WWE: The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin DVD Review
Posted on April 6th, 2008 by Draven Cage
For those who have no knowledge of Steve Austin, the above quote gives you the perfect idea of what the man’s philosophy in wrestling was; if they’re in front of you, then they can get their asses handed to them.
- Steel Cage Match for the WCW Tag Team Titles (Slamboree 1993) – The Hollywood Blondes v Dos Hombres
- Relationship with Brian Pillma
- Clash of the Champions XXV – v “Flyin’” Brian Pillman
- Not Exactly Stunning
- WCW United States Championship Match (CotC XXVIII) – v Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
- The Writing Was On the Wall
- Steve mania (Gangsta’s Paradise)
- Just Go Ahead and Start Running Your Mouth
- “No Baby, That’s For Somebody Else”
- The Style of ECW
- Three-Way Dance for the ECW Title (December to Dismember ) – v Sandman v Mikey Whipwreck (champion)
- I Got the Call
- Caribbean Strap Match (In Your House: Beware of Dog 1&2) – v Savio Vega
- Birth of Austin 3:16
- #1 Contender Match (Survivor Series ‘96) v Bret Hart
- The Name – Steve Austin
- Summerslam 1996 Free-For-All v Yokozuna
- Shotgun Saturday Night confrontation with Terry Funk
- The Most Important Match of My Career
- WWF Championship Match (In Your House: A Cold Day in Hell) v Undertaker
- Oil and Water
- WWF Tag Team Championship Match (RAW 26/05/97) Austin & HBK v Bulldog & Owen Hart
- You Better Bring Your Best
- King of the Ring 1997 – v Shawn Michaels
- You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get With Mick
- WWF Tag Team Championship Match (RAW 14/07/1997) Austin & Dude Love v Bulldog & Owen Hart
- Kiss My Ass
- WWF Intercontinental Championship Match (Summerslam 1997) v Owen Hart
- WWF Champion
- WWF Championship Match (Unforgiven 1998 ) v Dude Love
- Vince Stacking the Odds Against Me
- I Want a Rematch
- WWF Championship Match (RAW 29/06/2007) – v Kane
- He Brought Out the Best In Me
- No Holds Barred Match for the WWF Championship (Backlash 1999) v The Rock with Shane McMahon as the special referee
- Out For A Year
- Return Match (Smackdown 16/11/00) v Eddie Guerrero
- Game Over
- No DQ Match (Survivor Series 2000) v Triple H
- One of My Favourites
- Three Stages of Hell Match (No Way Out 2001) v Triple H
- It Resurrected Me
- NO DQ for the WWF Championship (Wrestlemania X-Seven) v The Rock
- I Had So Much Fun
- Stone Cold is… The Gladiator
- Behind the Scenes of the Wrestlemania Commercial
- Stone Cold is Not Vince’s Son (Saturday Night’s Main Event 18/08/2007
“You know how you once had that thing where the wrestler rode a little bus all over the country, shakin’ hands, and kissing babies? You should have a Stone Cold Express, where I get out in every town and kick everyone’s ass. At least that wouldn’t suck.” (to Vince McMahon, referring to Lex Luger’s ‘Lex Express’)
For those who have no knowledge of Steve Austin, this DVD isn’t the place to start. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to learn about the man when watching (there is), it’s more that the entire production comes across as having been made for those fans who have purchased the earlier Steve Austin DVD releases.
There are many gaps in his career, especially his pre-WWE career, and not a lot of personal insight into his personal life. There’s a brief section on his time training with Chris Adams (which Austin wasn’t impressed with) and his days making $40 or less per night in Texas working for the Von Erichs.
His early WCW run is skipped almost entirely, so the action starts proper with a belter of a cage match for the WCW World Tag Team Titles.
The Hollywood Blondes are the champions, Dos Hombres are the challengers, in what is a great opener for the DVD. The masked Hombres are actually Ricky Steamboat and future ECW Champion, Shane Douglas. The gimmick is that everyone knows that it’s Steamboat and Douglas under the masks (they even wrestle the same way)… the exact same thing that WWE recycled with Mr. America and ECW did with Rick Rude.
