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'Stone Cold' Steve Austin

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One thing I'll say from recent WTBBP viewing is that he has quietly had a really good 1992 up through to July.

 

People talk about the Hollywood Blondes, but I think Austin undergoes a minor transformation before that from 91 to 92 whereby he still feels green at the start of the DA stuff while by the time of War Games, he seems really accomplished, and especially good in a tag setting. I do think it should count towards his overall case.

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Yeah, it was like the anti-Samson effect with Austin. He was decent-to-good early in the Dangerous Alliance run but felt like the weakest in the group by a noticeable margin. Then he cut the hair and it was around that time where he seemed to just put it together, to the point where he looked on par with anybody else in the stable. Early in the year he was mostly clotheslines, clubbering and basic headlocks/chinlocks (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but then you watch him against Steamboat at the Clash in September and he has a far bigger bag of tricks for that match. He just flat out looked way more comfortable by then. He never really looked back after that.

 

He's a guy I hadn't really thought about for a long time before this project, other than re-watching his 2001 run a few years back now (which held up). Going through the '96 yearbook reminded me of how much I used to love him, though. I don't love the '98/'99 stuff, but I'd still rather watch it than most other things in America at the time.

 

He'll probably end up around the middle of my ballot.

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I watched the recommended Austin matches that I wasn't familiar with. I think the problem for me is that Austin's image has been built up as this mythical asskicker, almost like a Stan Hansen or Vader type slotted into crazy overbooked matches. His 2001 run matches that image, as he is awesome as a psychopath there. The Attitude Era stuff shows him not quite as that asskicker, but rather as a pretty smart worker, which is a big plus. A negative is that the matches don't feel very violent even when Mick Foley is there killing himself. Sometimes the smoke and mirrors (as in the matches with Rock) gets a little overbearing. Overall I'd say the stuff is underwhelming but still ends up being a feather in his cap, if that makes sense.

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One thing I'll say from recent WTBBP viewing is that he has quietly had a really good 1992 up through to July.

 

People talk about the Hollywood Blondes, but I think Austin undergoes a minor transformation before that from 91 to 92 whereby he still feels green at the start of the DA stuff while by the time of War Games, he seems really accomplished, and especially good in a tag setting. I do think it should count towards his overall case.

 

Yes and no for me. I still think he is the main detraction in that Superbrawl match from making it be at the level of the Clash 17 tag. He has some good tv stuff around this time, but I also think it pales to many other people and his top end stuff with great talent doesn't ever reach the high level I would like.

 

That is what is tricky for me with Austin as going through the yearbooks, he just has years where there isn't a lot to point to. 1998 has the Foley stuff and a bunch of stuff in ring I don't care for that much. 1999 is more of the same except the Rock series. Even 1996, the Savio and Mero matches were good but when it comes down to pin pointing a star rating on some of those matches, I look at something like Dean Ambrose's 2015 PPV output and think it easily equates the in ring quality of the stuff Austin outputted in 1996 with the exception of the Bret Survivor Series match. I don't know where Austin will end up on my ballot or if he will at all, but I feel pretty confident at this point that top 80 is his max position wise with me.

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He's gonna be on my list. I think I initially pegged him for that 50-75 range, but I think he'll end up more near the bottom of it now. I know a lot of his Attitude work doesn't hold up as well, but the top-flight stuff is still great and he does have a lot of great WCW work that make it hard for me to leave him off, along with the Chris Adams feud.

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I had Austin at 45 in 2016 and I'm pretty much fine with that. I'm not sure he got properly GOOD good until ~mid-1992 (when he cut his hair short), but he still had plenty of decent stuff before that point, which is nothing else demonstrates an ability to be led and at least hold up his end of things. Once he put it together he was mostly really good and he has a nice resume of WCW work to go with it. He hit his stride in '96 and from then on out I thought he was pretty great as a guy working in the exact way I'd have expected his character to work. I won't bother getting into the semantics of brawling or whatever style you thought he actually worked, but there was a frenetic energy to everything he did as Stone Cole that I absolutely love. Was he as strong a brawler (sorry) as Hansen or Funk? Probably not, especially if the Hansen and Funk sort of brawling is what you're looking for (and why wouldn't you, I guess). But even when WWF brawling was at its most basic or Attitudey I thought he was worth watching more often than not. He had an organic craziness about him, something that I bought completely in a way that made me forget I was watching a performance. It's especially evident in tag matches because he would usually do something amazing out of nowhere just because he's Stone Cold and it made perfect sense for a person like that to do it. One of my favourite moments ever in an Austin match is during the team Austin against team DX match from No Way Out 1998, where Billy Gunn tries to come in to interfere and Austin chucks a trash can off his head from the opposite apron. Your mileage will vary on those Attitude Era smoke and mirrors matches but I don't know if there was anybody who got more out of them than Austin (maybe McMahon?), and of course the match with Dude Love is the shining example of it. The 2001 run still holds up as well, I think. He was an unbelievable psychopath for stretches of that and things like the Angle match from Summerslam and the Benoit match from Smackdown! are incredible, with incredible Austin performances. I don't think there's anything left for me to learn about Austin, but I've never been bored by him and I doubt I ever will be. 

 

STEVE AUSTIN YOU SHOULD WATCH:

w/Brian Pillman v Marcus Bagwell & 2 Cold Scorpio (WCW WorldWide, 5/8/93)

v Bret Hart (WWF Wrestlemania 13, 3/23/97)

v Dude Love (WWF Over the Edge, 5/31/98)

v Chris Benoit (WWF Smackdown!, 5/31/01)

v Kurt Angle (WWF Summerslam, 8/19/01)

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I think Austin was probably the best in the States for nearly the entire 90s, whether or not his push reflected that. Best in the world, I don't think he ever really cracked the top 5 or so with who was working Japan and Mexico at the time. Best year though was probably 97 or 01. 

