Sunday , 21 September 2014

WWE: Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time DVD Review

Disk 1

The centerpiece of this DVD collection is a brand new 2 ½ hour documentary talking about the life and times of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It covers all of the major highlights in his career plus a lot of extensive commentary from Austin assessing his own career. What separates Austin from so many other professional wrestlers is his brutal honesty. He is able to assess his own career in an honest way. When something worked, Austin will tell you. Like in the case of coming up with his character and many aspects of the Vince McMahon rivalry. When something failed miserably, like his infamous heel turn, Austin isn’t afraid to say what went wrong. This was a fascinating look at Austin’s career and practically justified my Blu Ray purchase all by itself.

A thorough look at Austin’s career is given, from his humble beginnings training under Chris Adams until his last match at Wrestlemania 19 against The Rock. Austin shows clear reverence to the men who  helped him in his career, even his trainer Chris Adams. He also talks about all the things Ricky Steamboat provided in his career. Austin has also toned his anger down when it comes to being fired from WCW. With 20 years of perspective, Austin is willing to admit that he deserved to get fired for various reasons. Also easy to justify when you consider what Austin was able to do in ECW and WWE. As he moves forward, Austin has to come up with some names for a new WWE character. Otto Von Ruthless and Fang McFrost thankfully did not make the cut (although the names the wrestlers get in FCW might be nearly as bad as these), but Austin used a suggestion from his ex-wife to come up with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. In so many aspects of his career, Austin was able to take negatives and turn them into positives.

He took the firing from WCW and became an angry, bitter man which translated well to the WWE audience tired of cartoon characters. Triple H breaking kayfabe with some of his buddies led to Austin’s big break in the 1996 King of the Ring. Bret Hart’s lack of respect for Shawn Michaels led to an incredible feud with Austin that then led to two borderline five star matches, including one of the best Wrestlemania matches of all time.  Then there was Owen Hart’s piledriver that almost ended Austin’s career just as he was ready to explode into the stratosphere. Although it put Austin on borrowed time, his character once and for all became a man of the people fighting the system. He stunned his way to the top, ending with a stunner on WWF Owner Vince McMahon on September 22, 1997 in Madison Square Garden. The departure of Bret Hart and injury to Shawn Michaels made Austin the unquestioned number one star in the WWF by Wrestlemania 14.

The personal problems, and for Austin there have been many, are generally glossed over. The only time a divorce is even referenced is when Austin talks about forgetting his vest at Wrestlemania 15. He also doesn’t address the domestic altercations that came after departing WWE in the summer of 2002. He does mention having a number of issues, particularly with alcohol, going into his final match as Austin spent the night before Wrestlemania 19 in a Seattle hospital because of dehydration. I would have to consider not addressing some of these issues as the major flaw of the whole documentary.

Overall, this was  a very strong feature that showed off what made Austin so special to both WWE and the business in general. Austin’s honesty is actually refreshing compared to so many other legends. You also get the sense that unlike so many other older wrestlers, Austin doesn’t need to constantly need the spotlight on him and is content to spend a lot of time on his ranch hunting and enjoying cold beverages.

Disk 2

-Steve Austin picked out of many the matches that have been important in his career, even if they’ve been seen before elsewhere.

-Steve Austin (w/Jeanie) vs. Chris Adams (USWA- May 1990)

Match in Five Words or Less: Austin Comes Off The Top

Match Highlights: Austin decks Adams from behind and delivers a series of forearms.  Not much wrestling from Austin. Mostly punching. Adams tossed outside and sent into the apron. Shot to the throat. Double axehandle to the floor. After sending Adams into the apron once again, Austin tosses him back in the ring. Bodyslam back in the ring. Big splash (from Steve Austin?) misses. Punch to the midsection followed by a superkick and back drop. Austin tossed through the middle rope. Adams rams Austin into the chair. Chair shot right to Austin’s head. Jeanie pulls the leg on a vertical suplex. Austin ends up on top and gets three.

Match Analysis: This felt more like a match as part of a greater angle than an individually important contest. You could tell Austin was really just starting as he was really basic here and didn’t try to make things complicated. But the flashes were there.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Steve Austin/4:38/*1/2

-Adams superkicks Austin in the face. Jeanie sprays hair spray into Adams’s face.Beatdown ensues. Adams briefly gets away. Heels take off.

-Ric Flair and Steve Austin vs. Sting and Ricky Steamboat(WCW Saturday Night- July 30, 1994)

