A look back at The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: Was it really a rivalry?
The Rock vs Stone Cold is considered by many fans, one of the greatest rivalry of all time. It was a clash of the two biggest megastars of the Attitude Era.
As much as I enjoyed it, I don’t know if I could call this a rivalry by its true definition. Indeed, a rivalry should involve competition and challenge between two competitors. In this case, it was one-sided for the most part, not only in win/lost record, but how one wrestler was more protected than the other. I’ll recap all the one on one matches between Rock/Austin and let’s see how a of a «rivalry» it was.
IYH : D-Generation X PPV : Stone Cold pins The Rock to retain the IC title.
At that time, Austin is on the rise to become a main eventer and Rock is a midcarder. Austin beats the fuck out of every Nation member and squash The Rock in about 5 minutes. Making the Nation and Rock look very weak.
Raw is war, December 8th 1997 : The Rock defeats Stone Cold by forfeit to win the IC title.
No match here, Austin forfeits the IC belt to The Rock. By forfeiting the IC title, it hurt its credibility and its prestige, I didn’t like how they treated the belt here. And on top of that, Rock ends up eating a Stunner with his piece of thrash of belt that is the Intercontinental title. Pretty much how it looked.
Royal Rumble match : Stone Cold eliminates The Rock to win the 30 man Royal Rumble
Rock and Stone Cold are the final two and Austin eliminates Rock easily in a matter of a minute.
Raw is war, March 23th 1998 : Stone Cold pins The Rock
Go home RAW before Mania XIV. An other clean win by Stone Cold who is on the rise to become WWF champion.
Raw is war, November 16th 1998 : Stone Cold defeats The Rock by DQ
Now both man are main eventers, Rock just turned heel the night before and Stone Cold is the FOTC. Late in the match, Austin has The Rock beat, but Undertaker interferes and hit Austin with a shovel. Austin gets a DQ win so The Rock can keep the title.
Wrestlemania XV : Stone Cold pins The Rock to win the WWF title.
Clean victory once again by Austin even with Vince McMahon trying to hold him down. This shows Austin’s superiority over The Rock as he overcomes every odds. Kayfabe wise, both are main eventers, but Steve Austin is clearly a level above The Rock.
Backlash 1999 : Stone Cold pins The Rock to retain the WWF title.
Not totally clean win by Austin since Shane accidentally hits Rock with the belt. Nonetheless, big blow off win for Austin. That closes the first chapter of their main-event feud.
Wrestlemania X-Seven : Stone Cold pins The Rock to win the WWF title
At that point, Rock and Austin are the undisputed two biggest stars in the wrestling industry. Again, Austin wins but needed Vince McMahon’s help. This is the first time that Rock looks very strong despite losing again. Nonetheless, Austin looks as much strong since he got way more offense than The Rock in this match, both being babyfaces.
Raw is war, April 2nd 2001 : The Rock vs Stone Cold (steel cage match) end in a no contest
For the first time, Austin is playing full heel character. This is also the first time that The Rock looks like he can actually beat Stone Cold. But then again, Austin is still the one who stands tall as he gets help from Triple H to destroy The Rock.
Rebellion 2001 : Stone Cold pins The Rock to retain the WWF title.
Austin is the heel, Rock is the face. Same outcome, which mean Austin gets the win with Kurt Angle’s help as he hits Rock with the belt and Stone Cold capitalizes with the Stunner.
Survivor Series 2001 : The Rock pins Stone Cold in a winner take all match.
Rock and Austin are the final two of the elimination match. Rock pins Stone Cold for the first time ever. Not a clean victory, since Kurt Angle hits Austin with the belt to help The Rock wins (shades of Rebellion). Even as a babyface, Rock couldn’t even get a clean win against heel Austin.
Wrestlemania XIX : The Rock pins Stone Cold
This is actually the only clean win for The Rock over Stone Cold in ALL their one on one matches. But when you think about it, It took Rock 5 finishers and a legit heart attack to beat Stone Cold who was past his prime at that time. I know it’s all scripted but if you add the the heart attack of Stone Cold in the equation (that he really suffered the night before the match), that makes him look almost invincible. That being said, Austin looks arguably stronger in the defeat than The Rock in the victory.
Overall, It’s safe to say that Stone Cold looked clearly superior to The Rock when they faced each other. I didn’t point out the numerous times when Stone Cold made The Rock looks like a jabroni in almost every segments from 1997 to 1999. Hell, it blows my mind that The Rock still found a way to get himself over despite looking that inferior to Stone Cold.
That being said, my biggest concern about this « rivalry » is the lack of competition. When you think about the two biggest stars of the Attitude Era (Austin-Rock), they should be around the same level, but they were clearly not (if you take away popularity) and that’s an issue. It’s okay if they wanted Steve Austin as the top guy over The Rock, but where is the challenge for Stone Cold if Rock is nowhere near his level kayfabe wise ? I’m not necessarily asking for a 50/50 booking, but what about a 30/70 booking at worse? When they were both in their prime, from 1998 to Wrestlemania X7, Stone Cold never lost a single time against The Rock. On a kayfabe perspective, how can you convince me that The Rock is better or is a legit threat to Stone Cold when he simply can’t hold his jock? Looking back, it amazes me how we buy this as one of the greatest rivalry of all time, when in reality there was barely no competition.
Last edited by TheGuiminator; 05-15-2019 at 10:16 AM.