to teach him respect.
On the Smackdown before the pay-per-view, Austin posted a clipboard for the "Austin Invitational", where anyone was allowed to sign up to face him in a match. The first to sign up was Kurt Angle. Tazz was also shown coming to the announce table, saying that he had a personal interest in the match. When Austin came out, he said he'd face the first person on the list. He then turned the list upside-down, calling out Scotty Too Hotty. Austin then taunted Hotty, only to be knocked down and nearly hit by Hotty's finisher, the Worm. Austin came back quickly, though, and landed the Stunner. Angle then came to the ring, with Tazz sliding in from the side. Just when it seemed that Tazz was going to attack Austin, however, he instead put Angle in the Tazmission, proving his loyalty to the Alliance. Later in the night, Taz and Angle fought in a match, with Angle getting the victory. Austin then came to the ring to fight Angle, with a brawl erupting involving most of the wrestlers on both rosters. During the melee, Austin's Stunner was reversed into Angle's Olympic Slam, marking a bad omen for the PPV.
With Austin's World Title on the line, he faced off against Kurt Angle at Summerslam '01, focusing on Angle's injured ankle. Angle found some momentum with a series of belly-to-back suplexes, but Austin quickly regained the advantage, hitting his Stunner. He only got a 2 count, which led Austin to accuse the WWF ref, Earl Hebner, of counting slow. Another Stunner sent Angle out of the ring, and the brawl continued on the outside, with Angle's forehead being opened up. Things started to turn as Austin threw Angle over a divider wall. When Austin started to follow him over, Angle came alive, getting his ankle lock submission hold. When Hebner told Angle he couldn't win on the outside, Angle simply brought Austin back into the ring and reapplied the hold. Austin was able to escape, but Angle stayed in charge, getting several close pinfalls, especially after hitting a top-rope moonsault. In the end, the match was decided via trickery, as Austin knocked out several WWF referees. He then went to hit Angle with the title, only to have Angle land the Angle Slam. A fourth referee, Alliance member Nick Patrick, ran out, but immediately called for the bell, saying that Austin was disqualified for abusing the referees. This allowed Austin to keep the World Title. After the match, Angle locked Patrick in the ankle lock, as Austin left the ring.
On the next Raw, Austin bragged about how he beat Angle, to the cheers of the Alliance members. During the night, wrestlers like Tazz, Hurricane Helms and Sean Stasiak voiced their appreciation of Austin. At the end of the night, the Alliance came to the ring, bringing out Austin. They each gave a tribute to Austin, from Helms giving up his Green Lantern t-shirt, to Stephanie McMahon singing off-key to a new version of "Wind Beneath My Wings". Austin then got on the mike and talked about how proud he was, but he quickly got angry at Tazz, who wasn't wearing an Austin t-shirt. Before anything could happen, though, Kurt Angle drove a milk truck to the ring and sprayed everyone, ending the night. On the following Smackdown, after Rob Van Dam and Raven fought over the Hardcore Title, Austin came to the ring to complain about two Alliance members fighting. After they left, Chris Jericho came out, taunting Austin. The two opt on a match, but Austin didn't put the World Title on the line, saying that Jericho didn't deserve it. Commissioner Regal turned the tables on Austin, though, making the bout a World Championship Match. In a furious match, Austin nearly lost the title, but managed to reverse a roll-up and use the ropes to stay the champ.
As Raw came around, Austin was shown with an arm injury due to the match against Jericho. He was also scheduled in a tag match against Jericho & Kurt Angle. It was suggested by Raven that he and Rob Van Dam should take his place, with Austin being at ringside. Raven was later taken out by Angle, who wanted Austin to fight. Austin then came and found Raven, hitting his injured ankle in anger at having to team with RVD. Later on, Austin came out, announcing that RVD's tag partner would be Tazz. Although Austin tried to interfere in the match, Angle & Jericho got the victory, with Angle reversing the Tazzmission into the ankle lock. Austin then entered the ring and beat on Angle, taking his gold medals. Throughout the next Smackdown, Angle chased Austin, trying to regain his medals. Austin ended up tying them to a cinderblock and throwing them into the river. Angle got revenge on Raw, attacking Austin after he had been awarded a new truck. Angle drove off with Austin, and threatened to throw him into the river with a cinderblock, drowning him. Austin cried and said he was sorry for the medals, and eventually agreed to give Angle a title shot. Angle then threw Austin into a kiddie pool and drove off in the truck.
Austin continued to have problems over the next week, as he felt embarrassed about what had happened. He threatened to fight the next man to come through the door. The man turned out to be Rob Van Dam, who was placed in a match with Austin. Thanks to the distraction of Angle, Van Dam got the roll-up victory. On the next Raw, Austin confronted Van Dam, but said that he liked the man's confidence, convincing Van Dam to defend his Hardcore Title against Angle. When Angle won the match, a furious Austin came out, first throwing Angle off the ramp, then tossing Van Dam. Van Dam landed on Angle, allowing him to get another pinfall and win back the title, thanks (accidentally) to Austin. Angle also had an injured neck from the fall. Before the next Smackdown, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center occured. The show went on live, with Austin being among the stars who broke character to talk about the 9/11 tragedy. Austin called the terrorists cowards, and said that his heart went out to the victims. For one moment, the Alliance and the WWF were joined together in sorrow and anger at what had gone down in New York City.
It was back to business as usual on the next Raw. Austin was placed in a tag-team match with Rob Van Dam against Kurt Angle & Chris Jericho. Austin had problems with RVD, who seemed to be gaining popularity with the Alliance members. During the match, Van Dam accidentally hit Austin with a heel kick. Austin then threw RVD out of the ring. This allowed Angle to get the ankle lock applied, but RVD came back in to make the save. Later in the match, Austin got ready to stun Angle, only to get nailed with the Olympic Slam and pinned. On the final Smackdown before the pay-per-view, Austin came out and verbally abused Torrie Wilson, who had helped Tajiri (a WWF wrestler) win the US Title. Tajiri came out to protect Torrie, only to be taken down by Austin. Kurt Angle then came out, but was quickly attacked by Tazz, who stalled him enough for Austin to take Angle out, piledriving him on the concrete. Angle ended up getting carted out on a stretcher, but would return later in the night, assuring Austin that he would beat him for the World Title.
At Unforgiven '01, Austin and Angle couldn't wait to get started. The fight began on the rampway, with Angle violently attacking Austin. The two brawled down to the ring, with Angle dominating the early going. The attack was so brutal that Austin tried to leave, grabbing the World Title. But Angle chased him down, throwing him off the stage. Austin finally managed a comeback on the outside, landing three front-face suplexes on the Spanish announcers' table. The two reentered the ring, going back-and-forth, including both men using the other's finishing maneuver. In the end, Austin hit a piledriver on Angle, then set him up for the Stone Cold Stunner. But Angle reversed the maneuver, locking on his ankle lock and getting the submission victory, winning away the WWF World Heavyweight Title.
Austin did not show up for the next few weeks, although Shane McMahon came forward with "evidence" that showed Austin's arm going through the ropes before he tapped. McMahon announced that Austin had been screwed, although the decision was not reversed. The next week, Austin faxed in interview statements to Paul Heyman, saying that he resented the fans, and that he wanted Rob Van Dam to acknowledge him as the only leader of the Alliance. Austin also sent in a fax saying that Commissioner William Regal should award Austin the #1 Contendership, but Regal only knocked out the messenger, Heyman. When Shane McMahon came out on Smackdown and announced that Austin had a clause in his contract stating that he would get a rematch, Commissioner Regal again came out, this time tearing up Austin's WWF contract, since he had joined the Alliance. McMahon finally managed to arrange a chance for Austin, but someone in the Alliance had to beat Angle in a non-title match. Rob Van Dam was voted into the match, and with the assitance of WCW referees and Shane, RVD got the victory, earning Austin a World Title shot.
Austin returned to the WWF for the October 8th Raw, after two weeks off. He and Angle were signed for the World Title match, with all Alliance members banned from ringside. Commissioner Regal was also at ringside, to keep things from getting out of hand. The match was a long, violent affair, with both men nearly getting the victory numerous times. Finally, Austin headed to the outside to get the World Title, as the referee was out cold in the ring. Regal stopped Austin, taking away the title, but then spun and nailed Angle with it, switching to the Alliance! Regal revived the ref, but Austin only got a 2 count, so he raised Angle back up and hit the Stone Cold Stunner. Three smacks on the mat later, Steve Austin had won the WWF World Heavyweight Title for the sixth time.
At the following Smackdown, as the Alliance celebrated, Linda McMahon came out. She immediately fired William Regal, taking away his WWF Commissionership. Kurt Angle then came out of the crowd and attacked the Alliance, specifically Austin. Later on in the night, Rob Van Dam, as a reward for earning Austin's title shot, was given a #1 Contenders match for the WCW World Title against Chris Jericho. Surprisingly, Austin came to the ring and hit Van Dam with a chair, costing him his shot. Austin then called the rest of the Alliance to the ring. He told them that Van Dam wasn't the leader, but Austin was. He said that RVD would be a big star in a few years, but Austin was in charge now. The new WWF Commissioner, Mick Foley, then came out and made a match for the next pay-per-view: Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam.
Austin immediately began looking for a way to get RVD out of the Triple Threat match. Austin was set to team with someone from the Alliance against Kurt Angle and the Undertaker. An Alliance vote was taken, with Austin saying that everyone chose Booker T as his partner (while obviously most had voted for Van Dam). Austin then set up Van Dam in a WCW World Title match against the Rock, since if RVD won, he would have to defend the belt at the pay-per-view. Due to interference from Chris Jericho, though, Van Dam only won through a disqualification, keeping him from getting the belt. Meanwhile, during the tag-team match, with the Undertaker and Booker T fighting through the crowd, both Austin and Angle (and the ref) were down in the ring. Van Dam then ran down, climbed the turnbuckle, and hesitated, before nailing Angle with his Five Star Frog Splash, helping Austin get the victory.
