WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin walked away from the squared circle nineteen years ago as one of, if not the most, over performer in the history of the wrestling business. He’s made the occasional appearance in the time since, always getting a pop from the crowd that could be described as prime Hulk Hogan-esque, but until last night, these were always fleeting moments. And for awhile, it seemed like that’s what last night would be too.
Austin was the guest on the KO Show at WrestleMania 38. For the past month or two, Kevin Owens has been appearing regularly on WWE programming to insult the state of Texas, where WrestleMania was being held and/ or to insult Stone Cold Steve Austin, goading him to appear on his talk show at ‘Mania. Austin accepted the appearance, and it was widely assumed he’d come out, deliver a few stunners, drink a beer or two and send the crowd home happy. All of us here at CinemaBlend have been stoked even if we weren't sure what he was going to do exactly. But the Texas Rattlesnake came to the ring with knee pads on, and when Owens challenged him to a real match, Austin paused for the crowd and said, “If you want Stone Cold to have a match with this sorry sack of shit, give me a hell yeah.”
Those watching both in the audience and on Twitter reacted hard, as did other current and former wrestlers including Sasha Banks and the Iron Sheik who both tweeted. No one, not even Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns, generate the level of excitement Stone Cold Steve Austin is able to, and fans went absolutely nuts just at the mere anticipation of seeing him go again.
I cannot believe Stone Cold is having a whole ass match right now. This is incredible.April 3, 2022
Now, ordinarily when people step away for more than a decade and come back, there’s a wave of nostalgic excitement, but the actual quality of the match is ehhhhhhhhhh at best. Now, I’m not saying last night was prime Steve Austin and Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13, but it was way better than I expected. It was a legitimately fun, well put together match that, thanks to a no holds barred stipulation, took place all over the arena. They fought in the crowd. They fought on the entrance ramp. They fought outside the ring.
Booking it that way was brilliant because it allowed Austin to focus more on crowd interaction and individual moves rather than the type of agile, high-speed maneuvers he would have needed inside the ring. It also allowed Kevin Owens to sell for him, and he sold everything brilliantly like a lifelong Stone Cold Steve Austin fan. I loved every single second of it, and so did everyone I spoke to or saw on Twitter. Here’s an example tweet…
I watched Stone Cold Steve Austin wrestle in 2022, appreciate your childhoods guys.April 3, 2022
And of course we need to talk about the bump. For those of you who might not watch wrestling on a regular basis, a bump is a higher risk spot that typically involves some level of physical pain or danger. Taking a few bumps is within the course of duty for an active wrestler, but typically when older performers make appearances, the younger performer takes all of the bumps. For awhile, it seemed like that’s what would be happening here, but when Austin agreed to come back for a match, he apparently agreed to come back for a real match. He took quite a few real moves and most surprisingly, took a suplex onto the floor without padding while he was in the crowd.
I about lost my mind when I saw him get lifted. I couldn’t believe he took it like a complete badass, and not surprisingly, other fans could not get enough either. The response was one of collective shock and excitement…
I've just watched a 57-year-old 'hasn't wrestled in 19 years' Stone Cold Steve Austin take a Suplex on the concrete floor, deliver Suplexes on the stage and wrestle a match like it's 2003. #WrestleMania night 1 was really fucking goodApril 3, 2022
I don’t want to oversell this, but last night was why so many of us love wrestling. The entire show (apart from a very real and very sad Rick Boogs injury) was so terrific. Cody Rhodes returned and delivered an incredible match with Seth Rollins. Logan Paul wrestled and was an absolute natural, so much better than expected, and it appears he’ll be sticking around and feuding with The Miz. Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair maybe delivered the match of the night. There wasn't a bad match on the card. It was all really, really good. For my money, it was the best premium live event WWE has delivered in awhile, and it ended exactly as it should have with Stone Cold Steve Austin pounding beers and celebrating with 75,000 screaming fans.
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Stone Cold Steve Austin (with an assist from many others including The Rock) took wrestling to a level of mainstream crossover rarely seen. He, unfortunately, had to step away from the ring way too early thanks to knee injuries, but nineteen years later, he gave us one more iconic wrestling moment. At fifteen-seven-years-old, he showed just how much he still understands and gets the business and delivered an absolute stunner alongside pro Kevin Owens. If that’s not worthy of a hell yeah, I don’t know what is.
WrestleMania 38 concludes tonight with part two. I have no idea how it could possibly top night one, but with Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, plus a ton of other great matches, I can't wait to see it try. You can check out our full predictions here.
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Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.