Match in Five Words or Less: Wow

Match Highlights: Flair immediately tags out and struts on the apron. Steamboat gives chase. Now Austin runs away since they’re feuding. Flair tags. Not like those two have a rivalry or anything. Cheap forearm and chop. Whip and back drop by Steamboat. Sting in. Press slam. Ten punches in the corner, even some delivered to Austin. Kicks from Flair. Sting backslides for two. Shot from Steamboat. Flair flop. Flair rolls outside. Chop no sold by Sting. Sherri put in front. Austin and Steamboat run around. Sherri taunts Sting. Sting yells right back at her. Eye rake. Chop along the rail and back in goes Sting. Austin and Flair work Sting over briefly. Boot and chops. Back drop sends Austin HIGH in the air. Sting works a wristlock. Steamboat tags in. Austin quickly tosses him outside. Boots from Austin. Steamboat drags him out. We get a strike battle. Austin goes to the eyes. Double axehandle met with a shot to the gut. Swinging neckbreaker and chop. Flair comes in and gets chopped. Steamboat is battling both men. Atomic drop on Austin. Austin goes outside. Steamboat has a chinlock on Austin after a “commercial break.” Jawbreaker from Austin. Chop and back to the punches. Steamboat ducks and we have a backslide battle. Hard chop. Austin placed on the top rope. Superplex. 1-2-NO! Sting in with a bodyslam. A second one. Off the ropes and Austin gets his knees up. Flair struts. Vertical suplex. No sell! Clotheslines from Sting. He launches himself over. Austin with a series of shots on the floor. Austin and Steamboat battle on the floor. Sting has an inside cradle for two. Flair begs off. This is crazy. Sting keeps kipping up and won’t stay down. Flair cowers and threatens to go after some fans. Austin and Flair discuss strategy. Heels fail at a double team as Sting clotheslines them both. Flair climbs up top, and he gets press slammed. Flair dodges out of something and goes to the corner. Shoulder tackle by Sting. O’Connor roll by Austin. He holds the tights and gets two. A roll-up for two. Clotheslines from Sting. Press slam. Austin goes low. Flair tosses Sting over the top rope, which would be a disqualification if the referee had seen it. Sherri punts away at Sting. Heels continue working Sting’s midsection over. Austin does a great job preventing the hot tag. Mistake comes as he comes off the middle rope and meets Sting’s knees. Steamboat comes in with chops for everyone. Flair goes upside down and out. Back drop on Austin. Sting decks Flair on the apron. Austin boots Steamboat and clotheslines him. Tag to Flair. Snapmare into a headlock. Nearfall exchange. Knee drop by Flair misses. He kicks Steamboat away. Shoulder tackle and Steamboat goes down. Austin comes down with his knee. Stomps. Sherri chokes some more. Vertical suplex back in the ring. Abdominal stretch. Because they’re heels, Flair of course lends a hand to his partner. Flair with chops in the corner. Straight right hand. Steamboat comes back. Chop block from Flair. Roll-up gets two. Steamboat chop. Austin just barely prevents a hot tag and hits an elbow drop for two. Sting shouts at Steamboat to get up as Austin has a chinlock applied. Off the ropes. Steamboat chops Austin down. Steamboat fights out of the corner. Tag is made but the referee was distracted by Flair. All four men brawl. Sting press slams Flair. Austin crotched on the top. Stinger splash. Scorpion deathlock. Sherri comes off the top and is caught. He slams Sherri into Flair. Austin rolls Steamboat in the corner with his feet on the ropes and gets three.

Match Analysis: An absolutely fantastic back and forth contest. I feel like this was a clinic on how to do a tag team wrestling match. It wasn’t about the moves that were hit. It was about their characters and the way they behaved. Austin and Flair acted like heels in everything they did. Steamboat and Sting were the clear babyfaces.  I could have watched this match for hours and not gotten tired of it. Regardless of the other matches which have been on other collections, you should spend 20 dollars just to get this gem on your shelf.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Ric Flair and Steve Austin/24:00 shown/****1/4

-King of the Ring Final: Steve Austin vs. Jake Roberts(WWE King of the Ring 1996-June 23, 1996)

Match in Five Words or Less: The Start Of Something Great

Match Highlights:  The point of showing this has nearly nothing to do with the match itself because let’s face it… it’s not much. Roberts is selling the ribs that were injured by Vader earlier on in the evening. Austin was also coming off a trip to the emergency room to get stitches by his mouth., courtesy of Marc Mero. Austin works over the ribs until Gorilla Monsoon comes in to check on Roberts’s condition. Roberts makes a brief comeback. Shoulder tackles in the corner. Finally,  a stunner is hit and Austin comes away with the victory.

Match Analysis: The point wasn’t to have great match but rather to show just how mean and heartless Steve Austin truly was. This also was supposed to be the start of a mega push, but that aspect wouldn’t come into play until Bret Hart came back in the fall.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: 1996 King of the Ring-Steve Austin/4:36/*

-Dok Hendrix interviews the new king, who unlike kings of the past did not wear the goofy crown or cape. Some reference to Austin 3:16 is made. Not sure what that’s all about. Sadly, his words about Jake Roberts proved perfunctory. Steve Austin’s time is here, and that’s the bottom line.

(A couple years ago, I decided to rank every single Wrestlemania match ever. As crazy as it might seem now, I actually did it. In lieu of completing fresh write-ups on some of Austin’s famous Wrestlemania matches, I’m pulling a copy and paste job. Not like you’re paying for these, and it’s not like a lot more needs to be said about these matches than what I said back in 2009 anyway.)

-Submission Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (Wrestlemania 13- March 23, 1997)

Match in Five Words or Less: Best Double Turn EVER!

Analysis: Bret Hart called this his favorite match he ever had in the WWF. Steve Austin was the man who inducted Bret Hart into the WWE Hall of Fame 2006. This match is the ultimate example of what Wrestlemania can and should be about. It is a great wrestling match, a psychological brawl that included a mixture of holds and use of the hardcore style that was more famous in ECW. It is a historical match since Steve Austin and Bret Hart completed an epic double turn that would send Austin into the strastosphere and Hart into being a hated heel (at least in the United States). We also have a great visual as Austin desperately tries to get out of the sharpshooter and there’s that close-up of a bloody Austin trying to climb toward the ropes. I should also note Austin losing the match despite not giving up. Back in the day, before wrestler routinely got out of submission holds and matches were stopped because of referee’s discretion, this was a rare occurrence, and the impact of Austin never giving up to Hart’s sharpshooter was what made him such a popular superstar the rest of 1997 and into the rest of the decade.

Up to this point, Wrestlemania 13 had been one of the worst Wrestlemanias ever with boring match after boring match. It’s almost as if Austin and Hart went into a vortex or another universe and had a match somewhere else. The Chicago crowd was rewarded for sitting through a whole bunch of garbage by getting the all-time greatest match in Wrestlemania. I know there will always be a debate about what the greatest match in Wrestlemania history will be. But for me, there was never really any doubt. This was the match that set up so much, both good and bad.

Austin would use this match to become the second biggest babyface in WWF history, while this would be Hart’s last Wrestlemania appearance and one of the last times we got to see the real Bret Hart, not that pod person that wrestled in WCW and who has become a shell of his former self because of various family tragedies, concussions, and motorcycle accidents. To a certain extent, I guess Austin has become a shell of his former self too after his own substance abuse problems and injuries, but for some 25 minutes these two took wrestling fans on an emotional rollercoaster that won’t be soon forgotten.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Bret Hart/22:05/*****

(Editor’s Note: Bret Hart did indeed make another Wrestlemania appearance. But we don’t need to speak of that match ever again.)

