Steve Austin was a force to be reckoned with in and outside the ring. He dominated the World Wrestling Federation in the late 1990s as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, a foul-mouthed wrestler who fought everyone from Jake "The Snake" Roberts to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. His popularity soared when he won the championship belt in "Wrestle Mania IV" (WWE, 1998), considered by many wrestling fans to be the start of the "Attitude Era" due to the sport becoming edgier and more controversial. Due to injuries, Austin's wrestling career slowed to a halt in the early 2000s. After retiring from wrestling in 2004, he took a shot at acting, and was cast in tough-guy roles in films like "The Longest Yard" (2005) starring Adam Sandler. In 2010, Austin appeared as a pain-inflicting bodyguard in the hit movie "The Expendables," and delivered a strong and gritty performance that paved the way for many more exciting roles in his future acting career.
Steven James Williams was born on Dec. 18, 1964 in Austin, TX. Before he became a pro wrestler, football was his sport; he played running back in high school, linebacker in junior college, and finally defensive end for the Mean Green of then-North Texas State. In the late 1980s, Austin joined the World Champion Wrestling as "Stunning" Steve Austin, one half of the "The Hollywood Blondes" with the late Brian Pillman. Austin won several singles titles, and conquered the WCW Tag Team ranks with Pillman. In 1995, he suffered a knee injury and had a falling out with WCW head Eric Bischoff, who fired Austin via a phone call. Austin then joined Extreme Championship Wrestling to work mostly as a commentator, but he also wrestled in several matches, establishing himself as a tough, garbage-mouthed punk. After leaving ECW, Austin wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation and emerged as "The Ringmaster," but his new image did not stick with fans. So he shaved his head and changed his name to "Stone Cold," a foul-mouthed, middle-finger-flipping character. WWF fans rallied behind Austin, who became an even bigger star after he defeated Jake "The Snake" in the 1996 WWF King of the Ring Tournament. During that match, Austin coined the infamous phrase "Austin 3:16," while mocking Roberts for his religious beliefs.
Austin won the WWF Champion belt for the first time at "Wrestle Mania IV" in a match refereed by boxer Mike Tyson. Austin's popularity skyrocketed, thanks in part to a feud he initiated with World Wrestling Entertainment's owner, Vince McMahon, which drew huge crowds and top ratings. By 1999, Austin's biggest rival was "The Rock," a cocky wrestler who spoke about himself in the third person and came up with signature moves like "The People's Eyebrow." Their feud packed arenas as well, until Austin suffered a neck injury that sidelined him for most of 2000. By the time he returned to the ring in 2002, "The Rock" had taken over his place as the WWF's superstar. Austin retired in 2003 due to the effects of the many injuries he sustained while wrestling. But he was not away from the limelight long. He made his film debut as a prison guard in a remake of the Adam Sandler film "The Longest Yard," and had a six-episode arc on "Nash Bridges" (CBS, 1996-2001) as a street-wise cop who is also a ladies' man. In 2010, Austin starred in the action blockbuster "The Expendables," opposite Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, and Jason Statham as motorcycle-riding mercenaries hired to take down a cocaine operation led by Eric Roberts. With Stallone also in the director's chair, the highly anticipated movie also reunited the biggest action stars of the 1980s, including Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger; both of whom had cameos. It was Austin's most high-profile role since his WWF days, and gave him a chance to perform his signature death-defying stunts like jumping through a large fireball alongside co-star Roberts.