There was something special about the Attitude Era in the WWE. The personalities were massive. The matches were intense. The rivalries were heated. Raw is War was vulgar, violent and an absolute treat to watch. There was cursing, chair shots and even sometimes, the prospect of seeing some very scantily clad ladies (PUPPIES!). It was a good time to be a wrestling fan, for certain.
The personalities were outrageous and fun – and no one did it better than The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. When these two were on the mic or in the ring, they demanded attention. How would you look away? Austin certainly was as unpredictable as a rattlesnake when he was in the ring. The Rock was electrifying when he was on the mic. These two were the best of the best.
The WWE knew this. They had two of the most popular personalities to ever step into the ring, both at the peak of their game. The Rock vs. Stone Cold feuds gave us some of the best matches in the history of the WWE. What you may not have known, however, is outside of the ring, when the big-stage lights were and cameras were turned off – is that these two superstars are best of friends. Here are 15 things you didn’t know about Stone Cold and The Rock’s relationship.
15 The Secret Handshake
Like all best bros, The Rock and Stone Cold have a secret handshake. At WrestleMania XXX, they perform the handshake for the first time in front of a crowd. Rocky and Austin worked together for a long time. They’ve competed in countless matches together, which means, spending a whole hell of a lot of time together, practicing, story-boarding and choreographing the matches. So, naturally, the two developed a secret handshake like best buddies usually do. Slap, slap, point, slap. If you checked out the video above, you’ll see they performed the handshake, but instead of pointing at each other, they pointed at the crowd. The duo would perform this handshake before all of their big matches. It was a way to pump each other up, share a connection and further their friendship. Seeing this at WrestleMania XXX was a big moment for hard-core wrestling fans, who knew the handshake existed, but this time, felt like they were a part of the friendship.
14 Passing the Belt
We all know wrestling is scripted. The WWE has writers and choreographers to make sure the show runs as planned and on script. It must be strange for the champ to go into a match knowing that they’ll lose, and there’s nothing they can do to change that fact. That’s exactly what went down when The Rock met Stone Cold at WrestleMania XV. The Rock was WWE Champion, but he was about to lose the belt to his good friend Steve Austin. By now, we all know Dwayne Johnson seems like the coolest dude on the planet. He’s one of those celebrities you could sit down and have a beer with without it being weird. So, of course he was cool with losing the belt to Steve. Not only cool with it, but proud. Honoured. The two friends rehearsed their match at WrestleMania XV with passion and vigor, like two friends would, and the match has gone down as one of the best in WWE history. It has twists and turns, and two friends pushing each other to get the best performance possible. Well done, fellas.
13 Austin’s Fantastic Advice
Early in The Rock’s wrestling career, when it seemed he finally had found his brand, personality and his way to the main event stage, there were those in the WWE that weren’t so certain about the up and coming superstar. Apparently there were headliners who weren’t too keen on The Rock, even going so far as to complain to Vince McMahon that Rocky has no business being in the main event in WrestleMania. How wrong they were. The Rock was a bit rattled by this development, and went to his buddy Stone Cole Steve Austin for advice. In an Instagram post remembering the exchange, The Rock thanked his friend for motivating him and giving him the best piece of advice he could’ve asked for; “F*ck those motherf*ckers. We're here to draw and make money and that's exactly what we're gonna do. We draw big money then everyone benefits." Now there’s a Stone Cold quote if I’ve ever heard one.
12 Austin Calls Out His Buddy
The WWE has recently received a fair amount of flak for their long, drawn-out segments. A talent gets on the mic and talks…and talks…and talks, until, well, nothing happens. So, when The Rock was scheduled to make an appearance at WrestleMania 32, the hype was real. Wrestling fans were pumped. One of the biggest movie stars on the planet was coming back to wrestling! It was going to be epic. Then, the opening segment was nothing more than The Rock wielding a flame thrower, a long walk down the ring, then a speech on the mic that was less than thrilling. And that’s saying a lot, as we all know how great Rocky is with a microphone. Even his buddy Stone Cold wasn’t a fan of it. “I gotta call him out on this one.” Austin explains to Entertainment Tonight’s Under the Influence, “His segment had lasted for about 30 minutes and you could feel the energy just drain out of 100,000 people.” Thanks for being honest, Steve.
