“Stone Cold” Steve Austin created more catchphrases on a weekly basis than the average wrestler creates in their career, but perhaps the one most integral to his character was his oft-repeated motto DTA: Don’t Trust Anybody. Austin himself was called The Texas Rattlesnake, and wrestling fans already knew to never trust a snake, so it only made sense for Austin to likewise distrust everybody who dared stand against him in return. Of course, pro wrestling isn’t reality, and Austin has far more friends in real life than his character would ever admit. In fact, quite a few of his closest friends were the same people he had his most violent battles with in the ring.
Pro wrestling is often a vicious, political, and cutthroat industry, and those terms exponentially increase in relevance as we talk about the wrestlers further up the card. “Stone Cold” was arguably the most successful wrestler in history, making more money for Vince McMahon and WWE in less time than anybody else has ever come close to doing. Austin’s merchandise is still a hot seller whenever he makes an appearance, and fans will always go wild when they hear the glass shatter and know that hell is about to be raised in WWE once again.
For as vicious and mean as Austin was at his worst, one of his most popular trademarks was his willingness to drop his feuds and party with whoever was nearby with a few Steveweisers every time the good guys won the big one. Of course, there was always a chance those beers would have a chaser consisting of a kick in the gut and a Stone Cold Stunner, but Austin’s actual friends are probably free of that side effect. If this makes you curious who Austin might be sharing those beers with on his days off, keep reading and learn about 15 wrestlers you didn’t know were Stone Cold’s closest friends in real life.
15. “Diamond” Dallas Page
“Diamond” Dallas Page is likely one of the last people wrestler fans would expect to be close friends with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, although that doesn’t really have anything to do with either of the men personally. DDP is one of the friendliest and most outgoing personalities in wrestling, and Austin is a pretty fun loving guy who can get along with most people who don’t have workplace problems with him. The strange part of their friendship is that they almost never worked in the same company at the same time. DDP’s WCW career starting to take off around the same time Austin was fired, and Page remained loyal to the company until WWE ultimately won the war.
Nonetheless, Austin and DDP somehow managed to build a strong bond as friends, perhaps due to the fact that they actually lived together years before any of them struck it big in wrestling. The two shared an LA apartment together, and according to Page, Austin was just as rambunctious and borderline alcoholic as the man he would turn out to be. Babysitting a drunken Stone Cold endeared DDP to him, and the two have been friends ever since, regardless of their career paths wildly diverging.
14. Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash and “Stone Cold” both jumped around a bit during the Attitude Era, and seemed to reach their peak in the late 90s while working for separate companies. They met each other at the start of that decade while both worked for WCW. Their friendship only seemed to grow stronger as their careers started expanding, and they constantly found themselves on other sides of the war. Nash excelled as Diesel while Austin was carving his niche in WCW and ECW, and when it was time for Stone Cold to explode in WWE, Nash had made his way back to WCW as a top name. The two briefly did battle during Austin’s feud with the nWo in early 2002, but the less said about that time the better.
Austin and Nash probably have fonder memories of working together in Hollywood, which they did while filming The Longest Yard. Nash developed a reputation in wrestling over the years as being overtly political and holding down threats to his star power, but he never showed this side of himself with Austin. Another version of Kevin Nash is the guy who wants to eat pot pies and drink Mountain Dew, and it’s easier for fans to imagine this Nash allowing Austin to bring a few beers to the party, too.
13. Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman is a unique figure in wrestling as a former promoter who had it all and then lost it. Thus, he spent a large portion of his career working as a regular wrestling talent in addition to having had several years as one of the wrestling industry’s most important bosses. Heyman’s time as the owner and main creative force behind ECW has its pros and cons. The pros namely being his ability as a creative mind, and the big con being Heyman’s abilities as an executive. Plenty of wrestlers were left unpaid, unsupported, and overworked, and yet somehow, enough of them supported Heyman’s vision that they remained friends with Paul E. despite getting screwed over by him as his employees.
Little has been said about the business half of Austin’s time with ECW, but anyone with a WWE Network subscription can go back and relive the few months in late 1995 when Austin made it clear he was going to be a superstar no matter who tried to stop him. At the time, Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan were the ones trying to stop Austin, and Heyman was the one giving him a camera and television time to voice his grievances against them for doing so. Heyman also managed Austin in WCW as a member of The Dangerous Alliance, a group hand-picked by Heyman out of his favorite talents. Heyman and Austin managed to form a solid friendship throughout these various interactions, which, as far as we can tell, hasn’t been marred by any of Heyman’s usual shadier business methods.