The tag match is exciting and keeps you hooked throughout, but that’s all you get from The Hollywood Blondes as a tag team, which is a real shame considering how good, and over, they were as a tandem. Instead of more tag matches, we’re thrust straight into a singles match between the now former tag-partners. Before the bout itself, Austin spends less than a minute talking about his relationship with Brian Pillman. That he only gets to talk for this short period of time about the man he considered his best friend is a joke; and further fuels my belief that this release is for those who already know Steve’s history.
This match is also really good, but you can see that Steve Austin is still a long way from being the wrestler “he always knew he could be”… and helping him get there is one of the best in the history of the business; Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
Austin is the United States Champion, Ricky Steamboat wants to be the United States Champion; that’s all you need to know about the background to this match, so just sit back and enjoy watching a damn fine technical match. The bout itself is very reminiscent of Steamboat’s match with Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III (right down to the finish), but doesn’t feel like a retread at the same time.
From there we hear about Austin being fired while injured (he tore his tricep in Japan) and then cut to how he ended up in ECW after Paul Heyman phoned him up and asked him to come down to Philly and vent his frustrations. Austin told Heyman that he wasn’t fully healed yet, but was told that it wouldn’t be a problem, that he could just come in and talk… and boy, did he talk.
What follows is probably the single greatest promo in Austin’s career, perhaps even in all of wrestling, as Steve Austin rips on everything that has gone on in WCW and then tells the people how things are going to be (he’s scarily accurate). The promo lasts a long time (with a spot-on Dusty Rhodes impression thrown in), but the highlight for me is that when it’s over, the footage blends seamlessly into raw footage of Heyman, Sandman, Raven and Tommy Dreamer (as well as some other ECW staff) sitting there absolutely astounded at what they have just witnessed. To see these guys (two of whom, Raven and Paul Heyman) who are masters of the promo themselves, be open-mouthed and in awe was a real sight to behold.
Present-day Austin discusses the ECW style and how violent and bloody it was, but how (with the influx of guys like Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko) “real” wrestling was also appreciated by the fans in the ECW arena; a venue that was as basic as it gets, before we go into the only ECW match on the DVD (which is fair enough; Steve only wrestled two matches for the company… and lost them both), the Three-Way Dance for the ECW Title against The Sandman and current champion, Mikey Whipreck.
And there you have it; the first six years of Austin’s career covered by around one-fifth of the DVD’s running time. Obviously, being a WWE release, the majority of the footage on offer would be from his run with Vince McMahon, so after a brief talk about Vince calling him up and offering him a job as The Ringmaster (a name Austin hated, but took because he was happy to be going to the WWF under any circumstances), complete with DiBiase as a manager, we head straight into his first WWF feud against Savio Vega.
Austin had a feud with Savio that lasted for around three months and had some nice matches along the way. Steve, who put Savio over as a “helluva worker”, defeated the Puerto Rican in probably the best match of the sub-standard Wrestlemania XII. The manner in which Austin won the match (he smashed Savio in the head twice with the Million $ Belt) led to them being booked into a Caribbean Strap Match at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog.
Unfortunately for the WWF, a storm in the area knocked out power to the building and the PPV feed was lost. This resulted in Vince rebooking the show two days later (two matches were simply replayed from the original event and the Vader v Yokozuna rematch was the only one to have a different finish from the original show). Before the match took place, DiBiase laid out a stipulation that if Austin lost the match, he would leave the World Wrestling Federation (in truth, Ted was on his way to WCW and needed to be written out).
Savio won the contest (Austin said he let him win so he could be his own man) and Steve was on his own; The Ringmaster was dead and Stone Cold was ready to raise some hell like never before.