On the next Smackdown, a cheerful Austin threw a celebration party for RVD, who had "proved" he was on Austin's side. He even gave RVD his watch as a gift. However, later on footage was shown of RVD talking with Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWF, in his limo, which infuriated Austin. The champ demanded his watch back, then kicked Van Dam out of the Alliance locker room. Later in the night, during the Van Dam/Angle match, Austin came out and attacked both wrestlers, before getting hit by Angle's Olympic Slam. Van Dam then landed his Five Star Frog Splash on Austin, taking him out. After the match, Vince McMahon walked out on the stage and did the "R-V-D" thumbs gesture, apparently signaling that RVD was joining the WWF.
At No Mercy '01, tensions were high between the three competitors. WCW Commissioner Regal approached Van Dam and told him to apologize to Austin, but RVD refused, saying that he was on no one's side but his own. The match was made a No Disqualification Match for the World Title. Austin and Van Dam started out double-teaming Angle, but Austin then flipped off Van Dam, breaking down any budding alliance between the two. There were some spectacular spots in the match, from Van Dam's Rolling Thunder to Angle's top-rope moonsault. In a series of moves, Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner on Angle, Van Dam hit a split-legged moonsault on Austin, and Angle got the Olympic Slam on RVD. Each had the pin attempt broken up by the third man. As the match progressed, Vince McMahon came to ringside. After Austin hit Angle with another Stunner, Vince entered the ring and bloodied Austin with a chair-shot. RVD then hit the Five-Star Frog Splash for a near victory, with Angle breaking up the attempt. As Angle and RVD fought, Shane McMahon came down to the ring, tossing Angle out and brawling with his father. Austin then recovered enough to hit the Stunner on Van Dam and get the pin, retaining the title.
Austin missed Raw the next night, as he had to have 12 stiches put into his head, courtesy of Vince McMahon's chair shot. During the show, it was announced that the Alliance and the WWF would have a match at Survivor Series, to finally settle the invasion. On Smackdown, Stephanie & Shane McMahon started firing members of the Alliance, but Austin came out and angrily got in their faces, talking about how they were breaking up the Alliance. Austin then regrouped the troops over the next few weeks, including bringing in Kurt Angle, who turned on the WWF. Austin then gave Angle his gold medals back, saying that it took a while to get them out of the Detroit River. Austin and Angle teamed up at the top of the Alliance hierarchy, as the teams were put together for the Survivor Series. But suspicion started to grow in the Alliance camp, as Vince McMahon insinuated that Austin was going to turn on them at the pay-per-view.
At the '01 Survivor Series, Austin & Debra repeatedly denied that they were going to turn, although they were still viewed suspiciously by the Alliance leaders. At the end of the night, the "Winner Take All" 10-man Elimination match took place. The Alliance was represented by Austin, Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, & Shane McMahon. The WWF team consisted of the Rock, the Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, & the Big Show. After RVD hit the Big Show with his Five Star Frog Splash, Shane got a top-rope elbow for the first elimination. The WWF soon evened things up, with Jericho landing the Lionsault on Shane and pinning him. The match went on for a while, with it breaking down into a brawl. RVD then hit a missile dropkick on Kane and eliminated him. Austin later put the Stone Cold Stunner on the Undertaker and had Angle pin him, giving the Alliance a 4-2 advantage.
The Rock would bring his team back, rolling up Booker T for the 3 count. Jericho then took out RVD with a front-face slam, evening things up. Later on, the Rock put Angle in the Sharpshooter, forcing him to submit and putting Austin all by himself. Problems between Jericho & the Rock, though, gave Austin a chance, and he used it, rolling up Jericho to eliminate him. Jericho then attacked the Rock, putting Austin in charge of the match. Both wrestlers hit the other man's finishing maneuver, with multiple refs (both WWF and Alliance) circulating through the ropes. In the end, with the referees all down, Austin hit the Stunner on the Rock, but was then surprisingly attacked by Angle, who hadn't turned after all. The Rock Bottom soon followed, with Austin being eliminated, ending the run of the Alliance.
The next day, on Raw, Vince McMahon & Kurt Angle bragged about destroying the Alliance, with Vince planning to hand over Austin's WWF World Title to Angle, since Austin hadn't shown up. Ric Flair then came out, announcing that he was the new co-owner of the WWF, having bought stocks from the fired Stephanie & Shane McMahon. Austin next came out and attacked Angle, before taking back his World Title. Flair & McMahon later announced that Austin would face Angle at the next pay-per-view, with the WWF Title on the line, while the Rock(c) and Chris Jericho would fight over the former WCW World Title. The winners of each match would then face off to decide the first Undisputed World Champion. During the next few weeks, Austin had to deal with many foes, including the remaining members of the Alliance. He also was told to kiss Mr. McMahon's ass, but Austin tricked him, instead landing a low blow, following by a whipping from a belt. The Alliance members & Kurt Angle then ran to the ring and attacked Austin, taking him out.
Austin also had problems with Chris Jericho, who claimed that Austin was scared of him. Jericho and Austin fought on a couple of occassions going into December '01, with Austin coming out on top. During one of their matches, though, Booker T (then unemployed) stole Austin's beer truck, forcing Austin to chase him. Austin also had another involvement in the Kiss My Ass club. When Angle lost a match to the Rock, McMahon was scheduled to have to kiss the Rock's ass. McMahon claimed to have a plan to get out of it, but Austin took care of it, taking out Angle so that he could not interfere. McMahon then had to kiss Rikishi's ass, a disgusting experience. Later in the night, Austin and the Rock defeated Jericho & Angle in a tag match, then toasted each other's titles with beer.
At Vengence '01, the Undisputed Title Tournament commenced, with Austin first going up against the man who betrayed him, Kurt Angle. The fighting went back-and-forth, with Angle concentrating on Austin's leg, even getting a figure-four leglock around the ringpost. Angle then put on the ankle lock, only to have Austin escape. After a few more momentum changes, Angle got the Olympic Slam, but only got a 2 count. He then went for the Stunner, but Austin reversed it, hitting a Stunner of his own and getting the victory, retaining the World Title. Later on, Chris Jericho, with help from Vince McMahon, defeated the Rock, placing him in the final unification match. Austin came out immediately and attacked Jericho, but then Angle returned, hitting Austin with a steel chair shot. The Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Jericho, then left, leaving both men on the mat as the match 'started'. The two men recovered and fought both inside and outside the ring, including on top of the Spanish announcer's table. Things got worse for Austin after the ref was taken out. Vince McMahon made his way down and placed crooked ref, Nick Patrick, in charge. Vince then took out Ric Flair, keeping him from interfering. In the end, Austin got the Walls of Jericho, the submission hold, on Jericho, but the ref was still down. Booker T then entered the ring and knocked out Austin with the World Title, allowing Jericho to get the win and unify the belts.
On the Raw after the pay-per-view, after Jericho's "coronation" ceremony had taken place, co-owner Ric Flair informed the new champ that he would face Austin in a steel cage match for the Undisputed Title later that night. Jericho's sole goal in the match was to escape, thus keeping the title, but Austin wouldn't allow it, eventually breaking Jericho's head open. In the end, though, Booker T again was the main factor, smashing the door of the cage into Austin's head, knocking him out long enough for Jericho to escape with the belts. Austin would ambush Booker T a few days later, disguising himself as a fireman to get close enough. Booker T ran, getting to the limo and driving off, with Austin chasing him. The two ended up fighting in a shopping mart, with Austin decimating Booker T with all sorts of food. Booker T fought back, trying to lock Austin in a freezer, but the fight ended up at the check-out counter, with Austin throwing Booker T across the counter and leaving.
Austin feuded with Booker T going into 2002, but also concentrated on regaining the World Title. To do that, he entered the '02 Royal Rumble, where he was considered one of the favorites. Austin came in as #19, and quickly had an impact, eliminating Christian, Chuck Palumbo, and Perry Saturn to be the sole man in the ring. He also brought Christian and Palumbo back in and landed Stone Cold Stunners on them, before throwing them out again. Austin later eliminated Test and Val Venis, then Hunter Hearst Helmsley came to the ring, leading to a brawl. The Hurricane next came in and attempted to chokeslam both wrestlers. He was quickly eliminated. Booker T was the 30th man in, but Austin quickly attacked him and landed the Stunner, taking Booker T out of the Rumble. Unfortunately for Austin, though, he was tossed out by Kurt Angle while trying to eliminate Mr. Perfect. Austin took out his anger by hitting Mr. Perfect with a steel chair. Helmsley ended up winning the Rumble.
On the next Raw, Mr. Perfect complained about Austin costing him a shot at the World Title. Later that night, Mr. Perfect and Val Venis were involved in a match, when Austin came down to the ring and again smashed Mr. Perfect with a chair, causing the DQ. When Venis complained, Austin took him out as well with a Stunner. A short tournament was put together in the coming weeks, to decide who would face Chris Jericho at the next pay-per-view. Austin first took out Booker T, while Kurt Angle won over the Rock. Austin then faced Angle at the next Raw, with Austin nearly losing control and using a chair on Angle, which would have disqualified him. Austin dropped the chair, though, and the fight continued, with Austin surviving an Olympic Slam, then hitting the Stone Cold Stunner for the victory, earning him the shot against Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Title.
The big story at No Way Out '02 was the return of the new World order, which consisted of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. During the night, the nWo confronted Austin, offering him a sixpack of beer. Austin claimed that he was not thirsty, and threw down the beer, walking away. The Undisputed Title match started off with both Austin and Jericho flipping the other off. A brawl soon followed, with the two men fighting down the aisle. Austin slammed Jericho into the side of a trailor, then brought him back to the ring. Austin seemed to be in complete control, as he landed three consecutive superplexes. Jericho, in desperation, hit a low blow, regaining control. The momentum would switch a few more times as the match continued, with the Walls of Jericho being applied on Austin. The Rattlesnake managed to get to the ropes, which enraged Jericho, who went for the title to hit Austin, but was stopped by the ref. The end came when Jericho 'accidentally' knocked the ref out of the ring. Austin applied both the Walls of Jericho and the Stone Cold Stunner, but with no ref, he couldn't win. The nWo then came to the ring and attacked Austin, knocking him out with Hall's version of the Stunner. Jericho then made the cover, getting the victory. After the match, the nWo spray-painted Austin with their symbol, leaving him out in the ring.
