WWE behind the scenes: How Stone Cold's Neck was broken and what happened behind the scenes

Stone Cold Steve Austin suffered partial paralysis in the same match he won the WWE Intercontinental Championship. But did he really break his neck?
Stone Cold Steve Austin suffered partial paralysis in the same match he won the WWE Intercontinental Championship. But did he really break his neck?

In any athletic enterprise, be it sports entertainment, football, or gymnastics, the threat of injury constantly looms overhead. Even the most highly tuned athletes can experience a sudden and catastrophic trauma that could alter the course of their careers--or even end them.

Despite this constant danger, athletes continue to push themselves to be just a little bit better than they were the day before, seeking to break records and establish themselves among the upper echelon of elite sportsmen and women.

Pro wrestlers are no different in this regard than any other athlete. Even though professional wrestling and sports entertainment are scripted, and the winner is known ahead of time, there's a great competitive drive in the locker room. Every wrestler wants to put on a great performance that not only wows the fans but also draws the envy of their peers.

Two men who were well known to be sticklers for great in-ring performances during the Attitude Era were Stone Cold Steve Austin and Owen Hart. Both of these men had spent years mired in the midcard, despite being skilled technical wrestlers and being able to cut promos. They were hungry to move on to the next level, and they got a chance when they got their chance at SummerSlam 1997, where they competed for Owen's Intercontinental championship. During their feud building up to the match, an added stipulation would force Steve Austin to kiss Hart on the rear end if he lost.

This was during Austin's build-up toward main event status, and the crowd was red hot behind the Texas Rattlesnake. If ever there was a time when an injury would be catastrophic, it was right at that point.

Here is the story of the injury, the aftermath, and how people reacted backstage.

Part One: The Angle

Austin and Owen Hart
Austin and Owen Hart

When Stone Cold Steve Austin first joined the WWE, he was assigned the short-lived 'Ringmaster' gimmick. Soon enough, he broke out with the Stone Cold character and cemented his superstar status by winning the 1996 King of the Ring Tournament. This is where the infamous "Austin 3:16" catchphrase has its origins.

Afterwards, Austin was a part of the main event scene and feuded with WWE Champion Bret Hart. However, after losing a submission match to Hart at Wrestlemania XIII, Austin switched to feuding with Owen Hart.

Their feud originally involved British Bulldog and HBK, but soon enough, it would break down into just Owen vs. Austin. The match at SummerSlam 1997 for Owen's Intercontinental championship was meant to be the bookend of their feud, with Austin going over and being recognized as a legitimate contender.

The added caveat that Austin would be forced to kiss Owen's behind if he lost just raised the dramatic stakes that much higher. But WWE had written themselves into a corner, and there was no way to go forward without Austin emerging victorious.

The clash was what one would ideally describe as 'mouthwatering'. The two superstars were well in their prime with gifted technical in-ring ability coupled with more than adequate mic skills. They were going to create history considering the magnitude of the feud and all eyes was on Survivor Series.

1 / 6 NEXT
Edited by Amar Anand
comments icon1 comment
Fetching more content...
App download animated image Get the free App now