Possible Opponents For Stone Cold Steve Austin At WrestleMania 39

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin's final match was against The Rock at WrestleMania XIX in 2003. That was until, almost 20 years later, Austin shocked the wrestling world and decided to come out of retirement at WrestleMania 38 in 2022.

Leading up to the event, most probably thought Austin's segment with Kevin Owens would have just been that — a segment on the "KO Show" with some trash talk and a few stunners. But that's not what it was at all. On Night 1 of WrestleMania 38, Owens challenged Austin to a "no holds barred" match, and Austin accepted. A legit match ensued with both men fighting in the crowd and using weapons. Austin capped off the match with a stunner on Owens, capturing the win and ending the night in a beer-filled celebration.

Austin had such a great time with his return that he may consider doing it again. He recently said he would be open to making an appearance at the upcoming WrestleMania 39, and there are rumors that Austin would even consider wrestling again at the event.

If Austin does end up returning for another one-off match at WrestleMania, there are plenty of potential opponents that would make for an entertaining matchup. This list highlights 12 of the best possible opponents for Austin at WrestleMania 39.

AJ Styles

This match may require a heel turn by AJ Styles, but that wouldn't be too difficult given his talent as both a babyface and a heel in the past.

Styles would be one of the safest and most experienced wrestlers that Austin could work with. Styles has shown time after time that he has the ability to have a good match with pretty much anyone — heck, he had notable matches with Shane McMahon and James Ellsworth. Austin is somewhat limited these days due to age and previous injuries, but Styles would surely be able to help carry Austin through a great match. The promos leading up to the event would be great as well.

Plus, let's not forget: these two had an in-ring run-in on an episode of "Raw" in 2019. Austin moderated a contract signing between Styles and Seth Rollins, and Austin hit Styles with a stunner after a brawl ensued. To add insult to injury, Austin hit Styles with another stunner after "Raw" went off air. Those segments could provide some lore for WWE to pull from for this feud. Plus, we know based on those segments that Styles is no stranger to selling a good stunner.

Austin Theory

From a storyline perspective, this opponent makes the most sense, as it would pay off a segment that happened at WrestleMania 38.

On Night 2 of WrestleMania 38, Vince McMahon had just defeated Pat McAfee with the help of Austin Theory. After the match, Stone Cold made his way to the ring to help McAfee, hitting both Theory and McMahon with stunners before celebrating with more beers (and eventually stunning McAfee in jest).

Theory never got his revenge on Stone Cold, so an "Austin vs. Austin" match seems like one of the most likely scenarios for WrestleMania 39. Theory just lost his Money in the Bank briefcase after attempting to cash in on Seth Rollins' United States Championship, so he doesn't really have anything going on for WrestleMania 39 yet. Plus, as a heel, Theory draws massive heat from the crowd. Going up against a fan-favorite like Stone Cold would be an easy way for Theory to draw even more heel heat while earning lots of exposure in such a high-profile program.

The booking with this match could go either way, too. A win for Theory would be huge for his character and would be a great bragging point for him in future promos. On the flip side, it would be believable for Theory to lose to Stone Cold since Theory plays the cowardly heel character well. Plus, it would be super satisfying to see Stone Cold hit the arrogant Theory with even more stunners.

Bobby Lashley

Bobby Lashley seemed to have turned heel at Crown Jewel 2022 just in time for a heel program at next year's WrestleMania.

Austin and Lashley share a bit of WrestleMania history, albeit not as competitors against each other. At WrestleMania 23 in 2007, Lashley faced Umaga in a hair vs. hair match, with the hair of Vince McMahon and Donald Trump on the line. Austin participated in the match as the special guest referee to make sure McMahon or Trump would hold up their ends of the hair wager. At the end of the match, Austin hit Umaga with a stunner, helping Lashley capture the win. Austin then held McMahon down while Trump and Lashley shaved McMahon's head.

It seems doubtful that this match would be used as part of a storyline between these two, but it could be mentioned as part of their history in the ring together. Really, the storyline with this match could be as simple as Lashley wanting to "hurt" Austin and further solidify himself as the "All Mighty." 

Bray Wyatt

Bray Wyatt would be one of the most intriguing opponents for Austin at WrestleMania 39.