On the next Raw, Austin immediately came out to the ring, taking a seat and demanding a piece of the nWo. The members of the nWo came out, but then left, refusing to fight. Austin sat in the ring for some time, saying that he wouldn't leave, but Kurt Angle eventually came out with security guards, sending them in to arrest him and take him away. Austin would return on Smackdown, going after the nWo, mainly focusing on Scott Hall. Austin drove a truck to the ring, trying to run over Hall, and chased the nWo to the back. Austin also spray-painted the phrase "What?" on the nWo limo. Austin then managed to trap Hogan & Nash behind a steel fence, before taking Hall to the ring, hitting the Stone Cold Stunner and spray-painting "3:16" on the downed nWo member. All of this would lead to a match being signed at Wrestlemania X-7 between Austin and Hall, with a "truce" going between them. The truce didn't go down, though, as Hall later smashed a concrete block over Austin's legs.
The two wrestlers met up at Wrestlemania X-7, in a mid-card bout, with no title on the line and no special stipulations in place. Austin dominated early on, smacking Hall around. The distraction of Kevin Nash at ringside caused problems, though, as Hall whipped Austin into an exposed turnbuckle. Nash then attacked Austin on the outside, almost making it 2-on-1. Austin fought back, hitting a spinebuster, then the Stone Cold Stunner, only to have Nash pull the ref out of the ring. Nash and Hall then double-teammed Austin, only to have both feel the Stunner. With no ref, though, Austin couldn't get the pin. Another ref came to ringside, but Nash again took him out. Finally, a crowd of officials came down to order Nash away from ringside, making the match even. Hall hit a version of the Stunner on Austin, but only got a 2 count, frustrating him. Austin then made a comeback and got two Stone Cold Stunners in a row to get the Wrestlemania victory.
Austin would disappear from television after his win for a few weeks, and rumors came out of the back that Austin was unhappy with the way he was being portrayed on television. Meanwhile, the WWF began to set up for the first-ever brand extension draft. Raw and Smackdown each was set up to have their own rosters, with Ric Flair and Vince McMahon presiding over their respective 'brands'. The brand expansion did not feature Austin, who was said to have a clause in his contract that kept him a free agent. On the first Raw of April '02, Flair announced that he was going to sign Austin to his show. Vince McMahon also appeared, wanting to sign Austin to an exclusive contract, only to be carried out of the ring and thrown out of the building by the Big Show. Austin later appeared in the arena and told Flair to let McMahon enter the building, saying that he wanted to hear both men's opinions. Both owners made their pitch to Austin, who listened intently. Austin seemed to be about to sign with McMahon, but then called it an "April Fool" joke and hit McMahon with the Stone Cold Stunner. Flair then celebrated, getting a six-pack of beer for Austin, who promptly hit Flair with the Stunner as well. Austin then signed the Raw contract, before landing another Stunner on McMahon and leaving the ring.
WWF Raw: 2002
A week later, an angry Undertaker came to the ring, demanding the World Title shot that Ric Flair had promised him (his #1 Contendership was taken away by Vince McMahon, who was allowed to choose the pay-per-view match). He said that he was the only one who deserved it. Austin then came out, disputing the Undertaker's assessment. Flair, still angry about attacks from both men, placed each in a #1-Contender's Match, with the Undertaker fighting Rob Van Dam, while Austin went against Scott Hall. Both wrestlers won their respective matches, with Austin having to hit Stunners on all members of the nWo (as well as another for Flair). This set up Austin vs. Undertaker at No Way Out, with the #1 Contendership on the line. On the final Raw before the PPV, Ric Flair called out Austin, saying that he wanted Austin to win against the Undertaker, but that Austin would be fined if he so much as touched the owner. Austin gave a rebuttal, saying that it was Flair's fault for coming to the ring. Austin & Bradshaw went on to win a Handicap Match over the Undertaker & the nWo later on that night.
The fight at Backlash '02 was given a different twist, when Ric Flair made himself the special guest referee. Austin and the Undertaker went outside the ring early, then came back in, with Austin doing some push-ups as a taunt to the Undertaker. Austin then challenged the Dead Man to a Test of Strength, only to flip him off and take the advantage with some hip tosses. The Undertaker later came back, as the two men continually took it outside the ring, even fighting into the crowd at one point. With the Undertaker in control, the nWo came out on the ramp, content to watch. At one point, Austin hit the Stunner, but Flair was down at the time due to an accidental hit. The Undertaker got a chokeslam, but only received a 2 count. Later on, with Flair down again, the Undertaker clocked Austin with a chair, but again couldn't keep the Rattlesnake down. Austin finally made a comeback, but when he tried to use the chair, Flair tried to take it from him, allowing the Undertaker to kick it into Austin's face. The Undertaker then made the pin, and although Austin got a foot on the ropes, an unseeing Flair made the 3 count, giving the Undertaker the #1 Contender's spot. After the match, a furious Austin nailed the Undertaker with the Stone Cold Stunner.
WWE Raw: 2002
Soon after the PPV, the World Wrestling Federation "got the 'F' out", due to a lawsuit with the World Wildlife Fund. Instead, they became World Wrestling Entertainment. On the next Raw after the PPV, Flair apologized to Austin, saying that he didn't see Austin's leg on the ropes. Austin didn't believe him, saying that he wished he was still working for Vince McMahon, who at least would say to his face that he was screwing Austin. Flair then arranged for Austin & Bradshaw to fight the nWo, but Bradshaw was mysteriously taken out in the back. Flair accused the nWo of the deed, then placed the Big Show as Austin's new partner. During the match, Austin fought off both Scott Hall & X-Pac, then finally made the tag to the Big Show, who promptly choke-slammed Austin, joining the nWo. A week later, Austin wanted the Big Show, but Flair told him that the Big Show wasn't there, and instead again made the match Austin & Bradshaw vs. the nWo, this time with Flair as the special referee. Flair claimed that he had nothing to do with the Big Show's turn, but Austin was skeptical. Still, Flair counted the 1-2-3 after Austin hit the Stunner, even though Hall's foot was on the ropes.
The next week, Flair made a six-man tag match, pitting himself, Austin & Bradshaw against Hall, X-Pac & the Big Show. The Big Show, meanwhile, talked about his feelings towards Austin, saying that the Rattlesnake was holding him back. Scott Hall then promised a big event later that evening. During the show, various signs creeped up, apparently implicating Bradshaw in a switch to the nWo. It was all a swerve, though, as Flair was the one who was turning, smashing Austin with a steel chair. Flair then announced that Austin would face Flair & the Big Show in a Handicap Match at the next pay-per-view, before putting Austin in the Figure-Four Leglock. On the final Raw before the ppv, Austin interfered in Flair's World Title match against Hulk Hogan, hitting the Stunner and helping Hogan win. Austin later beat the newest member of the nWo, Booker T, in a Lumberjack Match, only to be brutally attacked and bloodied by the Big Show afterwards.
Surprisingly, Austin dominated the beginning of the handicap match at Judgment Day '02, putting a figure-four leglock on both the Big Show, then Ric Flair. Austin then went for a steel chair, only to be stopped by the referee, whom Austin flipped off. Austin then went at it with Flair, getting in some good shots on the owner and forcing him to tag in the Big Show, who took control. The double-team put Austin at a disadvantage, as the two foes concentrated on his legs. Austin was then put in the figure-four by Flair, but was able to reverse it, forcing the Big Show to break the hold. Near the end of the match, as the Big Show tried to choke Austin from behind, Austin got the Stone Cold Stunner on him. X-Pac then came to the ring to try and interfere, only to miss his kick, which hit the Big Show. Austin smacked X-Pac with the Stunner, then landed another on Flair, putting him down for the three count and getting Austin the big win.
The next night, Flair claimed that he wasn't the legal man, so Austin didn't legally beat him. He also told Austin that he was benching him, and that he had the night off. Austin hit a Stunner on both Flair and Arn Anderson, drank some beer, and left. Austin and his wife, Debra, then went to a bar, which was also where Eddie Guerrero was. Guerrero sent over a teddy bear for Debra, angering Austin. Guerrero and Austin both did some karaoke, which followed with Guerrero smashing a bottle over Austin's head. A week later, Austin was said to not be at the arena, as Debra had a family emergency. Guerrero lost his Intercontinental Title to Rob Van Dam later that night, then angrily attacked Van Dam with a chair. Austin appeared and came to the ring, beating down Guerrero, then fighting both Arn Anderson & Ric Flair. Chris Benoit, making his return to the ring, ran down to help Austin, but then attacked him, siding with Flair.
On the first Raw in June, Flair, Guerrero & Benoit bragged about their assault on Austin, with Benoit blaming Austin for his neck injury. The cameras then cut to the back, with Austin beating the hell out of Arn Anderson! Austin then demanded a match against Flair. If he won, he would get taken off the bench. If he lost, he would be on the bench for life. Austin then urinated on Anderson before leaving. Flair made up the contract, throwing in some hidden stipulations, including the fact that Austin would be DQ'ed if he threw a punch. Flair also put in that, if Austin lost, he would have to be Flair's personal assistant. Debra read the contract, though, and found that the attorney had put in that whoever won, the other had to be his assistant. During the match, Austin didn't throw a single punch, instead keeping Flair off-balance with pure wrestling. Benoit came to the ring at one point and distracted the ref, while Guerrero hit his Frog Splash on Austin. Flair later locked in the Figure Four, but Austin was able to reverse it. Austin then got the Stone Cold Stunner for the victory, winning Flair as his new personal assistant. Austin celebrated on the ropes, drinking beer. No one knew it was the last time he'd be seen in 2002.
It was rumored that, at the next Raw, Austin would have to lose to Brock Lesnar. Whether this was the case or not, Austin no-showed, calling from the airplane to tell them that he wasn't coming in. The show was quickly restructured, taking Austin out of it. Austin was said to be angry about storylines, and the way he was being treated. He and the WWF went their separate ways. A short time later, Austin was arrested for spousal abuse, having allegedly punched Debra. It was a dark time in the life of Austin, as he wasn't heard from for the next 8 months.
