By Graham "GSM" Matthews and John Napolitano
All wrestling fans fantasize about what could have been or what could be inside the confines of the squared circle, whether they're realistic or not. When the current Creative Team fails to intrigue us as an audience, we ask ourselves, "What if we were the bookers?" We then take it upon ourselves to plan out storylines, feuds, matches and more the way we think they'd make sense; the way fans want to see it happen. In this multi-part series, Graham "GSM" Matthews and John Napolitano, collectively known as The Boo'Kings', take complete creative control of WWE and do some "beast booking" of their own. In this edition, they break down how they'd like to see Stone Cold Steve Austin's in-ring return executed and everything else that would come along with it.
June 13, 2011. The night Stone Cold Steve Austin was last seen on an episode of Raw. He was fresh off hosting the revival of Tough Enough and granting the competition's winner Andy Leavine a contract (I still wholeheartedly believe Luke Robinson should have won, but I digress). He also booked that night's main event: then-WWE Champion John Cena vs. CM Punk, a match that would set the stage for one of the biggest WWE feuds in years. Beforehand, Austin appeared in a backstage segment with Punk, a man he had never crossed paths with prior to this point (and no, Punk calling out Stone Cold on the disappointing 800th episode of Raw doesn't count). The two had a fun verbal exchange, planting the seeds for a dream match that would never come to fruition. Until now.
In the last three years, Stone Cold has made only one appearance on WWE TV, that being at WrestleMania 30 alongside two fellow legends in The Rock and Hulk Hogan. But not on Raw. Stone Cold has yet to confirm or deny the rumors of him returning to the ring one last time, and as it turns out, they're true! Austin is indeed coming back to compete at WrestleMania 32 on his home turf of Dallas, Texas, the same location he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame over WrestleMania 25 weekend in 2009. It's one night removed from WrestleMania 31, and Austin has been confirmed to appear on Raw for the first time in nearly four years. By this point, it is very well known that Austin is set to announce his intentions to wrestle again at 'Mania the following year. But the real question is, against whom?
It is 10:53 p.m. and the WWE Universe explodes with vigorous and passionate awe as the sound of glass shattering fills the arena and so too does a famous attitudinal guitar rift. Stone Cold Steve Austin emerges from ‘Gorilla’ all business, clad in faded blue jeans and a brand new leather jacket. It is clear that he hasn’t returned for a pointless plug or a putrid publicity promenade; no, he is here to stomp mud holes and walk them dry. The “Texas Rattlesnake” grabs a microphone and cuts off both his entrance music and the adulation from the adoring fans. He begins to rant about how sick he is of hearing that John Cena, according to Michael Cole, is the greatest WWE Champion of all time, seeing as the now 16-time champ won the strap the night before at WrestleMania XXXI. He proceeds to demand that Michael Cole come in the ring for some one on one time with the rattlesnake. Michael Cole hesitantly enters through the second rope, microphone in hand, and attempts to reason with the six-time WWE Champion. As Michael Cole approaches Austin, Austin embraces him with a stunner and the arena goes haywire. As the crowd continues its frenzy, Stone Cold grabs his microphone and demands that John Cena get down to the ring immediately.
John Cena emerges to the biggest chorus of boos he has ever received in his entire career, but he is stern and intense with his eyes locked on Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin does not even give Cena the respect of a silent entrance; he is verbally tearing Cena apart with each step Cena takes towards the ring, and it becomes apparent that Steve Austin is livid. As the WWE World Heavyweight Champion enters the ring, Stone Cold chirps that he’s disgusted at the notion of John Cena being the greatest WWE Champion of all time. He explains that winning that title 16 times means Cena lost it 16 times and there ain’t nothing great about that. Before Cena can remark, Austin reminds him that he’s no “Dwayne” and he refuses to wait a year to open a can of “whoop ass” on him. As the show goes off of the air, Austin finishes, “And you can bet your ass you’re gonna get beat for a 17th time,” and he slams the mic into Cena’s chest as he exits the ring.
One week later on Raw, Cena comes out to the ring in Cleveland, lacking any intensity whatsoever. After a few untimely punch lines and undesired humor, he develops a serious tone when announcing that Stone Cold Steve Austin is not in the building tonight, causing the crowd to uproar with disappointment. They weren't booing because they resented Stone Cold, but because they were looking forward to seeing him open up a can of whoop ass on the Cenation leader right then and there. Cena goes on to talk about how Steve Austin is a fair-weather superstar exactly like “Dwayne” in that he has become too “Hollywood” for the WWE. He wasn't back “for good,” he'd only show up when it was convenient for him.
At that very moment, Stone Cold Steve Austin appears on the titantron to the delight of the WWE Universe. He immediately mocks John Cena's smirk and strongly advises him to wipe it off his face. Stone Cold goes on to explain that he has been rehabilitating an injury for quite some time now following another surgery on his right knee and wouldn't be allowed to engage in any physicality for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, he would have showed up in Cleveland that night in person to give him the beating of a lifetime. But then he makes a challenge. Austin announces that he will be medically cleared by SummerSlam in August, and proposes that he and Cena face off at the biggest party of the summer. Cena accepts the challenge, and the stage is set.
