"Stone Cold's" 15 Biggest Stunners
The "Stone Cold" Stunner was simple, and it was effective. And because it was the trademark maneuver of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, it is perhaps the most beloved move in WWE history.
The Stunner is as synonymous with The Texas Rattlesnake as cold beer, black tights and the sound of breaking glass. Fifteen years ago this week, Austin Stunned his fiercest rival, Mr. McMahon, and to salute that righteous achievement, WWE.com presents a list of "Stone Cold’s" 15 Biggest Stunners. ( WATCH VIDEOS | VIEW PHOTOS)
Winnowing down the thousands of Stunners on record to a list of 15 is an unenviable task. With this collection, we hope to highlight the Stunner in all its forms and its entire splendor. Some of the Stunners here were included for their historical value. Others were simply too aesthetically pleasing or bizarre to pass up. Then, there are those Stunners that just have an intangible quality to them and had to be listed. (For those keeping count, several entries feature two or more Stunners that were performed in a row. The end count is higher than 15, admittedly.)
After taking a look, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts and vote to decide which Stunner was the biggest of all time. ( POLL: What was "Stone Cold’s" Biggest Stunner?)
In Your House: D-Generation X
Stunned Superstar: D-Lo Brown
The first pay-per-view match between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock featured an especially memorable Stunner, but it wasn’t used against The Great One. Instead, it was The Rock’s Nation of Domination stable-mate D-Lo Brown who ate the jaw-jarring Stunner that fans still rave about today.
Coming off a nearly career-ending neck injury, Austin entered the ringside area in spectacular fashion, driving a black truck that had "Stone Cold’s" unmistakable “Smoking Skull” emblem on its hood. Before the bell could sound for his Intercontinental Title Match against The Rock, Austin was jumped by Nation members Brown, Faarooq and Mustafa. The Texas Rattlesnake courageously fought off the militant group, eventually backdropping Brown over the top rope and onto the truck’s hood and windshield. From there, Austin dragged Brown’s limp body to the top of the cab and delivered an enormous Stunner.
Monday Night Raw, Dec. 29, 1997
Stunned Superstar: Goldust
Goldust went through a number of different looks in WWE, ranging from his tried-and-true gold face paint and blond wig to outfits that were downright outlandish. Filed under the latter category was the New Year Baby ensemble he wore on Raw’s final episode of 1997. With a sash reading “1998” draped over his shoulder, an oversized baby bottle in hand and a diaper covering his rear, Goldust proudly threw his hat in the ring to compete in the 1998 Royal Rumble Match. ( WATCH)
Another entrant in that year’s Rumble, Austin, did not take kindly to Goldust’s New Year wish. With Goldust watching on from ringside, Austin stormed the ring and demanded that his “special gift” for Goldust be lowered into the ring. A boxy object cloaked in black was soon revealed to be a portable toilet labeled “Crapper 3:16.” After Goldust tried to sneak up behind Austin, The Rattlesnake sprang into action, Stunning Goldust and tossing him into the receptacle for the disreputable. “Don’t try to squeeze the Charmin while you’re in there,” Jim Ross hollered from the announce desk.
In Your House: Ground Zero
Stunned Superstar: Jim Ross
Nursing a fractured neck in fall 1997, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was none too happy about sitting on the sidelines as other Superstars vied for the World Tag Team Titles that he and partner Dude Love were forced to vacate as a result of Austin’s injury. The Attitude Era’s premier hell-raiser made his anger known to announcer Jim Ross and then-WWE Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter at In Your House: Ground Zero.
Though longtime friend Good Ol' J.R. wished Austin a speedy recovery on behalf of all WWE and sympathized with Austin over the lost ring time, a temperamental Austin only saw red. Turning on one of his earliest advocates, Austin essentially let J.R. know that his well wishes were unwelcomed, and he Stunned the legendary play-by-play man from Oklahoma. It was the first in a series of Stunners that Austin would deliver to members of WWE management that fall.
Stunned Superstar: Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle felt the bite of The Texas Rattlesnake’s signature move dozens of times, but none had quite the same “stunning” effect as the time Austin dropped Angle at Vengeance 2001. It occurred during the crescendo of a WWE Title Match between champion Austin and challenger Angle. Angle appeared to signal for the Angle Slam, only instead of actually setting up his patented maneuver, he prepared to give Austin a Stunner of his own. Austin, perhaps taking umbrage to Angle’s boldness, countered the attempt and repaid the favor with a giant Stunner. With the suddenness of a giant redwood falling to the earth, Angle slowly crashed backward. You could almost hear the crowd yell “Timberrrrr” as Angle descended onto the mat. ( WATCH)
Monday Night Raw, Sept. 8, 1997
Stunned Superstar: Sgt. Slaughter
Boiled down to its bare fundamentals, the "Stone Cold" Stunner is a jawbreaker. With that in mind, why wouldn’t “Stone Cold” Steve Austin want apply the move to the owner of the most prominent jawline in WWE history, Sgt. Slaughter? Only sweetening the pot was the fact that Slaughter was also the Acting WWE Commissioner in September 1997 — a position that naturally lined up the WWE Hall of Famer as an enemy of the anti-authority poster child, “Stone Cold.”