WWE Raw: 2003
Austin later was named the "Raw Superstar of the Decade", but he didn't appear at the awards show. Instead, Vince McMahon accepted his award. In the beginning months of 2003, Eric Bischoff, the new general manager of Raw, was working on ways to save his job. Vince McMahon had given him 30 days to shape up, or else he would be fired. Bischoff decided to announce a big surprise: he was bringing back "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Bischoff invited Austin to return at the next pay-per-view, No Way Out '03. Bischoff even went looking for Austin in Texas, with no luck. As the deadline closed, Bischoff fired Jim Ross, saying that J.R. needed to get Austin back to get back his job. McMahon then appeared, and fired Bischoff. A few minutes later, though, J.R. came back, saying that he had talked to Austin, and that Austin would return at the pay-per-view, saving Bischoff's job. McMahon then attempted to get Bischoff to kiss his ass, but since Bischoff wouldn't do it, McMahon put him in the "Kick My Ass" club, saying that Bischoff would fight Austin at the pay-per-view. Leading up to the show, Bischoff was shown training for the fight, and even took out some anger on Jim Ross during one show, breaking a cinderblock over his face.
At No Way Out '03, Bischoff was told by Vince McMahon that his fight with Austin would be "no interference". Bischoff came out before the match and said that he would forfeit, laying down, and that no one wanted to see a match between him and Austin. Stone Cold's music then hit, to the roar of the crowd, with Austin immediately coming to the ring. Bischoff tried to beg off, but Austin wouldn't hear of it, quickly attacking him. Austin brutally beat Bischoff, so badly that the ref tried to get him to stop. Austin flipped off the ref, as Bischoff tried to use his martial arts skills on Austin, to no effect. Bischoff then tried to escape, only to be soaked in beer and dragged back to the ring, where Austin hit multiple Stone Cold Stunners before finally making the easy pinfall. The Rattlesnake was back in World Wrestling Entertainment.
On the next Raw, Austin was banned from the building by a bruised Bischoff. Austin would return the next week, though, fighting through Bischoff's "line of defense", a waiting committee of wrestlers looking to take him out. Bischoff came out to apologize a week later, for all of his "sins" against Austin. Austin came to the ring to beat on Bischoff, but was stopped by the Rock, who wanted a match against Austin at Wrestlemania. The Rock wanted only one thing: a victory over the Rattlesnake. Austin told the Rock to come to the ring, but when he refused, Austin beat the hell out of Bischoff instead. Later in the night, Austin distracted the Rock, allowing the Hurricane to roll him up for the victory.
Bischoff set up a rematch between him and Austin on the next Raw, making it a Lumberjack Match. However, the Rock convinced Bischoff to make it a No-Disqualification Match instead. Despite interference from Chief Morley and the Rock, Austin won the match with a Stone Cold Stunner on Bischoff. Afterwards, the Rock hit Austin with the Rock Bottom, then drank his beer. A week later, Bischoff announced that a restraining order was in place, keeping Austin out of the arena so that he wouldn't interfere with the Rock's "concert" that night. Austin sat outside in his truck most of the night, waiting. As the Rock sang in the middle of the ring, Austin's truck drove to ringside. Police quickly converged, only to find the Hurricane driving the truck. As the Hurricane was taken away, Austin came out from the back of the pick-up and attacked the Rock, who ran for it. Austin then smashed his guitar, to the delight of the fans.
Austin and the Rock met at Wrestlemania X-9, their third Wrestlemania match in four years. The two men started off in the middle of the ring, glaring at each other. Both then started exchanging punches, to the roar of the crowd. The battle quickly left the ring, with Austin slamming the Rock on the announcers' table. The Rock made a comeback by focusing on Austin's knee, doing whatever damage he could to it. He locked on the Sharpshooter, but Austin was able to escape to the ropes. The Rock then taunted Austin, wearing his vest, but this fired Austin up, letting him back into the match. Austin got the Rock Bottom on the Rock, and later on the Rock hit the Stunner on Austin. Neither got the pinfall. In the end, the Rock got the People's Elbow, then hit three Rock Bottom's on Austin, finally managing to keep him down long enough for the three count.
The next night, on Raw, Bischoff publicly fired Austin, keeping him away from WWE for a time. Jim Ross, angry about the decision, quit as well (although Bischoff claimed that he fired JR first). A few weeks later, at the end of April '03, Linda McMahon came out to the ring, ordering Bischoff to come out as well. She said that Bischoff didn't fit well with the fans, and his recent antics convinced the Board of Directors to hire a co-general manager to work with him. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin then came out, saying that he was now Bischoff's partner. The two shook hands, then Austin hit a Stunner on Bischoff, saying that the partnership would start tommorrow. Austin's first action as co-general manager turned out to be bringing back the Intercontinental Heavyweight Title, which had been retired by Bischoff. Austin set up a battle royale at the next pay-per-view, with all former IC champs involved.
Austin also tried to bring back a former employee, Jim Ross. He and Bischoff argued over it, finally agreeing to set up a match between Chief Morley and Jerry Lawler. Thanks in part to JR's interference, Lawler won the match, winning back his announcing partner. Bischoff tried to fire Morley after the match, but Austin brought Morley back, saying that the two men had to agree on policy. Austin then fired Morley as well. At the end of the night, Austin had a beer bash with Bill Goldberg and some ladies, drinking away. Austin continued to use his powers over the coming weeks, including reinstating the Dudley Boyz, who had been suspended by Bischoff. Austin also set up numerous matches, usually working against Bischoff's wishes.
At Judgment Day '03, Austin spent most of his time up in a skybox with Bischoff. Thanks to plenty of food and beer, Bischoff threw up on the fans before the night was over. The next night on Raw, Austin joked about Bischoff's weak stomach, then announced that the next PPV, Bad Blood, would be all Raw wrestlers, and would be presented by him. Austin then called out Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Ric Flair, saying that Helmsley didn't deserve the Raw Title around his waist. Austin said that Helmsley had to fight a former World Champion that night. Triple H tried to outsmart Austin, choosing Flair, but Flair wanted the shot, and a great match took place later that night, with Helmsley barely winning. Also that night, Austin created an "Interrogation" room, as he interviewed people in search of the man who tried to run down Goldberg. He eventually forced Lance Storm to confess, then put Storm in a match against Goldberg, who destroyed him. Austin's final act of the evening was to place Helmsley in a World Title Match with Kevin Nash at Bad Blood, making it a Hell In A Cell Match.
On the next Raw, La Resistance interrupted Lillian Garcia's singing of the National Anthem, saying that America should say out of other people's business. Austin promptly charged the ring and took out both men, before singing along with Garcia and drinking a few beers with her. Later on, Austin and Bischoff got together, talking about their plans for the pay-per-view. To decide who would be in charge of the ppv, the two men set up plans to have a "Redneck Triathlon". Austin also continued to have problems with the Raw World Champ, Triple H. After the champ caused all the referees to refuse the job of working the Hell In A Cell Match, Austin called up someone 'crazy' enough to do it, Mick Foley. He was able to convince Foley to take the job, making a good match even better.
At Bad Blood '03, Austin and Bischoff started off the night competing in a Belching contest. Both took three turns, trying to do their best burps. Austin won it with a 10-second one, which caused Bischoff to tell him to see a doctor. Later on, Austin and Bischoff had a "pie-eating contest", which had previously been agreed on to be Poontang Pie. However, Austin brought out the surprise "pie", Mae Young. Young rode on Bischoff with a bronco buster, a gross display, but it won Bischoff the contest, as Austin hit the Stunner on Mae rather than compete. In the third segment, Austin and Bischoff were scheduled in a "singing" contest. Bischoff tried to lip-synch to his own personal tune, but Austin caught him at it, then forced him to sing on his own, with disasterous results. Austin then said that they should decide on another event, and spun Bischoff's Redneck Wheel, making it land on "Pig Pen", which meant that the first person to throw the other into a muddy pit near the ring would win. Austin easily grabbed the smaller Bischoff and tossed him in with the pigs, winning the Redneck Triathlon.
On the next Raw, Austin came out during a Lance Storm-Garrison Cade match with a blanket and a pillow, shouting out how boring Storm was. This eventually distracted Storm, who was beaten by Cade. Later that night, Hunter Hearst Helmsley offered Kane a spot in his stable, Evolution. Austin countered that by saying that Kane could have a World Title match the next week, with Bischoff stating that Kane's mask would be on the line. Kane decided by chokeslamming Helmsley, opting for the match. A week later, Lance Storm came out on Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel and read a prepared statement about how Austin had overstepped his bounds. Before he could finish, Austin sent down a crew to dismantle the set, again chanted "Boring!", then put Storm & Jericho in a match with the Dudley Boyz, which they lost. Austin also had a special surprise for Mick Foley, as he had other hardcore stars bring out the retired Hardcore Title for him, encased in glass. The final event on the show was Kane's World Title match against Triple H. Due to interference from Evolution, Kane lost, forcing him to unmask.
After missing the next show due to "food poisioning" (Austin blamed it on bad Mexican food), Austin returned to Raw as the sole general manager on hand, since Bischoff had been thrown off the stage by Kane the week before. Austin quickly used his complete authority, placing Christian in a match with Booker T, with Christian's IC Title on the line. Christian refused to enter the ring, but Austin remedied that by throwing Christian in, where he eventually lost the belt to Booker T. Austin then had to deal with bloody attacks on Tommy Dreamer and Rico, which were done by Kane, who thought they were making fun of him. Kane said he wanted to quit, but Austin wanted him to come to the ring and tell him that. When Kane came out, the fans cheered him, but Austin made the mistake of saying that what Kane did to Bischoff last week was 'funny'. Kane took offense and attacked, but Austin fought back, getting a Stone Cold Stuner. It wasn't enough, though, as Kane chokeslammed him to end the show.
