Top 20 WrestleMania moments: No. 9
Steve Austin vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X-7, 2001)
The two biggest stars during wrestling’s resurgence in the late ’90s had wrestled each other before – including in the main event at WrestleMania XV two years earlier – but this was their first match against each other with both of them as babyfaces. The atmosphere at the jam-packed Astrodome in Houston was electric for the highly anticipated clash of megastars.
Austin versus Rock in a no-disqualification match for Rock’s WWE title was as good as advertised. They waged a bloody battle and thrilled the crowd with numerous false finishes, including a sequence in which each man used the other’s finisher for a near fall. During the latter stages of the match, WWE chairman Mr. McMahon came down to ringside and – to the shock of everyone – began assisting Austin, his arch enemy.
“Stone Cold” made three unsuccessful pin attempts – twice after chair shots and once after a stunner – before he snapped. Austin proceeded to pound the fallen Rock with 16 chair shots to his chest and back to finally get the pinfall and win the WWE title. Then, in a surreal scene, Austin and McMahon shook hands after the match and drank beer together, as an outraged Jim Ross cursed on the air and said that “Stone Cold is shaking hands with Satan himself.”