Steve Austin was the number one guy in professional wrestling during the Attitude Era and is undoubtedly one of the most successful performers in the history of the industry. He won the WWF Championship 6 different times and main evented every WrestleMania card that he competed on from 1998 through 2001.
We know that The Rock's legacy as WWE Champion is littered with numerous brief title reigns. So how does Stone Cold compare to The Rock? Is Steve Austin's status as the top guy the main reason why The Rock never had a lengthy title reign when Steve Austin was healthy enough to compete?
Here is the complete listing of Austin's 6 reigns as WWF Champion, along with some basic summary information about each reign. This includes the date he won the title (Start), the date he lost the title (End), and also his PPV record during the title reign (PPV Record).
First Championship - 91 days
Austin defeated Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14.
Austin lost a First Blood match against Kane at King of the Ring.
PPV Record: 1-2
In Your House: Unforgiven - Defeated by Dude Love via DQ
In Your House: Over the Edge - Defeated Dude Love
King of the Ring - Defeated by Kane
Second Championship - 90 days
He pinned Kane on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
He lost against Kane and The Undertaker in a Triple Threat match at In Your House: Breakdown.
PPV Record: 2-1
Fully Loaded - Tag Team Championship victory with The Undertaker against Kane and Mankind
Summer Slam - Defeated The Undertaker
In Your House: Breakdown - Simultaneously pinned by both Kane and The Undertaker
Third Championship - 56 days
He beat The Rock at WrestleMania 15 in a No DQ match.
He lost to The Undertaker at In Your House: Over the Edge.
PPV Record: 1-1
In Your House: Backlash - Defeated The Rock in a No Holds Barred match
In Your House: Over the Edge - Defeated by The Undertaker
Fourth Championship - 55 days
He defeated The Undertaker on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
He was pinned by Mankind at Summer Slam in a Triple Threat match that also included Triple H.
PPV Record: 1-1
Fully Loaded - Defeated The Undertaker in a First Blood match
Summer Slam - Defeated by Mankind in a Triple Threat match
Fifth Championship - 175 days
He pinned The Rock at WrestleMania 17 in a No DQ match.
He tapped out to Kurt Angle at Unforgiven.
PPV Record: 3-3
Backlash - Tag Team victory with Triple H against Kane and The Undertaker for all the championships (WWF, IC, Tag)
Judgment Day - Defeated The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred match
King of the Ring - Defeated Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho in a Triple Threat match
Invasion - Defeated (as a member of Team WWF) by The Alliance
Summer Slam - Defeated by Kurt Angle via DQ
Unforgiven - Defeated by Kurt Angle
Sixth Championship - 62 days
He beat Kurt Angle on an episode of Monday Night Raw.
He lost to Chris Jericho at Vengeance.
PPV Record: 2-2
No Mercy - Defeated RVD and Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat match
Survivor Series - Defeated (as a member of The Alliance) by Team WWF
Vengeance - Defeated Kurt Angle
Vengeance - Defeated by Chris Jericho
Austin won 3 of his 6 WWF Championships at separate WrestleMania events, and his remaining 3 championships were all won on separate episodes of Monday Night Raw. So Steve Austin never won a WWF Championship on any PPV event outside of WrestleMania.
- Austin's six championship wins occurred in an alternating pattern chronologically: WM 14, Raw, WM 15, Raw, WM 17, Raw.
- Austin's first and third title reigns started nearly one year apart from each other, on 3/29/98 and 3/28/99, respectively. These were both won at WrestleMania.
- Austin's second and fourth title reigns started nearly one year apart from each other, on 6/29/98 and 6/28/99, respectively. These were both won on Monday Night Raw.
Steve Austin's six reigns as WWF Champion can be broken down into 3 distinct time spans:
- He was the WWF Champion in 1998 for 181 out of 182 consecutive days over the span of his first two reigns. He walked into 6 consecutive PPV events as the champ during this time.