The next week, Austin wanted to get his hands on Kane, but Bischoff had kept Kane away from the arena, instead keeping him home to do an interview with Jim Ross. When Jericho joked about Austin being unable to do anything, Austin landed the Stone Cold Stunner on him. Throughout the rest of the show, an infuriated Jericho got a petition signed by many wrestlers to get rid of Austin as co-General Manager. At the end of the night, Kane attacked JR, and, with Austin pleading with him to stop, set JR on fire. Bischoff blamed Austin for Kane's actions, and told him that Linda McMahon was going to fire him. However, this didn't happen, as McMahon instead told Austin that he couldn't attack any more WWE superstars if he wanted to stay the co-GM. Austin now could only attack someone if provoked.
Austin continued to be the good-guy of the Raw General Managers, setting up matches that benefited the faces. He made the Summerslam main event an "Elimination Chamber" match between Raw World Champ Triple H, Bill Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels. He also continued to try to provoke Kane and others into attacking him, usually with little success. Later on, Austin tricked Bischoff into signing a contract to avoid a lawsuit from Jim Ross, which put Bischoff into a match with Kane. But instead of destroying Bischoff with a chokeslam, Kane walked off, being counted out. Since Bischoff won the match, Austin placed Bischoff in a match at the pay-per-view with Shane McMahon. Austin was also the special ring enforcer for a match between Goldberg and Randy Orton, where Austin was able to stun Ric Flair when he tried to interfere.
At Summerslam '03, Austin came out during the Bischoff/Shane McMahon fight, after Jonathan Coachman, the announcer, surprisingly attacked McMahon. Coachman gloated about how he worked for Bischoff now, and how Austin couldn't attack him without provocation. As he bragged, though, McMahon came up from behind and shoved Coachman into Austin. That was all Austin needed, as he beat up Coachman. McMahon then had a semiconcious Bischoff "slap" Austin, allowing Austin to hit the Stone Cold Stunner. McMahon later won the match, and celebrated with Austin, drinking a few beers. The next week, Coachman was 'given' the Employee of the Month award by Bischoff, and demanded an apology from Austin. Austin came out with what appeared to be a sympathy card, but all it held inside the envelope was a middle finger. Austin later set up a match at the PPV between Coachman and Jim Ross (with Al Snow and Jerry Lawler added later).
On September 8th, Austin prepared to give a "State of Raw" speech. Austin was given a podium in the center of the ring, but he quickly threw it over the ropes, since it wasn't his style. Austin then added some stipulations for matches at the Unforgiven pay-per-view, but before he could finish, Christian came to the ring, demanding an apology for some of the things Austin had done to him. Chris Jericho then came to the ring and attacked Christian (who had cheated Jericho out of the IC Title the week before). Jericho then cursed Austin, trying to get Austin to attack him without provocation. Austin instead called for some beers and drank them with Jericho. But when Jericho patted him on the shoulder, Austin took it as a "provoking" gesture and hit the Stone Cold Stunner on him.
A week later, Jericho & Christian came to the ring with protest signs, calling for the firing of Austin. Since Christian's main complaint was that he didn't have a match for Unforgiven, Austin set up a contendership match between Jericho and Rob Van Dam. When Christian interfered in the match, though, Austin made it a Three Way Dance at the pay-per-view. Surprisingly, Austin wasn't much of a factor at Unforgiven '03, as most of the matches were already set up. Christian retained the Intercontinental Title, having to beat on his 'semi-ally', Jericho, to do it. Austin placed Christian in a "Ladder" Match soon afterwards, though, causing Christian to lose the belt to Rob Van Dam.
When the feud between Shane McMahon and Kane turned violently bloody (McMahon tricked Kane into a limo, then sent the limo crashing into another car), Jericho, Christian and others claimed that it was Austin's fault, as the co-General Manager. Lance Storm defended Austin, only to be attacked by Jericho & Christian. Van Dam then came down to even things up, as Austin set up a tag-team match between them, which was won by Van Dam & Storm. The next week, Scott Steiner went beserk during his Intercontinental Title Match with Van Dam, and hit him with a chair, causing the DQ. Steiner then threatened to attack his "forced" manager, Stacy Keibler, but Austin stepped in, telling Steiner to hit him instead. Steiner did, only to get beaten up. Afterwards, Austin wanted to drink a beer with Stacy, but when she wouldn't, Austin landed the Stunner on her as well!
Things finally began to come to a head between Austin and Bischoff in October '03, when Bischoff challenged Austin to form a team for the Survivor Series that would compete against Bischoff's squad. If Austin's team won, Austin would be allowed to attack other people without being provoked. If Bischoff's team won, Austin would have to resign at co-General Manager. Austin eventually signed up Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Shawn Michaels and the Dudley Boyz, while Bischoff easily got Chris Jericho, Christian, Scott Steiner, Mark Henry and Randy Orton to sign on. At the '03 Survivor Series, the two teams went at it, with Steiner being the first eliminated after a Bookend from Booker T. Booker soon followed, though, as he was taken out by Mark Henry. Team Austin came back with a 3D and a Five Star Frog-Splash, with both Dudleys & Van Dam pinning Henry. Due to Jericho pushing Van Dam off the turnbuckle, Van Dam went next, getting knocked out by Orton's RKO. Jericho then eliminated D'Von Dudley, then Christian got the Unprettier on Bubba Ray, making Shawn Michaels the sole hope for Austin's job.
Michaels fought hard, hitting some Sweet Chin Music on Christian to eliminate him, followed by a roll-up to pin Jericho. This left only Michaels and Randy Orton, one member for each team. Although Michaels seemed badly hurt, due to a cut above his forehead, he continued to gain momentum, and had Orton on the ropes, ready for another shot of Sweet Chin Music. Bischoff came out to interfere, but Austin took him out, then landed a Stone Cold Stunner on Orton. But before the weakened Michaels could take advantage, Batista surprisingly came to the ring and powerbombed him. With Austin distracted with Bischoff, Orton was able to get an arm over Michaels for the 1-2-3, effectively costing Austin his managerial job. Austin, while stunned, helped Michaels to the back, then came out again, talking about how he was finishing his career in the same place it started, in Dallas, Texas. Austin was then interrupted by Jonathan Coachman and a large group of security guards, singing goodbye to him. Austin took out the security, stunned Coachman, then drank some beer, celebrating his "last" appearance.
On the "Christmas in Iraq" edition of Smackdown in December '03, Vince McMahon came out to talk to the troops, thanking them for their service for their country. McMahon was interrupted by "Santa Clause", who handed out gifts to many of the soldiers. When McMahon demanded a gift for himself, Santa came into the ring and shrugged him off. McMahon then hit Santa from behind, then turned away. Santa, not hurt in the slightest, stood up and took off his gear, to reveal Austin, who promptly flipped McMahon off and landed the Stone Cold Stunner on him. Austin then talked to the troops for a time, putting in his own praise. Austin would be a factor for the rest of the show, including putting some tension between Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, to make sure that they had a good match.
Meanwhile, on Raw, co-General Manager Mick Foley was working to reinstate the Rattlesnake, and got a million signatures on a petition to plead his case. On the final Raw of 2003, the Board met to decide whether or not to reinstate Austin. Vince McMahon fought against Austin's return, while Linda McMahon campaigned for it. Austin himself showed up at the Raw arena, parking in the backstage area and waiting to see what happened. Late in the show, Austin got a call on his cell phone from the board members, who said that he could come back as the Co-General Manger. But Austin refused, saying that wasn't what he wanted, and drove off in disgust. At the end of the night, Shawn Michaels challenged Triple H for the Raw World Title. When the referee was knocked down, Eric Bischoff took over as the referee, and appeared to count to 3 on a Michaels pinfall. But Bischoff then declared Triple H the winner, saying that Michaels' shoulders were on the mat. When a frustrated Michaels hit Bischoff, the GM fired him. However, Austin's music then hit, and the Rattlesnake walked out, saying that the Board had given him what he wanted, rehiring him on his own terms! Austin then immediately rehired Michaels and gave him a rematch against Helmsley, before telling Bischoff that he was the new "sheriff" of WWE.
WWE Raw: 2004
As the new year started, Eric Bischoff took the night off from being the General Manager, since Teddy Long (manager of Mark Henry) wanted to take over for one night. Bischoff owed Henry a favor, and had no problem stepping aside, since that would force Long to have to deal with the Rattlesnake. Austin quickly interfered with Long's plans, keeping Henry from getting an Intercontinental Title shot against Randy Orton, and instead putting Henry in a #1 Contenders Match against Rob Van Dam. When Long tried to change up the rules for the Contenders Match, Austin came down on an ATV and chased him off, keeping him from interfering. RVD later won the match, which was followed by Austin chasing Long back to ringside and stunning him. Austin & RVD then celebrated with beers. Also during the night, Austin assigned the rematch between Shawn Michaels and Triple H for the World Title at the Royal Rumble, in a Last Man Standing Match.
On the next Raw, Austin (riding his ATV) confronted Matt Hardy, who claimed that Austin was holding him back. Austin immediately put Hardy in a match against a man the Rattlesnake had reinstated, Bill Goldberg, who squashed Hardy. Eric Bischoff came out after the match, though, and told Austin that he had checked with the Board on Austin's new powers, and found out that Austin cannot make matches, which Austin agreed to. Austin then threatened Bischoff before departing. As the Royal Rumble came closer, Austin started to campaign for Mick Foley, who had left WWE instead of fighting Randy Orton at the end of 2003. Austin asked Foley to show up at the Rumble, and to redeem himself.
At the Royal Rumble '04, which was held in Philadelphia, Eric Bischoff came out to the ring and bragged about how Raw was superior to Smackdown, even taking the opportunity to bash Paul Heyman's former organization, ECW (which was based in Phily). Heyman came out to protest Bischoff's comments, getting into the man's face. Heyman then attacked Bischoff, and the two fought for a few seconds, until Austin drove down to the ring, demanding to know who started it. When Heyman pointed out Bischoff, Austin landed the Stone Cold Stunner on the Raw General Manager, then shared a beer with Heyman, before Stunning him as well. During the Rumble, #21 Test failed to come out, and was shown in the back, unconscious. Austin then came into the picture, and said that another person was now the new entry in the Rumble. It turned out to be Mick Foley, who quickly attacked Randy Orton, with the two eliminating each other.