Wyatt is no stranger to torturing WWE legends. He has attacked WWE Hall of Famers like Kurt Angle and Mick Foley, and had an awesome "Firefly Funhouse match" with John Cena at WrestleMania 36. That match was actually a cinematic segment and match combo that took Cena through a surreal journey that deconstructed Cena's history with the company.

The WWE would have plenty of options with a program between Wyatt and Austin. Wyatt seems to have been given plenty of creative control over his character since his recent return, so his wildly creative mind would surely be able to come up with something awesome for a match/segment with Austin. It could involve a match, a cinematic segment like the one with Cena, a mixture of both, or something completely different that wrestling fans have yet to witness.

The idea of Wyatt deconstructing Austin's past has the potential to be great storytelling, plus the promos leading up to a match between Wyatt and Austin could be legendary. Either way, it would give Austin something different to do besides the typical match-plus-beer celebration that we've seen again and again in years past.

Brock Lesnar

Austin vs. Brock Lesnar is one of those dream matches that has been talked about and teased for years but has never happened.

We almost got the match in 2002. Austin often says that one of the reasons why he walked out of the WWE in 2002 was because he was set to lose to Lesnar in a one-off match. Austin had no qualms with putting Lesnar over; rather, it was the fact that there was no buildup to such a high-profile match. That and many creative differences led to Austin's walkout, and the match never happened.

In 2004, Austin and Lesnar had some run-ins leading up to WrestleMania XX. Austin was retired as an in-ring performer, though, so we didn't get more than some brawls and stunners.

A match between the two was again teased on the "Stone Cold Podcast" in 2015 when Paul Heyman grilled Austin about possibly facing Lesnar at WrestleMania 32. Austin cut a quick promo on Heyman, saying that he'd beat up Brock if they faced off. Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a tease and the match never came to fruition.

If Austin is truly ready to wrestle one more time at WrestleMania 39, this might be the last chance for him to face Lesnar. It'd be an epic showdown between two of the biggest badasses in wrestling history.

CM Punk

This is by far the biggest long-shot opponent for Austin or anyone else in WWE, but one can dream.

Following a controversial media scrum after AEW All Out 2022, CM Punk ended up in a physical altercation with fellow AEW wrestlers. Punk's future status in AEW remains unclear, but a return to the company is not looking great. If Punk's AEW contract is bought out, that could leave room for a possible return to WWE. It's probably not going to happen, and some in WWE may not want it to happen, but stranger things have occurred in the wrestling business in the name of money and exposure. And a Punk return to face Austin would surely draw plenty of cash and eyeballs.

The dream matchup between Punk and Austin has been teased before. The two had a fun confrontation on "Raw" years ago. Then in 2021, Punk said on Twitter that a match with Austin "would've been short. GTS, 1 2 3." Austin fired back: "Complete delusion," he said.

If this match were to happen, the proverbial roof would be blown off SoFi Stadium. The promos leading up to the match would be epic, too. Punk would be able to capitalize on his recent controversy by leaning into the arrogant martyr personality that he "plays" so well, while Austin could put him in his place with some veteran words of wisdom and a few stunners.

Finn Bálor/The Judgment Day

This potential matchup comes out of left field, but could totally work.

The Judgment Day is one of the better heel stables in the business right now and keeps getting better. There wouldn't need to be much explaining as to why they'd attack Austin — they love chaos and displaying dominance over the rest of the roster. Going up against Austin would put a lot of eyes on the group and allow them to generate more heat from the WWE crowd.

This has the potential to be a singles match between Finn Bálor and Austin or a multi-person match featuring The Judgment Day vs. Austin and two or three partners. It would probably be easy for a legend like Austin to find a few wrestlers to back him up. Plus, working a tag team match would allow Austin to get in the ring without putting in a ton of solo work — he would get a huge pop from the crowd as a hot tag and could hit the entire Judgment Day with stunners (yes, even Rhea Ripley).

John Cena

Talk about dream matches: John Cena vs. Austin is a match that sadly never happened that we would all love to see.