- He was the WWF Champion in 1999 for 111 out of 147 consecutive days over his next two reigns. He walked into 4 out of 5 consecutive PPV events as the champ during this time.
- He was the WWF Champion in 2001 for 237 out of 252 consecutive days during his final two reigns. He walked into 9 consecutive PPV events as the champ during this time.
That being said, he technically only had one very long uninterrupted run with the championship (175 days), and that mostly occurred during the highly disappointing invasion storyline of 2001 after he turned heel. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Steve Austin's shortest WWF Championship reign (55 days) still lasted longer than 6 of The Rock's 8 WWF or WWE Championship reigns.
The Rattlesnake competed on 19 different PPV events as the WWF Champion over the course of his 6 reigns. He fought in 20 total matches on those shows, accumulating a mediocre won-loss record of 10-10.
- 2 of his 10 losses came in large-scale group tag matches during the Invasion storyline, though his heel turn during the Invasion PPV was the chief reason his team lost the match.
- The championship was on the line in 17 of these 20 PPV matches. Austin's record was 9-8 in these title matches. 2 of those 8 losses came via DQ and therefore the title did not change hands. The other 6 losses each marked an end of his six individual championship reigns.
- 12 of Austin's 20 PPV matches as champion were of the one versus one variety, where he had a 6-6 record and 4 of his 6 reigns ended. Meanwhile 9 of The Rock's 11 PPV matches as champion were of the one versus one variety, where he had a 2-7 record and 6 of his 8 reigns ended.
24 different men have had multiple reigns with the WWF or WWE Championship. Of these 24 men, Austin's average reign length of roughly 88 days ranks in 11th place. Here is the complete list, rounded to the nearest day:
- Sammartino - 2020 days
- Backlund - 1069 days
- Hogan - 364 days
- Savage - 260 days
- Punk - 231 days
- Yokozuna - 140 days
- HBK - 132 days
- Hart - 131 days
- Lesnar - 118 days
- Cena - 106 days
- Austin - 88 days
- Sheamus - 81 days
- Angle - 74 days
- Orton - 70 days
- Triple H - 67 days
- Undertaker - 60 days
- Flair - 59 days
- Sid - 49 days
- Rock - 46 days
- Del Rio - 42 days
- Big Show - 39 days
- Edge - 35 days
- Batista - 19 days
- Mankind - 16 days
Austin's ranking of 11th might not seem extraordinary, but it compares very well to most of his contemporaries such as The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H, Mankind, and Kurt Angle. With the exception of Punk, Lesnar, and Cena, all of the men ahead of Austin on that list had their prime years before Austin rose to prominence as the top guy in business. The WWF Championship generally didn't change hands nearly as quickly in those pre-Attitude Era days.
Austin held the championship for 529 total days, which ranks 8th all-time out of more than 40 different men that have ever held the championship. While Austin's numbers as champion don't necessarily match the dominant presence that his name commands, they are very respectable and still rank better than anyone else of his time.
It doesn't seem that Austin's run on top really affected Rock's brief title reigns all that much.
- Austin's first two reigns in 1998 each took place when it was obvious that Austin needed to be pushed as the new face of the sport. The Rock was not all that close to the title picture for most of that time, as Austin instead feuded with the likes of Dude Love, Undertaker, and Kane.
- Austin's long run in 2001 largely took place while The Rock was gone making movies and slowly transitioning to a career in Hollywood. In other words, The Rock was beyond the point in his career where he would ever have or need a 6-month long reign with the WWF Championship.
- The only time Austin truly interrupted The Rock during The Great One's prime years was when Austin defeated The Rock for the championship at WrestleMania 15 in 1999.
So how do you feel about Austin's run on top? Did his PPV matches live up to the hype? Do you think he should have ever faced off with his arch-nemesis Vince McMahon with the championship on the line on a major PPV event? Are you surprised that his won-loss record as champ on PPV isn't anything special? Why do you think the WWF ended three of his title reigns on PPV only to put the title back on him very quickly on free television all three times?
Let me know what you think, Cagesiders!