A brief section on the 1996 King of the Ring (where Austin talks about how he wasn’t originally going to win it; instead “some wrestlers” got out of line and had to be reprimanded) is shown, as is the speech and how he claims to have come up with the Austin 3:16 catchphrase/speech (a story that contradicts a conversation I had with Jake Roberts in Glasgow; Jake claims to have given the idea to Austin) that took place after he won the tournament. This story has been covered by pretty much every Austin DVD release, so it’s easy to understand why it only gets a passing mention.
Bret Hart, Steve’s next opponent, had left the World Wrestling Federation after losing an Iron-Man match to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XII. He was scheduled to come back at the 1996 Survivor Series to face Steve Austin in a #1 contenders match for the WWF Title; the winner going on to the next PPV to face either Shawn Michaels or Sid for the title (it would be Sid, as he claimed his first World title at the event).
Austin tells of his honour at being hand-picked by Bret Hart for his comeback match and then talks about the fun he had with the promos leading up to the next match to be shown in full.
Bret Hart v Steve Austin at the 1996 Survivor Series is a fantastic contest that is largely forgotten due to their stunner (no pun intended) at Wrestlemania 13. The ‘Mania match (omitted from this release) is the better match, but not by much, and this bout is a good indication of how great the Bret v Austin feud was going to be. The match ending will be very familiar to those who saw Bret v Piper at Wrestlemania VIII.
The importance of the “I Quit” match that took place at Wrestlemania 13 in Chicago starts off the second disc, although the match itself is missing from the collection (another reason why I feel this has been put together for those who own/have seen Austin’s previous DVDs), there is some footage from the bout on show as Austin discusses the double-turn that changed the face of the company forever. The image of a bleeding Austin trying to power out of the (match-winning) sharpshooter is one of the most iconic in wrestling, replayed and shown time and time again without losing any of its power.
Following on from the ‘Mania 13 match, Bret Hart reunited the Hart Foundation (this time as a five-man faction of himself, Jim Neidhart, Brian Pillman, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog) to help in his feud with Steve Austin. The sad part is that almost all of it is missing from this DVD (for example, the streetfight that “injured” Bret’s knee and put him in the wheelchair is mentioned but no footage is shown and the entire “Pillman‘s got a gun“ angle isn‘t even mentioned).
Undertaker, who won the WWF Title from Sid at Wrestlemania 13, defended it against Steve Austin at the In Your House: A Cold Day in Hell PPV in a match that isn’t the best contest either man have had against each other. The main story of the match is Austin going after the Hart Foundation as they sit in the front row and then later on hitting the Stunner, only for Pillman to leap the barricade and ring the bell before he gets a chance to pin the champion. Undertaker recovers and hits a Tombstone for the title retaining pinfall victory. As soon as the bell rings to end the match, The Hart Foundation (except the wheelchair-bound Bret) run in and attack Undertaker (he also laid into the Harts at ringside), so Austin slips out and then goes after Bret, tipping him out of his chair and punching at his injured knee. In the ring, Undertaker takes care of Bulldog & Co, only for Stone Cold to re-enter the ring and lay him out with a second Stone Cold Stunner. It was almost unheard of in the WWF, at that time, for a victorious champion to be laid out by his challenger after the match, especially to end a PPV… Austin was changing the way things were done.
The WWF Tag Team Championship may mean next to nothing now, but back in 1997, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog were doing their best to drag them back from the Body Donnas/Smoking Gunns/Godwinns inflicted Hell that they’d just been through over the previous twelve months. The Owen/Bulldog team just worked, and even though the team wasn’t a patch on The British Bulldogs, they should go down as one of the best teams in WWF/WWE history.
Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels defeated them for the tag belts on Monday Night Raw (in a match shown on the DVD), so headed into their one-on-one contest against each other at the 1997 King of the Ring (where Triple H got the crown he was supposed to get the year before) as co-holders of the WWF Tag Team Titles. Austin talks about how you need to be on the top of your game when wrestling Shawn Michaels, heralding him as an awesome wrestler, but also sneaking in a comment about how selfish the 1997 HBK was.