-WWF Intercontinental Championship: Steve Austin (champion) vs. The Rock (w/The Nation of Domination)(WWF D-Generation X- December 7, 1997

Match in Five Words or Less: Taste Of Main Event Style

Match Highlights: Steve Austin nearly had his neck broken three months prior, so Austin had to modify his style slightly in order to continue his wrestling career. Less mat wrestling and bumps. More brawling through the crowd. There were also bells and whistles as well.  For example, there’s this match. Rocky was freshly turned and had the Intercontinental championship belt with him. Steve Austin drives in on his truck. Austin goes to work even before the bell rings. Faarooq, Kama, and D-Lo Brown help quadruple team Austin. Brown is back dropped into the glass and front of the truck. Stunner on top. Rock lays the smack down as the bell rings. Shoulder tackle by Austin. Thesz press and right hands. Exchange of nearfalls. Rock tosses Austin to the floor.  Faarooq and Kama take him back to the car area. Kama hits Faarooq with a chair shot. Kama gets sent hard into the side of the card. Austin goes back in and gets booted. Back elbow. Low blow from Rock as the referee is distracted. Choke on the middle rope. Rock slams Austin. People’s elbow to zero reaction for two. Chinlock. Knee to the midsection. Another bodyslam and set-up for the elbow. Austin gets out of the way. He stomps a mudhole in the corner. Kick. Kama gets decked off the apron. Austin accidentally stuns the official. Rock has a pair of brass knuckles. Kick and a stunner on Rock. Referee comes in and counts three.

Match Analysis: Compared to some of the matches they would go onto have, this was weak sauce. Austin was clearly coming off his neck injury. You could see how limited he was and Rocky wasn’t skilled enough to really make this anything more than a kicky/punchy type of match. Austin would go onto patent this style and have it down within six months.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: STILL Intercontinental Champion- Steve Austin/9:07/**1/2

-WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels (champion) vs. Steve Austin (Special Outside Enforce: Mike Tyson)(WWF Wrestllemania 14-March 29, 1998)

Match in Five Words or Less: Austin Has Arrived

Analysis: A lot can be said about Shawn Michaels and his attitude before discovering Jesus and turning his life toward religion. A lot of it wouldn’t be very good. But when it comes to the in ring aspect, there is no better performer then Shawn Michaels. He put together one hell of a gutty performance. I don’t know if this match is even in the vicinity of their King of the Ring ’97 match; both men did the best they could with what they had. I can’t call this a true classic or rate this an eight, but factoring in the other things, it’s still ranked quite high on this list. And when Austin pinned Michaels’ shoulders to the mat 1-2-3, the WWF Attitude Era officially began. Gone were heroes and icons. In was a real person who represented regular people but never pandered to them. Steve Austin’s journey to become the man was now over. The next step was showing he had the goods to carry the WWF into the next millennium.

What’s always been amazing to me is that this just one of two matches these two legends had together. Just as Austin was really rising, Michaels sort of flamed out. Then when Michaels came back in late 2002 and into 2003, Austin would retire as a broken down and some would say bitter man. Honestly, the way things have developed, I’ve actually come to respect Michaels more as a wrestler and human being.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: NEW WWF Champion- Steve Austin/20:02/****

(Editor’s Note: My tone on Steve Austin has definitely softened the last two or three years. Time heals all wounds.)

-WWF Championship: Steve Austin (champion) vs. Dude Love (Special Referee: Vince McMahon, Special Ring Announcer: Pat Patterson, Special Timekeeper: Gerald Brisco, Special Enforcer: The Undertaker)(WWE Over the Edge- May 31, 1998)

Match in Five Words or Less: Austin Overcomes It All

Match Highlights: I’m dying to know who wrote the introductions of Patterson, Brisco, and McMahon. If it was Russo, then it’s one of the greatest things ever. This is one of the more famous matches in history because Russo would try to rip off what happened in this match a million other times. Unfortunately, the performers were never near as good as these individuals were. The look on McMahon’s face when he’s about to ring the bell and Undertaker’s music hits is marvelous.  Lock-up goes into the corner. Austin breaks clean… and flips McMahon off. Dude Love covers off a shoulder tackle and gets two? Feeling out process continues. Kick to the gut. Austin sends Dude down and stomps on his fake teeth. Clothesline from Dude. Punches in the corner. Thesz press and right hands by Austin. Clothesline over the top rope. Austin sent into the stairs. Dude pounds away and sends him into the stairs again. Vince shouts he’s not going to count Austin out. Russian legsweep gets two. Choking and biting in the corner.  Whip across and a clothesline. Swinging neckbreaker and clotheslines from the champion. Kicks in the corner. Dude reverses a whip. Mandible claw. Dude gets hung up by the neck in the ropes. Dude tosses Austin over the Spanish announcer’s table. Pat Patterson helpfully reminds us that this is a no disqualification match. Dude chokes away with a chord. Austin rams Dude into the table, thus taking Brisco out. Right hands and send into the rail. Clothesline and Dude lands hard on the floor. That’s why he was retired within two years. Back elbow. Austin misses a charge on the middle rope. He rolls outside. Brisco holds the hammer up. Dude baseball slide dropkicks Austin. Awkward looking neckbreaker on the floor. Pat Patterson reminds us that this match is falls count anywhere. We get a quick pair of two counts. Austin hits a running clothesline. Back drop on one of the car hoods. Cover for two. Face first in the hood. Dude covers on the car. That would have been a hell of a finish. Rake of the eyes. Dude gets hotshotted into the car. To the top of the car. Stunner attempt but Dude throws him across. Sunset flip off the car. Dude grabs a lead pipe as Austin gets back up. Shot to the head. Austin fights back, but he’s bleeding. Dude hits a back drop out of a powerbomb. 1-2-NO! Snap suplex. Dude crawls across the cars and sets up for an elbow drop. Austin moves out of the way.  Cover for 1-2-NO! McMahon looks at Undertaker while he is making the count. Dude sent into the stairs and back in the ring. Patterson trips Austin. Dude hits a clothesline. Series of right hands. Dude takes the steel pad off the turnbuckle. Austin sent into the medal. Running knee into the corner. Austin sent into the corner yet again. Elbows and right hands from Austin. Dude sends Austin into the buckle. 1-2-NO! Patterson hands Dude a chair. Shot to the gut and back. Double arm DDT. 1-2-NO! Running charge. Austin boots the chair into Dude. Shot right to the cranium. He covers. McMahon refuses to count. Dude comes from behind and belts McMahon in the head. Kick and stunner. Another referee runs in but is pulled out by Patterson. Dude hooks a mandible claw. Patterson goes to count. Undertaker chokeslams him through the English announce table Dude with another cover. Brisco counts, but he goes through the Spanish announce table. Back to the claw. Low blow and stunner. Austin forces McMahon’s hand to count the pinfall. 1-2-3! Austin retains and flips everyone off. Crowd goes ballistic.

