Welcome to the Saturday edition of the Phat Daily Column. Today, we'll hop into the Time Machine and go back to see when Steve Austin was a heel before his recent so-called sell out to Vince McMahon, in the storylines. Yes, we're talking about some Stunning stuff here, and only what a Ringmaster would enjoy.
Many newer WWF fans weren't able to see the Steve Austin of the early/mid 1990s. Back then, he had blond hair, different tights, and some odd managers following him around. It's nothing like the plain black tights, the bald head, or the bad-ass attitude you see today. Well, there were shades of it as Stunning Steve Austin, but nothing like you see today.
So let's get on to the PDC today.
Austin would briefly wrestle in the independents, but he needed a name change. He couldn't use his real name of Steve Williams since Dr. Death Steve Williams was rather big back then, so the promoters ditched his last name and dubbed him Steve Austin. Austin would do well in the indies enough to impress the Turner-owned World Championship Wrestling, and was brought in around 1991. There, he was escorted by the woman he took away from Chris Adams, and eventually married, Lady Blossom. He gained the name "Stunning" to his already made up name Steve Austin, and he was set.
In his early WCW days, Stunning Steve Austin was extremely cocky! Not like the early Stone Cold days, as he had a big arrogance to his character. He was quickly becoming a great heel in his early days in WCW, insomuch as they booked him to win the television title. "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton was the current Television champ, and in June of 1991, Austin won his first television title. Austin would hold the television title for a good 10 months, which was incredible for a still-new wrestler. With the TV title, Austin was extra-cocky than ever, and he always found a way to win. He would even jaw-jack with the fans, and cut promos saying he was the best.
Austin, however, would lose his current wife, Lady Blossom, as his manager around this time. Well, actually, she was off to have some little Austins, so Paul E. Dangerously purchased Steve Austin for the Dangerous Alliance. Austin was a strong part of the group, which was a force until Bill Watts chopped it up.
In April of 1992, Steve Austin lost the television title to Barry Windham in a 2 out of 3 falls match. A month later, the Stunning one won the title back for his 2nd title reign. Stunning Steve Austin was just too good of a heel, back then, to not have the title on him. Austin was one of the few bright spots of this period, too, as Cowboy Bill Watts was just boring the hell out of the fans. Jim Ross was also in charge during this period, too, which was where Austin became good pals with Good Ol' J.R.. Austin would remain TV champ for over 3 months, until a tough opponent arrived.... Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat.
It seems that Steamboat was always attracted to Steve Austin whenever he had the title. Who knows? But what I do know is that they put on some incredible matches, with the fans always backing it. Austin was incredibly over as a heel, and everyone loved Ricky Steamboat. In September of 1992, Ricky Steamboat won the TV title from Stunning Steve Austin, which would be Steve Austin's last TV title reign, for there were better fish to fry. It wouldn't be the last fight with Steamboat, either, for they'd keep fighting for other titles.
In early 1993, Steve Austin formed an alliance with Brian Pillman, who just turned heel because the WCW bookers had no idea to do with the smiling babyface. As a team, they quickly had the fans in the palms of their hands. They would even argue with each other, which made them the most heated team in the federation. Together, they brought new life to the Tag Division, which wasn't as strong as it was since the days of the great teams like Doom, Steiner Brothers, and many other strong teams. Better yet, the face team of Shane Douglas and Ricky Steamboat were champions. Pillman and Austin, now dubbed the "Hollywood Blondes" became so over that the new man in charge of WCW, Eric Bischoff, had no choice but to give the Blondes a title shot. In March of 1993, the Blondes won the tag titles. They would keep fighting with Shane Douglas and Ricky Steamboat, until Steamboat got himself in hot water with the company and was ousted.
Backstage, Bischoff and many other wrestlers didn't quite like the Hollywood Blondes as a strong force. Even in the early stages of the Bischoff era, you still had to kiss major ass or massage the rolls of Dusty Rhodes to get a push. However, Pillman and Austin brought their push on themselves because they were that damn good. Bischoff and the other evils backstage got the break they wanted once Brian Pillman went down with an injury. The WCW bookers saw the opportunity to strengthen the horrible Horsemen experiment known as Paul Roma, and they placed Lord Steven Regal (now William) in place of Pillman for the job against Arn Anderson and Paul Roma for the World Tag Titles.
The bookers now pushed Steve Austin in the singles ranking, now with manager Colonel Parker, just so the Hollywood Blondes could NEVER reunite. Bischoff's job was in deep shit by the end of 1993 for a horrible year where they lost $23 Million in losses, so he put Ric Flair in charge of the booking. Flair immediately booked Austin to beat Dustin Rhodes for the US Title in December of 1993, and Austin wouldn't lose that title until 8 months later. Some reports say that Ric Flair was going to groom Steve Austin as the next big heel, but I've seen interviews where Steve Austin says that Flair was holding him back. Well, Austin was champ for the whole time Flair was the booker, so you can decide who was doing what to the other.
