The Wrestling Genius: The Great Wrestling Debate
In the history of man there have been great debates, Lincoln vs. Douglas, Kennedy vs. Nixon, God vs. Satan (that was a debate right, I don’t know I never read the bible), well all of those debates will pale in comparison to Aaron vs. Jared. We are two long time wrestling fans that have had this debate for nearly six years and finally this will be the last word on the subject, who was more influential, better in the ring, and should be considered the greatest of the Attitude Era, Stone Cold or The Rock.
I’ll give my opening statement then I’ll hand it over to Aaron for his, and then I’ll make my rebuttal to his opening statement, and then seeing as I’m a gentleman I’ll give him the last word.
Stone Cold vs. The Rock, really? I’m suppose to think The Rock is even on the same level as Stone Cold Steve Austin? Really? First off, Stone Cold WAS the Attitude Era, he flipped the bird, drank beer, stunned the boss, and won world title after world title. There is no bigger entrance in the history of wrestling then when that glass broke, the crowd sure popped for “Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?”, but no one got a bigger pop then Austin when that glass shattered. I could go on and on with amazing Stone Cold moments, from the spraying beer on Vince, the gun to Vince’s head that shot out the old Bugs Bunny cartoon “Bang Sign”, to his screaming in pain while blood ran down his face against Brett Hart.
Austin changed the entire face of the WWE, before Austin a baby face was a nice guy who high fived the fans, and cut promos about eating vitamins and doing pushups. Stone Cold changed all of that; he became the first real anti-hero of the WWE. Stone Cold was the first baby face who flipped people off, didn’t care what the crowd thought of him, the first to go against the boss, and his prototype became the prototype for all successful faces after him, except John Cena. No one was bigger than Stone Cold, his t-shirt sales were more than The Rock and Mick Foley’s combined. He is credited with being the main force behind the wave that defeated WCW and allowed the WWE to take complete control of Sports Entertainment, whether that’s a good thing I don’t know but it certainly took a certain kind of person to pull that off and Austin was that person, not The Rock.
There is my opening statement, now to Aaron, and as is customary the second opening remark will be longer than the first as he will attempt to also rebuttal my opening statement.
To start I would just like to say how much I miss the Attitude Era. Sure, there were some outrageously bad theses/ideas but for the most part there were some dynamic things going on in that timeline. The question raised by me to my good buddy Jared was Who was better The Rock (obviously) or Austin (Boooooooo!!~)?
To start I would just like to show that Austin had a good ten years senior in the business from Rocky and that just shows Rocky’s dominance as a rookie over a slight veteran that much more impressive. Quick side note: Rocky Mavia v Ringmaster??? We damn near saw that match…WOW!! Ok, back to the nitty gritty, I am going to look at this argument from 6 aspects: Wrestling ability, Mic Skills, Fans, Outside influence, Loyalty and Staying Power.