Two weeks shy of the biggest party of the summer an unfortunate aggravation of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s knee occurs and the entire WWE Universe is disheartened to hear that he will not compete at SummerSlam against the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, John Cena. The COO of the WWE, Triple H, attempts to right this wrong by announcing a Gold Rush Tournament at SummerSlam where the winner will contend for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. Despite the magnitude of this announcement from the Authority, the WWE Universe is not exactly thrilled with the concept. The idea of seeing John Cena and Stone Cold Steve Austin do battle was one that casual and hardcore fans alike had their hearts set on. Nevertheless, Triple H announces the participants of this Gold Rush Tournament later that night including Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kurt Angle, and CM Punk.
SummerSlam has finally arrived and there is a disheartening atmosphere in New York as the WWE Universe was promised the match of a lifetime and given a tournament that seems almost rushed and thrown together at the last minute. The WWE Universe may not be witnessing Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but they are damn sure getting an action-packed night of professional wrestling as the card is stacked from top to bottom with main event caliber matches at every turn.
The night is kicked off with Sami Zayn squaring off with Dean Ambrose in a fast-paced 10-minute opener. Dean Ambrose would come out on top and face Dolph Ziggler, who just barely beat Bray Wyatt, in the semifinals. On the other end of the bracket, Roman Reigns would defeat the Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle via count out and meet the “Best in the World,” CM Punk who put his first round opponent Seth Rollins to sleep in an all time classic match. The semifinals would see Dean Ambrose go over on Dolph Ziggler in a great 15-minute bout and CM Punk defeat Roman Reigns via disqualification. The finals of the Gold Rush Tournament would showcase Dean Ambrose vs. CM Punk with the winner going on to face the WWE World Heavyweight Champion only minutes later. Ten minutes into the clash, Roman Reigns would make his presence felt by spearing CM Punk when the referee’s back was turned and give Dean Ambrose the victory. The crowd did not appreciate Ambrose’s method of victory and they let him know it, but Ambrose would ignore their jeers and celebrate his newly acclaimed number one contention. The main event of SummerSlam would witness John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
As John Cena and Dean Ambrose scratch and claw at one another, a familiar and highly unexpected sound of glass shattering rings throughout the arena and the WWE Universe screams in utter jubilation. Stone Cold Steve Austin is at SummerSlam and he is making his way down to the ring equipped with crutches for better mobility. Cena and Ambrose are too fatigued to take notice of this surprise visit from the “Texas Rattlesnake.” Ambrose goes to clothesline John Cena who ducks it and allows the referee to take the brunt of the bump. Almost instantly after the referee is knocked down, Austin throws Dean Ambrose a crutch, and Ambrose shatters it over the cranium of John Cena. Stone Cold shakes the referee awake, who then counts Cena’s shoulders to the mat one, two, three.
“The winner of the match, and NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Dean Ambrose.”
The WWE Universe bellows a mixture of cheers and jeers towards the newly turned heel Dean Ambrose, but the cheers overtake the jeers when Stone Cold Steve Austin enters the ring and raises the new champ’s hand. Dean Ambrose has aligned himself with the ultimate antihero, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The autumn months would witness John Cena attempt to regain his coveted WWE World Heavyweight Championship to no avail. Dean Ambrose paired with Stone Cold Steve Austin is just too awesome of a force to overcome for the 16-time world champion. His succession of failures would cause Cena to take time off from television and as Dean Ambrose’s legitimacy grows, Stone Cold too would begin to slowly fade off of television. That is, until one night after the 2016 Royal Rumble.
For the first time in months, Stone Cold Steve Austin was back on Monday Night Raw. The crowd’s reaction to his return was a little stale considering he had been frequenting WWE television all fall, but excitement was in the air, nonetheless. Before Austin can even address the WWE Universe, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Dean Ambrose interrupts him with a clear resentment for his previous number one supporter. In Austin’s absence, Ambrose had gotten over as one of the biggest heels in WWE history. The WWE Universe genuinely despises him and it seems as though Stone Cold has created a monster. Ambrose grabs a microphone and begs the question,
“How could you leave me high and dry like that, Steve? We were on the hottest runs of our careers and when the going got tough Steve Austin got going, like you always do! This place has been a circus for the last three months and you’ve been home bitching and moaning about your damn knee.”
“Hey, Dean, good news! My knee’s all fixed!”
Stone Cold Steve Austin stuns Dean Ambrose in the middle of the ring and the crowd jumps up in perfect unison. Finally, the Steve Austin of old is back! But Steve Austin has unfinished business in the form of John Cena. The next week on Raw, John Cena calls out the “Texas Rattlesnake.” These two icons go nose to nose in the center of the ring and the perfect visual is created. Steve Austin admits that he respects John Cena and that he is one tough “S.O.B.” Cena appreciates the kind words and he has respect for Stone Cold Steve Austin too despite his actions at SummerSlam; but he’s not looking to mend the past, John Cena wants a match with the six-time WWE Champion at WrestleMania 32. Stone Cold gives Cena a quaint smirk and whispers, “You sure about that champ?” The two legends seal their fate with a handshake and for the first time ever in Dallas, Texas, at WrestleMania 32, the face of the Attitude Era and the face of the PG Era will clash in the biggest matchup in WWE History.
So, who would win? John Cena or Stone Cold Steve Austin? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @WrestleRant and @HeelByDesign!