A&E Biography – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin: What We Learned

Stone Cold Steve Austin Featured in New Vice, WWE Series

The A&E Network series Biography is featuring a number of professional wrestlers on its show. The first of these shows focused on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Everyone knows that Steve Austin was one of the top professional wrestlers of all time. He was one of the biggest money-drawing performers in the history of the business. However, there is much about Austin that is not known, and viewers learned a lot more from this show about “Stone Cold” himself.

Steve Austin was a good student and more.

In high school, Steve Williams was a straight-A student and a member of the National Honor Society. After high school, and brief stint in community college, he received a scholarship to play football on the collegiate level. However, he dropped out of college 17 hours short of earning his degree in order to pursue a career in professional wrestling.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin had other show business dreams before getting into wrestling.

As a young man, the future “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had dreams of becoming a rock star. He would practice signing autographs so that he would be ready when the time came. He discovered professional wrestling while flipping channels on his television and found his future career goal. He has said that he had no Plan B.

Dutch Mantel gave Steve Austin the name that he would carry throughout his wrestling career.

On a card in Memphis, Tennessee, Dutch Mantel approached Williams to ask him his stage name. He replied “Steve Williams,” but Mantel informed him that he could not use that name. The belief was that it would cause confusion because “Dr. Death” Steve Williams was also on the card. Mantel gave Williams 15 minutes to come up with a new name, and after trying without success to come up with a new moniker, Williams was told by Mantel, “then you are Steve Austin.”

Despite his minor successes, WCW was never a good fit for Steve Austin.

During his time in World Championship Wrestling, the office promised Austin a big push that never materialized. Instead, after suffering an injury during a match in Japan, Austin worked 2 ½ weeks with a torn tricep before returning home for surgery to repair the damage. After the surgery, Austin received a phone call from WCW. Eric Bischoff fired Austin on that phone call. From there, he moved to Extreme Championship Wrestling, where his anti-WCW promos caught the eye of Jim Ross and the World Wrestling Federation.

Austin was not a fan of “The Ringmaster” gimmick.

When Austin was initially contacted by the WWF, “The Ringmaster” gimmick was presented to him. After the gimmick was explained to him, Austin had no idea who or what it would be and how it would relate to who he was. Once the gimmick had run its course, Vince McMahon gave Steve a 3-page list of questionable character names to choose from. However, Austin, with the help of his wife at the time, came up with the name “Stone Cold;” the rest is history.

Austin 3:16 caused an immediate stir.

After winning the 1996 King of the Ring Tournament, Austin cut his legendary “Austin 3:16” promo. The next night at RAW, there were Austin 3:16 signs and homemade Austin 3:16 t-shirts throughout the arena. This was the same reaction that The Four Horsemen got when they referenced the name and four-finger salute for the first time on television. The WWF knew that Austin had hit on something big and they were right.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin may be responsible for the start of the Attitude Era.

Many wrestlers believe that Austin, particularly with his “Austin 3:16” promo, was the catalyst to the start of wrestling’s Attitude Era. Hulkamania had begun to wane and the Attitude Era was the beginning of a resurgence within professional wrestling. Some feel that Austin was responsible for beginning the WWF’s recovery.

It’s not Brock, it’s me.

With Austin reaching the end of his career, and Brock Lesnar beginning his rise, WWE wanted Lesnar to go over Austin in a match on free television. Austin refused, left the company, and stayed away for nearly a year before returning. He stated that he had no issue with dropping a match to Lesnar, but Austin felt that doing so on free television with no buildup would not truly elevate the young star. “Stone Cold” felt that the match, with the proper build, could be very lucrative for the company.

Austin’s last match was a well-kept secret.

Few knew that Austin’s match at WrestleMania XIX would be his last. Austin personally selected The Rock as his opponent, and outside of “The Great One,” only JR and McMahon knew that it would be Austin’s final match. Austin told no one so that the other talent would not be distracted.

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