The last time Cena was in the ring was against Roman Reigns at SummerSlam 2021. There have been rumors that Cena could be returning for another match at WrestleMania 39, so what better opponent is there for Cena than Austin? It'd be a clash of two of the greatest superstars of all time, and two superstars who are on many people's wrestling Mount Rushmores. That could be what the feud ends up being about: answering the question of who is the greatest of all time.

Of course, it's doubtful that Cena would work heel in a program with Austin or anyone else, though maybe the WWE would finally allow him to do some heel work with Triple H in charge of creative. Regardless, Cena probably wouldn't need to work heel — a program with Austin would be big enough that face vs. face could work just fine.

Karrion Kross

The WWE seems to want to push Karrion Kross as a badass monster heel. Well, pitting him up against one of wrestling's biggest badasses would go a long way in accomplishing that push.

Kross loves to attack and assert his dominance over other wrestlers. It'd make sense for him to want to attack Austin. Kross would want to make a name for himself by taking out the greatest brawler of all time.

Kross' aggressive wrestling style would also work if the WWE wanted to run another no-disqualification brawl like they did with Austin and Owens at WrestleMania 38. And Kross' finisher, the Kross Jacket, is essentially a simple sleeper hold which would be an easy move for Austin to take without risking injury. Plus, what better way would there be for Kross to simultaneously generate heel heat and respect from the crowd than to put Austin to sleep at WrestleMania?

LA Knight

A cocky, arrogant newcomer up against a trash-talking, no-nonsense Austin? Sign us up.

LA Knight made his debut on the WWE's main roster as Max Dupri, the leader of a modeling agency called "Maximum Male Models." While an intriguing idea, it didn't fit Knight's personality at all and frankly made no sense since he already had an established persona in NXT. Triple H seemed to recognize this when taking over creative in 2022 because Knight quickly left Maximum Male Models and changed back to his original NXT character.

Now that Knight is back to his old self, he's cutting charismatic heel promos on "SmackDown" in an attempt to build himself up among the ranks of WWE. The next step in his character evolution is a high-profile feud, and it doesn't get much more high-profile than facing Austin at WrestleMania. Knight would easily be able to keep up with Austin on the microphone, and the two could probably have a good match as well.

Randy Orton

It's a shame we never got to see Randy Orton vs. Austin because it would have been a banger on the mic and in the ring. So maybe at WrestleMania 39 we'll finally get the chance to see it.

We've seen a glimpse of a showdown between the two. At Survivor Series 2003, Team Austin faced off against Team Bischoff with Austin's general manager status on the line. Austin hit Orton with a stunner during the match, which led to one of the best and most hilarious sells of the stunner in history.

Speaking of the stunner, Orton's famous RKO finisher has drawn comparisons to the stunner. Austin and Orton even briefly debated which one was better on Austin's "Broken Skull Sessions." It's probably impossible to say which one is truly better, but we'd love to see Austin and Orton hit each other with those moves one more time.

Storyline-wise, this match may take some maneuvering to get to. Orton has been a babyface for quite a while and was teaming with Matt Riddle in RK-Bro before suffering an injury in May 2022. Facing Austin may require Orton to turn heel again and maybe even resurrect his "legend killer" gimmick. Orton has flip-flopped as a babyface and heel many times during his career, though, so it wouldn't be too much of a shock to see him turn once again.

Seth Rollins

While seeing part-timers like Lesnar, Cena or even Punk face Austin would be gold, facing a full-timer hitting his prime might be the best option for the "Texas Rattlesnake" at WrestleMania 39. And there's no better full-timer for Austin to face than Seth Rollins, who is on the best run of his career right now.

Rollins has become so good that he doesn't need to be in the world title scene to command the crowd and put on amazing matches. He's had awesome feuds with Riddle and Edge recently. A feud between Rollins and Austin could be just as good. Rollins' current eccentric, obnoxious heel persona is the perfect character to dig under Austin's skin and piss him off, bringing out the nasty brawler side of Austin that we all know and love.

As far as in-ring goes, Rollins could probably put on a classic match with a pillow. He'd be capable of working any type of match with Austin, including a hardcore match/backstage brawl as well. It's a guarantee that Rollins be able to work a memorable, WrestleMania-worthy match with Austin.