Steve Austin is the most popular choice when discussing the all-time great wrestler in WWE history. The success of Austin not only made him a big star, but he led WWE to the greatest success in company history during the Monday Night Wars. Austin appealed to the average fan that would tune into Raw, for record-breaking ratings during his run as the top superstar. Any wrestler to feud with Austin had a great opportunity to make a bigger name and a lot of money.
The greatest feuds for Austin helped shape the WWE to become the powerhouse it is today. Austin and the wrestlers to have chemistry with him certainly left an impact on the viewers. However, no-one is perfect, and even Austin had some stinkers, with feuds that did not live up to expectations. Both will be examined here, with five WWE rivalries that made Stone Cold a legend along with five that disappointed.
10 Great: Mick Foley
The first major singles feud for Steve Austin after winning the WWE Championship featured him facing off with Mick Foley. WWE gave Foley the first major world title feud of his career, as he adopted the Dude Love gimmick while uniting with Vince McMahon.
Austin and Foley had a few great matches together to help cement Austin’s title reign as a success. Foley certainly benefited from it as well, since he would remain in the main event picture for the rest of his career. Both legends loved working together and it showed in the results.
9 Disappointment: Eddie Guerrero
WWE gave us a small taste of a dream feud between Steve Austin and Eddie Guerrero. The latter returned to WWE in 2002 and was placed in a small program with Austin. They showed chemistry in a few segments, with the expectations of a huge match coming later.
Austin, however, decided to walk out of WWE before the match could take place. Guerrero and Austin would never get the proper platform to make their rivalry special.
8 Great: Triple H
The rivalry between Triple H and Steve Austin was one of the better parts of late 2000 and early 2001 WWE television. It was revealed that Triple H set up the moment of Austin getting run over by a car that wrote him off television for months.
Austin’s return would see a feud with Triple H that lasted for quite a few months. Their blow off match made the rivalry legendary, as Triple H defeated Austin at No Way Out 2001 in a 3 Stages of Hell match. Triple H was a made man and credible top star for good following this storyline.
7 Disappointment: Chris Jericho
Most fans would have expected better matches and storylines when Steve Austin faced off with Chris Jericho. The men became rivals in 2002, following the end of the Invasion storyline. Jericho defeated Austin and The Rock in the same night to become the first Undisputed Champion for WWE.
The story moving forward featured Austin getting a couple of title shots against Jericho. They did not have many great matches or moments, and the New World Order returning to cost Austin the match was a bigger story. Jericho and Austin could never create the magic fans expected from them.
6 Great: The Rock
The rivalry between Steve Austin and The Rock helped define WWE as a global phenomenon. Austin and Rock were the two biggest stars in the industry at the time and often competed for the top spot. WWE did not have to do much advanced writing to create magic between these two.
Rock and Austin had superb chemistry that allowed them to have three stand-out matches at WrestleMania and a few other PPV main events. Their battle at WrestleMania 17 might be the most important match in WWE history, given the popularity of the era and the fact that it led to a brighter future for WWE.
5 Disappointment: Owen Hart
The talent level of Steve Austin and Owen Hart alone should have led to classic matches between the two. They were on pace to have a great one at Summerslam 1997, until the infamous botch of Owen injuring Austin with a tombstone piledriver.
Austin had neck problems for the rest of his career that ultimately cut it short, and he did not have much love for Owen due to it. The two worked together when Austin returned from his injury, but they never had great matches, as Austin reportedly lost his trust in Owen.
4 Great: Mr. McMahon
The longest-lasting rivalry for Steve Austin was his feud with Vince McMahon’s heel character Mr. McMahon. Vince adopted the persona many already projected upon him, as an evil boss that would stab others in the back to get ahead.
Austin’s character naturally clashed with McMahon, leading to some incredible television for WWE. McMahon tried to recruit countless wrestlers to oppose Austin and even made his wrestling debut against Austin. The two still bring back the rivalry for nostalgia moments at anniversary specials for WWE, such as the most recent Raw 25 show.
3 Disappointment: Scott Hall
The WrestleMania 18 match against Scott Hall stands out as one of the biggest disappointments of Steve Austin’s career. WWE tried to provide two dream matches with the return of the New World Order. The Rock faced Hollywood Hogan in a classic while Austin faced Hall in a forgettable match.
The feud with Hall started to cause him to lose momentum for the first time since his run on top. Hall was not in the best shape mentally or physically to perform at a high level. Austin had zero chemistry with him, and fans barely remember their feud.
2 Great: Bret Hart
The most important rivalry to make Steve Austin a top star was his feud with Bret Hart. WWE started to see the potential in Austin and slotted him into a short program with Hart to get more momentum. The two had such magic that the feud extended longer than expected, into WrestleMania 13.
Austin had a star-making performance in an all-time great match against Hart, despite losing. The two continued feuding for months following WrestleMania, with Austin becoming the top face and Hart as the top heel in the company. Austin’s path to the top of WWE truly started after the rivalry with Bret.
1 Disappointment: Ric Flair
WWE tried to replicate the magic between Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon by having Ric Flair replace McMahon as the new heel boss. Flair was running Raw following the brand split and Austin refused to make peace with his new authority figure.
Unfortunately, there was no magic here like the Austin/McMahon feud, with Raw falling behind Smackdown early in the brand split as a result. Austin had disappointing matches against Flair, Undertaker and Big Show for months before he walked out. Flair and Austin would become close friends, but their rivalry was a huge disappointment on WWE television.