Steve Austin is still a beloved icon in the wrestling industry. That's clear from the live crowd response and ratings boost whenever he makes a rare appearance for WWE. The legendary run of Austin saw him play the biggest role in WWE winning the Monday Night Wars. WCW was dominating the ratings, until Austin’s ascension to the top put WWE ahead and they never looked back. Austin worked with just about every top star of the Attitude Era.
Some matches stood out way more than others when looking back at his body of work. Austin’s career will be examined here, as we look at the best performances of his run. The matches selected here are the ones that made him the superstar that changed the industry forever.
10 Steve Austin vs The Rock (Backlash 1999)
The rivalry between Steve Austin and The Rock was arguably the most important part of the Attitude Era. Austin needed another top star to feud with once his WWE Championship reign started, and Rock was the one to step into the role from 1998 into 1999.
The pair main-evented WrestleMania XV, but they had a better overall match later at Backlash 1999. Austin defeated Rock in a tremendous match, with Shane McMahon as the guest referee. The No Holds Barred stipulation gave Austin and Rock the freedom to tear it up.
9 Steve Austin vs Bret Hart (Survivor Series 1996)
Bret Hart is another wrestler Steve Austin had superb chemistry with. The first match between the two on a big stage took place at Survivor Series 1996 in Madison Square Garden. Hart was making his first appearance after an eight-month break and Austin was having his biggest match after winning the King of the Ring.
Both men delivered a classic to showcase their chemistry right away. Hart scored the win over Austin, but this was the match that proved Austin was ready to move up the card. The match helped make this card arguably the best Survivor Series show in WWE history.
8 Steve Austin vs The Undertaker (SummerSlam 1998)
The Undertaker became one of the first big feuds for Steve Austin after he won the WWE Championship. SummerSlam 1998 in Madison Square Garden featured a huge main event with Austin defending the title against Undertaker, in a showdown between the two most popular stars at the time.
It was a great match, featuring the memorable moment of Undertaker hitting a legdrop from the ring apron onto Austin through the commentary table. The fans were excited from start to finish, with Austin picking up the win and gaining the respect of Undertaker, who would, of course, go on to have a stunning career full of great matches himself.
7 Steve Austin vs Kurt Angle (SummerSlam 2001)
Kurt Angle was one of the more underrated rivals of Steve Austin in their careers. Both men would face each other with different character roles, but the best encounter came when Austin was a heel and Angle was having his first real face run in WWE.
SummerSlam 2001 was their best match, even though it ended in disqualification. Austin retained the title, but Angle came off like an absolute star. Their feud continued for a few more months and remained the best part of the Invasion storyline.
6 Steve Austin vs Dude Love (Over the Edge 1998)
Mick Foley adopted the Dude Love gimmick for a few months following WrestleMania XIV. Steve Austin needed an opponent after defeating Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship. Foley turned heel with the Dude Love character to represent Mr. McMahon in his battle against Austin.
The best match between Foley and Austin came at Over the Edge 1998 in a No Holds Barred match. McMahon was the referee, which added some unique fun to the ending. Austin used the hand of an unconscious McMahon to count the pin fall victory for him.
5 Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and the Legion of Doom vs The Hart Foundation (In Your House: Canadian Stampede)
The Canadian Stampede event at In Your House is considered one of the best PPVs in WWE history. This main event is one reason fans remember this show so fondly. The Hart Foundation received a hero’s welcome in Canada after playing the anti-American heels.
Steve Austin led this team of faces as they were booed by the Canadian fans. Owen Hart pinned Austin to score the victory for his team, in one of the most emotional matches in WWE history. Austin’s feud with multiple members of the Hart Foundation helped set the stage for such a story to play out.
4 Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels (King of the Ring 1997)
The biggest match between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels took place at WrestleMania XIV, but that wasn’t their best match together. Both men surprisingly had a stint together as WWE Tag Team Champions during their feud with the Hart Foundation.
Michaels and Austin faced off in a singles match at the King of the Ring event in 1997. The finish was indecisive, but the match itself was amazing. Both men showcased the best of their skills in the most entertaining bout the two would get the chance to have together.
3 Steve Austin vs Triple H (No Way Out 2001)
Triple H started to truly become a top star in 2000 when Steve Austin was on the sideline recovering from an injury. Austin returned and the two entered a personal feud after Triple H was revealed as the mastermind behind a hit and run on Austin to write him off.
Their biggest match came at No Way Out, in a Three Stages of Hell bout. Austin and Triple H battled it out for almost an hour of incredible back and forth action. The story they told was brilliant and Triple H pulled off the upset victory for one of the biggest wins of his career.
2 Steve Austin vs The Rock (WrestleMania X-Seven)
The WrestleMania X-Seven main event between Steve Austin and The Rock could be considered the biggest match in WWE history. Many fans consider WrestleMania x-Seven to be the peak of the Attitude Era and the two top names of the time facing off was the perfect main event.
Austin and Rock had a classic match, with fans invested in every second from start to finish. The ending came when Austin turned heel by accepting the help of Vince McMahon in shocking fashion. Austin won the WWE Championship to start his heel run for the rest of the year.
1 Steve Austin vs Bret Hart (WrestleMania 13)
Bret Hart and Steve Austin may have delivered the best overall match to ever take place in WWE. This was originally not supposed to happen, as plans were made for Hart to face Michaels at the second WrestleMania in a row for the WWE Championship. Michaels retired, forcing WWE to change plans.
Hart was slotted into a Submission Match against Austin to continue their feud, with Ken Shamrock as the referee. Both men made magic together as Hart helped elevate Austin to the elite top level of WWE. Bret won the match, but Austin became a star on this night.