Match Analysis: If  a match like this were to happen today, people would talk about the overbooking. Let’s face it. This was an overbooked mess. But everyone played their role to perfection in this bout and made into a classic. It also helped that this match had a crowd that was so into every minute, and the greatest announcer of all time to help put it over. Amazing what happens when you get everything to work together.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating:STILL WWF Champion-Steve Austin/22:28/****1/2

-WWF Championship: Steve Austin (champion) vs. The Undertaker (Summerslam 1998-August 30,1998)

Match in Five Words or Less: Undertaker Jobs Clean

Match Highlights:  Just for the record, the theme song Undertaker used during the fall period is my favorite of all-time.  Immediate right hands. Taker tosses him over and jabs away. Back elbow and another right hand barrage. Austin responds in kind. Whip reversed and a clothesline from Taker. Double birds from the champion. Some arm work. Austin roll-up for two. Drop toehold. Into an armbar. Yes, an armbar. Austin with a boot. Taker rises up and knocks Austin in the head. Off the ropes. Kicks and Taker hits a vertical suplex. Elbow drop misses. Right hands from the champion. Taker hot shots Austin on the top rope. Into the buckle. Shots to the back. Stomps. Whip across. Austin pulls Taker out and rams the left leg into the side of the ring. Across the post and Taker’s leg is sent into it multiple times. Taker tries avoiding the champion. He comes back with a clothesline and both men are down. Straight choke. He grabs the arm but Austin pulls the challenger off the top. Stomps to the left knee.  Kane makes his way out. See, Taker and Kane were aligned. This was the first time they were together. They would go back and forth many many many times. Taker tells Kane to leave. He invites Austin in. Austin stares Kane down before resuming working on the knee. Chokeslam back in the ring. Austin clothesline Taker over the top. He sells his knee. Brawl goes around ringside and into the crowd. Back drop of Austin. Back to the ring. Austin comes back. Off the ropes. Stunner but Taker backs away and lands on his feet. Taker drives the champion into the post back first. Taker eventually tosses Austin out. Austin’s back nails that apron at an awkward angle. Taker begins cleaning off the announce table. Taker climbs to the top rope! Leg drop through the table! Sweet American Jesus! In the ring for a two count. Whip across. Taker misses a charge. Shot to the back and a right hand to the throat. Another whip. Austin gets his boot up. Whip across and they clothesline each other. Right hand exchange as they both get up. Chops and more punches. Off the ropes and Thesz press. Elbow drop.  Taker rams Austin into the corner. Awkward looking stunner gets two. Some clear miscommunication there. Taker hits a chokeslam and calls for the finish. Austin out. Stunner blocked. Taker crotches Austin on the top rope. Russian legsweep. Taker sits up. Taker grabs Austin’s arm. Austin hits a low blow. Stunner gets him the victory and Austin retains. Taker hands Austin the belt after the match in a sign of respect.

Match Analysis: While there was some clear miscommunication and awkward spots, these two delivered a very hard fought and physical match. It’s rare Undertaker jobs clean, but it made a lot of sense for him to so in this match. It was another sign of Austin’s arrival as a big time superstar. This is was a very enjoyable and smartly worked contest and definitely one of the better matches these two ever had.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: STILL WWF Champion-Steve Austin/18:43/***1/2

-Steve Austin vs. The Big Show (Special Referee: Mankind) (Monday Night Raw-March 23, 1999)

Match in Five Words or Less: Big Show Buried

Match Highlights: After signing a ten year contract, Big Show was making his wrestling debut on the go home Wrestlemania 15 edition of Raw. Paul Wight was pretty much a big disappointment for the first few years of his WWE/WWE career, and this match is no exception. Michael Cole calls this the biggest match in Raw history. So is this the first real dumb thing Cole ever said? I have to believe it’s not the last. Why would you give this away for free with minimal build? Thank the Monday night wars and Vince Russo. Austin controls with punches. Big Show comes back using his strength. Austin hits a low blow. Show kicks Austin, and he backs away into the crowd. That’s called selling. Poke to the ye and and a punch. Big Show chokes him. Mankind hits a double axehandle from behind. Wow. Big Show goes after Mankind. Austin takes a pad off. Series of right hands. Kick. Show sends Austin into exposed medal. Rock tells Michael Cole to shut up. Where is Rock now to stay that. Foley punches Show. Austin is tossed out of a stunner. Driving boot. Austin rolls to the floor. Show hits a headbutt. Show press slams Austin on the floor. Headbutt. Austin out of the clutches. Show sent into the post and he no sells. Austin is sent in instead. Mankind grabs a chair, and he threatens Show to get back in the ring. Chop. Show misses an elbow drop. Austin with elbows. Show grabs a bearhug. Austin gets out of the hold. Thesz press and a two count. Show tosses him. Austin wears Show out with chair shots all across the body. Kick. Wham. Stunner. Victory. Show takes his anger out on Foley afterward.