The match is decent, with the most memorable part being when a special-needs fan tries to get into the ring to help HBK. In a rather touching moment, Shawn tells the heavy-handed security to back off and then helps the fan up the aisle to the backstage area. The finish was a disappointment, but understandable.
Austin’s tag-team run with Mick Foley is briefly discussed and their title win over Owen & Bulldog (again) is shown. The match is pretty basic stuff, but the debut of Dude Love (Mick Foley’s childhood alter-ego) is pretty funny; Steve’s reaction when Mick appears on the Titantron, and then in the aisle, is brilliant, as is the after-match show of respect.
The scariest section of the DVD is up next, as Steve goes for his first piece of singles gold. It’s Steve Austin v Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. The match is a decent effort, but all anybody remembers is that Owen Hart botched a piledriver and almost ended Austin’s career. Owen knows he’s messed up almost instantly and does a fantastic job of buying Austin time to recover enough and roll him up with the worst schoolboy cradle imaginable. Austin is the IC champion… but gets stripped of the title due to being unable to defend it.
As bad as the broken neck may have been, in hindsight, it was the catalyst for what made Stone Cold so popular in the first place. Unable to wrestle in matches, Austin was left to run his mouth in promos that vented his frustrations with the system. It was during one of these diatribes against the system that Stone Cold did the unthinkable; he attacked the owner of the company by dropping him with a Stunner.
The fans went mental at the image of the boss laying on the mat unconscious. It had never been done before, and it really set the tone for Austin’s anti-establishment character.
His return at Survivor Series 1997 was overshadowed by some minor misunderstanding in the show’s main-event, so, for some reason, we jump past Austin’s Rumble victory (his 1997 win is also not mentioned), a brief mention of his first WWF Title win (the fact his first Wrestlemania main event and first WWF Title win are barely mentioned is baffling) and cut straight to May’s PPV: Unforgiven.
It’s Austin versus a now heel Dude Love for the WWF Title, and as much as the Dude Love character gets lambasted, he was a riot when he was a heel. The Unforgiven match is good, but I would have preferred them to showcase the vastly superior contest the two men had at Over the Edge 1998 instead.
The second disc closes with the 24hr period where Kane won the WWF Championship at King of the Ring 1998 and then lost it the next night on RAW is WAR. The two matches are incredibly heated affairs, but, in my opinion, Kane (at this point) should have been given a much longer run with the title.
Disc 2 ends with us in June 1998; disc 3 begins in April 1999. An entire ten month period is omitted (Wrestlemania XV is mentioned in passing), even though this was probably the hottest period for pro-wrestling, and we catch up again with Backlash ’99. The Rock v Stone Cold was The Attitude Era, and this match highlights that better than any other.
Less than a third of the bout takes place in the ring, with the majority of the fight being an excellent arena-wide brawl. It also features Shane McMahon as the special referee (who ends up costing Rock the match and instigating his momentous face turn) and Vince McMahon as a good guy. The match also has one of the greatest sports-entertainment spots ever seen in a WWF Championship match; The Rock-Cam. If you haven’t seen it, I’ll say no more so you can witness it for yourself.
Austin had to takes some time off due to injury and was written out using a hit-and-run angle at the 1999 Survivor Series (Austin was booked in a Triple-Threat for the WWF Title. Big Show replaced him and won the belt). The “Who Ran Over Stone Cold” storyline went on for almost a year, with Austin attacking anyone and everyone on the roster to find out who was behind the assault (it was finally revealed to be Rikishi, who “did it for da Rock”… only for Triple H to come out and take credit for manipulating the situation).
Austin had a match against Rikishi that isn’t mentioned on the DVD, and then got into it with a man who had arrived on the scene in his absence, Eddie Guerrero; hand-picked by Austin (a nice homage to Bret doing the same with him) for his comeback match. The bout is shown in its entirety, but isn’t anywhere near as good a match between the two could be. Guerrero cuts a nice promo before the match too.
