Steve Austin was always meant to be a professional wrestler. As a child and teenager, he often visited the Dallas Sportatorium to see stars like the Von Erichs, Gino Hernandez and Bruiser Brody compete in the squared circle.
He took up wrestling immediately after college and was a champion early in his 20’s. Following a stint in the WCW and ECW, he moved on to the WWE, where he became one of the biggest stars in the history of the sport.
Wrestling Was Always Something Steve Was Interested In
Stone Cold was born Steven James Anderson. He was always involved in sports growing up and developed a passion for wrestling. He lived in a hot bed for the sport and there were regular wrestling events all over Texas.
While in High School and College, Anderson regularly went to see events at the Dallas Sportatorium. At this time, he got the witness the world famous Von Erich family in action as they were the most popular grapplers in the state.
Austin Was A Talented Football Player
Steve came up in football crazy Texas and he was quite a good player. His star level play at Edna High School earned him a scholarship to Wharton Junior College. Following two years there, he then moved to a full scholarship at The University of North Texas.
While Anderson didn’t stay at North Texas long, it was a fortuitous choice for a future wrestler. The college became a factory for wrestling stars like Kerry and David Von Erich.
He Didn’t Have To Go Far To Begin Training
With his football player physique and athleticism, Anderson was a perfect fit for professional wrestling. And he didn’t have to go far to start training to be a pro. The Dallas Sportatorium had its own training program.
Anderson began his training under British pro wrestler Gentleman Chris Adams. He moved through the learning process fast and was wrestling on live television within a year of starting. His name was changed to Steve Austin to separate him from similarly named wrestlers and his “bionic” like body.
Steve Went From Training To Championship Belts In Rapid Fashion
Steve moved quickly from being a wrestling trainee to performing matches at the top of the card. He worked a program in Dallas’ World Class Championship Wrestling competing against his one-time mentor Chris Adams.
Austin caught the eye of WCW and was eventually brought into their organization, where he became known as Stunning Steve Austin. He quickly captured gold in his new promotion, winning the WCW World Television Championship against veteran superstar Beautiful Bobby Eaton.
Early On In His Career He Found A Kindred Spirit
After a few years as a singles wrestler in WCW, the powers that be found an ideal tag-team partner for Steve in Flying Brian Pillman. Like Austin, Pillman was a former football player who brought extreme athleticism to the ring.
The duo were dubbed The Hollywood Blondes in a nod to their bleach blonde hair and cocky attitudes. The partnership was a successful one as the pair won the World Tag Team Championship and held the titles for 5 months.
The Relationship Between Steve And Paul Heyman Started In WCW
Paul Heyman would eventually become known both as a promoter and one of the sharpest minds in wrestling. In the early ’90s, though, he was a manager in WCW looking to build out his stable.
And one of the wrestlers he chose to join his Dangerous Alliance was Stunning Steve Austin. The blonde-haired grappler joined such established stars as Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton and Rick Rude. The faction didn’t last long, though, as and Austin quickly moved on.
Austin Married His Valet
While he was competing in WCW, Austin was given a female manager, also known as a valet. His valet was called Lady Blossom and her real name was Jeanie Clarke.
Clarke had previously been in a relationship with Austin’s trainer Chris Adams. They had split up in the 1980s. Austin was married to his high school sweetheart when he met Clarke but ended that relationship. Clarke and Austin were married from 1992 up until 1999.
Injuries Prevented Austin From Reaching His Potential In WCW
Steve Austin was given a number of pushes while he worked for WCW. He had won the Television Championship early on in his run with the promotion. He also won the Tag Team Championship alongside Brian Pillman.
But Austin could never quite take advantage of his momentum due to frequent injuries. The grappler suffered a serious knee injury in 1994. Upon his return, he injured his back and was fired by WCW’s Eric Bischoff, who said Austin was hard to work with.
Austin Didn’t Go Directly From WCW To The WWE
Most wrestling fans know that once Austin left WCW, he later became a massive superstar with the WWE. He didn’t go straight from one promotion to the other, though, he also spent some time in ECW with his old friend Paul Heyman.
Austin was thankful for the opportunity to rehab while at ECW. He not only began to create his Stone Cold persona, but he also got his idea for the Stone Cold Stunner finisher from Mikey Whipwreck’s Whippersnapper move.
Steve Entered The WWE Under A Different Gimmick
While he would become an international phenomenon as Stone Cold Steve Austin, that wasn’t always his name with the WWE. Austin was hired by the promotion thanks to a recommendation from former WCW colleague Kevin Nash.