First up to bat is wrestling ability. Austin was great at the 6 moves he pulled off. he was the attitude era’s Cena. A superman who could only be defeated if Vince or if Corporate got involved. His few moves got a good reaction and he performed them well; however, The Rock’s arsenal was ever changing and he took/gave bumps with such a controlled frenzy (Kofi reference) that it electrified the audience. Now, People’s elbow not withstanding because even as “devastating” as it was, the crowd still demanded it and The Rock sold it well (He took lessons from Scotty 2 Hotty and The Worm, which is the single most destructive force the WWE has/had ever seen..lol). I would have to give the slight edge to Austin in Finishers; however, The Rock gets a huge nod on this one because it was his slight “overselling” of the Stunner that made it so damn great. Rock 1 Austin 0
Secondly, Mic Skills are not even a subject I believe I should have to broach. The Rock is arguably the best/one of the best ever to touch a mic in wrestling or any aspect of entertainment. His humor could be turned on/off with a quick turn of the brow. The crowd would hang on every breath, eyebrow movement. Austin was no chump on the mic but he started the “what” fiasco and for that he will always be remembered. Rock 3 Austin 0 (The Rock gets two points as it was a 10-8 round in the eyes of the judges)
Third will be fans. Now I am going to talk about true fans, which I consider myself, Jared, and only a handful of others I know. The rest either are mindless drones or have lost interest in wrestling that we used to be so passionate about. A small group of us used to go demolish each other (and the high school track pads) after every ppv. Now I can barely get one or two over to watch a ppv (Royal Rumble n Mania not included). Austin definitely won the drone category. In the attitude era, rednecks and socialites alike lived for his screw the boss attitude. I still can’t believe how many people didn’t notice he never drank the “stev-weiers” in his salute. Poor Mick Foley!!! The Rock had plenty of drones as well but The Rock was never able to make a true heel turn as the people would just not let their love for him go. I am going to give Austin the edge on Fans due to his astronomical retail value he made the WWE (There Jared made your point for you..BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Rock 3 Austin 1
Outside Influence is a hard category to gauge; however, I will give it the ole college try. Both gave to charities and devoted time to help the world so we have a tie in that aspect. Again Austin takes a slight edge due to everyone wearing Austin 3:16 shirts and giving the high double gun salute; however, every1 from Joe blow to celebrities “raised the brow” or Smelled what was cooking so age we are back to just a tiny edge to Austin. The Rock then started making movies and his star began t shine even brighter and in a far more lucrative light so once again his outside influence on the company toppled Austin’s mediocre film career. I have a hard time not giving this category to Austin though because as every time glass shatters somewhere someone will picture Austin so I will have to call it a draw. Rock 3 Austin 1
Loyalty is another category that The Rock dominates Austin in as Austin believed he was too good to “job” to Lesnar/Goldberg or anyone else that was young and upcoming that may take his limelight. Now I am one that believes The Rock was even just a little too good of a “company man” and should not have let himself be devoured by anyone that WWE thought would be the next big thing. The Rock’s most shining example of loyalty was when he dropped everything to return during the get the”f” out time as Austin walked out AGAIN on the company and The Rock was there to give a stellar interview on Raw and save the day. I will not give The Rock a 10-8 round as it took him 7 years to return from being a movie star. Rock 4 Austin 1
Staying Power is probably the closest category with the whole premise of this article depending on it..=) Both stars keep making movies and doing little things to keep their star power going; however, both have made significant returns to the WWE as of late. Austin wasting his talent on Tough Enough and The Rock coming back and stealing the spotlight on a few Raws and adding a small positive to a lackluster Wrestle mania. Rock wins this category on the sole aspect that He is the 1st man ever to make a Wrestle mania match One year in advance and I will venture a guess that the Heat between Rock and Cena will not die down with just a few small appearances by him. Another almost KO of Austin. 10-8 round. Rock 6 Austin 1
In summation The Rock was not put on the pedestal like Vince but was able to electrify and push past tall the “jobs” to Austin’s stardom and to up and comers and elevate his game to an elite level that sadly we will most likely never see again. In retrospect, we will never see another Austin but we do have the good guy version of him in Cena which takes a point away from Austin; however, since Vince Russo agrees with me that The Rock is a bigger star than Austin I am forced take e 2points from The Rock…Final Score: Rock 4 Austin 0….And the sweep is complete…Thanks for listening……The Innovator of Ideas-Mr. Barclay
Nice try Aaron, all very well thought out points but I have a few well placed jabs of my own to throw your way. First off you want to say Austin only had 6 moves? Really? Austin was considered one of the greatest in ring performers of his time, who was constantly evolving, watch his early ECW work if you don’t believe me, or his early WWE matches before he broke his neck. Austin had to change his style up a bit to take the load off of his neck. Take their top 10 moves:
The Rock: swinging neck breaker, clothesline, ddt,belly to belly suplex, samoan drop, spine buster, sharpshooter, Rock Bottom and peoples elbow.