Match Analysis: I’m not even sure why they bothered including this. It didn’t feel special and was really only an example of Vince Russo’s half-baked booking. Jobbing Show to Austin made little to no sense except to show that “WWF is better than WCW.”

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Steve Austin/9:32/*

WWF Championship: The Rock (champion) vs. Steve Austin (Wrestlemania 15-March 28, 1999)

Match in Five Words or Less: A Vinny Ru Special

Analysis: Shawn Michaels makes his contractually obligated Wrestlemania appearance to make sure Vince McMahon isn’t the special referee. Here’s my thoughts on this whole situation. Why can’t we just have one referee officiate the match, have Austin and Rocky have the kind of epic title match we all know they can have and call it a day? Because Vince Russo is a putz. You may have noticed every time I’ve talked about Wrestlemania 15, I’ve taken a cheap shot at Vince Russo. I’ve done this for a darn good reason. His slimy greaseball fingers are all over every single one of these matches. In so many cases, his writing ruins potentially decent matches. The roster in 1998 and 1999 was not all that good, and the fact that the WWF was making somewhere between a bajillion and two bajillion dollars has nothing to do with it. Vince Russo sure as hell wasn’t the reason. Two guys wrestling in this match are the big reasons. Austin and Rock did everything in their power to cut through the crap and be the best damn wrestlers they could be. And that guy who returned for this main event, Jim Ross, facilitated this garbage too so it could make some semblance of sense. Yet Captain New York thought J.R. was too southern or too ugly or whatever. Well, I ask you this fair reader. Who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and is regarded as one of the greatest announcers of all time? Who did Austin and Rock raise hell for to have him call this match? Sure as shit wasn’t the head of TNA’s booking committee.

Wrestlemania 15 will go down as one of the worst Wrestlemanias of all time. Thankfully, this is neutralized by the fact that a crapload of people bought it and the WWF was ridiculously hot at this point. These two have a very good match here. However, I think their match at Backlash was actually more epic and their main event at Wrestlemania 17 was one of the biggest matches in WWF/E history. For this reason, some of the history is lost. It’s a passable match, but all the fighting on the outside and four referees being taken out are major distractions.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: NEW WWF Champion-Steve Austin/16:52/***1/2

(Editor’s Note: My dislike of Vince Russo really shined through here. Clearly what he was doing worked for the time, but a lot of long term damage has been done to the product. We still feel the residuals to this day.)

WWF Championship: The Rock (champion) vs. Steve Austin (Wrestlemania 17-April 1, 2001)

Match in Five Words or Less: The Attitude Era Is Over

Analysis: The moment Steve Austin shaked the hand of his hated rival Vince McMahon, the “Attitude” era ended. Of course, this was also in the same vicinity of the XFL ending its’ financially disastrous one season and WCW finally going the way of the dodo. But the ending of Wrestlemania 17 was both a symbolic and literal ending to the WWF being hip and cool. Although, the WWF/E has put on some wonderful shows and had a lot of spectacular matches, the company has never been able to approach the popularity of where they once were. The WWF wanted Austin and McMahon’s alliance to be the shocker of all shockers. What no one understood was they were pissing on a three year legacy and essentially destroying a potential invasion angle three months before it started.

What must be made clear is the fact that this is the best singles match Austin and Rock ever had. It was epic, violent, and a spectacular roller coaster ride. Austin’s inability and frustration at the Rock’s heart worked out very well. Rocky had actually been the one leaning toward a heel turn, but Austin (as had been rumored for almost a year beforehand) turned heel in front of a Houston crowd that wanted so badly for Austin to win the championship, that they either didn’t notice or didn’t care that their hero just went heel. This was actually another part of the problem.  It was six months after Austin’s big return from a serious neck injury. Absolutely no one wanted this heel turn. When Hogan turned heel, the crowd had already been booing him.

With a little foresight and realization, Vince McMahon could have made himself a billionaire all over again simply by having Austin as the default leader of the WWF in a battle against WCW. Hell, those two could have shaken hands eventually. But imagine it’s just a week or two before the big invasion ten man tag and it’s with a look of distrust on each man’s face. Sadly, Austin turned heel after having one of the very best matches in his career. He would be emasculated in an alliance with Triple H, be reduced to duets with Kurt Angle, and would finally be the leader of the failed invasion angle that reduced Austin to a punchline. Who knew a handshake could mean so much?

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: NEW WWF Champion- Steve Austin/28:06/****3/4

(The documentary addresses a lot of the points I make here. This was just a remarkably short sighted and silly move by everyone involved. If Austin was going to turn heel, it needed to be the fans that illustrated this, not the company forcing it down our throats.)

Disk 3

This is a series of sometimes important, sometimes, sometimes funny, but all the time entertaining Steve Austin promos. What follows is a brief description of each segment and some general thoughts. There are also some Blu Ray exclusive segments and matches which I will also go over as well.

WCW Saturday Night- June 5, 1993- It’s a Flare for the Old, a parody of Ric Flair’s WCW talk show. Brian Pillman makes fun of Ric Flair’s age and brings out Steve Austin. Pillman is fantastic. Too bad they wrestled Arn Anderson and Flair in one of the lowest rated Clash of the Champions of all time. It’s absurd to think that Flair outlasted both Austin and Pillman careerwise. Anderson stalks out. Austin makes fun of him. Slap across the face. Anderson tosses Austin in the ring and lays into him. Pillman beats Anderson down with a cane.