All of that is just a warm-up to get us to Survivor Series 2000 and a disappointing brawl against Triple H. The only memorable part is the finish, where Austin lifts Hunter (who is trapped in a car) with a forklift and then lets him drop, upside down, to the ground. What is interesting when watching it on this DVD is that during the chase to the car-park, Chris Benoit jumps Austin to let HHH escape, but these small sections are edited out. As impressive a sight as it was, the fact Triple H appeared without a scratch on the next night’s RAW ruins the impact of the action.
A much better contest between the two was the Three Stages of Hell match from No Way Out 2001, a best 2-out-of-3 falls match that goes for over forty minutes. The falls were contested (in order) as a straight wrestling match, a streetfight and then a steel cage match. It really is an awesome match and you can see why it’s a favourite of both Triple H and Steve Austin.
It’s then onto the last section of the DVD; Austin v Rock from Wrestlemania X-Seven. A wild and crazy brawl, the match is great (but not, in my opinion, the best of the Rock/Austin Wrestlemania trilogy… that goes to Wrestlemania XIX), and has a finish no-one would have seen coming; Austin turns heel and joins Vince McMahon.
Austin tells us that he didn’t feel right doing it and that he should have called an audible to change the heel turn-confirming handshake into a Stunner and keep him face. It’s hard to argue with the logic, as the people didn’t want to boo Austin as a heel, but he did a lot of great work during the period, so there was some benefit to it overall.
And that’s it, we stop in April of 2001, even though Austin’s in-ring career lasted another two years and he had some good out-of-the ring segments after that.
The extras are pretty sparse (especially when you consider what’s missing), but some of them are good.
Disc 1 has the origin of the Stone Cold name, a pre-PPV bout against Yokozuna (who Austin puts over as a great talent and a great guy) and a confrontation with Terry Funk on Shotgun Saturday Night (where Funk calls Vince a Yankee bast*rd among other things during an expletive-filled promo).
Disc 2 only has one extra, a segment on Mr. McMahon.
Disc 3 has the Gladiator trailer that opened Wrestlemania 21 and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of it as well. Rounding out the extras is part of the “Who is Vince’s son” angle. Jonathan Coachman is excellent here, playing his role with subtle comedy, so it’s a shame to see him wasting away on the Smackdown commentary team. The skit runs for a good ten minutes, but is the usual Austin routine we’d seen a hundred times by this point.
This DVD is a missed opportunity. That’s not to say it’s not good; it is, but there is so much missing from the career of Steve Austin, even just in WWE, that the title is almost a misnomer. Bits from the Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin would’ve been more appropriate.
The format isn’t suited to this type of release. With Austin talking for less than a few minutes each time and then onto a match, you never really get into the documentary side of things. There is a great story to be told here, but this wasn’t the way to do it.
Only two of Steve Austin’s six WWF title wins are shown (with one of them being a throw-away rematch against Kane) and virtually nothing of the Austin/McMahon war is mentioned. There’s no beer truck, no zamboni, no concrete in McMahon’s corvette, no making Vince piss his pants or any other aspect of the McMahon feud. Even the “Higher Power” angle is passed over as if it never happened.
With all of that, as well as the series of matches against Undertaker, Rock, Big Show, etc, leave this collection incomplete. The cage match he had against Vince should have been included also.
Another problem with the DVD is where it ends. Between Wrestlemania X-Seven and Wrestlemania XIX, Austin was involved in a lot of high-profile situations. These include the six-man HiaC match at Armageddon, the formation of the Two-Man power trip, his last run as WWF Champion, a run as a tag champion, turning on WWE and leading the Alliance and a few others until he had his last match against The Rock.
Even after WMXIX, Austin has been involved in many other skits and segments that could have been included as extras at least.
With all of the above left out, as well as nothing of note on any of Austin’s THREE Royal Rumble victories, it’s pretty obvious this has been aimed at those who already know the story of Steve Austin and have his other DVDs.
If you’ve never owned/seen the previous releases, I can’t recommend this as the place to start. For those who have seen the others, this is a fine addition to those DVDs, but is not the essential purchase it should have been.
Points: 5/10 (There’s too much missing from his history to warrant any higher)