In America, we love two kinds of heroes above all others: the underdog and the anti-hero. And that makes sense, as those two archetypes speak to our beginnings of Americana; being a rag-tag group fighting against the world’s greatest empire and doing it in quite a rebellious, freedom-demanding fashion. So when a character comes along that can encompass both of these archetypes in one beer-chugging, hell-raising package, he’s probably going to strike people pretty hard. Of course, I’m describing the most popular wrestler of all-time, Stone Cold Steve Austin, as we celebrate him on what has become an annual tradition on March 16, in correspondence with his patented Austin 3:16 catchphrase.
Austin is obviously the face and the catalyst for WWE’s (WWF at the time) biggest time in history. With his foul language, violent matches, and out of control attitude packaged in a black leather-clad everyman, he widened pro-wrestling’s fanbase from mostly kids to teenagers, college students, and even adults who all could live vicariously through a guy who had been beaten to hell and bet against by everyone, only to fight back and not take anything from anyone. With Austin leading the way, wrestling broke through into legitimate pop culture like never before, and while he was breaking those barriers down, he was also breaking pay-per-view buy records, arena attendance records, cable tv rating records, and merchandise sales records. In Austin’s heyday, WWF Raw is War was getting higher ratings than the NBA head to head and was even holding its own against the NFL’s Monday Night Football. It was a boom we’d never seen before and will never see again.
Ever since Austin became the industry’s biggest draw, there had been the obvious debate of “who was bigger: Austin or Hulk Hogan?” Each side had its claims, but over the past decade, this argument has almost become null and void due entirely to Hogan’s public self-destruction, while Austin has remained a popular and respected part of the pop culture. WWE has clearly shifted away from labeling Hogan as their Babe Ruth-type elder statesman and has now put Austin into the role of THE legend. And honestly, it’s an easier sell with someone like Austin, who is more respected as an in-ring talent and is seemingly universally-loved and respected by his peers (Hogan has never been either of these). Just watch this video from WWE celebrating Austin’s Hall of Fame induction in 2009, where his fellow wrestlers (both older than him and those that followed him) single him out as a once-in-a-lifetime wrestling superstar.
All of this leads us to today, where the world comes together and celebrates their favorite memories of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s incomparable career. Many of us today can point right to Austin’s time of dominance as the thing that got us into our lifelong addiction to the wacky world of wrestling and many of my generation can thank the Texas Rattlesnake for inspiring our cursing and middle-finger usage that got us countless hours of detention in school. So with that all in mind, I’ve assembled below some of my favorite moments of ol’ Stone Cold’s career for you all to take a look at. So tell your boss to kiss your ass, crack open a Steveweiser (later officially named El Segundo’s Broken Skull IPA, which is damn good btw), and reminisce on some of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s best moments. Enjoy!
The Iconic Austin 3:16 Speech
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret Hart – Wrestlemania 13
The Beginning of The Rock vs Steve Austin
Steve Austin Gives Vince McMahon The Stunner For The First Time
Steve Austin Gets Into It With Mike Tyson
The Beer Truck
Steve Austin Returns and Saves The WWF
Grocery Shopping With Booker T
Steve Austin Stuns Trump
A happy Stone Cold Steve Austin Day to all, and to all an Oh Hell Yeah!
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