(NEXSTAR) — “Stone Cold” Steve Austin returned to a main-event slot at WWE’s biggest show beating current superstar Kevin Owens in a no-holds barred match to close out Saturday night’s edition of WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The 57-year-old hall of famer received one of the night’s loudest ovations in front of a rowdy home state crowd of more than 77,000 people. In what was billed as a special edition of The KO Show, Owens initially sat down with Austin for an interview but quickly challenged him to an anything goes match. Minutes later, a referee was in the ring and Austin was competing nearly 20 years after his retirement.
“The Texas Rattlesnake” started the match by roughing up Owens while he actively drank beer. Before you knew it, the pair was throwing punches out in the crowd and battling throughout the massive home of the Dallas Cowboys. They eventually worked their way back to ringside where Austin again downed a few beers while beating on his opponent.
It appeared Austin’s comeback may end in a loss when Owens hit Austin with his own version of the Stone Cold Stunner, but the more experienced competitor was able to kick out at the last second. Owens then brought a steel chair in the ring hoping to finish the job. The move backfired and Austin was able to nail a Stunner for a pinfall victory.
After the match, Austin celebrated by drinking even more beer and hitting Owens and announcer Byron Saxton with additional stunners as the excited crowd filed out of the stadium.
Weeks ago, Owens started running down the state of Texas as part of an effort to get his “WrestleMania moment” and lure Austin out of retirement. Wrestling insiders figured Owens might be biting off more than he could chew and that proved to be the case Saturday night.
Prior to this weekend, Austin’s final match took place at WrestleMania 19 against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
WrestleMania since retirement
Since retiring from the ring, Austin has had fairly regular appearances at WrestleMania. His highest profile role likely came at WrestleMania 23 when he served as referee for the “Battle of the Billionaires” featuring Vince McMahon and Donald Trump. On that night, he gave the future president a Stone Cold Stunner – a scenario we’ll likely never see again.
He’s made other appearances as a special guest enforcer and interview segment guest.
During the last WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium, Austin joined hall of famers Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley to battle off a bad guy group “League of Nations.” Following the WrestleMania 32 melee, the legends were asked to joined tag team The New Day for a dance off. As had been the case throughout his career, Austin made it seem like he’d play along but instead delivered a Stunner to New Day’s Xavier Woods.
Gallery: Stone Cold through the years
Becoming wrestling’s hottest act
25 years ago at WrestleMania, Austin competed in a career-changing match against Bret Hart. The submission match at WrestleMania 13 ended with Austin passing out in a pool of his own blood and Hart being declared the victor. Austin’s refusal to give up and eventual refusal to seek medical attention after the match led to him becoming a favorite with the fans.
In the months that followed, he’d be referred to as a “hellraiser” and prove to be a constant thorn in the side of McMahon’s on-air character. The pair had one of the hottest feuds in wrestling history and produced record box office and merchandising business. As an antihero, Austin became wrestling’s hottest act of the 90s.
His biggest in-ring rival proved to be The Rock. The pair would end up headlining three WrestleManias with Austin getting the better of Johnson in two of those matches. The pair credits each other for much of the success they respectively enjoyed in WWE.
At WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, Austin and The Rock reunited in the ring with another wrestling titan, Hulk Hogan. The trio enjoyed beers to begin the anniversary broadcast.
Other WrestleMania notes
- During night one of Wrestlemania, Charlotte Flair defeated “The Baddest Woman on the Planet” Ronda Rousey by pinfall to retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship.
- YouTube superstar Logan Paul earned a WrestleMania win after his tag team partner The Miz pinned Rey Mysterio to defeat Rey and his son Dominik. After the victory, The Miz turned on Paul hitting the Skull-Crushing Finale and leaving him laying.
- Bianca Belair captured the RAW Women’s Championship defeating champ Becky Lynch.
- Rick Boogs suffered a serious leg injury in his WrestleMania debut. Boogs was unable to finish the match. The show’s announcers confirmed he’d need surgery.
- On Friday night, wrestling legend The Undertaker was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame as part of WrestleMania weekend. He appeared in front of the crowd on Saturday and received a standing ovation.
- WrestleMania will be headlined by a Sunday night showdown pitting WWE champion Brock Lesnar against Universal champion Roman Reigns in a “winner take all” match. It begins at 8pm ET and is available exclusively on Peacock, NBC’s streaming platform.