Stone Cold: clothesline, stomp on groin, catapult throw, second rope guillotine, stomping a mudhole, million-dollar dream (he used on several occasions, most notably against The Rock at Wrestlemania), Lou thesz Press, ddt, second rope elbow drop and Stone Cold Stunner.
Both had a lot of moves in their arsenal but Stone Cold had physical limitations The Rock didn’t so I’ll concede The Rock had more athletic moves, but Stone Cold had a bevy of moves he could rely on in a match, he was no John Cena.
As for mic skills, well that depends on what you want in a good wrestling promo. Do you want a guy who talks about what he’s cooking, and acts like a goofy child who relied too much on sexual innuendo (The Rock loves pie its funny because that’s a slang word women’s private parts, real original Rocky), or do you want a guy who came up with “Austin 3:16 means I just whooped your ass” on the fly thus creating his character, the character that would eventually lead to the down fall of WCW? I mean I know which one I’d rather have, I’d rather have the guy that could get serious, could be funny, could be whatever you wanted him to be, as oppose to a guy that could really only be funny and when he attempted to be intense just came off as trying a little too hard. No one will ever say that The Rock wasn’t one of the greatest of all time on the mic, but I’d take Austin any day because he could convey any message you wanted in any emotion you wanted, whereas The Rock was either funny, or just really ‘intense’.
Fans, well we already went over that one, no one had more fans than Stone Cold Steve Austin. You can call them drones if you would like but Austin had everyone in his corner, kids, adults, rednecks, white collars, everyone except the mom’s (my mom hated Stone Cold, and I mean hated him). No need to go further into this subject.
You want to talk loyalty; Stone Cold Steve Austin takes a bit of a hit here, but let’s give him a little credit. Do you want to judge his entire selfless career, a guy who came back from multiple “career ending” injuries on a few discretions. When doctors told him he would never be able to wrestle again, Austin busted his butt to get back into the ring for the WWE. The Rock never had to face the injury adversity Stone Cold had to face. We will never know what caused Stone Cold to walk out on the WWE, those are his personal reasons and we should respect them. However, it didn’t take him seven years to come back to the WWE. Stone Cold has shown more love for the company than The Rock has, who waited until it was “okay” to come back because he didn’t want to hurt his movie career by coming back too soon. Austin did movies and came back to wrestling. The Rock was always looking for his next career move, even while in the WWE, while Austin just did what was best for the company 99% of the time. The Rock did what was best for The Rock.
Your final point about Stone Cold not selling moves for people is bogus; you can’t take two examples and say that’s his whole career. Stone Cold sold moves perfectly, especially against The Rock, the same can’t be said about The Rock. You also can’t talk about The Rock being a good seller because he went the other way, he purposely over sold moves to make them look ridiculous. His flip/summersault after stunners, his overreaction to Hogan’s leg drop, The Rock tried to make people he didn’t like in the ring look foolish by completely overselling every move. You and I have talked about The Rock doing that for a long time and you’ve even agreed his selling was ridiculous at times, so how is that any worse than Austin’s underselling against certain opponents?
I’ll now give Aaron the last word on the subject.
Ok..Jared and I are never going to agree but we have both given you various options and you the reader can decide your right answer. I thank Jared for the opportunity to spark a debate with him. My only comment on his statements that I do agree Austin had a vital role in the Attitude Era. I do not believe he did it alone. He was Jordan without Pippen. Or more in my eyes Pippen waiting for Jordan (The Rock ) to take the reins. Put Phil )Vince) in control and WWE went on to unbelievable heights we will probably never see again.
Great argument and I said I’d give you the last word and I did. I wouldn’t be the kind of person to then add something at the end like oh I don’t know, there was no way Austin was Rock’s Pippen, that would just be wrong of me to try to get the last word in like that.
Thanks again for reading and if you want to get in contact with me you can do so by emailing me here: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can bug me via twitter @JaredGebhardt. As always, I try to get to every single email and tweet I get.
The Wrestling Genius: Jared Gebhardt