With Mr. McMahon moderating the in-ring confrontation, Austin told Slaughter that he did not appreciate the commissioner’s brand of law and order. Following the subsequent Stunner — which was notable because “Stone Cold” had not yet Stunned his way through WWE’s upper management — Austin mocked Slaughter by performing boot camp-style pushups and crunches. ( WATCH)
Stunned Superstar: The Rock
If you’re going to be Stunned, it might as well be on The Grandest Stage of Them All. At least, that appeared to be the philosophy of The Rock, who suffered Stunners at three separate WrestleManias (XV, X-Seven and XIX). Yet, given the circumstances, there was something truly magical about the way "Stone Cold" Steve Austin dropped The Rock in 1999 at Philadelphia. For one thing, the Stunner that time earned Austin a WWE Championship (his third by that point). For another, the Stunner nearly forced Mr. McMahon — who watched from ringside and was fully invested in The Rock — to break into tears. Not to be forgotten was the tremendous visual of the maneuver itself: The Stunner launched The Rock backside-over-teakettle, into the ropes. ( WATCH)
Stunned Superstar: Shawn Michaels
The Stunner that Shawn Michaels felt at WrestleMania XIV makes the cut largely due to historical factors. Sure, the event was WrestleMania, which is always WWE’s biggest show of the year. And yes, the match between then-WWE Champion HBK and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had piqued mainstream interest thanks to the involvement of “special enforcer” Mike Tyson. Perhaps the most significant element to this Stunner, however, was that it secured for Austin his first WWE Championship.
Many historians will point to Austin’s prophetic stint in ECW or his game-changing King of the Ring 1996 coronation speech as the moment the true “Stone Cold” became known to all. But with his first WWE Championship win coming at WrestleMania XIV, the record books will forever show the Austin Era as beginning in Boston that night. And without the Stunner, there’s no telling whether that era would have gotten off the ground.
Raw, July 16, 2001
Stunned Superstars: Tommy Dreamer, Kanyon, Tazz and Chuck Palumbo, to name a few
One of the most explosive battles that took place as part of WWE’s war with the WCW/ECW Alliance in summer 2001 occurred on the July 16 edition of Raw. The WCW and ECW representatives had seemingly boxed in an outnumbered WWE roster, both in the backstage area and in the ring. Though Kane, The Undertaker, Jericho and others fought valiantly for the WWE cause, the expansive team of outsiders had strength in numbers, and Team WWE was being decimated before the WWE Universe.
Or so it appeared. Enter “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to level the playing field. “The Rattlesnake” pulled his black pickup truck into the Civic Center in Providence, R.I., and promptly trudged — with the help of a pool cue that was swung with lethal proficiency — his way through invaders backstage. The WWE Universe erupted once Austin made his way to the ring. There, he delivered six consecutive Stunners en route to clearing the ring. The Rattlesnake had turned the tables on The Alliance. That is, until he joined forces with them later that year.
Stunned Superstar: Scott Hall
Hey, yo, Scott Hall: Don’t Stun The Rattlesnake! The former Razor Ramon collided with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania X8, during the height of the reformed New World Order’s brief but destructive tenure in WWE. Yet, Hall’s use of Stone Cold’s own maneuver against him only seemed to light a fire under The Rattlesnake. Though Hall’s execution of the move was admirable — textbook, even — it could not compare to the pair of Stunners that Austin would unleash at the end of the match.
The first Stunner was right on the button, so much so that a dazed Hall was out on his feet for one moment too long, allowing Austin to plant another boot and a second consecutive Stunner. At that point, the post-match beer bash was all but academic. ( WATCH)
Stunned Superstar: Triple H
Though the Stunner symbolized the WWE Universe’s anti-authority, blue-collar angst during the Attitude Era, the sheer aesthetic appeal and brute impact of the move are sometimes forgotten. Like finishing moves used by other snake-themed Superstars in history (Jake Roberts’ DDT and Randy Orton’s RKO), The Texas Rattlesnake’s Stunner was feared for its suddenness. Combine that with Austin’s hair-trigger temper, and you could never be sure when the Stunner would reveal itself.
Triple H was the proud, if unsuspecting, target at Unforgiven 1999. The Game had just conquered a 6-Pack Challenge field of The Rock, Kane, Big Show, Mankind and The British Bulldog, and “Stone Cold” was the “special outside enforcer” who reluctantly counted Triple H’s match-winning pinfall. When Austin handed Triple H the title and attempted to raise his hand, The Game pushed Austin aside and hoisted the title boastfully.
“Big mistake,” Jim Ross said. “Big mistake, champ.”
In a blink of an eye, Austin snapped into action and Stunned the champion.
