Many fans in the WWE universe, still argue today on who’s the greatest wrestler of all-time? No disrespect to legends like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Rowdy Piper, The Undertaker, Ric Flair, Sting, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Bret Hart, and other great wrestler’s from the past and present, but their hasn’t been anyone better than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock. Both Icon’s had that something extra when you watched them in their prime. Stone Cold was the beer drinking, foul mouth, finger flipping ass kicker, while The Rock on the other hand was a better version of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Rock along with Flair wore expensive suits and Rolex watches, both had Iconic catchphrases. From Ric Flair being “A Limousine Riding, Jet Flying Son of a Gun,” while “The Great One” had no problem telling jabroni’s to “Know Their Roles” and “Shut Their Mouths.” Everything Rock and Austin touched turned into gold and I’m pretty sure we will never see anything like them ever again. If you look at both wrestler’s styles, They both are similar to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in many ways. The Rock like Muhammad Ali is the cocky, arrogant, brash, but charismatic trash talker that can also back it up in the ring. Austin whom while isn’t like Frazier verbally(Frazier was a calm and collective talker) could be compared to Frazier’s bull dozing, take no prisoners in ring style. When you look at all three of Ali/Frazier fights and you look at Stone Cold and Rock’s Wrestlemania matches. You couldn’t help but to feel like you’re witnessing a war. These two had very different personalities yet still finding a way with their in-ring chemistry to keep the people interested in their 3 epic Wrestlemania matches.
Their first Wrestlemania encounter had similarities to Ali and Frazier’s first in-ring encounter at Madison Square Garden. The WWE was doing great business at the time and having their two main attractions close Mania’ did tremendous business and had the crowd anticipating more. Going into Wrestlemania 17 I also got the notion that these two(Austin and Rock) like Ali/Frazier in real life really despised each other. The buildup to their encounter on Wrestlemania 17 is professed as the greatest buildup of all time. Where Joe and Ali’s second bout was considered a disappointment. Austin and Rock’s 2nd encounter flourished and set the mark on ring psychology, ring work and intensity alike This match may go down as one of the greatest matches of all time. The atmosphere at that time had a big fight feel and both wrestlers brought their A game to the task. Austin and Rock have said many times that they often bring the best out of each other and this match further supported that claim.
My personal favorite of the 3 Austin/Rock encounters would have to be the one that perfectly similar to the Thrilla in Manila and that would be their Wrestlemania 19. It seemed at that point that The Rock was seen as someone as a traitor, a sellout, and hated similar to Ali was after he beat George Foreman. The Rock going into Wrestlemania 19 spent endless weeks mocking Stone Cold calling him a white trash redneck and singing songs making fun of him just like Ali calling Frazier a gorilla going into the Manila. Stone Cold on the other hand had the role of Frazier. A hard-working more humble man who wanted to take his talking into the ring and easily got the support of the fans. The match itself was built as their final encounter. The spectacle like setting for Wrestlemania 19 was the perfect place to host the final showdown between the Brahma Bull and the Rattlesnake. I worried about the match becoming a possible train wreck. The Rock rarely wrestled due to him being in Hollywood and Austin who had not wrestled a full length match since 2002 before walking out and battling a near heart attack the night before the event. But soon as The Rock and Stone Cold got inside the ring it was business as usual for two of the best the wrestling industry has ever seen.