Steve Austin – How He Became “Stone Cold” in 1996

After being fired from WCW via fax, Steve Austin had a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. This led to him composing one of the greatest promos of all time during his short stint in ECW. He was the hottest free agent on the market, but things would fizzle out quickly after arriving at the WWE (then-WWF). It wouldn’t be long until a cup of tea changed Austin’s life forever.

Steve Austin - From The Ringmaster to Stone Cold. How a cup of tea changed Austin's career forever.
Steve Austin – From The Ringmaster to Stone Cold. How a cup of tea changed Austin’s life forever.

Steve Austin – From “The Ringmaster” to “Stone Cold”

In his book, Stone Cold Steve Austin: The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time, Steve Austin opened up about how he was able to ditch the Ringmaster gimmick to become “Stone Cold.”

“I went up to Vince, and I said, ‘I’m not The Ringmaster.’

“And he said, ‘Well, who are you then?’

“I said, ‘I don’t know yet…but I’m not The Ringmaster.’

“I went home, and I was drinking a few beers at the house, and I was watching this special on HBO about Richard Kuklinski – he was called the Ice Man. The Ice Man was a hitman for hire for the mob [in the New Jersey and New York City area]. Totally remorseless, just a ruthless individual, a guy didn’t give a shit about anything. He was very cold, no emotion about him, and I said, ‘Man, this guy… There’s something about this guy that’s really got my gears going…’

“So I pitched my idea to the office, and they said, ‘Okay, Steve, we’ll think about it.’

“They faxed me three pages of the worst names I’d seen in the history of my life. Otto von Ruthless, Ice Dagger, Fang McFrost- Man, it doesn’t get more suck-ass than that!

“And so I’m thinking, ‘You kidding me? These creative geniuses are the guys that make superstars?’ Because you know, back in the day, you’d just think, ‘If you go to WWE, soon as you walk in the door, they’ll put a gimmick on you, and they’ll make you a star…’

“No, that’s not the case. I mean, it’s a crapshoot at best.

“So anyway, I’m sitting there frustrated, and you know, my wife at the time, Jeannie – who was from England – makes me a cup of hot tea, and she sets that tea on the table and she goes ‘Ah, don’t worry about it. You’ll think of something.’

“As she turns to leave, ‘Go ahead and drink your tea,’ she says, ‘before it goes stone cold…'”

And the rest, as they say, was history!

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Watch Steve Austin Get Referred to as “Stone Cold” for the Very First Time on March 11, 1996:

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