After conquering WWE legend Jake the Snake Roberts in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament in 1996, a new era began for a man whose claim to fame in the World Wrestling Entertainment would start this very moment.
The glass shattered, the skull broke and in walked the person who would change the face of WWE forever.
Yes, this was the time when Steve James Williams a.k.a Stone Cold Steve Austin would start raising hell as one of the main draws in the company with his catchphrase ‘Austin 3:16 says: I just whooped your ass!’
Boy, was this awesome to mark the onset of the greatest period in the history of WWE, the Attitude Era.
During this time, arguably the greatest heel in the history of this business, the chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon or as his character was called Mr. McMahon faced up to the greatest anti-hero, Stone Cold, with their altercations being simply legendary which would serve as the base on which the attitude era was built.
So, you obviously knew who was getting his ass whooped at the hands of whom.
Mr. McMahon at this time would leave no stone unturned to make Austin’s life a living hell, albeit as part of the storyline, with forming various factions like The Corporation, The Union and the biggest of them all, The Corporate Ministry led by the greatest soul to walk the squared circle, The Undertaker.
Taker and Austin’s battles were simply beyond words for me, whether be it The Buried Alive Match or The First Blood Match or any routine bouts.
Their famed rivalry would be called as The Highway to Hell which went on for almost 3 years right from the end of 1996 to the latter part of 1999.
Austin at this time would also fight various other WWE legends, the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Kane and the Hollywood Superstar, The Rock.
All these matches were simply breath-taking and for me, Austin in the latter part of the 90s to the early 2000s was arguably the biggest star in the business before he prematurely retired from in-ring competition, thanks to medical issues and injuries.
His last bout came at the grandest stage of them all, Wrestle Mania 2003 where he lost to the people’s champ, The Rock!
His no-nonsense ass-whooping, beer drinking and hell-raising approach matched with the legendary catchphrases, ‘And that’s the bottom line cause Stone Cold said so!’ and ‘give me a hell yeah’ along with showing the finger would make me bunk school to see this artist perform on TV day in-day out.
Believe you me, I was so inspired by this legend that I started developing an attitude much like the rattlesnake as I embarked on a new journey to junior college at the time!
The man from Texas continues to have sporadic WWE appearances till date, as his aura and appeal with the WWE universe is second to none.
What’s more, the entertainer also carved a fan following outside the ring by hosting The Broken Skull Sessions, a programme where he interviews various WWE legends on their experience inside and outside the ring along with establishing a name in Hollywood with movies like The Longest Yard, The Condemned and Grown Ups 2 to name a few.
A true legend, inside and outside the ring, Stone Cold, the wrestler has many accolades to his name with being a 6-time World Champion, 2-time Intercontinental Champion, 4-time Tag Team Champion, 3-time Royal Rumble Winner and a WWE Hall of Fame winner in 2009.
Add to that, an enviable win percentage of 57, triumphing in 271 of the 473 matches, he has contested in his wrestling career.
Definitely no mean feat!
You’re truly a God, a Legend, an Icon and arguably one of the best this business has seen.
And that’s the bottom line cause a diehard fan said so!
Happy 56th Sir.