He was initially called The Ringmaster, a grappler who was able to perform any kind of wrestling move. He was also placed in the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation. He gained his freedom when DiBiase left the promotion for the WCW.
A Bible Verse Inspired His Most Famous Promo
One of the key aspects of any wrestler’s success is the ability to connect with the crowd through promos. Early on in his WWE career, Austin cut one of the most legendary promos in wrestling history.
The speech, made after a defeat of Jake the Snake Roberts referenced his opponent’s newfound Christianity. The promo closed with Stone Cold saying, “You can talk about your bible verses and your John 3:16. Well, Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your [expletive].”
Austin Says His Best Match Came In A Loss
Austin’s popularity in the WWE was on the rise when he entered a program with Bret Hart, one of the most popular wrestlers in the promotion. While Austin was considered the “heel” he was, nonetheless, cheered on by fans.
Stone Cold and the Hitman had a legendary match at Wrestlemania XIII in 1997. Austin and Hart wrestled to a near draw in the match. Hart won the match, not because Austin submitted to his sharpshooter, but because he passed out from the pain.
His Wife Inspired The Stone Cold Moniker
Upset with his Ringmaster gimmick early in his run, Austin asked for a change. The WWE agreed and asked him to base his new persona of serial killing hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. HBO had recently aired a documentary on him.
As for the name Stone Cold, that was inspired by then wife Jeanie Clarke. One morning she called him to the breakfast table saying he had to come drink his tea because it was becoming “stone cold.”
He Kicked Off The Attitude Era
In 1996, Austin was reunited with his old tag team partner Brian Pillman. This time they weren’t on the same team, though, they were matched up as adversaries. Pillman was being referred to as “the loose cannon.”
The WWE, in a controversial decision, incorporated a handgun into the storyline, having Pillman pull the weapon on Austin after he came to his house. This storyline is considered to be by many, to be the start of WWE’s famous Attitude Era.
His Entrance Song Was Inspired By Rage Against The Machine
Stone Cold has one of the more memorable entrance songs in wrestling history. Glass shatters, the crowd goes insane, and then heavy guitar music explodes throughout the arena.
Each WWE wrestler has some degree of input on their entrance song. Steve Austin was a big fan of Rage Against the Machine and particularly the song Bulls on Parade. He took a copy of the song to WWE music producer Jim Johnston and asked him to create something like it.
Austin Is One Of Only A Few Wrestlers To Achieve A Triple Crown
At the end of their careers, wrestlers are remembered for the titles they won. And Steve Austin won plenty of them. The Texas-born grappler held a belt 21 different times, most of them in the WWE.
When Stone Cold captured the WWE Championship, he became the 5th wrestler in the promotion’s history to be a Triple Crown Title Winner (WWE, Tag Team and Intercontinental). The four to do it before him were Pedro Morales, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, and Shawn Michaels.
His Acting Career Began With Nash Bridges
Steve Austin’s wrestling career began to wind down in the early 2000s as serious injuries continued to take their toll. He had a backup plan, however, as Hollywood came calling with movie and TV roles.
The first acting job for Austin came on the television show Nash Bridges. He became a semi-regular, appearing on 6 episodes during seasons 4 and 5. Since then, he’s appeared in movies like The Expendables, The Longest Yard, and Grown Ups 2.
Austin’s Last Match Was Against The Rock
A degenerative neck condition meant that Austin had to wrap up his wrestling career in 2003. His final match was against the only other man who could match his star power in the WWE; The Rock.
The match took place during 2003’s Wrestlemania XIX in Seattle, Washington. The match was an all-out brawl which was won by The Rock after he performed three Rock Bottom finishes on Austin. While Stone Cold would still be involved in the WWE, this was his last actual match.
He Was An Easy Selection For The WWE Hall Of Fame
Like any other sport, wrestling has a Hall of Fame. Once a grappler is retired for a few years, they become eligible for WWE’s version. Austin became eligible in 2009 and inducting him was a slam dunk decision.
Stone Cold was introduced by his boss and frequent rival Vince McMahon. While the two often had their differences in the ring, it was clear that McMahon had appreciated everything Austin had done for the company and referred to him as “the greatest WWE wrestler of all time.”
Austin Is Still Very Involved In The World Of Wrestling
While multiple injuries have made it so Stone Cold can’t wrestle anymore, he is still very involved in the sport. Austin still makes appearances at big WWE events, sometimes delivering a Stone Cold Stunner to an unsuspecting wrestler.
He also hosts a weekly podcast called the Steve Austin show. Live broadcasts of the show are released to the WWE Network. Almost all the guests have something to do with wrestling and have performed for the company at some time.