Stone Cold Steve Austin broke into the industry in 1990 in Texas, where he was trained by “Gentleman” Chris Adams. The Texas Rattlesnake’s USWA tenure lasted about a year before he moved on to WCW. There, he won the WCW Television Championship quickly under the moniker of “Stunning” Steve Austin. Though boasting two TV Championship reigns while in WCW, this coveted title wasn’t the only thing Austin had his sights set on. During his WCW tenure, he would also capture the United States Championship — a title made famous by such legends as Ric Flair and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
In January 1996, Austin received an opportunity to join WWE as Ted DiBiase’s “Million Dollar Champion.” Debuting as “The Ringmaster,” he battled Matt Hardy and Marty Jannetty before experiencing his first WrestleMania (XII) where he defeated Savio Vega. Soon after, “Stone Cold” was born.
In June 1996, The Texas Rattlesnake became King of the Ring, and gave his famous “3:16” speech putting every WWE Superstar on notice. His words gave way to Austin’s WWE destiny, ushering in the Attitude Era. This speech was engrained in the minds of every member of the WWE Universe. And this loner backed up all his talk — pummeling anyone who crossed his path.
Stone Cold’s claims to fame are many, but he is perhaps best remembered for his battles with WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon that began in 1998. The rivalry led to Austin occupying many unique roles outside the ring, including a stint as WWE CEO.
In a memorable moment during his defiance of Mr. McMahon, The Texas Rattlesnake sent the Chairman a message by tossing the Intercontinental Championship into a New Hampshire river. Furious, McMahon stripped Austin of the championship and awarded the gold to The Rock as a “forfeit victory.” The animosity created between Stone Cold and Mr. McMahon based on these events officially marked the start of one of the best-known rivalries in the history of WWE. The two (who would actually briefly align after WrestleMania X-7 to the shock of the WWE Universe) would trade moments of triumph and outrage for the better part of the next two years — constantly trying to make life miserable for the other.
Stone Cold has also had to endure injuries over his career, most notably a broken neck at SummerSlam 1997. Showing his true grit and passion for the business, Austin not only miraculously finished the title match, but captured the Intercontinental Championship. While a neck injury may have forced The Texas Rattlesnake to stop competing in the ring after WrestleMania XIX, it hasn’t kept him from using his signature Stone Cold Stunner on Superstars, celebrities like Donald Trump … and the entire McMahon clan.