Owen Hart piledrives Stone Cold Steve Austin at Summerslam 1997, breaking his neck.
Stone Cold Steve Austin's rise to fame can be traced back to an infamous promo he cut on Jake "The Snake" Roberts just after winning the 1996 King of the Ring tournament. That promo gave birth to one of the best selling catchphrases in pro wrestling history and solidified "The Rattlesnake" as a future megastar.
It took a few years to get there, however, and there were many bumps in the road. He didn't just shoot straight up to the main event to win the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) championship. No, that didn't actually happen until WrestleMania 14 in March of 1998. Even then, there was a point when it looked like his career would never be the same after an accident in the ring that almost left him paralyzed.
I'm talking, of course, about this date in history (Aug. 3, 1997) when Owen Hart broke Austin's neck at Summerslam.
Stone Cold spent much of the year feuding with Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation. By the time they got to Summerslam, Austin was challenging Owen for the Intercontinental championship with the added stipulation that if he lost, he would have to kiss Hart's ass.
About 15 minutes or so into the match, Owen reversed Austin into a sit down piledriver. But Austin's neck was too low and when Hart went to his ass, it spiked Stone Cold's head into the mat and broke his neck. It was a legitimately scary moment that few realized at the time. Austin could barely move, as he was temporarily paralyzed, and Owen had to stall while they figured out what to do to finish the match. Amazingly enough, Austin was able to crawl over to Hart and roll him up (kind of) for the pin.
This laid the foundation for the storyline that would ultimately shoot Austin into the stratosphere and put the WWF miles ahead of its chief rival at the time, World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Because he was seriously injured, he wasn't able to participate in actual matches. Despite this, he remained on television and ran various angles. This led to Vince McMahon revealing himself to be the owner of the company and calmly trying to explain to Austin why he couldn't work. One Stone Cold Stunner later and the rocket ship had all the fuel it would need.
Unfortunately, his neck got so bad over the next couple years that he ultimately had to have serious surgery that kept him out of action for an entire year and would later bring an early end to his career.
After the jump, watch the match in its entirety, as well as comments from both Austin and Hart on the piledriver.