Steve Austin is arguably the greatest superstar in WWE history. His recent return appearances at Raw Reunion and the Raw episode in Madison Square Garden showed the star power of Austin is still alive. He earned this reputation during his in-ring career as part of the Attitude Era.
Austin's prestige allowed him to pick and choose his opponents while on top of WWE. Many of the tremendous rivalries of his career featured him facing off with talents he loved working with. Other wrestlers missed out on potential big matches when Austin refused to work with them. Both sides will be featured here as look back at the career of Stone Cold.
10 Loved wrestling: The Rock
The rivalry between Steve Austin and The Rock made them respect each other as opponents on a path to becoming friends. Attitude Era fans were treated to the rare instance of two elite tier talents colliding, as Austin and Rock each tried to prove they were the top performer in the sport.
Austin revealed his favorite opponents on the podcast of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Rock was one of the names. They had three classic WrestleMania matches, including arguably the biggest match in wrestling history at WrestleMania X-Seven.
9 Refused to wrestle: Marc Mero
WWE had huge plans for Marc Mero, making him the first talent in company history to receive a guaranteed contract. Mero’s wife Sable joined him as a valet, but she was the star of the duo. An eventual heel turn would see Mero feud with Sable for months.
There were reported plans of Mero getting heat to eventually challenge Steve Austin for the WWE Championship, as the company wanted new talents rising to the top. Austin did not want to work with Mero, citing a lack of credibility since Sable defeated Mero in the ring.
8 Loved wrestling: Brian Pillman
One of the few positives from Steve Austin’s time in WCW was his working relationship with Brian Pillman. Both wrestlers were underutilized in the lower mid-card until they formed the Hollywood Blonds tag team together. WCW never fully believed in them, but the duo did great work together.
Austin was happy to work with Pillman again when they both were in WWE. Injuries prevented Pillman from having a real long-term storyline with Austin, but they clearly were happy to have the short feud.
7 Refused to wrestle: Brock Lesnar
Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar developed a slight friendship throughout the years, but that wasn’t always the case. One of the most controversial moments in WWE history featured Austin walking out of WWE after they wanted him to put over Lesnar on an episode of Raw.
Austin felt it was bad business to have him put over such a new star, for a match that wasn’t even on PPV. This led to Austin refusing to show up to Raw and leaving the company for about eight months.
6 Loved wrestling: Mick Foley
The bond between Steve Austin and Mick Foley has seen them struggle together in WCW, reinvent themselves in ECW, and become massive superstars in WWE. Both wrestlers had the passion that would see them traveling together with Diamond Dallas Page early in their careers.
Foley was the first major challenger to Austin after he won the WWE Championship for the first time in 1998. Austin name dropped Foley on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast when discussing his all-time favorite opponents. Foley and Austin even won the WWE Tag Team Championship on one occasion, during their short run as a team.
5 Refused to wrestle: Chyna
WWE almost went with a bold plan for their Summerslam 1999 main event. Chyna won the #1 contender’s spot for a shot at Steve Austin’s WWE Championship. Future episodes of Raw would see her removed from the title picture, with Austin now defending against Triple H and Mankind.
Austin reportedly didn’t like the idea of wrestling Chyna during his reign. Chyna’s popularity at the time had fans buying into her and it would have created a more memorable SummerSlam main event. WWE would have Chyna win the Intercontinental Championship months later, but she never contended for the WWE Championship again.
4 Loved wrestling: Vince McMahon
One of the surprising names offered by Steve Austin when discussing his favorite opponents was Vince McMahon. It makes sense to have him in the picture, though, since McMahon was Austin’s top rival: the anti-authority face vs the power-hungry boss storyline certainly brought in viewers.
Austin has listed Vince as a favorite opponent of his. The countless memories of Austin hitting McMahon with the Stone Cold Stunner will always be appreciated by Attitude Era fans.
3 Refused to wrestle: Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett bounced back and forth between WWE and WCW during the Monday Night Wars. The best stint of Jarrett’s WWE career came when he cut his hair and developed an edgier gimmick. Jarrett gained huge heel heat during this run with Debra as his manager.
There were reported plans for Jarrett to move into the main event picture for a feud with Steve Austin. Prior issues between the two would see Austin refuse to work a storyline with Jarrett. It played a role in Jarrett deciding to leave WWE again for WCW, once Vince Russo made the move.
2 Loved wrestling: Bret Hart
Bret Hart has consistently been named by Steve Austin when discussing his favorite opponents. Following his King of the Ring win, Austin moved into a program with Hart. This was the first instance of a legitimate main eventer wanting to work with Austin and elevate him up the card.
Austin and Hart had a few classic matches, with the iconic WrestleMania 13 match making Austin a main-eventer. The role of Bret in Austin’s rise is not something Stone Cold takes for granted. Austin made magic in the ring whenever he opposed Hart and it remains an all-time great feud.
1 Refused to wrestle: Hulk Hogan
The biggest plan turned down by Steve Austin was a potential dream match with Hulk Hogan. WWE wanted to make money from the two biggest names in company history facing off, when Hogan returned to the company as part of the New World Order in 2002.
Austin had no interest in working with Hogan due to some bad blood in WCW along with Hogan’s reputation of refusing to put others over. The Rock instead received the match with Hogan and had a classic. Austin and Hogan have since made peace, but it's a shame we didn't get to see this match play out.