A&E Presented ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin Biography (INCLUDES VIDEO)

On Sunday, April 18th, A&E presented the first part of an eight-part series of WWE wrestlers’ biographies, with their first one being about ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. The two-hour documentary chronicles the life and career of Steve Williams (Austin), one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling history. Austin 3:16 ushered in an entire generation of wrestling fans, his character being described as the catalyst for a generation.

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A&E Presented 'Stone Cold'
Photo / A&E / Post

During the early part of the documentary, viewers heard clips from familiar voices discussing Austin’s contributions to the industry and how he left an indelible mark on it, never to be replicated.

Austin himself spoke of how he was born in Edna, Texas, and spoke proudly of being a Texan. We heard from Steve’s sister and brother, sharing how he was unlike them or their friends. He was the second oldest of five children. Austin said how shy he was at a young age. Football helped him find the confidence to come out of his shell and build his body. While others would eat junk food, Austin would always pay attention to his diet. He was an honor student in high school and an incredible athlete.

This was no more evident than during his high school and college days on the gridiron. What Austin gave up in speed he made up for in strength while competing as a running back. His brothers shared how he would practice his autograph and that he aspired to be a rock star but could never play an instrument.

A&E Presented ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
Houston Wrestling

Austin dreamed of being a success. He discussed his earliest days of watching Houston Wrestling and being completely enamored of it. The performers would battle and bleed time and time again, and Austin knew that was what he wanted to do with his life. His brother noted they only had three television channels, and Houston Wrestling would appear on one of them. Austin would tell his brother he could watch whatever he wanted once Houston Wrestling was over. He told his friends and family that he would be a wrestler one day.

He received a full college football scholarship. It was much more competitive than high school, but he was still quite good at it. However, he didn’t enjoy the education part and grew tired of it. He dropped out of college and decided to work on a freight dock and drive a truck. He also frequently went to the Dallas Sportatorium to watch World Class Championship Wrestling.

Austin’s ‘IN’

After attending an event, Austin knew he needed an ‘in’ if he was to become a wrestler. That ‘in’ was a three-day seminar/camp run by the late ‘Gentleman’ Chris Adams that would forever change his life. Austin thought when he was going to attend the camp that he would face absolute monsters, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Mick Foley is introduced and told of how he first heard of Austin and was impressed by his athleticism. Austin then went on to share how times were quite tight; he didn’t even have a hot plate. Austin described his 10-hour long car rides to earn less than $20. He even mentioned how he asked his mother for $40 for his birthday so he could eat. Steady meals of tuna fish and potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ultimately left him with nothing. It was all about survival and barely getting by.

‘I didn’t have a plan B’.

Austin introduced himself to the booker of the USWA, Dutch Mantell, who asked him what his name was. He said Steve Williams but was quickly told there is already a ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams and that he would need something different. Upon returning and asking Austin again what his name is, Steve said nothing, to which Mantel said, ‘you’re Steve Austin.’ He would wear a red robe and had long flowing locks. His life was wrestling, training, repeat. Austin spoke of how he would learn from those before him and how he took from the great minds he was around to guide him forward.

Former WCW booker Jim Ross noticed Austin. Austin shared how in WCW, he would make $75,000 a year, a hefty sum compared to what he was making in the past. He also received national exposure, which helped others gain awareness of him. Those observers spoke of his natural intensity and how good he was. The issue was that he wasn’t seen as part of the upper-tier within the company, as WCW didn’t feel he was marketable. After receiving an injury in Japan, he returned and found out he was given his notice from World Championship Wrestling.

After hearing about this, his former manager in WCW, Paul Heyman, reached out to Steve and asked him to come to ECW. He said if he could talk, then come up and talk. Austin went to Philadelphia and did promos that once again got the attention once again of Jim Ross (who was now with WWE). The promos at the time received standing ovations, and they appeared cathartic as he released all the rage within.

A&E Presented ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
The Ringmaster

Austin said that Vince McMahon proposed ‘The Ringmaster’ character. He thought it sounded awful, but WWE was paying good money, and he wanted the opportunity, so he took it. He knew the company was going through a transition and, at the time, wasn’t doing well. It was clear they didn’t know what to do with Austin after a while, and ‘The Ringmaster’ character wasn’t working.

Six months later, he was watching the special called The Iceman Tapes, about a serial killer, and as a result, he pitched ideas to Vince about a character change. The name choices were awful, names like Mr. Freeze, Ice Dagger, Chili McFreeze, and Fang McFrost. Shortly thereafter, his wife said to him one morning, ‘Drink your tea before it gets stone cold.’ That was it. He had always wanted his new character to wear all black in order to appear menacing. He had his character concept, and now he had a name.

In 1995-96, the King of the Ring tournament took place, and it is discussed how Austin won an event that was supposed to be won by Triple H. They discussed the infamous curtain call and how the fallout of that was Triple H’ was no longer the choice to win the tournament. Austin was the next in line, and the decision was made to switch the choice of winner to him. Earlier that night, he was kicked in the mouth and needed stitches. When he returned to the arena prior to the finals, he asked Michael Hayes about what Jake Roberts said, and Hayes noted that Roberts had invoked biblical passages.