On the Raw after the Rumble, Austin continued to be the "sheriff" of Raw, telling Randy Orton that he couldn't attack Mick Foley until Foley had a chance to speak out about all of the negative press that Orton had been saying about him. Later on, Austin came to the ring when Hunter Hearst Helmsley was bragging about still being the Raw World Champion. Austin said that Shawn Michaels deserved another rematch, but that Austin can't do it, since he can no longer make matches. However, Austin did want to introduce Triple H to his competition for the title, and invited out Chris Benoit, the former Smackdown star who had won the Royal Rumble. Austin told Helmsley that the stipulations said that the superstar who won the Rumble could challenge the champion, but they didn't say WHICH champion. A week later, Austin continued to help out the good guys, as he gave Bill Goldberg his No Way Out ticket, ensuring that Goldberg could be there to get some payback on Brock Lesnar.
A week later on Raw, Vince McMahon and Smackdown GM Paul Heyman confronted Stone Cold & Goldberg about the ticket, with Heyman warning Goldberg not to get involved with the main event, since Lesnar would take him out. Goldberg answered with a Spear to Heyman, then tried to Spear Vince as well, but got Austin instead! In the back, Goldberg talked to Austin, saying that the Spear had been a mistake, but that he wasn't going to apologize. He also asked whether to be expecting a Stunner later. Austin replied that, if he did use the Stunner, it wouldn't be a mistake. Meanwhile, Mr. McMahon suspended Goldberg, saying that, if he did show up at No Way Out, it'd be GM Bischoff's responsibility. That weekend, at No Way Out '04, Goldberg did appear in the seat reserved for him. Despite security throwing Goldberg out later on, he still had an impact on the main event, taking out Lesnar to allow Eddie Guerrero to win away the Smackdown Heavyweight Title.
On the next Raw, Austin called out GM Bischoff, wanting to know who was fighting in the Raw Main Event at Wrestlemania against the champ, Triple H (Benoit won the Rumble for the right, but Shawn Michaels had signed the contract). When Bischoff waffled, Austin tricked Bischoff into the ring, getting him to talk about how he challenged Mr. McMahon to a match back in WCW. Mr. McMahon then came up from behind Bischoff, yelling at him and setting up a match between the two for the next week! Austin taunted Bischoff again a week later, running the "WCW challenge" without Bischoff's permission. He also tricked Bischoff again, getting him to talk about making out with both Mr. McMahon's daughter, Stephanie, as well as his wife, Linda. Mr. McMahon, of course, heard everything, getting even more fired up for the match. Austin also came through for Bischoff, though, giving him a pep talk to fire him up before the match. Austin was the special referee for the match, a "try-out" to see if he would be the ref for Lesnar/Goldberg. He quickly got involved, knocking Mr. McMahon down when he wouldn't break in the ropes. But, as McMahon and Bischoff fought on the outside, Austin was surprised by Lesnar, who came in and gave Austin the F-5, taking him out!
Going into March '04, a pissed-off Austin came to the ring on his four-wheeler, immediately taking out both members of La Resistance (who were protesting the finish of a match). He warned both Lesnar and Goldberg that, if they did anything to him at Wrestlemania, he'd unload a can of whoop ass on both of them. Mr. McMahon then interrupted, calling Austin a lousy referee, among other things. This caused Austin to chase Mr. McMahon to the back on his four-wheeler, even running over the top of Mr. McMahon's limo! Austin later chased Mr. McMahon, then returned to the arena. He soon found out, though, that his four-wheeler had been stolen! It was revealed on the next Smackdown that Lesnar had been the one to take it, driving it around the show. GM Heyman thought he had Lesnar protected, having the entire Smackdown locker room there to cover him. But as Austin came out, every wrestler, including the Big Show, stepped aside, allowing Austin to walk right towards Lesnar. Austin took the four-wheeler at first, driving it towards the back, but he stopped and headed back, getting into the ring and brawling with Lesnar! Austin gave Heyman a Stunner, then almost delivered one to a bloody Lesnar as well, with Lesnar managing to escape, even as Austin had a beer bash.
At Wrestlemania XX, Austin was the referee of possibly the most infamous match ever held on the event. Both Goldberg and Lesnar had given their notice, meaning that they would both be leaving after their match. This led the fans to turn against both men, booing them heavily before and during the bout. Austin referee'd as best he could under the circumstances, with Goldberg getting the win after a Spear and a Jackhammer. Afterwards, Lesnar flipped off both the fans and Austin, causing Austin to quickly give him a Stunner. Austin and Goldberg then celebrated the victory for a few seconds, but Austin had a Stunner for him as well, the only moves that got cheered by the fans during the match. Austin then walked off, leaving the two men no longer with WWE laying on the mat.
On the following night's Raw, Austin gave a 'ticket' to La Resistance, due mainly to a mess left from their dog, Fifi. Rene Dupree protested in the ring later on, causing Austin to come out, beat him up, and give him the Stunner. A week later, a Draft Lottery was held, distributing wrestlers around from Raw and Smackdown, but Austin was not part of the show. He returned the next week to encourage draftee Shelton Benjamin to find his place on Raw, putting him in a match against Triple H (which Benjamin won). However, this would be Austin's last appearance on Raw for a while, as it was later announced in April that Austin and WWE had not been able to come to terms on a new contract, leading to a mutual split. Thus, Austin's run as the "Sheriff" of WWE ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. Austin made one more return in '04, appearing (via video) on the Smackdown 5th Anniversary show in September. He talked about his time during the "Christmas In Iraq" show, as well as his singing to Mr. McMahon, reminiscing about his time on the show.
WWE Raw: 2005
In March '05, WWE soon announced that one of the surprises at Wrestlemania would be the return of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's show, Piper's Pit. Piper's guest? "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. At Wrestlemania 21, Austin indeed made his first appearance back in WWE, coming out to be interviewed by Piper. The two had some serious words, with Piper not backing down to the Rattlesnake. The two slapped each other, with a fight imminent. Both were interrupted, though, by Carlito Carribean Cool, who wanted both to leave, since they weren't cool. Piper pulled out one of Carlito's tricks, spitting an apple into his face, causing a brawl between the two. But Austin came in on Piper's side, and after Piper blinded Carlito with a shot to the eyes, Austin gave Carlito a Stunner, knocking him out. Of course, Austin didn't stop there, later Stunning Piper as well (after a Beer Bash), once again being the last man standing.
Austin made an encore appearance the next night on Raw, interrupting a "Simon System Infomercial" hosted by Simon Dean & Maven. Austin got onto Simon, who had talked badly about beer-drinkers. Austin got Dean to agree to drink a beer, if Austin drank one of his protein drinks. Dean took a sip of beer, spit it out, then had to do push-ups to 'burn off the calories'. Austin then drank some of the protein drink, but he, too, spit it out, saying that it was terrible. As Maven was arguing with Stone Cold about the drink, he slapped Dean on the back, which, unfortunately, caused Dean to throw the drink all over Austin. After a few seconds of thinking it over, Austin attacked both men, giving both Dean and Maven Stunners and leaving them laid out.
Austin's next appearance for WWE was months later, during ECW One Night Stand in July '05. Austin came out as one of the representatives of ECW, after his brief time in the company. The Rattlesnake threw a beer bash for the ECW wrestlers at the end of the night, celebrating the memories of a great organization. Austin then led a charge, telling the anti-ECW groups from WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown (which were sitting in the stands) to come on down for a brawl. The two groups agreed, leading to a wild fight between many wrestlersm, with ECW coming out on top, clearing the ring. Austin then had Mick Foley, who was at commentary, to bring Raw GM Eric Bischoff to the ring. Bischoff got beat down by several of the ECW wrestlers, and when he still cursed out ECW, Austin gave him a Stunner, before watching him be carried out by the Dudley Boyz. Austin & the rest of the ECW wrestlers then continued the Bash, as the cameras stopped rolling.
A day later on Raw, Austin came out, as a WWE representative, to hear the complaints of Muhammad Hassan & Daivari. Hassan believed that he had been disrespected since he came to Raw, due to his race and religious beliefs. Austin watched a video run by Hassan, showing the various things that had taken place to 'hold him down'. Austin then called Hassan a piece of garbage, but he also admitted that Hassan had been wronged by the system, surprisingly seeming to agree with Hassan! He granted Hassan a match that night against the IC Champion, Shelton Benjamin. Hassan, thanks to Daivari's help, seemed to have the upper hand, applying the Camel Clutch submission hold. But Austin then entered the ring and attacked Hassan, then nailed Daivari with the Stunner! Austin proclaimed the match a disqualification victory for Hassan, keeping his undefeated streak alive, then celebrated with Benjamin afterwards, throwing another beer bash. Austin would tour overseas with WWE for the next week, working as a special guest referee, then went back home, continuing to be a special attraction for the company.
In October '05, WWE Raw held its Homecoming, celebrating its move back to USA Network. On the show, Mr. McMahon came out to talk about the Homecoming, reminiscing about several shows, most of them dealing with the McMahons beating on Steve Austin. This brought out the Rattlesnake, who had his own footage to show, including attacking Vince in the hospital and making Vince pee in his pants. Vince tried to work things out with Austin, then tried to leave the ring, but Austin didn't let him, grabbing the boss and giving him the Stunner! Shane McMahon came out, dancing to his music and heading to the ring, but Austin didn't even let him talk, giving him a Stunner immediately. This was followed by Stephanie McMahon, who talked about Raw belonging to the McMahons. When Austin tried to get a kiss from her, Stephanie slapped him, which led to yet another Stunner. Finally, Linda McMahon came out, protesting the treatment of her family. When Austin referred to each one as trash, though, Linda agreed, although she thought Austin owed them an apology. Austin did apologize, drinking some beer with Linda. He then thanked her, before giving HER a Stunner as well! All McMahons were out in the ring, with Austin celebrating over them.