No Way Out 2003
Stunned Superstar: Eric Bischoff
By this point, Eric Bischoff knows full well that revenge is a dish best served “Stone Cold.” As head of WCW in 1995, Bischoff fired a not-yet-“Stone Cold” Steve Austin over the phone while The Texas Rattlesnake was laid up with a triceps injury. That pivotal incident helped shape Austin’s rebellious, devil-may-care attitude that was the foundation for his “Stone Cold” persona in WWE.
Yet, it would not be until February 2003 that Austin would get the opportunity he so dearly craved: a one-on-one match against Bischoff, who by then was serving as Raw’s General Manager. The “match” was a one-sided beatdown that Austin punctuated with not one, but three Stunners. Though the fight was clearly over after the first Stunner, Austin couldn’t help but to have some fun with his former boss: As the ref counted two, Austin raised Bischoff’s arm and shoulder off the mat, breaking the count. He repeated the mocking act after the second Stunner, too. ( WATCH)
After the third Stunner, even “Stone Cold” seemed to think that justice had been served, and he pinned Bischoff cleanly, to a thunderous ovation in Montreal’s Bell Centre.
Stunned Superstars: Goldberg, Brock Lesnar
How big were the Stunners that “Stone Cold” delivered to Brock Lesnar and Goldberg after their letdown of a match at WrestleMania XX? Look at it this way: The move marked Goldberg’s swansong in WWE, and that night was last time the WWE Universe would see Lesnar for roughly eight years.
Acting as special guest referee for the highly anticipated match, Austin seemed to agree with the Madison Square Garden crowd’s vocal rejection of both Lesnar and Goldberg. Following the bout, Austin Stunned a disrespectful Lesnar “right out of the WWE ring,” according to WWE Hall of Famer announcer Jim Ross. The always-inclusive Austin then turned his attention to Goldberg, who for much of his career battled the perception that he was a knockoff of a certain bald, black-tights-wearing badass in WWE. Austin shared a beer with his presumed copycat, but after Goldberg tried his hand at Austin’s inimitable corner pose with the beer, “Stone Cold” had no choice but to shut down his fellow bald brawler with an earth-shaking Stunner. ( WATCH)
Stunned Billionaire: Donald Trump
Though largely unprovoked, “Stone Cold’s” Stunner on celebrity billionaire Donald Trump at WrestleMania 23 ranks high for its name value, crossover appeal and general outlandishness. Austin had just officiated a bout in which The Donald, represented by Bobby Lashley, successfully waged his estimable locks against the hair of Mr. McMahon, who was represented by Umaga. As a shorn-scalped WWE CEO slinked back to the backstage area, Austin offered Trump a cold one. Though the real estate mogul applauded “Stone Cold,” he made the fatal mistake of chucking the beer instead of imbibing it. Trump should have played along, as Austin’s subsequent Stunner made clear. Though “Stone Cold” also Stunned McMahon that night, that scene amazingly takes a backseat to the one and only time that Trump made the mistake of crossing The Rattlesnake. ( WATCH)
Monday Night Raw, Dec. 22, 1997
Stunned Holiday Figure: “Santa Claus”
Real recognizes real, which explains why Texas original “Stone Cold” had his suspicions about a Santa Claus-looking fellow who showed up on Raw in December 1997. The wannabe Saint Nick claimed he was the one-and-only Santa Claus, but the WWE Universe wasn’t buying it, especially after the rotund, bearded man in red and white kicked a child out of the ring for questioning his authenticity.
Interrupting “Santa,” Austin quizzed the imposter Kris Kringle and asked him what a 6-year-old “Texas Rattlesnake” had requested for Christmas many years earlier. Santa wracked his memory bank before replying, “a Barbie Doll and Tiddlywinks.” That answer certainly didn’t ring true to “Stone Cold,” who asked the WWE Universe in attendance for their input.
“If he’s not the real Santa Claus, give me a ‘Hell no!’ ” Austin said. The crowd was equally skeptical about Santa’s legitimacy, so Austin Stunned the big fake. ( WATCH)
Monday Night Raw, Sept. 22, 1997
Stunned Superstar: Mr. McMahon
“Like a crappie on a bass boat” is how “Stone Cold” Steve Austin described the trembling body of Mr. McMahon the night of Sept. 22, 1997. That was the first time that the WWE Chairman felt the brunt of a "Stone Cold" Stunner, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
The first Stunner on McMahon takes the top spot for obvious reasons. From a purely historical perspective, it was perhaps the single most important development in the epic Austin-McMahon rivalry. (That the Stunner occurred in WWE’s home arena of Madison Square Garden did not hurt.) Moreover, the WWE Universe had been longing for months to see Austin, everybody’s blue-collar hero, stick it to the obnoxious boss. By downing Mr. McMahon with a Stunner, “Stone Cold” cemented his status as a blue-collar hero. Thanks to Austin, fans who are disgruntled with their superiors will forever be able to live vicariously through his actions that night. ( WATCH)