ECW Hardcore TV-October 10, 1995- Steve Austin is a little sour about being fired by Eric Bischoff and just little bit more sour about the booking.  Good stuff as Austin was finally developing his character and slowly becoming “Stone Cold.” Austin calls the ECW Arena the biggest piece of crap he’s ever seen. Well, it took 17 years, but that piece of crap finally shut down.  He calls ECW violent crap and says he’s here to wrestle. This lasted a month… maybe. The ending of this promo, where he talks about no one being able to hold him back, was great.

ECW Hardcore TV- October 31, 1995- Steve Austin makes fun of Eric Bischoff and gets in some funny lines about the big boys playing with each other and talks to some bongos. Ironically, his line about Monday NyQuill would prove to be correct by 1998 and not so much in 1995.

ECW Hardcore TV-December 19, 1995- Austin is relenting about the fact that he lost two world title matches after not having not received a single world title match in WCW. He gives credit to Mikey Whipwreck and Sandman for beating him. Austin talks about not being a superstar. He calls Eric Bischoff one of the best announcers in the sport. Austin wants to come back to WCW and be a midcard wrestler. Then he comes back to reality and talks about being better than anyone in ECW. We’re getting closer and closer to that “Stone Cold” character. Austin is going to take some time off… and go to WWF. Well, that’s what actually happened.

In Your House: Mind Games-September 22, 1996- Brian Pillman and Owen Hart are already in the ring. Steve Austin talks about Bret Hart being scared of him and runs the legend down. One of my all-time favorite lines is said here. “When you put the letter ‘s’ in front of Hitman, you’ve had my exact opinion of him.” This was of course to set up a match with Austin and Hart at Survivor Series 1996. The shackles were off. Austin was starting to get on a roll.

WWF Livewire- October 19, 1996- Steve Austin berates Todd Pettingill and Sunny for not showing what happened on the previous Raw. Absolutely hilarious.  There is speculation about what Bret Hart will say on the upcoming Raw. Austin answers phone calls and e-mails in the most humorous  way possible.

WWF Monday Night Raw-November 4, 1996- Steve Austin had recently injured Brian Pillman after some comments Pillman made about a possible match with Bret Hart. Austin shows up. Pillman pulls out a gun. This is one of the most infamous segments in the history of Monday Night Raw. After moving the show up an hour, this was how WWF introduced themselves to this new audience. This is complete shock level garbage.

WWF 1997 Slammy Awards- March 21, 1997- Ahmed Johnson pretends to announce Steve Austin as the winner of the newcomer of the year award. He then gives it to Rocky Maivia. Yeah, this character sucked. He’d be The Rock by the end of the year and actually ready to draw some money. Steve Austin then gets to cut a promo and talks about how he should have won the award. He talks about taking the Intercontinental title before turning his attention to Bret Hart. The submission match was actually the next night. Man, Austin was on a role during this time period. Next up, Bob Backlund gives away an award for freedom of speech. Austin gives his thoughts on professional wrestling and his match with Bret Hart.

WWF Monday Night Raw- April 21, 1997- Bret Hart is being carried to an ambulance. Steve Austin is ready to take Bret Hart straight to hell. He continues a beating he had commenced earlier in the evening.

WWF Monday Night Raw- September 21, 1997- Steve Austin went on a stunner rampage of some high profile names, Jim Ross, Sgt. Slaughter, and Jerry Lawler. Now it was the owner’s turn. This was WWF’s first Monday Night Raw in Madison Square Garden. They needed something big for the first time. Well, this was it. Vince McMahon takes his first of millions of stunners. Great start to a rather famous feud. McMahon cuts a great promo about why Austin isn’t able to compete at this time. A truly historic moment in WWF/WWE history.

WWF Monday Night Raw- January 19, 1998- Vince McMahon wants to announce Mike Tyson’s role at Wrestlemania, but Steve Austin just has to interject himself. Things of course get physical and break down rather quickly. If they could have booked these two at any point, Vince McMahon would have been a billionaire two years before he actually became one.

WWF Monday Night Raw- March 30, 1998- Vince McMahon has a nice new shiny title belt to give Steve Austin. He wants to congratulate Austin on his victory and make him an offer. Austin can do things the easy way or the hard way. Austin of course chooses the hard way and lays McMahon out with a stunner. This officially began the Austin/McMahon feud. It wouldn’t end until July 1999.

WWF Monday Night Raw- September 30, 1998- Vince McMahon wants to present the WWF title to either the Undertaker or Kane based on the results of a triple threat match which took place the night before. The stooges and security are standing by McMahon.  Steve Austin drives a zamboni into the arena and attacks McMahon. The crowd is absolutely nuts for all of this. This was a fairly important part of the McMahon/Austin feud. It led to Taker and Kane “breaking” Vince’s ankle moments later.

WWF Monday Night Raw- October 5, 1998- Vince McMahon is being a real jerk in the hospital. Steve Austin takes advantage of the situation and physically assaults the owner of the promotion again. The bed pan shot is funny no matter how many times I see it. This is back when WWF used to do things that were actually funny.

WWF Monday Night Raw-October 12, 1998- Vince McMahon drove himself in a brand new Corvette. Well, that’s just a set-up for what happens later as Austin dumps a load of cement into the car. Very funny stuff. I believe that corvette can be found at WWE headquarters.

WWF Monday Night Raw-October 19, 1998- Vince McMahon “pees” himself on national television the night after “firing” Steve Austin. This evening pretty much crossed the line, and I have no interest in discussing it further. The end game is Austin puts a new contract in McMahon’s pocket and gets himself rehired.

WWF Monday Night Raw-March 22, 1999- The Rock is ready to lay the Smackdown on Mankind’s candy ass. Steve Austin… well, he drives a beer truck into the arena and pours liquid into the ring. At least Austin cuts a great go home promo before the Pay-Per-View. Beer douses both Shane and Vince McMahon as well as The Rock. This somehow is regarded as one of the best Raw moments in history. It’s pretty darn funny but nowhere close to being one of the greatest.