Mr. McMahon later said that somebody would pay for what happened to them. It turned out to be Jim Ross, who was fired by Linda McMahon because he didn't help them out (not to mention being Austin's friend). Linda also racked JR, showing her to be just as evil as the rest of the family. A week later, Austin called out Vince, wanting to get JR his job back. Stephanie McMahon came out instead, setting up a match between Austin and JR's replacement as head announcer, the Coach! If Austin won, JR would get his job back. But if the Coach won, Austin was fired. Austin didn't seem to have a problem with this, pouring beer into the Coach's cowboy hat. However, problems occurred behind the scenes, as rumors floated out that Austin was supposed to lose to the Coach at Taboo Tuesday '05, something that didn't sit well with the Rattlesnake. On the Raw before the PPV, the Coach came out, with Goldust, and demanded that Austin come out to fight. Instead, Mr. McMahon came out, saying that Austin had been in an 'accident' and wouldn't be at the PPV, forfeiting the match. Batista later took Austin's place, winning at the PPV. Austin, meanwhile, again disappeared from WWE television.
WWE Raw: 2006
Going into Wrestlemania in '06, it was announced that there would be several new inductions into the WWE Wrestling Hall of Fame. One of these men was Bret "The Hitman" Hart, one of the greats in WWE history. It was also announced that the man inducting him into the Hall of Fame would be "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, his old rival. Going into March '06, Austin did an interview on WWE.com, where he talked about many of the great Texas wrestlers that he had seen. One name he didn't talk much about, though, was John Bradshaw Layfield, who took offense to the 'omission'. JBL challenged Austin to a "Beer-Drinking" Contest at Saturday Night's Main Event #32. Austin appeared at the event with his truck, and competed in the contest, even though JBL had gotten Canadian beer instead of American. But Austin caught JBL cheating, pouring the beer on his chest. JBL gave Austin a cheap-shot, then tried to run away, but JBL's rival at the time, Chris Benoit, caught JBL and tossed him back into the ring, where Austin gave him a beer shower, followed by a Stone Cold Stunner, laying him out.
Austin did appear, as promised, at the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony, inducting his rival, Hart, into the Hall. Austin also had a few choice words for Hulk Hogan, who had brought up Austin's name during an interview. However, thus far, an Austin-Hogan feud has yet to surface, as Austin has once again disappeared from WWE Television. It is likely, however, that he will once again grace WWE rings soon enough, if only to showcase the release of the WWE Films production of The Condemned, which Austin will be starring in.
Pay-Per-View Summary: (66 - 62, 1 DDQ, 2 NCs, 2 Draws)
- WCW Clash of the Champions XV (June '91) = Austin quickly beat Joey Mags.
- WCW Great American Bash '91 = Austin & Terrance Taylor lost a "Scaffold" Match to PN News & Bobby Eaton.
- WCW United States Heavyweight Title Tournament (August '91) = Austin beat Tom Zenk and Barry Windham before losing in the finals to Sting.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XVI (September '91) = Austin competed in a Battle Royal, which was won by El Gigante. Later that night, Austin defended the TV Title by beating Tom Zenk.
- WCW Halloween Havoc '91 = Austin fought to a draw with Dustin Rhodes. Austin retained the TV Title.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XVII (November '91) = Austin stayed the Television Champion, beating PN News.
- WCW Starrcade '91 = Austin & Rick Rude defeated Big Josh & Van Hammer. Later that night, Austin competed in the Battle Bowl, which was won by Sting.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII (January '92) = Austin & Rick Rude lost to Ricky Steamboat & Sting.
- WCW Superbrawl II ('92) = Austin & Larry Zbysko were beaten by Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes.
- WCW Wrestlewar '92 (May) = Austin, Rick Rude, Larry Zbysko, Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton lost a "Wargames" match to Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham & Nikita Koloff.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XIX (June 16, '92) = Austin & Rick Rude won over Marcus Bagwell & Tom Zenk in the first round of the WCW World Tag-Team Title Tournament.
- WCW World Tag-Team Title Tournament (June - July '92) = In the next round, Austin & Rude were beaten by Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams won the tournament.
- WCW Beach Blast '92 (June 20) = Austin, Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton lost, via DQ, to Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, & Nikita Koloff.
- WCW Great American Bash '92 = Austin & Rick Rude were defeated by Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes.
- NJPW Sumo Hall (August 10, '92) = Austin was pinned by Keiji Mutoh.
- NJPW Sumo Hall (August 11, '92) = Austin & Arn Anderson defeated Tatsutoshi Goto & the Super Strong Machine.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XX (September '92) = Austin lost the TV Title to Ricky Steamboat.
- WCW Halloween Havoc '92 = Austin & Steve Williams fought to a draw with the WCW/NWA Tag-Team Champions, Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XXII (January '93) = The Hollywood Blondes (Austin & Brian Pillman) lost, via DQ, to the WCW/NWA Tag Champs, Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas.
- WCW Superbrawl III ('93) = The Hollywood Blondes defeated Erik Watts & Marcus Bagwell.
- WCW Slamboree '93 = The Hollywood Blondes retained the NWA/WCW Tag-Team Titles, beating Ricky Steamboat & Tom Zenk.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XXIII (June '93) = The Hollywood Blondes lost a "Three Falls" match to Ric Flair & Arn Anderson. Because one of the falls was a DQ, the Blondes retained the NWA/WCW Tag-Team Titles.
- WCW Beach Blast '93 (July) = The Hollywood Blondes retained the WCW Tag Titles, beating Arn Anderson & Paul Roma.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XXIV (August '93) = Austin & Steven Regal were beaten by Arn Anderson & Paul Roma, who won the WCW Tag-Team belts.
- WCW Halloween Havoc '93 = Austin was defeated by the US Champ, Dustin Rhodes.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XXV (November 10, '93) = Austin pinned Brian Pillman.
- WCW Battlebowl (November 20, '93) = Austin & Ric Flair defeated Too Cold Scorpio & Maxx Payne. Later that night, Austin competed in the Battle Bowl, which was won by Vader.
- WCW Starrcade '93 = Austin won a "Three Falls" match over Dustin Rhodes to become the United States Heavyweight Champion.
- WCW Superbrawl IV ('94) = Austin, Rick Rude, & Paul Orndorff lost a "Thundercage" Match to Sting, Dustin Rhodes, & Brian Pillman.
- European Cup Tournament (March '94) = Austin beat Too Cold Scorpio and Ricky Steamboat, then was defeated by the eventual winner, Sting.
- WCW Spring Stampede '94 = Austin won, via DQ, over the Great Muta, retaining the US Title.
- WCW Slamboree '94 = Austin stayed the US Champ by beating Johnny B. Badd.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XXVII (June '94) = Austin lost, via DQ, to Johnny B. Badd. Austin retained the US Title.
- WCW Bash at the Beach '94 = Austin defeated Ricky Steamboat to keep the US strap.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XXVIII (August '94) = Austin lost the US Title to Ricky Steamboat.
- WCW Fall Brawl '94 = Austin won, via forfeit, over Ricky Steamboat, winning the US Title. Later that night, Austin lost the belt to Jim Duggan.
- WCW Halloween Havoc '94 = Austin lost, via DQ, to the US Champion, Jim Duggan.
- WCW Clash of the Champions XXIX (November '94) = Austin again was beaten, via DQ, by Jim Duggan, who kept the US Title.
- WCW Uncensored '95 = In a dark match, Austin pinned Tim Horner.
- NJPW Budokan Hall (June '95) = Austin, Arn Anderson & Mike Enos were defeated by Akira Nogami, Takayuki Iizuka, & Junji Hirata.
- WCW Slamboree '95 = In a dark match, Austin quickly beat Eddie Jackie.
- ECW November to Remember '95 = Austin was defeated by the ECW Champion, Mikey Whipwreck.
- ECW December to Dismember ('95) = Austin lost to the Sandman, who won the ECW Title. Mikey Whipwreck was the other participant.
- WWF Royal Rumble '96 = The Ringmaster competed in the Royal Rumble, which was won by Shawn Michaels.
- WWF Wrestlemania XII ('96) = Austin pinned Savio Vega.
- WWF "Good Friends, Better Enemies" (April '96) = In a dark match, Austin was beaten by Savio Vega.
- Kuwaiti Cup Tournament '96 (May 8 - 12) = Austin defeated Marty Jannetty, then fell to Ahmed Johnson, who went on to win the tournament.
- WWF "Beware of Dog" (May 26, '96) = In a dark match, Austin lost a "Caribbean Strap" match to Savio Vega.
- WWF "Beware of Dog II" (May 28, '96) = Austin was beaten once more by Savio Vega in a "Caribbean Strap" match.
- WWF King of the Ring '96 = Austin defeated Marc Mero and Jake Roberts to win the King of the Ring tournament.
- WWF "International Incident" (July '96) = Austin beat Marc Mero.
- WWF Intercontinental Title Tournament (August - September '96) = Austin lost in the first round to Marc Mero.
- WWF Summerslam '96 = In a dark match, Austin quickly pinned Yokozuna.
- WWF Buried Alive (October '96) = Austin defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
- WWF Survivor Series '96 = Austin was beaten by Bret Hart.
- WWF Middle East Cup Tournament (December 2, '96) = Austin defeated Owen Hart and the Undertaker, then lost in the finals to Bret Hart.
- WWF "It's Time" (December '96) = In a dark match, Austin took out Goldust.
- WWF Royal Rumble '97 = Austin was victorious in the Royal Rumble.
- WWF Final Four (February '97) = Austin competed in the "Final Four" battle royal match, which was won by Bret Hart, who got the World Title.
- WWF Wrestlemania XIII ('97) = Austin lost a "Submission" match to Bret Hart. Ken Shamrock was the special referee.
- Kuwaiti Cup Tournament '97 (April 9 - 13) = Austin beat Bret Hart, then lost to Owen Hart. Tiger Ali Singh won the tournament.
- WWF "Taker's Revenge" (April '97) = Austin won, via DQ, over Bret Hart.
- WWF "Cold Day In Hell" (May '97) = Austin was beaten by the World Champ, the Undertaker.
- WWF King of the Ring '97 = Austin and Shawn Michaels fought to a Double Disqualification.
- WWF Canadian Stampede (July '97) = Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, Hawk & Animal lost to Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman & Jim Neidhart.
