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Born Rivals: The Texas-Sized Feud Between Kevin Owens and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

The white-hot rivalry between Kevin Owens and Stone Cold Steve Austin reached an apex at WrestleMania 38 in historic fashion!

By Chris Phelan
Wwe Stone Cold Kevin Owens Split

Some of the greatest rivalries in WWE history are marked by their longevity. From Hulk Hogan versus Randy Savage to Bret Hart versus Shawn Michaels, these feuds were incredibly personal and spanned years filled with twists, turns, and plenty of drama – blurring the lines between reality and fiction in the process.

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However, some feuds stand the test of time due to their intensity, unexpectedness, and meteoric rise to the forefront of the WWE Universe in an extremely short time. Such is the case with Kevin Owens and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

What started as a few off-handed comments became one of the most unforgettable WrestleMania moments ever, as the feud kept the WWE Universe guessing until the end. Today, USA Insider looks at the Texas-sized feud between Kevin Owens and Steve Austin.

Kevin Owens’ Desperate WrestleMania Plea To RAW Management

Everything started in the weeks before Elimination Chamber 2022. Owens, realizing that he was on the outside looking in at the upcoming RAW Elimination Chamber match, decided to plead his case to RAW management. While the WWE Universe debated whether Owens’ sentiment was genuine, he did raise a valuable point during his call to action: Owens didn’t want to be left off that year’s WrestleMania card. He argued that a Superstar like him, who won the Universal Title and Intercontinental Title for the first time in Texas, needed to be a part of WrestleMania 38 in Dallas. 

Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville didn’t budge, however, and warned Owens that there was a genuine possibility that his Road to WrestleMania had already ended. To say that Owens was crestfallen was an understatement, as what seemed like real emotion poured out of his heart as he found out his desperate pleading amounted to nothing. 

However, a flip switched in Owens’ brain during the following week. He realized if he wanted to guarantee himself a path to WrestleMania in Texas, his best course would be to attempt to coax a certain rattlesnake out of hiding.

Kevin Owens Reverses Course, Goes On the Offensive

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It’s clear that if he wanted a spot at WrestleMania, Kevin Owens would have to take his destiny into his own hands. On the February 14 episode of Monday Night RAW, Owens took advantage of some interview time to do a complete about-face, walking back his pro-Texas comments from the previous week and launching into an anti-Texas tirade that made any true-blue Texan blush. One particular sentiment stood out to the WWE Universe:

“If North America was a human body, Texas would be its ass,” Owens told the live audience, unable to contain his glee at being able to deliver such callous rhetoric. At that moment, it became clear to fans worldwide: Kevin Owens was trying to guarantee a spot at WrestleMania 38 by poking the bear – or in this case, the Texas Rattlesnake known as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. 

However, many members of the WWE Universe were skeptical. After all, Austin had been retired for the better part of two decades and had rarely made appearances in WWE to do anything other than drink a few beers and deliver a few Stone Cold Stunners to some of the younger talents.

Kevin Owens had a game plan, though. He would stay on the offensive for as long as possible, delivering insult after insult towards the state of Texas until he finally got the attention of the WWE Hall of Famer.

Despite conventional wisdom suggesting otherwise, the plan worked. 

Steve Austin Breaks His WWE Silence

On March 8, 2022, the professional wrestling world was shocked as Steve Austin finally broke his silence, not wasting any time directly addressing Kevin Owens. 

Even though he acknowledged he had to learn to live with his final official WWE match being a pinfall loss to The Rock nearly 20 years earlier, Austin revealed that Owens had awakened something dormant. 

“Kevin Owens, I want to thank you,” Austin said while standing beside his beloved ATV. “I want to thank you for waking something up deep inside me that I’ve kept buried for 19 years. Ever since you started running that damn mealy mouth of yours, talking about the state of Texas – the great state of Texas – you got my attention.”

Austin surmised Owens’ actions could mean one of two things: Owens was either stupid or begging for a fight. Either way, Austin laid down the challenge for WrestleMania. 

For the first time in 19 years, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would return to the ring, but the WWE Universe still didn’t know in what capacity. Would it be as a guest on the KO Show, an official match, or something entirely different? The world wouldn’t have to wait long to get their answer, as Kevin Owens couldn’t help but keep poking the Texas Rattlesnake with a stick. 

A “Stone Cold” Imitation For the Ages

They say imitation is the finest form of flattery, but that wasn’t the case on the March 21 edition of RAW. On that night, the WWE Universe was primed for an appearance by Austin himself to build up his highly-anticipated WrestleMania return. When the iconic sound of glass breaking thundered throughout the arena, the fans in attendance lept their feet to welcome the WWE Hall of Famer back home.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get Steve Austin – the WWE Universe instead got Kevin Owens in a bald cap making his best Stone Cold impression. What followed was a classic Steve Austin promo constantly drowned out by a chorus of boos in classic Kevin Owens fashion. Why he thought this was a good idea is beyond anyone, but it marked a significant point in the rivalry. Until then, Kevin Owens was mocking the state of Texas, but once he donned the bald cap and a black “Austin 3:16” shirt, he was mocking Steve Austin personally.

Kevin Owens had gone too far.

The war of words between the two men reached an apex, where other WWE Superstars couldn’t help but chime in with their thoughts. Even The Undertaker thought Owens was biting off more than he could chew. As somebody who’s fought in the trenches alongside and against Steve Austin over the years, Undertaker’s words should have been heeded by Owens, but they weren’t. 

WrestleMania was right around the corner, and for the first time, the WWE Universe would see Kevin Owens and Steve Austin confront each other face-to-face during the KO Show on the Grandest Stage of Them All.

The KO Show Turns Into a Classic WrestleMania Match

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Under the bright lights of WrestleMania, the WWE Universe held their breath in excitement when Kevin Owens made his entrance and quickly climbed into the ring where the KO Show set was already waiting. Before long, Steve Austin followed suit, and the show was underway.

The rest, as they say, is history. 

It soon became apparent that Steve Austin did not arrive in Dallas just to talk to Kevin Owens, he came to Dallas to deliver one final can of whoop-ass that was 19 years in the making!

In the end, Kevin Owens and Steve Austin tore the house down, giving the WWE Universe one of the most memorable and brutal WrestleMania matches ever. While we’re sure Owens was happy he secured a spot at WrestleMania that year, we’re not sure he’s satisfied with the result. 

With that, Steve Austin rode off into the sunset one final time, putting an exclamation point on one of the shortest yet most unforgettable feuds in WWE history.

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