“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is one of pro-wrestling’s biggest mainstream superstars. Austin began to create his on-screen persona on camera when he came to work for the WWE, but his “Texas Rattlesnake” persona did not begin at his debut with the company. He credited his feud with Savio Vega, another great wrestler, with its origins. It was during their program together where we would witness what was to become the Austin 3:16 incarnation of Steve Austin.
Recently Austin appeared as a guest on the popular show called WWE’s The Bump. Austin had nothing but great things to say about working with Savio Vega. Austin gives Vega credit for shaking the ring rust off of him and helping his overall development into the athlete fans grew to love in the Attitude Era.
Austin when speaking about Vega said, “I love Savio Vega! When I first came in, the company didn’t really have any plans for me,” he revealed. “I was coming back from a tricep reattachment injury. So, when I came to WWE, I had a lot of ring rust.” He almost mention that Savio Vega was very much old school.
“After two or three months working every night with Savio Vega, he got me in the best shape of my career. If we were in the beginning or in the middle of the card, you had to work your ass off to follow that match because very few people could. I have nothing but the highest of regards and respect for Savio Vega, and I loved working with him.”
Close to a year later, Austin was headlining WrestleMania 13 in a Submission Match with Bret Hart in front of 18,000 fans in Chicago. Austin recalled how much electricity the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) had that night and how it sparked a long-lasting relationship with the fans.
“Well, I started realizing that I started to resonate with the crowd for a few months prior, or a year earlier, give or take. We had worked the exact same building at the Rosemont Horizon, which is my favorite building to work in,” he began. “It was a tag match, and every time I got into the ring, man, people started coming alive. I thought we were on to something.
“So, I go out there, and I rock the house with Bret, and it’s like anytime you’re doing something, you do it to elicit a response. The way the Rosemont Horizon is constructed is it has a wooden ceiling. The crowd there is so wild that if you have 18,000 people there and they sell out, you’ll get an immediate response because of the acoustics of that building. We knew we had those people hooked from start to finish; they were in on that ride. When I got out there, there was a mixed reaction. You always want your dance partner to be as over as possible. Bret was red hot. He was kind of in that pivotal area because, on one hand, he was that beloved babyface, on the other hand, he kind of started pissing and moaning to a degree, which all set out that play for the double turn. So, there was electricity that night in front of that wonderful crowd.”
During the Monday Night ratings wars between WCW and the WWF, both companies were in intense competition against one another. Vince McMahon found himself in a tough position when trying to come up with a way to one-up his rival in WCW. One idea that proved it would change the professional wrestling landscape was McMahon bringing Boxing Star Mike Tyson in to be a special guest enforcer for the WWF Championship Match that had “Stone Cold” Steve Austin challenging Champion Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14. But it was not easy getting both Austin and Tyson on the same page from a creative point of view. When McMahon was adamant about bringing Tyson in for WrestleMania, Austin questioned his motives.
Austin remembers, “I’ll never forget, I had a conversation with Vince, and he said, ‘Hey man, I’m thinking of bringing Mike Tyson in to be a part of this thing.’ At the time, we were busting our ass, and I said, ‘Hey, man, do we need Mike Tyson? he chuckled. He goes, ‘Oh, GD, Steve. Tyson could bring more eyes to the product.’ I said, ‘Cool, man. If you think it’ll work, bring him in.’ Mike Tyson was phenomenal! He brought mainstream media to our product. Vince is one of the greatest promoters of all time; he was right.”
“Mike and I hit it off right away. We didn’t sit there and have BS sessions every time we did something together. But Mike was a historian and a fan of the business, and he knew a lot more about the business than most of the guys in the locker room. I wondered at WrestleMania 14 if the moment would be too big for him; would he handle the pressure? Hell, Mike is ready for any big moment. I was glad to do business with him.”
A credit to WWE’s The Bump for any quotes that we’re used for this article.