- WWF Summerslam '97 = Austin defeated Owen Hart to gain the Intercontinental Title.
- WWF Survivor Series '97 = Austin took down Owen Hart to become the Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion.
- WWF "De-Generation X" (December '97) = Austin retained the IC strap, beating Rocky Maivia.
- WWF Royal Rumble '98 = Austin won the Royal Rumble.
- WWF No Way Out Of Texas (February '98) = Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, & Owen Hart won a "No DQ" match over Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Billy Gunn, Jesse James, & Savio Vega.
- WWF Wrestlemania XIV ('98) = Austin defeated Shawn Michaels to become the WWF World Champion. Mike Tyson was the special referee.
- WWF Mayhem In Manchester (April 4, '98) = Austin retained the World Title, beating Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
- WWF Unforgiven '98 = Austin lost, via DQ, to Dude Love. He stayed the Heavyweight Champion.
- WWF Over The Edge '98 (May) = Austin retained the World Title, winning over Dude Love. Vince McMahon was the special referee.
- WWF King of the Ring '98 = Austin was beaten by Kane in a First Blood match, losing the WWF World Title.
- WWF Fully Loaded '98 = Austin & the Undertaker took down Kane & Mankind to win the WWF Tag-Team Titles.
- WWF Summerslam '98 = Austin defeated the Undertaker to retain the WWF World Title.
- WWF Breakdown (September '98) = Austin was pinned by both Kane and the Undertaker, losing the World Title.
- WWF Survivor Series '98 = Austin won, via DQ, over the Big Boss Man. He later lost to Mankind. The Rock won the vacant World Title Tournament.
- WWF Capital Carnage (December 6, '98) = Austin beat Kane, the Undertaker, & Mankind in a "Fatal Fourway" match.
- WWF Rock Bottom (December 13, '98) = Austin won a "Buried Alive" match over the Undertaker.
- WWF Royal Rumble '99 = Austin competed in the Royal Rumble, which was won by Vince McMahon.
- WWF St. Valentine's Day Massacre (February '99) = Austin won a "Steel Cage" match over Vince McMahon.
- WWF Wrestlemania XV ('99) = Austin pinned the Rock to gain the WWF World Title.
- WWF Backlash '99 = Austin defeated the Rock to retain the World strap. Shane McMahon was the special referee.
- WWF No Mercy (May 16, '99) = Austin kept the World Title by winning an "Anything Goes Triangle" match over Hunter Hearst Helmsley and the Undertaker.
- WWF Over the Edge (May 23, '99) = Austin was defeated by the Undertaker, losing the World Title. Shane McMahon was the special referee.
- WWF King of the Ring '99 = Austin was beaten in a "Handicap Ladder" match for control of the WWF by Shane & Vince McMahon.
- WWF Fully Loaded '99 = Austin won a "First Blood" match over the Undertaker to stay the World Champion. Because Austin won, Vince McMahon could no longer appear on television.
- WWF Summerslam '99 = Austin lost the World Title to Mankind in a "Triangle" match. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was the other participant.
- WWF No Mercy '99 = Austin was defeated in an "Anything Goes" match by the World Champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
- WWF No Mercy '00 = Austin and Rikishi Phatu were scheduled for a match-up, but the actual match never took place, as both men brawled instead of getting into the ring.
- WWF Survivor Series '00 = Austin fought to a No-Contest with Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a "No DQ" match.
- WWF Rebellion '00 (December) = Austin was defeated by the World Champ, Kurt Angle, in a "Fatal Fourway" match. The Rock and Rikishi were the other participants.
- WWF Armageddon '00 = Austin lost a "Hell in a Cell" match to WWF World Champion Kurt Angle. The Rock, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the Undertaker, & Rikishi were the other participants.
- WWF Royal Rumble '01 = Austin won the Royal Rumble.
- WWF No Way Out '01 = Austin lost a "3 Falls" match to Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
- WWF Wrestlemania X-7 ('01) = Austin won a "No DQ" match over the Rock to win the WWF World Title.
- WWF Backlash '01 = Austin & Hunter Hearst Helmsley retained their respective World & Intercontinental Titles, while winning the Tag-Team straps from Kane & the Undertaker.
- WWF Insurrextion '01 (May 5) = Austin & Hunter Hearst Helmsley lost a "Handicap" match to the Undertaker. Since the Undertaker pinned Triple H, Austin kept the World Title.
- WWF Judgement Day '01 = Austin defeated the Undertaker in a "No Holds Barred" match, staying the WWF World Champion.
- WWF King of the Ring '01 = Austin won a "Triple Threat" match over Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho to retain the Heavyweight strap.
- WWF Invasion (July '01) = Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Kane & the Undertaker lost to the WCW/ECW team of Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Rhyno, Buh Buh Ray & D'Von Dudley.
- WWF Summerslam '01 = Austin lost, via DQ, to Kurt Angle. Austin retained the WWF World Title.
- WWF Unforgiven '01 = Austin was forced to submit to Kurt Angle, who won the WWF World Championship.
- WWF No Mercy '01 = Austin kept the WWF World Title, winning a "Triangle" match over Kurt Angle and Rob Van Dam.
- WWF Rebellion (November 3, '01) = Austin retained the WWF Heavyweight Championship with a win over the Rock.
- WWF Survivor Series '01 = Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T & Shane McMahon fought in an "Elimination" match against the Rock, Chris Jericho, Kane, the Undertaker & the Big Show. Austin was eliminated by the Rock, who was the sole 'survivor'.
- WWF Vengence (December '01) = Austin defeated Kurt Angle, then lost the WWF Title to Chris Jericho in the Unification bout.
- WWF Royal Rumble '02 = Austin competed in the Royal Rumble, which was won by Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
- WWF No Way Out '02 = Austin was beaten by the WWF Champion, Chris Jericho.
- WWF Wrestlemania X-8 ('02) = Austin took down Scott Hall.
- WWF Backlash '02 = Austin lost a #1 Contenders Match to the Undertaker. Ric Flair was the special referee.
- WWF Insurrextion '02 (May 4) = Austin defeated the Big Show. Ric Flair was the special referee.
- WWF Judgment Day '02 = Austin won a "Handicap" Match over Ric Flair & the Big Show.
- WWE No Way Out '03 = Austin made his return, easily defeating Eric Bischoff.
- WWE Wrestlemania X-9 (March 30, '03) = Austin was beaten by the Rock.
- WWE Bad Blood (June 15, '03) = Austin won a "Redneck Triathlon" over Eric Bischoff.
- WWE Saturday Night's Main Event #32 (March 18, '06) = Austin had a "Beer-Drinking" Contest with John Bradshaw Layfield, which ended in a "No-Contest" after Austin Stunned JBL.
- WWE Wrestlemania XXV (April 5, '09) = Austin was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
- TWF Tag-Team Champion w/ the California Stud (11/10/90 - 5/91)
- WCW World Television Champion (6/03/91 - 4/27/92)
- WCW World Television Champion(2) (5/23/92 - 9/02/92)
- WCW World Tag-Team Champion w/ Brian Pillman (3/02/93 - 8/18/93)
- NWA World Tag-Team Champion w/ Brian Pillman (3/02/93 - 8/18/93)
- WCW United States Heavyweight Champion (12/27/93 - 8/24/94)
- WCW United States Heavyweight Champion(2) (9/18/94)
- WWF World Tag-Team Champion w/ Shawn Michaels (5/25/97 - 6/97)
- WWF World Tag-Team Champion(2) w/ Dude Love (7/14/97 - 9/07/97)
- WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion (8/03/97 - 9/08/97)
- WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion(2) (11/09/97 - 12/08/97)
- WWF World Heavyweight Champion (3/29/98 - 6/28/98)
- WWF World Heavyweight Champion(2) (6/29/98 - 9/27/98)
- WWF World Tag-Team Champion(3) w/ the Undertaker (7/26/98 - 8/10/98)
- WWF World Heavyweight Champion(3) (3/28/99 - 5/23/99)
- WWF World Heavyweight Champion(4) (6/28/99 - 8/22/99)
- WWF World Heavyweight Champion(5) (4/01/01 - 9/23/01)
- WWF World Tag-Team Champion(4) w/ Hunter Hearst Helmsley (4/29/01 - 5/21/01)
- WWF World Heavyweight Champion(6) (10/08/01 - 12/09/01)
PWI Achievement Awards: (10 wins, 11 1st RUs, 2 2nd RUs, 2 3rd RUs)
- 1990 Rookie of the Year
- 1990 Feud of the Year, 3rd Runner-Up (Austin vs. Chris Adams)
- 1993 Tag-Team of the Year, 1st Runner-Up (Hollywood Blondes)
- 1997 Most Inspirational Wrestler, 1st Runner-Up
- 1997 Most Popular Wrestler, 1st Runner-Up
- 1997 Feud of the Year, 1st Runner-Up (Austin vs. Bret Hart)
- 1997 Match of the Year (Austin vs. Bret Hart)
- 1997 Wrestler of the Year, 1st Runner-Up
- 1998 Most Inspirational Wrestler, 1st Runner-Up
- 1998 Most Popular Wrestler
- 1998 Feud of the Year (Austin vs. Vince McMahon)
- 1998 Match of the Year, 1st Runner-Up (Austin vs. Michaels)
- 1998 Wrestler of the Year
- 1999 Most Popular Wrestler, 1st Runner-Up
- 1999 Feud of the Year (Austin vs. Vince McMahon)
- 1999 Match of the Year, 3rd Runner-Up (Austin vs. Rock)
- 1999 Match of the Year, 2nd Runner-Up (Austin vs. Vince McMahon)
- 1999 Wrestler of the Year
- 2000 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Inductee
- 2001 Comeback of the Year, 1st Runner-Up
- 2001 Most Hated Wrestler
- 2001 Match of the Year, 1st Runner-Up (Austin vs. Helmsley)
- 2001 Wrestler of the Year
- 2003 Most Popular Wrestler, 1st Runner-Up
- 2003 Feud of the Year, 2nd Runner-Up (Austin vs. Eric Bischoff)