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3 minutes ago, joeg said:

I think Austin was probably the best in the States for nearly the entire 90s, whether or not his push reflected that. Best in the world, I don't think he ever really cracked the top 5 or so with who was working Japan and Mexico at the time. Best year though was probably 97 or 01. 

So like 94-99?

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Both i guess. 93, 94, the last half of 96, 97, 98 and the first half of 99, he's a strong contender for the best in the US. There are points in there where Bret Hart or Dustin Rhodes could get the nod but yeah for most of the 90s I'd say Austin was the best wrestler in the US. 

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Off the top of my head I feel like my 93-99 year by year best in the US would be something like: 

93 - Vader, Doink, Terry Funk, Sabu, Bret, Waltman

94- Bret, Foley, Sabu, Terry Funk, Owen, Waltman, Regal, Dustin, Vader

95- Bret, Eddy Guerrero, kinda blanking on 95 right now but I feel good about Bret there and Austin only works half the year anyway. 

96 - Rey all the Way! Would also listen to arguments for Shawn, Psicosis, Foley, Sabu, Scorpio, Austin and Benoit but I'm not watching those matches. 

97 - I'd give the nod to Bret because of the neck break. I also think Funk has a hell of a year until he retires. He's a jerk and we all hate him but this is probably my favorite HBK year as a singles performer. Eddy Guerrero is another strong pick. I think this is the first time Austin is really in the conversation. 

98 - Wouldn't disagree with Austin as the pick

Jan - June 99 - I haven't watched Jan-June 1999 WWF since Jan-June 1999. So probably AUstin? I guess Foley would be the big competition in WWF. Other than that Tajiri. 

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It's funny but I remember back in the day, it was about 1994 when Austin was being talked about being the guy to carry WCW by the smart mags and newsletters. It may have been Powerslam in the UK, who compared him to Shawn Michaels and said they were going to be the best wrestlers in each promotion going into the rest of the decade.

So in 93/94 he was already been held in high regard by most insiders 

 

 

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I think there's a difference between "Guy who could carry a promotion in the future" and "Best guy right now." Austin & Dustin being the two guys to carry WCW into the future was something you'd hear about pre-Hogan WCW but I've never seen someone say Austin was the best wrestler in the US in 93/94. Its an interesting opinion. I've certainly never thought it but it makes me wanna watch some WCW stuff. 

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Austin as the best wrestler in the US in 1993 and 1994 feels like a stretch. I'm not even sure he was the best worker in the Hollywood Blondes. I will go to bat for him as potentially best in the world in 2001, although a big part of that is lack of strong competition. I don't really know what Mexico was like that year, but Japan was pretty atrocious for the most part. In the US, WCW and ECW going under left a void that wouldn't be filled until TNA and ROH started up, so the scene outside of the WWF was pretty dead. Within the WWF, potential contenders like Benoit and HHH (yeah, I know) were injured most of the year. I can't think of any other obvious candidates off the top of my head.

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15 minutes ago, NintendoLogic said:

Austin as the best wrestler in the US in 1993 and 1994 feels like a stretch. I'm not even sure he was the best worker in the Hollywood Blondes. I will go to bat for him as potentially best in the world in 2001, although a big part of that is lack of strong competition. I don't really know what Mexico was like that year, but Japan was pretty atrocious for the most part. In the US, WCW and ECW going under left a void that wouldn't be filled until TNA and ROH started up, so the scene outside of the WWF was pretty dead. Within the WWF, potential contenders like Benoit and HHH (yeah, I know) were injured most of the year. I can't think of any other obvious candidates off the top of my head.

For 2001 I think it's Austin #1 and Meiko Satomura #2.

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Austin is a contender for best in the world in 2001, although personally Low Ki is my favorite US wrestler from that year. I'm not a huge fan of WCW Austin, so I can't really agree with him being the best in the 90s. I guess if you're a huge Steve Austin fan he was. There's definitely a lot of merit to his WCW work if you're into it. 

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6 hours ago, NintendoLogic said:

Austin as the best wrestler in the US in 1993 and 1994 feels like a stretch. I'm not even sure he was the best worker in the Hollywood Blondes. I will go to bat for him as potentially best in the world in 2001, although a big part of that is lack of strong competition. I don't really know what Mexico was like that year, but Japan was pretty atrocious for the most part. In the US, WCW and ECW going under left a void that wouldn't be filled until TNA and ROH started up, so the scene outside of the WWF was pretty dead. Within the WWF, potential contenders like Benoit and HHH (yeah, I know) were injured most of the year. I can't think of any other obvious candidates off the top of my head.

 

There was never a point in the HB pairing where Austin wasn't better than Pillman. 

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10 minutes ago, strobogo said:

 

There was never a point in the HB pairing where Austin wasn't better than Pillman. 

It was maybe nine months and Pillman spent the first few of those learning how to be a heel so that tracks.

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With the caveat that I have not watched this stuff for several years, I thought Pillman was better in the pre-Blondes period. Dangerous Alliance Austin struck me as a guy with a lot of tools who was still figuring out how to put everything together, whereas I thought babyface Pillman might have been the best worker in the U.S. for a brief period. I'd have to dig back in to defend that position in any detail, but when I watched all the '91 and '92 stuff on the yearbooks, that was my impression. 

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