WWF Monday Night Raw-April 19, 1999- The Rock has a funeral for Steve Austin’s career days before Backlash. He has Austin’s smoking skull belt with him and is going to bury it in a coffin by a graveyard at the entrance way. Austin destroys Rocky’s car with his monster truck. Anyone else find it ironic that someone who had a reputation for drinking beer frequently after matches drove around so many vehicles in this promotion? I remember digging this segment back in 1999, but it doesn’t hold up all that well now.

WWF Survivor Series- November 19, 2000- Steve Austin lifts up a car containing Triple H. He drops it with his forklift. Triple H came back… two weeks later. So Triple H won’t even sell vehicular homicide.

WWF Smackdown- March 22, 2001- Jim Ross sits between WWF champion The Rock and his challenger, Steve Austin. Great sitdown interview between these two. Rock and Austin really sell their hated of each other well. This hatred certainly came to a head at the show just a few days after this interview. The discussion of the WWF championship shows just how far Austin would go to become the champion, and this interview most definitely teases the Austin heel turn. Ross asks Rock and Austin how they feel about each other on a personal level. Pretty interesting responses both ways. Steve Austin talking about NEEDING to beat The Rock at Wrestlemania is a pretty powerful moment considering that went down.

WWF Smackdown- July 5, 2001- Steve Austin brings cowboys hats for himself and Vince McMahon. Kurt Angle wears a smaller cowboy hat. I hate this goofy Austin heel schtick with a fiery passion.

WWF Smackdown- July 12, 2001- More dumb Austin heel stuff.  He sings… horribly. Kurt Angle admits to being in the Glee club. See, that’s way more relevant now with that lousy Fox show on the air. Angle does some singing of his own. Keep In mind THE FREAKING WCW INVASION WAS GOING ON DURING THIS TIME PERIOD! 2001… the year WWF flushed more money down the toilet than any other five year period combined. And I’m not even including the XFL in the discussion. Later on, Vince McMahon has a discussion, with Austin, Angle, Kane, Undertaker, and Chris Jericho about their main event match with WCW at the Invasion PPV. Austin is being a comedic goof. Again, this was during the Invasion. Even a half-assed Invasion managed to draw a 750k in buys. Amazing how badly WWF botched this angle.

WWF Smackdown- July 19, 2001- The old Steve Austin was supposed to be back. He’s enemies with Vince McMahon again. Austin would turn heel again a few days later at the PPV and join The Alliance (WCW and ECW). *flushing toilet sound*

WWF Raw- January 14, 2002- Steve Austin says “What?” a lot at Michael Cole. Him introducing “What?” to the wrestling business  might have been one of the ten worst ideas in the last 20 years considering how many people have to hear the chant.

WWE insurrextion- June 7, 2003- Chris Jericho and Eric Bischoff are calling British people fat until co-GM Steve Austin comes out for some fun and shenanigans. I really wish Bischoff had stayed in WWE based on his interactions with Austin and the crowd. Austin makes fun of Jericho a great deal and gets in a lot of “Whats” of course. It was pretty out of control by this point. Jericho complains about his treatment in England and lists and a bunch of band names. Austin drinks beer with Jericho and Bischoff. Stunner on Jericho. Jericho takes a great bump and spit take.  Bischoff gets stunned as well. This was a fun segment. Little on the fluffy side but it was acceptable.

-Steve Austin takes questions from Twitter. He talks about how he came to name his ranch and whether he would open up a wrestling school (he wouldn’t). He talks about what he does in his spare time. Needless to say, hunting is on the list. He also speaks more generally about his career as far as what his greatest moment was and when he knew the character was working. There are some additional questions as well. A final Wrestlemania match is teased. Punk being shown first can’t have been a coincidence.

-Steve Austin talks about the significance of The Sportatorium. I agree with Austin that it’s unfortunate the building was torn down and not treated as a landmark.

-Mick Foley and Steve Austin talk about how the most popular t-shirt in the history of the WWF came to be. It’s incredible to think just how many shirts were sold back in the day.

-Austin gives a guided tour of his ranch. Pretty self-explanatory.

WCW Saturday Night- May 15, 1993- Ric Flair puts the Hollywood Blondes over. Steve Austin and Brian Pillman make old jokes. IN 1993! Austin and Pillman make fun of the Four Horsemen. This would lead to Flair and Anderson bringing in… Paul Roma. The look of disdain on Arn Anderson’s face and his verbal response in this segment was tremendous. Anderson begins undoing his shirt. Flair takes the jacket off. Only an organization as incompetent as WCW couldn’t make money on the feud. Blondes walk away as Flair yells.

WWF Superstars-November 17, 1996- It’s hours before Steve Austin is going to wrestle Bret hart at Survivor Series. Austin isn’t going to take Hart lightly, and he’s no stepping stone to the WWF title. Austin talks about taking Brian Pillman out. Apparently, he and Pillman weren’t actually friends. That’s just wrong.

WWF Superstars-March 23, 1997- Steve Austin is in the Rosemont Horizon before Wrestlemania 13. He says a lot of mean things about Bret Hart, UFC, and Ken Shamrock.

WWF Monday Night Raw-August 18, 1997- Steve Austin is bitter about his treatment after being injured by Owen Hart. He throws some fruit around for fun.  He has words for Owen Hart and will make decisions on his own. Too bad this neck injury put Austin on borrowed time.

WWE Monday Night Raw-March 17, 2003- Steve Austin tosses Eric Bischoff out of the ring and calls The Rock into the ring.  Very funny stuff from these two. I’m not even sure this aired on television. Rock makes fun of a fan for having a sign that says “Scorpion King sucks.” Then Austin says “What” a lot. They shake hands. Rock blocks out of a stunner attempt and heads out. Austin stalks Rock from behind. Rock sees the Titantron.  Austin takes Rocky out and of course delivers a stunner.

WWE Hall of Fame- April 4, 2009- Vince McMahon inducts Steve Austin to the Hall of Fame. Steve Austin fives his induction speech. The decision to time these speeches was a really poor one. To not hear Austin be able to speak for 25-30 minutes was a major disappointment.

