Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of WWE‘s most iconic wrestlers that built a tremendous legacy in the business. However, it wasn’t a clear path toward stardom for Austin as he struggled to find his image in the industry that nearly led to him being pushed out of the company. However, he found his sense of direction behind his ring name that has stuck with him in the decades that have followed well into his retirement. It was a process that saw him discover his now-infamous persona behind his legendary nickname.
Steve Austin’s ring names before Stone Cold
Stone Cold Steve Austin’s path to becoming a legendary figure in WWE history saw him initially struggle to find his footing.
Austin proved to be a competent wrestler in the ring, but it was gimmicks that didn’t stick with him. He started to compete under the name Steve Austin for his first couple of years in the industry until he picked up the nickname “Stunning” that followed him on his path to the WCW. That saw him form a tag team with Brian Pillman known as The Hollywood Blonds.
Once he joined the then-WWF in late 1995, he debuted in the company as The Ringmaster with Ted DiBiase as his manager. However, that gimmick didn’t last long with the company as he saw his character and pushing fading that led to a revamp that forever changed his career.
How Stone Cold Steve Austin found his ring name
It wasn’t until early 1996 that Stone Cold Steve Austin found the character and persona that fit him perfectly.
During an interview on Dale Earnhardt Jr podcast last year, Austin voiced it was his ex-wife, Jeanie Clarke, aka Lady Blossom, who gave him the idea to use Stone Cold in his ring name. (H/T Super Luchas)
“I met Vince McMahon three times to sign with WWE and I could see that they had no interest in me as a Superstar. They brought me in because I was someone competent in the ring who could have good matches with anyone. Later I started being The Ringmaster, but I knew I wasn’t going to have a future like that and one day I was at my house watching that HBO show about hitman Richard Kuklinski. I don’t support anything that guy did but He was known as Ice Man for his cold blood.
“So I called WWE and proposed that he be a remorseless villain named Ice Man. Unfortunately, there was already a fighter named like that. So they sent me a list of possible names. They sent me three pages of horrible names like Fang McFrost, Otto Von Ruthless or Ice Dagger. My wife at the time was from England and they drink hot tea there. One day he brought me a cup of hot tea and said, ‘Drink it before it gets cold’ (that there is ‘stone cold’ left, stone cold). And then he said, ‘That’s your name, Stone Cold Steve Austin.’. I spoke to WWE about that idea and the rest is history.
It was the best ring name that embodied Austin’s soon-to-be brash persona that took over the WWE. It was a mixture of aspects that helped set the stage for him to break through in the business.
Stone Cold Steve Austin’s legacy
Following that point, Stone Cold Steve Austin began to push through that led to his infamous “Austin 3:16” moment at King of the Ring in 1996 that gave him the push he needed.
Austin put forth a legendary career under that persona that made one of the top wrestlers in the business but also an all-time great. There has never been another character like that in the company since then that helped take the WWE to great heights.
All of that started with him finding the right name to get him on the path to greatness.