Austin remained a strong champ, and a great heel, and you can just guess who was nipping at his toes. Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat came after him, again, for a series of great matches. By the Summer of 1994, WCW purchased Hulk Hogan, and set up his contract to have complete character control. Well, Hogan had more than control over his own character, for Eric Bischoff gave into the needs of Hogan, signing lots of former WWF talent, who Vince McMahon deemed worthless back then. Ricky Steamboat beat Steve Austin in August of 1994 for the US title.
Unfortunately, Steamboat came up with an injury during one of his matches with Stunning Steve. The injury would be the one that would put Ricky out of wrestling for good, and the US title was awarded to Steve Austin. However, Austin was immediately booked to lose the title at Fall Brawl 1994 to Hogan's longtime friend, Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Austin lost the US title there, and would job to Duggan several times thereafter. Austin injured his knee after this humiliation, and was still made a fool of in early 1995. Then, the injury bug hit Austin again, but this time it was a tricep tear, which was the kind that was totally detached from the bone. Bischoff, on his knees for Hulk Hogan, saw Austin as a degenerate and non-marketable compared to Hogan, and ordered his secretary to leave a message on Austin's answering machine, stating that he was FIRED from WCW.
That was perfectly fine with Austin, as some said, because he was increasingly frustrated with WCW at the time. He showed that during his stint in Extreme Championship Wrestling, with the clever impersonations of Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan. However, the WWF, from obviously watching their competition, knew what a talent Steve Austin was. So they quickly picked Austin up from ECW in 1995, and used him for Ted Dibiase's "special" Million Dollar championship. They dubbed him the Ringmaster, and he wasn't quite recognized as the WWF hoped. Well, he shaved his facial hair and got a shorter haircut than normal.
The Ringmaster would go on to fight with Savio Vega, many, many, many times, including a special strap match where Austin agreed to drop Dibiase if he lost. Well, the Ringmaster lost the match, and Dibiase left. Actually, Dibiase's contract just ran out, and WCW wanted him for the NWO. Without Ted Dibiase, the WWF wanted to do something with Austin. Austin wanted to choose the name, and with his wife's help about how his tea would taste (it was going to be "Stone Cold"), and with the help of watching a few movies, Austin had some new ideas for his character. Steve would then shave his hair, and grow a gotee (sp?), with the addition of all black tights as well.
I can remember in the early stages, Vince McMahon would just SHOVE the "Stone Cold" gimmick name down our throats as an announcer. In fact, nobody gave a shit about Steve Austin until the King of the Ring 1996, which Austin wasn't supposed to win. Triple H was supposed to win the tournament, but he got in trouble for the "Curtain Call" incident. Austin would have an incredible tournament at the King of the Ring, and he showed no mercy towards an injured Jake "the Snake" Roberts in the finals. After the match, Austin said the following, regarding the so-called now religious Jake Roberts: "You talk about your Psalms, you talk about your John 3:16. Well, Austin 3:16 says I just whopped your ass!"
After this speech, signs saying "Austin 3:16" started appearing in the crowds, as did homemade shirts. The WWF didn't quite know what to think about this, so they quickly made some Austin 3:16 shirts themselves to see how they'd sell. And you know what, they were a hot merchandise item at events! After a while, Austin seemed to take interest in Bret Hart, basically calling him out from "retirement". The promos Austin put on against Bret Hart were just incredible for the time. After doing some weird angles with Brian Pillman, Austin got his match with Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1996. Some cheers for Austin, then, were present, but Bret Hart was the face at the time. After the match with Bret, which the WWF played up as Bret's best opponent ever, the fan base for Austin kept growing, and growing...
Austin would "cheat to win" the Royal Rumble 1997, in which Bret Hart whined about. Fans began to boo Bret Hart, insisting that he was now a crybaby. Austin would help Sid win the World Title from Bret at a RAW after the Hitman won it at an In Your House. That set up the best match of Wrestlemania 13, in which we saw Bret Hart turn heel, and I guess Steve Austin turned face. But Austin never officially turned face, for he'd always yell at anybody who tried to side with the Rattlesnake.
Austin would go on to fight the likes of Owen Hart and the Rock (early stages) for the Intercontinental title, and then later go after Shawn Michaels for the World Title. Next is Austin vs. McMahon, which lasted an eternity! Austin would have a quick feud with Triple H, and then he was runover by a car that Rikishi somehow drove, which Triple H ordered, I guess? Austin would return, trying to find who ran him over, only to find that Triple H was the man behind it. After a tough feud with Triple H, Austin turned heel at Wrestlemania against the Rock by joining Vince McMahon. Austin would be a somewhat lame duck heel until he quickly changed to a face before WWF Invasion 2001, where he turned heel, again, only this time in favor of the Alliance. He would be the kingpin of the Alliance until Survivor Series 2001, and afterward, he'd turn face, once again, but only this time, it seems like it's going to last till the end of his career.
But Austin did have a great point that he NEVER officially turned face or sided with the fans during his time as the so-called top face of the WWF. You could argue that he's always been a heel, but just that more evil heels always wanted to kill him.
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@That's all for today. I'll be back tomorrow with MORE PDC than you can imagine. Well, I do have something in store on the "non PPV" day. Joy!
Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.
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