11 They Once Shared a Duet
These two certainly seem to have fun together, both when they’re in the ring putting on a match and when they’re on the mic exchanging witting banter. Over the years, both The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin amassed quite the large repertoire of catch phrases. From “It doesn’t matter…” to “WHAT?”, the two are instantly quotable. That comes from both great writing from the WWE staff and incredible improvisational skills from the superstars. One segment in particular shows just how well these two gelled together. In the middle of a heated rivalry, The Rock and Stone Cold exchange insults, passing the mic back and forth and cutting off each other’s catch phrases. This is a perfect example of these two long-time friends coming together and creating a segment on the microphone that will go down in the ages as one of the most captivating, hilarious moments in WWE history.
10 The Rock Gets Stunned
Stone Cold Steve Austin’s finisher The Stunner is one of the best moves in the business. The finisher always seemed to come out of nowhere and always seemed to get an absolutely explosive response from the crowd. The Stunner could end a match in mere seconds. Countless victims fell to The Stunner’s devastation, and there were those who could sell the move flawlessly, and those who could not. Vince McMahon took more than his fair share of Stunners, along with the majority of the WWE roster, including of course, Steve’s good friend The Rock. Now, if you ever watched a match between the two and witnessed Austin delivering a Stunner to Rocky, there are some who would argue that The Rock oversold the move, flopping around on the mat like a drowning fish. When one man posted a compilation of Stunners to The Rock and claimed the wrestler oversold the move, The Rock’s response was, as always, priceless. “I never called it ‘overselling’,” The Rock tweeted in response, “We'd hug backstage, drink beer & call it "money." Touche.
9 They Both Started as Heels
It’s hard to imagine two of the most charismatic, beloved personalities in wrestling history to be pushed as heels by the WWE, but when Austin ditched his ‘Ringmaster’ moniker for his Stone Cold personality, and when Rocky Maivia was replaced with just The Rock, that’s exactly what happened. Stone Cold Steve Austin was pure aggression and rage. The Rock was swagger and over-confidence. Austin was the outlaw, while The Rock was a corporate machine. The Rock was part of The Nation of Domination, while Stone Cold shaved his head and feuded with Bret Hart. This continued for quite some time, until the WWE wisely saw how the crowd popped with these two with their rising popularity. Turning face was the best course of action for these two superstars, and while they did have brief heel turns in their careers, they still remained fan-favourites even throughout their villain storylines.
8 WrestleMania Legends
When Stone Cold and The Rock were at the peak of their game, the electricity around their matches was undeniable. When these two met in the ring people paid attention. Pure and simple. So, it’s a give-in that they would meet on wrestling’s biggest stage; WrestleMania. However, the two friends met multiple times at WrestleMania’s main event. The first one we already touched on, was WrestleMania XV. The Rock was ‘The Corporate Champ’, while Stone Cold was feuding with Vince McMahon. Vince, doing everything in his power to stop Stone Cold from climbing the WWE ranks, of course, lost. The two met on WrestleMania XV in 1999 with Austin emerging victorious. They met again at WrestleMania XVII, once again with The Rock entering as the champ, however Austin emerged victorious with an unexpected twist; Vince helped Austin win the belt with the help of a steel chair. The last time they met at WrestleMania, and what would be Austin’s final match in his career, would be WrestleMania XIX. The Rock would walk away victorious, while Austin soaked in the crowd and one final salute.
7 Delivering the Beer Bath
Good friends sit down together to enjoy a frosty, delicious beer. That’s what dudes do. Bonding over a beer is one of the best ways to solidify a friendship. Or, you could roll up in a beer truck and douse your friends with a beer hose. That’s exactly what Stone Cold did to The Rock and Vince McMahon during Rocky’s ‘Corporation’ days as a heel. The Rock was delivering one of his incredible heel segments to the crowd, Stone Cold interrupted with one of the most amazing segments ever. He rode down the stage in a beer truck, spewing his usual insults, then as the Rock took the mic to give his ‘jabroni’ speech, Austin walked off, grabbed a hose and soaked Vince, Shane and The Rock with frosty suds. It was just another instance of the incredible rivalry of Austin and The Rock being the best there has ever been, and Austin being the most bad-ass dude the WWE has ever seen. And that’s the bottom line.
6 They’re Now Both Movie Stars
They were #1 and #2 in the WWE for a long time. The consensus will be made that Stone Cold was #1 with The Rock being #2 while they were both on the roster. As popular as Rocky was, nobody could match the heights of Austin’s fame in wrestling. That being said, moving on to their post-wrestling careers, I think we all know who the more successful of the two is. The Rock was named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2016 and has an incredible resume under his belt when it comes to movies, including The Fast and the Furious series, the yet to be released Jumanji reboot and the animated hit Moana. Austin, while not nearly as successful as The Rock, has had a few movies to his name as well, like Grown Ups 2, The Package and Chain of Command in 2015. He’s also made a name for himself with his incredibly successful Podcast and Reality TV appearances.