Raven and Steve Austin don’t appear to have much in common at first glance. However, that may only be due to the fact most fans don’t have that great an understanding of the real Scott Levy, the man behind the Raven character. The real Raven is far more of a joking prankster than how the dark and brooding wrestler acts when the cameras are rolling. Yet, back in the day when he was known as Scotty Flamingo in WCW, that fun-loving personality was the key to his early success. It was also the key to his friendship with Austin, which spawned from Raven’s earlier friendship with Brian Pillman, Austin’s partner in The Hollywood Blondes.
Austin, Pillman, and Raven were traveling partners while all three were in WCW, and their careers even intersected due to this arrangement. Raven had originally intended to form a tag team with Pillman but was passed up in favor of Austin, thus creating the infamous Blondes. The three still maintained a strong rapport, earning a reputation as a comedy trio, constantly making each other and the rest of the locker room laugh. The friendship faded apart as did Austin and Raven’s career, and the two were even rumored to be involved in a brief backstage scuffle during the Invasion Era. Based on Raven’s appearance on The Steve Austin Podcast, however, any bad blood between the two has long since gone away and they have resumed a friendly relationship with a strong undercurrent of mutual respect.
Even in the wake of her death, Chyna holds a slightly controversial reputation within the WWE Universe. Chyna was the first female superstar to truly break the gender barrier, winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship and even competing for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on multiple occasions. While a few women have followed her unsuccessfully in that second feat, Chyna remains the only female Intercontinental Champ, and that’s just the pinnacle of her achievements within WWE. And yet, the company did little to acknowledge her from the time she left in 2001 to her unfortunate death in 2016.
Steve Austin was always pretty quiet about his friendship with Chyna, such to the extent it may have been a slight shock to fans when he took to his podcast the week after she passed to give his thoughts on the matter. Austin referred to Chyna as being “an absolute sweetheart” who deserved far more than the company gave her. Austin also defended Chyna’s actions later in life, and made it clear he was closer to her than anyone had ever let on while she was alive. Austin is just one of many superstars to have spoken about WWE’s mistreatment of Chyna, but his high status in the company will always add levity to who he supports, regardless of when he chooses to do so.
During the height of the Monday Night War, every wrestling fan wanted to see the superstars of WWE and WCW step into the ring against each other and prove who the dominant company in sports entertainment truly was. Fans were endlessly coming up with “dream matches” pitting the promotions against one another, and the match more fans wanted to see than any other was Austin vs. Goldberg. Of course, it never happened, and the only time they did step into a ring together, at WrestleMania XX, was more of a mess than a fight (and Austin was just the referee, to begin with). Wrestling fans probably won’t ever see these two forces of nature square off, but at least we can take some solace in knowing Austin and Goldberg spend plenty of time together when cameras are off, albeit in a far more friendly capacity.
Although their time in the ring together was brief, it may have been more accurate to their friendship, which Austin paints as filled with drinking lots of beer. Goldberg isn’t much of a drinker though, and thus the two have gotten into public arguments over just how real Austin’s in-ring celebrations could get. Any harsh words exchanged between them all seemed to be a joke, however, as Austin still refers to Goldberg as a great friend, and implied he’d be happy to keep drinking him under the table at every chance he gets.
9. Mick Foley
Intentionally or not, Steve Austin had a tendency to follow Mick Foley everywhere Foley went. Foley had a lucky break early in his career jobbing for WWE, but didn’t really start to make a name for himself until he went to Southern territories in Texas and changed his name to Cactus Jack. Austin likewise got his true start in Texas wrestling, competing for USWA. The two would both receive WCW contracts in early 1991, only to get fired by that promotion and end up in ECW by 1995. In ECW, they proved they were such great talents they couldn’t be big fish in small ponds, and both wound up in WWE by 1996, and were World Champions within the next three years.
During all the years working for the same companies, Foley and Austin also managed to build a very deep friendship. Austin traveled with a few different crews during his WCW run, but the thread connecting them all seems to be how funny his companions were, and Foley has always been known as a very funny guy. As they both succeeded in their careers and things became more serious, they also proved to be good friends who always looked out for each other on top of the sports entertainment world.