A&E Presented ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
Austin 3:16

After winning the final match, Austin was interviewed; he noted how that infamous promo made his career. That promo was when he first said, ‘Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your a**. And that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.’ The following night, fans had Austin 3:16 signs, and soon after, his shirt sold like mad. Then clip after clip was aired, showing how Austin would talk down everyone and anyone and were told how fans loved it. We then see the crimson mask, when blood covered his face at the culmination of his WrestleMania 13 match against Bret Hart.

Wrestling journalist Mike Johnson spoke of how Austin’s success was inextricably tied to the reemergence of WWE, at a time when the company so dearly needed it.

In August 1997, Austin faced Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. He shared that prior to the match, Hart told him that during a piledriver spot, he was going to land on his backside and not with Steve’s head protected between his knees. We then relived that piledriver and saw that Austin’s head was below Owen’s waist, completely unprotected, and he landed flat on his head and compressed his spinal cord. Kevin Williams, Steve’s brother, is quite emotional while talking about it. Austin shared how he afterward had little strength, and the best he could do is perform a poor roll-up that ended the match. Austin spoke of the fear for his life and the health he felt that night.

In a post-injury interview, an in-character Austin gave an impassioned speech about how no doctor was going to tell him to give it all up. Looking back, Austin discussed how his left leg still feels the effects, but that overall, he feels good.

Bret Hart & Stone Cold
Photo / Skysports / WWE

The Catalyst of The Attitude Era

Austin’s injury pushed forward a desire to make things much more chaotic and violent, unlike the past. The Attitude era was supposed to be a reflection of a societal shift at the time, and Steve Austin was at the forefront. We hear the sound of glass shattering that was part of his entrance and see the effect on those in attendance. Heyman calls Austin the most pivotal character in pro wrestling history in that he changed the foundation on which the industry was built.

We then hear that in order for Austin to be a success, he needed a villain. This would be Mr. McMahon. The core of their issue was that it was between a guy that has a boss he didn’t get along with. Foley shared how fans likely saw some of themselves in Stone Cold.

‘He was the rage against the machine’.

Their feud was filled with moments that pushed the envelope, whether it was his attack on Vince in the hospital or driving a beer truck or Zamboni to the ring. We then hear of the success of Austin’s merchandise and how he was a pop culture phenomenon, from appearing on late-night talk shows to MTV celebrity deathmatches to ESPN. His popularity was massive.

But he had to make choices to separate himself from other talent, and those choices helped make him a superstar. He said that it was impossible to do anything but be a pro wrestler, and if he came off the road, then he would become soft. The pressure was immense and impacted his personal life. He has two daughters, and he described how he flew home for the birth of one, gave her first bottle, and then flew out that night. His success came with personal compromises. Austin said he divorced and found solace in his double-wide trailer. His priority was himself.

‘Your own self-interests that take a backseat to your personal dreams’

Heyman shared how Austin needed a new star to challenge him as McMahon couldn’t measure up to him in the ring. This coincided with the rise of The Rock. Their chemistry was always evident. Both men shared how each knew what the other was going to do all the time. The Rock noted how they were both pursuing the exact same thing at the same time and how Austin’s decision to work with him changed his life.

Austin spoke of how he kept to himself, and as a result, has a strained relationship with his daughters. He knew he wasn’t there for them and didn’t contribute to their upbringing. Austin then mentioned of how his daughter Stephanie now has an English accent because of the time she spent in England. He did go on to share that their relationship is getting better. There was always a fear that he would have his spot at the top taken away if he was off the road. He needed to be in control.

A&E Presented ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
Austin Walk’s Out

When creative began to be an issue, Austin shared his displeasure. They delved into the infamous occasion when Austin walked out because of a proposed Brock Lesnar match that had no build. He said as long as it was for a reason, he wouldn’t have minded losing. Austin was so upset he left and was gone six months, which he now describes as a bad decision. He eventually received a call from Jim Ross, and they reconciled. Ross then facilitated a reunion between McMahon and Austin.

After his return, he noted how the nerves in his neck were becoming an issue. His health became paramount. But before he allowed his career to be permanently ended, he wanted his last match to be against The Rock. It was kept confidential that it was going to be his last match. The Rock shared how it was emotional and hard to see what Austin was going through. Austin shared how, during the match, he thought he was suffering a heart attack, but it was actually dehydration due to too much alcohol. He said when you walk away from your number one passion, it’s the hardest thing to do.

We relive his last match at WrestleMania XIX against The Rock. After the three count, Austin felt that a massive weight was lifted off his chest. The Rock thanked him and told him he loved him. Austin, in return, said that he loved The Rock. In retrospect, the rise of Austin was unlike that of anyone before or after him.

A&E Presented ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin
Steve Austin – The Civilian

Austin shared how retirement was difficult early on and said it took him three years to capitalize on the name he built. Austin felt that hosting interviews has become his greatest interest. We see clips of his Broken Skull Sessions and how that is where he found his niche. His car collection was then shown, and he noted how he is just enjoying living life without the pressure. To conclude, Jim Ross shared what a wrestler goes through and that how they conduct themselves on both sides of the curtain is important.

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