WWF No Mercy- May 4, 1999: Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Triple H- WWF used to produce exclusive Pay-Per-Views in jolly old England. They were really just televised house shows. This one in particular didn’t have much significance to it at all. Triple H’s heel turn was barely two months old, and we were just a month or so away from him being shoved down our throats. Taker was in his Ministry outfit. Steve Austin was… well, he gets a rather loud ovation. Just your run of the mill Vince Russo brawl they seemed to do at every PPV, American or British. Taker and Hunter are in the same faction at this point and team up for a fairly good portion of the match. Everyone who the Corporate Ministry screwed earlier in the night runs out to battle guys like Mideon and Viscera. Mankind takes Underaker away from the ring. Austin stuns Triple H to retain the WWF title. I’d give this ***.  WWF might have set ratings records and made a buttload of money, but 1999 was sure a mixed bag of a year.

WWF Monday Night Raw-October 8, 2001: Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle- This was during that cracked out Invasion period. Kurt Angle won the world title two weeks prior at Unforgiven. Now it was Austin’s time to win the championship back. The less said about this whole period, the better. The one positive is we got a series of very good matches between Angle/Austin and Rock/Jericho. But WWF refused to really put Angle and Jericho over definitively. These sorts of decisions, not putting over new talent and continuing to rely on the same people, would continue to come back to bite WWF in the butt. This was of course an excellent wrestling match with a crappy ending as William Regal turned on the WWF (Oh, there were a hell of a lot of turns in these few months) and gets Austin the championship back. This was actually Austin’s last ever WWF title victory. Match itself was easily ****.

WWF No Mercy- October 21, 2001: Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam- RVD was really starting to get himself over as a babyface despite  being in the Alliance. WWF decided to have him start losing a lot. RVD wouldn’t get a main event push until 2006, well past the point he was in his prime and really at his peak as a wrestler.  This was very similar to any other three way match you’d see. Angle gets off to the hot start. Austin and RVD start out working together, but they were sort of feuding at this point despite being in the same group. Some really creative and innovative spots are included as well, including RVD hitting a kamikaze dive on both men, and both men getting out of the way of a frog splash. Vince McMahon makes his presence known as he clearly wants to get the WWF title off of Austin and onto Angle once again. Angle and Van Dam battle one-on-one as Austin is injured on the outside. Stunner sends Angle to the outside. McMahon hits Austin with a chair. RVD hits a frog splash but only gets two as Angle breaks the count. Series of German suplexes and into an angle slam. Shane McMahon tosses Angle out. Vince takes out his own son. Stunner on RVD and the victory. Austin retains. Very good match. I’d say ***3/4.

Steve Austin vs. The Rock (Wrestlemania 19- March 30, 2003)

Match in Five Words or Less: A Quiet Farewell

Analysis: I wish I had known this was Steve Austin’s last match in the WWE. Maybe he himself didn’t know, but I can’t think of a better way for his career to end then to put to bed one of the epic feuds in the history of WWE. These two fought for the championship numerous times over numerous Pay-Per-Views. Their match at Wrestlemania 17 was truly the most epic of all because of what it represented and the fact that these two were the biggest stars in the company. What you had here for all intents and purposes was two part-timers ending their feud before going off into the sunset. For Austin, this was his last rodeo. For The Rock, he would bring in Goldberg to have a one off match at Backlash with, make a supporting appearance in MSG at Wrestlemania 20, and then basically never being a regular on WWE ever again.

The match itself wasn’t inherently bad, just a very finisher oriented match. These guys used their own finishers on each other, then stole the other’s and finally Rock pinned Austin clean in the middle of the ring. Not a whole lot of psychology or great wrestling, but these two are such pros that they would almost have to try and have a bad match. I hold back the full monty for historical significance since Austin could very wrestle a retirement match at Wrestlemania 25. We shall see about that. This was a fine way for both men to sort of make their exit. I still want to know exactly what Rock whispered to Steve Austin immediately after pinning him. Guess it will remain one of wrestling’s great mysteries.

Winner (s)/Time/Rating: The Rock/17:53/***1/2

(Editor’s Note: Obviously, Austin didn’t wrestle a retirement match at Wrestlemania 25, but he may at 29 or 30.)

-What airs next is a series of deleted scenes as Austin talks about a number of conversations. First, he talks about attending a seminar with Chris Adams and signing autographs before he even became a wrestler. Austin talks about being singled out by Adams, particularly as it relates to his football career. He then discusses attending the “Hair Club for Men.” Pretty hilarious. Then, he talks about Jim Ross coming up with his rattlesnake nickname. Odd that Austin is pretty scared of snakes. Triple H talks about how clumsy Austin is and uses what happens at Summerslam 1999 as an example. Oh that wacky wrestling world. CM Punk talks about his relationship with Steve Austin. It’s surprisingly, their relationship is positive. Great story about the difference between Hogan and Austin. Back to Austin as he talks about the stunner. Michael Hayes is actually the one who came up with using it as a finisher. Vince McMahon, who’s probably taken more stunners than anyone, is not a very coordinated man. The Rock always sells it well.  Some random music video ends the DVD.

The Verdict: Thanks to a very well done in-depth documentary, a real gem of a WCW tag team match, and the bonus commentary on some of Austin’s biggest matches ever, I’m willing to give this three disk collection a major thumbs up. This is an extremely fair representation of Austin’s career and any fan not familiar with him will get a real sense of what made him such a special talent.

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About Jerome Cusson

Jerome Cusson has been a professional wrestling fan since late 1994. Having started out as a fan of WWF, he eventually expanded his horizons into WCW and ECW. After the unfortunate deaths of these two companies, Jerome's interest in wrestling nearly came to an end before he discovered independent wrestling. Let the love/hate relationship with wrestling continue.

One comment

  1. I shall be buying this based on this review.

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