8. Vince McMahon
Austin vs. McMahon is the feud that turned “Stone Cold” from a rising star with ceaseless potential into the most successful wrestler in WWE history. The feud likewise elevated McMahon from a bland announcer into one of the most hated heels in wrestling history, a position he is arguably as well known for as he has been known for being the primary executive force behind WWE. Equally well documented amongst fans who want the real story, however, has been the fact that for all this time, Austin and McMahon were actually rather good friends, with McMahon acknowledging Austin’s star shined greater than any of his other performers and appropriately thanking him for it with respect and friendship.
Austin isn’t quite the same as some of McMahon’s other closest companions in the wrestling industry, in that Stone Cold is anything but a yes man. While their real life relationship goes a lot smoother than the one on television, Austin and McMahon have had more than a few highly publicized disagreements throughout the years, which have resulted in Austin walking out of the company more than once. McMahon is always willing to renegotiate, though, which shows both how vital a talent Austin still can be when the situation calls for it, and the fact McMahon will always value him as a friend despite his actions as an employee.
Funaki is probably one of the last names anyone would have expected to see on this list, and the reality is SmackDown’s Number One Announcer is actually a close friend of more than one major WWE superstar. In addition to “Stone Cold,” Funaki is also good friends with Shawn Michaels, as all three of them live relatively near one another in Texas. There were even reports that Funaki purchased a ranch directly next to Austin’s due to this friendship, although those rumors have long remained unconfirmed. What is pretty clear, though, is that the longest tenured WWE employee out of Kai En Tai at least has a few friends in high places, said long tenure is in anyway indicative of things.
Kai En Tai debuted for WWE in 1998 as a six-member collective, that was quickly whittled down only to Funaki and his tag team partner Taka Michinoku. The duo remained lower card comedy characters for many years until Funaki found his calling as a broadcaster, a position he still holds in WWE today, calling the Japanese commentary for Pay-Per-View and WWE Network events. While the other members of Kai En Tai left for a variety of reasons, including travel and an inability to adapt to an American style of wrestling, Funaki’s friendships with Austin and Michaels could definitely be a reason he’s stuck around for as long as he has. Indeed.
6. Brian Pillman
“Superstar” Steve Austin was a rising star in WCW throughout the early 90s while working in the solo division, but his career truly took off to the next level when he began teaming with “Flyin’” Brian Pillman. The two formed The Hollywood Blondes, a pretentious pair of heels who quickly dominated the WCW tag team division unlike any other combination, and started calling out Ric Flair and Arn Anderson while they did so. The Blondes feud with The Four Horsemen seemed like it was going to be the final step to Austin taking his rightful place as a main event superstar, but WCW politics reared their ugly head and caused the team to fizzle out and go their separate ways, and both men were in WWE by 1996.
Despite WCW botching the landing with their famous tag team, Austin and Pillman’s ability to gel in the ring was matched with a deep friendship outside of the ring as well. When Pillman finally made the jump to WWE after Austin did, their real life friendship was heavily worked into their storylines. Although they quickly started to feud with one another, the similarities in their dress and general look continued until Pillman’s sudden death in October of 1997. Austin’s gold chains, in particular, were worn as a tribute to Pillman. This was a tradition the two started when they formed their team, and Austin continued well after his friend passed on.
5. William Regal
William Regal is often cited as one of the best wrestlers and trainers in WWE never to have won a World Championship, and the reputation becomes even more confusing when one discovers just how many friends in high places he had rooting for him along the way. Not only has Regal long been one of the best friends of high-ranking WWE executive Triple H, but he also has a friendship with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin dating as far back as the early 90s. Austin and Regal were traveling companions while both men worked for WCW, occasionally even teaming together with Regal as a substitute for Brian Pillman. During their time traveling, they also formed a strong bond as friends, the way wrestlers in this situation often do.
Regal and Austin seemingly have disparate personalities, but their dedication to their craft more than supersedes that. The two seemingly drifted apart as Austin became a huge star and Regal was slowly overcome by his demons. Now that Regal is more stable and Austin is out of the business, there’s no reason the old connection could’ve have rekindled, as evidence by Regal’s friendly appearance on Austin’s podcast.
4. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels is considered perhaps the greatest in-ring performer in WWE history, with both the fan and co-worker support to constantly back him up and make that argument. HBK wasn’t always quite as popular as he is today, however, especially considering how terrible he himself admits he was when under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Michaels’ substance abuse problems during his first few WWE World Championship reigns are legendary, and caused some seriously strained relationships between himself and almost everyone else in the wrestling world. Namely, he didn’t have the best rapport with the person he was supposed to lose the Championship to in his final match, Steve Austin.
Decades after the fact, Michaels has left drugs behind, found religion, and buried the hatchet with Stone Cold and the many other wrestlers he used to beef with. Austin and Michaels are now good friends, often talking about their shared interests in hunting and Texas wildlife. Austin may not have been as close to Michaels for as long as some of the other superstars on this list, but they’re still growing closer than ever before. Michaels cites friendships like Austin’s as one of the greatest aspects of his reformation, noting he never believed he’d be such good friends with some of the people he may even have tried to hurt during his darkest days.
3. The Undertaker
Steve Austin and The Undertaker is one of the pairings that will forever go down in wrestling history. Austin-McMahon was the real draw of the Attitude Era, and Austin-Rock contained the most epic battles, but there was something about Austin-Undertaker that captured The Rattlesnake himself on a greater level than any of the others. When Austin infamously walked out of WWE in 2002, one of his biggest complaints was the caliber of his opponents. Austin was working programs with The Big Show and Brock Lesnar, but he wanted to stay paired with his friend, The Undertaker. It may have been a smaller grievance in his long list, but it said a lot about the relationship between the two.
Outside of wanting to work with him, Austin will always be indebted to The Undertaker for his role in Austin’s initial WWE Championship victory. Shawn Michaels was still in his prima donna phase and had been talking about refusing to lose to Austin, causing Undertaker to step in and threaten to legitimately attack HBK should he do so. Michaels eventually acquiesced and lost the belt, kicking off the Attitude Era and ironically leading to an epic feud between Austin and The Dead Man. Backstage, Austin never forgot what Undertaker did for him, and their friendship lasted for decades as a result.
2. The Rock
Steve Austin’s feud with The Rock is perhaps the only one of his wars to come close to the McMahon feud in terms of significance. Austin and The Rock headlined three WrestleMania’s, not to mention a few smaller Pay-Per-Views, Raw’s, SmackDown’s, and even house shows along the way. Although Austin and McMahon was the drawing force of The Attitude Era, The Rock started as McMahon’s wrestling avatar, and as such The Rock was thrust into the spotlight with Austin from the start of his career. Through dozens of matches and hundreds of incredible promos, The Rock and Steve Austin made each other the two biggest stars wrestling has ever seen, and neither of them has yet to stop thanking the other for doing so.
The final WrestleMania battle between Austin and The Rock took place at WrestleMania 19, and was the first of the three that Rocky was able to win. When the match was over, the referee tried to raise The Rock’s hand, but Rock pushed him away to instead grab Stone Cold, hug him, and thank him for everything he’s done for Rock’s career. It was a quick moment supplanted with a shove to keep kayfabe, but it said everything The Rock needed to say to Austin, and Austin has responded by always maintaining the friendship while Rock’s star continues shooting through the stratosphere.
1. Jim Ross
Millions of wrestling fans around the world became incomparably excited each and every time they heard the glass shatter and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his way to the ring, but few mere fans could match the glorious fervor stirred within Jim Ross at that same sight. Good Old J.R. and Stone Cold were so inexorably linked throughout Austin’s run that it was as Austin’s tag team partner that Ross made his debut in the ring after decades as an announcer. Ross and Austin had their ups and downs on television, with Austin once beating the hell out of JR in order to further cement a heel turn, but off-screen the two have always been the closest of friends.
While Austin is a close friend to everyone on this list, he regularly cites Jim Ross as perhaps his closest friend of all. Not only is Ross one of Austin’s closest companions, he has also guided Austin’s career over the years and imparted countless pieces of invaluable advice Austin feels his career would never have succeeded the way it did without. The relationship between Austin and Ross is legendary in and of itself, with future announcer Michael Cole claiming he attempted to emulate that relationship in his own friendship with the star who would follow Austin, John Cena.