5 Austin Chirps Rocky’s Chair Shots
The Attitude Era was known for its aggressive nature, blood pouring from Superstars and of course…chair shots. The folding steel chair was a mainstay on Raw is War, usually ending matches in a gruesome way. The way Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career ended, with an unfortunate neck injury, it makes sense that he’d be an advocate for health and protection in the WWE. Gone are the days of the steel chair, as new rules in the WWE’s Impact Concussion Management Program strictly prohibits the use of chairs as a weapon. There was one match in particular that Austin finds difficult to watch. “There was some bad-ass stuff out there that really didn’t need to happen,” Austin told The Washington Post, referring to a match between The Rock and Mankind, where Foley’s hands were cuffed behind his back. “[Foley] took seven or eight chair shots — vicious chair shots — from The Rock. That was hard to watch…” We agree, Steve. But, I certainly do miss the folding chair…
4 Behind the Scenes Fun
After the cameras stop rolling on an episode of Raw, sometimes if we’re lucky, the performers start going off script and giving the crowd a little bit of extra fun. The Rock and Stone Cold, in the heat of their rivalry, had been known to do this more than once. And it seemed, as far as we could tell, that it was quite literally a couple buddies having some extra fun with each other. Their personas would be a tad different, a little sillier, and thanks to the modern intern age and YouTube, these forgotten segments have now made it back online. There was one segment in particular, is a personal favourite. You can see The Rock and Stone Cold improvising this entirely. I can’t imagine any of this was scripted. They’re casual, outrageous, and you can tell they’re enjoying every single second of it. Of course, it ends with a good ol’ fashioned ass whoppin’, and not one, but TWO stunners, sold by The Rock in typical fashion.
3 They Both Have Biographies
With two of the biggest stars the WWE has ever seen both rising to fame at the same time, of course Vince and the suits would want to slap Stone Cold and The Rock’s name on any piece of merchandising they could. Vince loves making money. We all know that. The Rock’s autobiography called ‘The Rock Says…’ was printed first, back when the WWE was still the WWF. It follows Dwayne Johnson through his boyhood and his relationship to his pro wrestler of a father, his injury resulting in a failed football career to his rise to fame in wrestling. ‘The Stone Cold Truth’, Steve Austin’s book, take your through the Texas Rattlesnake’s life and gives an interesting, intimate look into his wrestling career. I haven’t read either of these books, so I can’t give you an honest review. I’m not sure Mr. McMahon was entirely worried about quality of work, but more just slapping the WWE logo and Austin and The Rock’s face on more merchandising.
2 The Duo Were Rumored For Expendables 4
If this happened…oh my. Somebody please make this happen. The Expendables movies are plain ridiculous, and that’s fine. Those movies know what they are; crazy, outrageous action-packed fun. Steve Austin starred in the first Expendables, but for Expendables 4, the rumor was to have Steve Austin, Dwayne Johnson and Hulk Hogan join the cast. Which, is already a bit odd, as Stone Cold died in the first movie. But hey, it’s Hollywood. They could explain that easy enough with some movie-magic. Hogan was to play the villain, with both The Rock and Stone Cold joining the team of Expendables. The Rock has expressed his interest in joining The Expendables franchise, and why not, he’s in every other movie being made right now, but he said he’d like to be the villain. The Rock is always very vocal about his roles, tweeting out updates and casting news, but nothing has ever come out about this one. Sadly, it looks all to be rumors.
1 Their Return to the WWE
It’s 2017, and both former wrestling Superstars seem to be happy and healthy in their post-WWE lives. However, wrestling is where they both got their start. It’s in their blood, in their DNA. The Rock, for one, seems to be the hardest working dude alive right now. He’s everywhere. Filming movies, television, and always has time to stop by Raw or SmackDown for a nice little visit. Recently, he made an appearance after the cameras shut off on an episode of Raw, doing his charming Rocky thing and even trying to call CM Punk, live in the middle of the ring. It didn’t work out, but hey, it’s nice to see The Rock showing wrestling fans some love after years of support. As for Stone Cold, will he be back? Don’t count on it. Goldberg has returned and The Undertaker still comes around from time-to-time, but not good ol’ Steve Austin. He’s satisfied with his career and says he doesn’t need or want to come back to the WWE. It’s okay Steve, we’ll forgive you. Now, to watch some Stone Cold vs. The Rock matches and relive the glory days…