Steve Austin and The Rock had one of the iconic feuds of WWE’s Attitude Era.
They battled three times at Wrestlemania, with Austin winning at 15 and 17 with The Rock finally getting the better of The Rattlesnake at 19. Austin sat down with ESPN to discuss the chemistry he had with Hollywood’s highest paid action star.
“Me and The Rock had instant chemistry,” Austin said. “We both loved working with each other and got along like gangbusters. In the ring, out of the ring, everywhere.”
Austin then gave a rundown of his matches with The Rock at Wrestlemania. He said the first match was a bit rocky on his end, but the second match was really special.
“So 15 was really cool for Jim Ross to call that match, but I was mad at 15 because hell, I was going through a hell of a divorce and forgot my damn ring vest, and so I had to walk to the ring in a t-shirt, and you never want to walk to the ring in a t-shirt when it’s Wrestlemania and you want to look like a million bucks in full gimmick. You’re not trying to sell a t-shirt, you’re trying to put on a show. So that sucked on that standpoint.
“Now 17 was great because at the Houston Astrodome, you know I’ve seen rodeos there, I’ve been to all kinds of sporting events there because I grew up 100 miles from that building. So to go there and to do that great build up with The Rock and Jim Ross, with the sit down conversation in the locker room. That pre-match package, that build package, they put together has never been duplicated with that Limp Bizkit song, it was just off the charts to set that attendance record at Wrestlemania and take the crowd on that ride…to be the main and to be able to go out there and have that kind of match with two of the hottest guys that were on planet Earth in the wrestling business was really, really cool.”
Austin revealed his brother was sitting next to The Rock’s mother at 17, and they got into a bit of an exchange with each other while rooting for their family members.
Austin said, despite not being in great physical shape at the time, nothing was going to stop Austin from doing the job for The Rock at Wrestlemania 19.
“And then to go to 19 in Seattle where I damn near didn’t make that match, and I never really got medically cleared to do that match, but hey man it was my time to do favors for The Rock and I wasn’t going to miss that match,” he said. “I worked hurt, whatever the case may be, I mean you would have to chain me up to a bulldozer and drag me the other to keep me away from the ring.
“That was an emotional day and I damn near got teared up several times during the day because I knew I was riding off into the sunset. When it was all said and done, it was kind of like someone lifted a huge ass weight off of my shoulder. Me and Rock had a little conversation there in the ring, and then it was over.”
Austin mentioned that his matches with The Rock were not meticulously planned like other great Wrestlemania matches like Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3. He said they would have few planned spots, but improvised everything in between.
“It was a little bit different back then, and so if you watch that back and you can watch any one of those matches back, you’re rarely going to see a call, because they are most all being protected, but there is stuff in there if I’m bending him, I’m head down or whatever, most of the time I’m calling those matches and Rock would chip in to, but we’re calling stuff and we’re communicating and we’re listening to that crowd, mister. That’s one thing, well many things about The Rock and I were similar, but his ability and my ability to feed and understand exactly what that crowd wanted, we were on the exact same page, the exact same word all of the time.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit ESPN with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.