Stone Cold Steve Austin was the biggest star in the world in 1998, at least as far as I was concerned. WCW had completely alienated me with the debacle at Starrcade 1997, sending me searching for greener pastures off in Connecticut. D-Generation X was cool, especially to a rebellious young idiot like myself, but the ol’ Texas Rattlesnake was a different breed.
DX rebelled against the system by being smart asses who made me laugh.
Austin rebelled by kicking ass and taking names.
Not to go with all the old tired cliches here, but Stone Cold talked the talk and then walked the walk but he did both in the most entertaining way possible. At that time, at the awkward age I was living through, something about his stepping to the boss and his relentlessly annoying cronies just spoke to me (like it did so many others). I didn’t care that they were old men who couldn’t possibly stand up to Stone Cold physically. The power dynamic, only recognized subconsciously at the time, was such that violence was Austin’s only recourse.
There were many battles fought between the two sides but, for whatever reason, one segment from the May 18, 1998 episode of Monday Night Raw from Nashville stands out to me above the rest, and that’s true to this very day.
I’m not even sure why. It was standard fare at the time.
Here’s the set up: The night opened with Vince McMahon, Gerald Brisco, and Pat Patterson hitting the ring to inform us Stone Cold Steve Austin was barred from the building. This came complete with video of Austin being turned away by a single security guy, except he wasn’t turned away so much as he told said single security guy he was in a good mood so he would give him five minutes to reconsider before he came back and whooped his ass on the way into the building.
Later, we saw him do exactly what he said he would. The best part — beyond the fact that they literally had one geeky dude for security here — was after Austin laid him out he picked up a walkie-talkie and said “breaker 1-9 we need medical assistance here.”
Shortly after, the glass hits and the crowd goes ape shit, because you couldn’t hear that glass hit without losing your mind in 1998, folks. The Attitude Era doesn’t hold up well in 2018 but I’ll be damned if the most exciting moment in pro wrestling at the time wasn’t Austin’s music hitting.
He starts in on his promo, working the usual schtick, getting his catchphrases in. He’s really pissed off about Vince McMahon and his cronies getting into his business and he wants them to “bring their little coward asses out here and we’re gonna settle this right now.”
They make their way out, of course, belligerent. Vince, especially upset, demands to know “who the hell do you think you are?” Austin, never one to mince words, responds by saying “I think I’m the person standing in here looking at three jackasses dressed up in suits.”
What comes next is my favorite moment from the history of this show. Again, I don’t really know why.
After hearing this, Patterson, pissed off, flips his jacket open while shouting back before taking a step forward. In response, Stone Cold utters a line he must have said a million a times but this is the only one I remember: “You put your jacket back on, Patterson, I’ll come up there and stomp a mudhole in your ass and walk it dry.”
The crowd explodes with glee.
Even now, watching it back for the purpose of this write up, it makes me smile.
And, even now, I don’t quite understand why, of the many, many memorable moments on Monday Night Raw throughout the years, this is the one that stands out to me the most. Maybe it’s a combination of everything, my own fandom at the time, the nostalgia for that time in my formative years, the storyline, the characters within it, Austin’s delivery; I just don’t know. But that’s it.
That’s my favorite moment in the history of Raw.
You put your jacket back on, Cagesiders...