Steve Austin (born Steven James Anderson; December 18, 1964), better known by his ring name “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, is an American actor, producer, and retired professional wrestler who is signed to WWE under a legends contract. He gained significant mainstream popularity in the WWF in the late 1990s as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, a disrespectful, beer-drinking antihero who routinely defied the establishment and his boss, company chairman Vince McMahon; this persona of Austin’s has been described as the “poster boy” of the Attitude Era, a boom period in WWF business in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Addressing his box office drawing power, McMahon and former WWE executives Jim Ross and Paul Heyman have declared Austin to be the most profitable wrestler in the history of the organization. Ross asserted: “Nobody touches Austin… No-one generated more cash in the length of their WWE career”. Industry veterans and multiple-time WWE Champions Ric Flair, John Cena and CM Punk have each named Austin as the biggest star in WWE history, and, along with McMahon, have stressed that he surpassed the popularity of Hulk Hogan. Austin also devised the long-standing “What?” chant in pro wrestling.
Austin held 21 championships throughout his wrestling career, and is a six-time WWF Champion, a two-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, and a four-time WWF Tag Team Champion, thus making him the fifth Triple Crown Champion in WWE history. He was also the winner of the 1996 King of the Ring tournament, as well as the 1997, 1998, and 2001 Royal Rumbles, making him the only three-time winner of the event. And, under his “Ringmaster” moniker, he was crowned the Million Dollar Champion by the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase.
He has headlined multiple pay-per-view events for the WWF, including three WrestleManias (XIV, XV, and X-Seven). He was forced to retire from in-ring competition in 2003 due to a series of knee injuries and a serious neck injury. Throughout the rest of 2003 and 2004, he was featured as the Co-General Manager and “Sheriff” of Raw. Since 2005, he has continued to make occasional appearances, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by Vince McMahon. In 2011, Austin returned to WWE to host the reboot of the reality series Tough Enough.
Austin was born in Austin, Texas. After his father James left the family, his mother, Beverly, got remarried to Ken Williams, and Austin adopted his stepfather’s surname and legally changed his name to Steven James Williams. He spent most of his childhood in Edna, Texas. After finishing his schooling from Edna High School, Austin got a football scholarship at Wharton County Junior College, followed by a full scholarship at the University of North Texas.
Deciding to become a wrestler, Austin joined Chris Adams’ school in the Dallas Sportatorium, where Adams also wrestled for World Class Championship Wrestling. Adams’ training was purely technical, teaching Austin the moves, but nothing relating to kayfabe (still somewhat a guarded secret at the time) or business. His first lesson in that came from Tony Falk, the referee in his 1989 televised World Class debut against Frogman LeBlanc, who called the spots to lead him to a pinfall and a $40 payday.
Austin filmed as guest roles on Celebrity Deathmatch and Seasons 4 and 5 of CBS’s Nash Bridges, where he played San Francisco Police Department Inspector Jake Cage. He has appeared on V.I.P and Dilbert. His motion picture debut was in a supporting role as Guard Dunham in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard. Austin had his first starring film role, as Jack Conrad, a dangerous convict awaiting execution in a Salvadoran prison, who takes part in an illegal deathmatch game that is being broadcast to the public in the 2007 thriller The Condemned.
In 2010, Austin appeared in The Expendables as Dan Paine, the bodyguard and right-hand man for the primary antagonist of the film, played by Eric Roberts. It was his last theatrical release film until 2013. He appeared as Hugo Panzer on television series Chuck. He has also starred in Damage, Hunt to Kill, The Stranger, Tactical Force, Knockout and Recoil. In 2013, Austin appeared in Grown Ups 2 as Dennis “Tommy” Cavanaugh, it was his first theatrical release film since 2010.
In April 2013, Austin started a weekly podcast named The Steve Austin Show which is family friendly, while his second podcast The Steve Austin Show – Unleashed! is more adult oriented. The podcasts get 793,000 downloads a week and has almost 200 million overall downloads. The podcast has also transitioned to a live broadcast for the WWE Network with monthly specials since 2014.
Austin is the host for the reality competition show Redneck Island which began in June 2012 on CMT, and has continued for a fourth season. He announced on his podcast in December 2013 that he has been given green light for Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, a reality competition show that started on July 6, 2014 on CMT. A second season began in 2015.