When Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) bought its competition, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), in 2001, it led to one of the biggest flop storylines in pro wrestling history -- The Invasion.
Essentially, McMahon was unwilling to book WCW and its talent to look strong against his WWF wrestlers who were loyal to him and he to them. Plus, the WCW roster was thin at the time, with most of the big name talent sitting out with fat contracts McMahon had no interest in purchasing, instead deciding to wait them out.
What ended up happening was WCW was so weak, they hooked up with former Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) superstars and formed what they called The Alliance, led by Shane and Stephanie McMahon. Initially, they were booked relatively well, looking as strong as they could against the much deeper WWF. During this time, Stone Cold Steve Austin, still the biggest star on the roster, had been working a new gimmick where he turned heel at WrestleMania and became a kiss ass to Vince. He and Kurt Angle got cozy with the boss and competed for his affections in various backstage segments that were far more hilarious than they ever had any business being.
There came a point, when The Alliance hooked up and overran the WWF on the way to the Invasion pay-per-view (PPV), that McMahon brought Austin out to the ring and begged him to return to the "old" Stone Cold. The beer-swilling, ass-kicking, stunner-giving "Rattlesnake" we all knew and loved throughout most of the Attitude Era. Austin refused, instead walking off looking dejected.
The next week on Raw, which took place on this date in WWF history (July 16, 2001), Stone Cold was shown at a bar drinking while the WWF came together in an attempt to get rid of The Alliance. When Austin finally came back, he did so by driving up the arena and beating down various members of The Alliance backstage. All this while an absolute melee was going down in the ring between the WWF -- Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle -- and The Alliance.
When Austin's music hit, the crowd went apeshit and he came to the ring nodding his head, talking trash, and giving every signal the "old" Stone Cold was indeed back. Once he hit the ring, he delivered about a million stunners to everyone in sight, as the WWF stood tall headed to Invasion that weekend.
Watch it all go down: