Yeah yeah, we're not supposed to say anything bad about Owen Hart but......

Discussion in 'The Wrestling Archives' started by Mustang Sally, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. Mustang Sally

    Mustang Sally Sells seashells by the seashore

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    How much did that botched sit-down piledriver Owen performed on Steve Austin at Summerslam '97 affect Stone Cold 's carrer?

    True, he didn't retire until '03 but even at age 39, it seemed way too early for him to pack it in, especially since Austin was in the midst of one of the greatest careers any pro wrestler ever knew.

    We know he was out of action for almost a year due to the neck surgery he was forced to endure, but do you believe he was in terrible pain for the rest of his active tenure? Could he have accomplished even more than he did?

    True, some of his greatest achievements came after the piledriver (the Austin vs. Vince McMahon program, for example) but what would Stone Cold's resume have looked like had the neck injury never happened?

    Or was there no essential difference......that everything would have been the same?

    Broken necks do tend to have a negative effect on a wrestler's career, no? How about Austin's?
     
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  2. OYDK

    OYDK King Of The Ring

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    I think the only thing the neck injury really affected was Austin's longevity in the ring. It didn't stop him from becoming one of the most popular wrestlers of all time and it certainly didn't take away from the career that he had. In a strange sort of way, it kind of added fuel to the fire and got the Stone Cold character to really take off. That image of Austin, broken neck and all, crawling his way into a school-boy to win the IC title is almost iconic at this point. Upon his return is when the fans really started to rally around Stone Cold in my opinion.

    Also, it forced him to change up his style in the ring. The brawling, no nonsense offense that has become synonymous with Stone Cold, was partially only brought out because of the injury to his spine. I didn't necessarily see Austin having a better career sans the botched piledriver, but probably a longer one. He may even have come out for a match or two since his retirement. Also, it may have affected the push that HHH ultimately got. Would the show still have revolved around H and Steph had both Austin and Rock been present throughout 2000? Would HHH have won 3 World title that year? I doubt it.

    As for pain, I've never heard Austin talk about being in constant pain or anything. I think it just got to the point where it was too risky for him to bump again. Ultimately, I think it would be foolish to say that the neck injury hindered or negatively effected Austin's career path. I can't think of one wrestler with as many iconic moments in history than Stone Cold. Or at least, definitely not in the time span that he had them in.
     
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  3. Sexcellence of Sexecution

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    It had an impact on Austin's wrestling style, but it didn't really hurt him in terms of his career. Honestly, the neck injury kind of helped him.

    When Ausitn was injured, they did an angle where he wanted to wrestle but management, namely Vince McMahon, would not allow it. This marked the early stages of the Austin/McMahon feud, and Austin's real-life injury was ultimately the catalyst for it. The angle felt real because it was portrayed as 100% real, and everybody saw Austin legitimately break his neck in that match. Without the injury, we probably still would've gotten Austin vs. McMahon at some point, but the injury offered a realistic basis for the feud that would go on to be the greatest rivalry in WWF history.
     
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  4. agentmichaelscarn

    agentmichaelscarn Old School

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    It is a shame. I remember reading Austin's book and he was saying that they were discussing the spot before the match and he kept reiterating to Owen not to do a sit down one, yet he still did it. In retrospect they shouldn't have done the spot period cause if Owen went down on his knees it would've been a tombstone so he obviously couldn't do that. He basically had no choice but to sit down and do it.

    Anyway I don't think Austin would've stuck along that much longer anyway. It seemed to me that he was starting to get frustrated with things and tired of wrestling. But that is just a speculation though. I do think he may have appeared in a Rock type role and wrestle a few matches here and there though if it wasn't for the injury.
     
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  5. Prince Vee

    Prince Vee Better than I think I am

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    Injuries always do have some negative effects on a wrestler's career. It sort of makes him/her fragile and the body wouldn't cope along with the work schedule. But I reckon we can't write what would've happened in that 1 year when he was at rest. Even if we can make a predicament, it certainly will have a lot of loopholes and there will be a plenty of critics that will follow.

    But injuries are the worst, it broke wrestlers body as well his soul. How many wrestlers have lost their career after their injuries? Plenty. How many had went through drug problems after injuries as they consider them as painkillers? Plenty more.

    In the case of Stone Cold, it was different. He went through that phase only because of Owen Hart and that's true. He achieved greater heights after that and you agreed it to yourself. That's the story of it.
     
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  6. #tamale

    #tamale Marry me Billie Kay!!!

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    People use "blessing in disguise" and "it helped Austin develop his character" to always describe that situation. Here's the thing; Austin would have still have become all those things. What Owen did severely cut down on Austin's career and earning potential. What's worse is that he never apologized for it.
     
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  7. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

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    I think everything more or less would've been the same in terms of his push and the popularity he would ultimately achieve but I do agree it forced him to change his style from more technical to more of a brawling style to protect his neck. It did, however, ultimately shorten his career. Once he had neck surgery in either 1999 or 2000 his career was more or less finished. I do think the neck injury also contributed to his addiction to painkillers who ultimately caused him to walk out on WWE and eventually get him fired in 2003.

    I think it was ultimately a detriment to Austin's career and overall health. I think it's the one blemish on Owen's record and for the record he felt TERRIBLE about it.
     
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  8. S.J. Maximus

    S.J. Maximus Championship Contender

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    Like some of the posters on this thread, I'm in the camp that believes that the injury had very little impact on the overall legacy of Steve Austin's career. The only thing that would've changed is his availability in 1999-2000 but with the rise of the Rock I'm sure WWE Creative is grateful they didn't have to deal with that.

    Austin was great in his prime but he became very difficult to book as soon as someone reached his level. Had he been healthy during that stretch I'd go as far to say he probably would've walked out sooner and maybe wouldn't be remembered as fondly as we remember him today, look at CM Punk.

    As others pointed out, the injury ultimately helped create a lot of the things we love most about him. The genesis of the McMahon feud, the adaptation to the brawling style, the memorable returns and non-wrestling antics (the beer truck, destroying the dx express etc.) that are now synonymous with Austin. I would never wish injury on anyone, but no one in history benefited from injury the way Austin did. I think a better injury complaint would've been Goldberg ending Bret's career or even Sting's legacy if that match with Rollins ends up being his last.
     
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  9. Jack-Hammer

    Jack-Hammer YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!!!!
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    I'd say that it affected his longevity and his style but, obviously, it didn't seem to have any effect on his popularity.

    I like Owen Hart as much as the next guy but, since his death, his level of greatness has been heavily exaggerated. When you take away the aspect of his untimely death and the fact that he's Bret Hart's little brother, Owen Hart was almost exclusively a mid-card & tag team wrestler; he was talented and entertaining but he was still ultimately someone who spent the vast majority of his career in WWE as a mid-carder.

    I know that sometimes we toss around the word "mid-carder" as if someone has gotten bubonic plague or something, but just because someone is a mid-carder doesn't mean that they can't have or haven't had a great career. Could Owen have possibly risen to bigger things? Sure, he was only 34 years old when he died so he still had time to potentially rise further up the card. However, the fact remains that he didn't and while talented, he's not someone that I see as being this huge, all time great that many fans since his death have attempted to build him up as.
     
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  10. Vanilla Midget

    Vanilla Midget Registered Suplex Offender

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    Was the neck injury was the main reason for Austin's retirement? I don't think those braced up knees had much to do with the neck did they? Kurt Angle wrestles at age 47 with a similarly damaged neck. Austin's career was always going to be shortened because of his knees.

    Maybe there's some correlation, I don't know, I'm not a doctor. It seems to me though that Austin initially walked away from WWE before he decided that he could no longer compete due to injury.

    Owen was one of the best wrestlers of all time. That's not exaggeration, he was talented. Was he marketable? Was he going to be an Austin level star? No, he wasn't. I doubt he decided he was going to break Steve Austin's neck that night. Hart is a guy who was always described as being one of the good guys, one of the nicest. I doubt he went all neck snapper that night, or as we like to say in Vancouver, Canada, went all "Todd Bertuzzi."

    Accidents happen, if the story was different and Owen bragged about it or was found to be malicious in his intent, it would be a different story. The way things stand, Austin burned out instead of fading away. Personally I wonder if they could have developed the Stone Cold character further. He was pretty stale as the Raw GM from the jump.

    The injury (if it alone and not the knees retired him) robbed us of programs with Hogan, Lesnar, Goldberg, Cena, Orton, Batista, Edge, Michaels (again), and maybe even Punk if Austin managed to wrestle into his late 40s. The way things stand his career has a great last match (vs Rock III at Mania 19) and didn't overstay his welcome.
     
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  11. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    Owen had a "brain freeze" about that spot, he was clearly very uncomfortable with the idea of a Tombstone, probably out of respect to Taker and if it was true that 3 times Austin told him before "go to your knees" and he responded a sit out, then it was Austin's responsibility to scrub the spot.

    The majority of people see Owen as some kind of saint and for the main, he may well have been... but he made a big mistake that day and had the screwjob not happened shortly afterwards, his career would have definitely suffered for it with Bret leaving for WCW. In many ways, I think what annoyed Austin was that Owen basically got a pass on it - when D-Lo Brown didn't a short time later.

    Austin was NEVER gonna be that long term star - WWE knew that even as his rise began and remember they basically escalated 7 guys in 3 years... Austin, Kane & Rocky in '98, Trips and Foley in '99, Angle in 2000 and Jericho in '01. The people involved may not have all been planned, but once they all got over as they did then Austin's shelf life was shortened, regardless of his injury. It shows in his later work - he hated not being the top guy any more...
     
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  12. wrestler36

    wrestler36 Championship Contender

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    I think that broken neck severely hampered Austin's career and I'll even go as far as to say that it took at least 5 years away from him. It definitely benefited others, like Rock and HHH, but I would think that Austin would have had a much longer top face run, like Hogan or Cena. If you think about it, really it was just 98 and 99 when he had his run. He was the heel champion 3/4 of 2001 and when 2002 came around, Rock/Hogan and Jericho/HHH were the WM main events.

    When WWE was still extremely popular, he was off of TV most of 2000. I think the paranoia of getting back on top caused him to rely more on pain killers and alcohol, which affected his marriage, which caused more stress, etc. I think the following would have happened in no particular order had he not injured his neck:

    -Various championship runs at least through 2005
    - Austin vs Hogan at WM rather than Rock
    - Higher quality movie roles maybe?
    - Eventual match with Taker at Mania
    - revisit of Michaels vs Austin feud
    - eventual clean loss to younger, up and coming star at WM. My guess would be Orton, Cena or Batista.

    Whether any of this stuff would have happened, I don't know, but these are my guesses
     
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  13. Azane

    Azane Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    Perhaps it pushed him to retire earlier rather than later, which probably made his post wrestling life a hell of a lot better.
     
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  14. MMK

    MMK Getting Noticed By Management

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    Owen did nothing wrong in that match. It's wrestling. People get hurt. Especially if they're oiled up, sweating and upside down as Austin was. It's a dangerous move that can easily go wrong. Things go wrong all the time in wrestling.

    Another Austin, Charles Austin, a jobber in the early 90's had his neck broken by a Marty Jannetty rocker dropper. Triple H nearly killed a jobber named Marty Garner with a pedigree. Then there was Joey Mercury's face after Jeff Hardy hit him with a ladder; Shawn Michales back after Undertaker backdropped him on a casket; Sabu's neck was broken during a match with Chris Benoit; and Mick Foley's entire body during the Hell In A Cell with Taker.

    All of those examples are much worse than what Owen did because they involved carelessness and reckleness. Owen was neither careless nor reckless, it was just a move gone wrong. Not to mention that all of those wrestler's careers suffered a lot worse than Steve Austin's.
     
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  15. enviousdominous

    enviousdominous Behold my diction

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    I'm confused. What bad thing are we reluctant to say about Owen Hart?

    Are we saying that Owen caused Austin's career to be shortened and was apathetic about the botched spot afterward? That seems to be implied, though anyone willing to go there is tap dancing around the idea.

    Think back to what happened right after that fateful spot. Austin was clearly hurt, and everyone -- including Owen -- went into panic mode. I don't know what signal was given, but Austin gave his last ounce of strength to crawl toward Owen. Owen fell backward and feigned confusion while a quick thinking ref counted. Austin won that match, and the Intercontinental title. Why in the fuck is nobody remembering this?

    It didn't look beautiful, but it worked. Austin's fans were kept mostly in the dark about the severity of his injury, and his popularity soared in his subsequent feud with the NOD involving the IC title.

    I don't know exactly how badly Austin's neck injury hindered his physical health, but he's alive today and is known for having been the greatest performer during his time. Maybe he would have held onto that status for longer if his neck was never injured, or maybe the fans would have become bored of his antics to the point where any "Austin 3:16" talk would make them physically sick. Most performers never get to be the number one guy. To imply that Owen wasn't apologetic for causing Austin's injury is absolute bullshit. Austin's injury was unfortunate, but it's impossible to know if it hurt his potential.

    Was Owen a great wrestler? I think he was, and I think it's petty of us to weigh his status as a mid-carder to judge his wrestling ability. I think that Lance Storm is infinitely better than Steve Austin ever was, but he never dumped beer on his face so according to the status quo that made him less talented. If you want to judge Owen on his inability to use cheap bullshit to draw an army of fucking morons into those seats, then keep that judgement dissociated from his wrestling ability. Owen was a great wrestler, who everyone (including Austin) loved like a brother.

    If anyone has anything bad to say about Owen Hart, just say it. Don't play games and use that "I'm just saying" bullshit because you're too afraid to clearly make a point.
     
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  16. whoopin' ass

    whoopin' ass Championship Contender

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    This is actually a weird one. The injury is what made Steve become the mega-superstar that be was. People forget but wwe really never admitted on tv how bad the injury was. We were used to seeing guys get hurt and still work so when this happened and they went with the "Vince won't let Austin wrestle" storyline like they did, it really got the people behind Steve. We wanted to see Austin kicking ass in the ring and Vince wouldn't let him because he didn't like him is how it was presented and that really built up the Vince/Austin feud. Had that injury not happened, none of that would have. Because he couldn't wrestle, they had to use Austin in a different way and the character really developed to become the brawler that we saw which is not what he was originally. If it wasn't for that, I don't think the feud would have been nearly as successful as it was. Austin certainly would have been the biggest star in the company but everything about him would slight have been different and I can't honestly say it would have all worked out the same. Does that mean the injury was a good thing? Personally - no. Steve has issues from it that he still talks about today. He is lucky in that he can still live a decent life but it is something he certainly could have done without. Professionally - yes. Like i said, it made him that mega-star and he probably made a lot more money because of that than he would have otherwise. And it cut his career short so he went out on top. Let's be honest, did we want to see Austin being like Slaughter, someone who used to be a top draw but now is there to lose and get guys over? Or Hogan, someone still trying to be in the spotlight despite not being able to? When Austin retired, no one really knew and he left fans wanting more. What better way to leave?

    As for Owen, you can blame him if you want but really that is between him and Austin. Owen was not known for being dangerous in the ring so you just have to write it off as one of those flukes that happen. AJ Styles is not dangerous either but guys got hurt from the Styles Clash - should you hate AJ? Had it been jober #2 instead of Austin, no one would care. Because it was Austin and someone on the rise, people make a bigger deal out of it than they should.
     
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  17. OYDK

    OYDK King Of The Ring

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    Man, it's OK to admit that Owen fucked up. He was one of the best pure wrestlers in the world at that point, but he was careless, botched the Piledriver, and broke somebodies neck. It wasn't like some freak accident that couldn't have been avoided. Austin said more than once, "Taker drops to his knees, drop to your knees" but Owen believed he could execute a sit-out without hurting Austin, and he was wrong. He also did the move AGAIN a few weeks later against Dan Severn.

    Owen was always one of my favorite wrestlers, but I can't deny that he was more than a little careless that night. Moreso than the others you mentioned because those literally were, freak-accidents. Austin's broken neck could have easily been avoided had Owen just trusted that Austin didn't feel comfortable taking that piledriver. When somebody says, "I don't feel safe taking that", than you shouldn't apply the move, period.
     
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  18. THTRobtaylor

    THTRobtaylor Once & Future Wrestlezone Columnist

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    Then Austin needed to come up with another spot than any kind of Piledriver... He had that power if he wasn't convinced. He didn't do so, so he shares the responsibility with Owen for the botch...

    As for those saying people tap dance around Owen's flaws... they don't in the main... he fucked it up that night but like I said, he benefitted from the fallout of what happened with Bret. Cos guys like Foley threatened to quit, do you think they'd have been happy if Owen was then punished for the move?

    There was a definite double standard with how Owen and D Lo were treated after their serious botches, D-Lo was crucified backstage for a time when it was actually a fan throwing a soda in the ring that caused it. He suffered because of the health and safety issues around Owen's death. Politics were rife in both situations... D-Lo was at Droz's bedside and heartbroken, Owen never really acknowledged it... so yeah, Austin will always be a bit raw about it...

    It could even be that Austin is a little sad about the whole thing cos it could be seen as karma... but Owen came off far worse...that kinda thing sits heavy.
     
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  19. Mustang Sally

    Mustang Sally Sells seashells by the seashore

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    I should have expressed it better. I wasn't referring directly to the Austin incident, but rather in the interests of political correctness, people have been reluctant to criticize Owen Hart about anything since his death. Obviously, although this thread mentions Owen in the title, the subject actually was about Steve Austin's neck injury.


    Things do go wrong, yet the more dangerous the move, the more care that needs to be taken. In executing a Tombstone, there's a distinct element of danger since the 'victim' is wholly dependent on the guy executing the move to protect him......but the Tombstone is much less dangerous than the 'sit-down piledriver' because in the former, the guy initiating the move is coming down on his knees rather than his butt, as is done with the 'sit-down.' There's more room to make sure the victim's head never actually touches the mat.

    Given that Owen was doing the sit-down, replays show that the top of Austin's skull was positioned far too low between Owen's thighs.....and we all saw the result.

    True, Owen didn't mean to cause injury, yet if he couldn't control the maneuver better than he did, he shouldn't have been performing it in the first place. He deserves plenty of blame; this isn't something that should have 'just happened because things can easily go wrong.'

    I wonder if the move shows up on Owen's DVD.
     
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  20. Makaveli31

    Makaveli31 Championship Contender

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    The fact that Austin actually finished the match after being paralyzed is something that is truly AMAZING. You look at football players having their head stabilized, not being moved, then being carted off the field and think about how in the hell Austin finished that match and actually walked off under his own power.

    That to me cemented his reputation as a bad ass. I think if he would have been taken away on a stretcher it would've not had the same impact.
     
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  21. enviousdominous

    enviousdominous Behold my diction

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    Okay; so the most sense I can make out of all that is that you're wondering what our theories are in regard to what Austin's career may have become without the neck injury, and that we should be forewarned that there may be Owen Hart criticisms thrown around in that he was involved in that fateful spot.

    I don't think that arbitrary political correctness is to blame for a lack of negative criticisms being thrown at Owen Hart, especially if we're focused on Austin's injury. I think that Owen was a genuinely great guy and that he understood the seriousness of that unfortunate spot second only to Austin himself.
     
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  22. ilapierre

    ilapierre Getting Noticed By Management

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    Oh, all knowing JackHammer! Owen Hart was never ever overrated alive or dead. Had he lived, his legacy would be comparable to Chris Jericho today He proved to be a fantastic wrestler/performer during his legendary feud with Bret. He even beat Bret in one of the best ever Wrestlemania matches. He continued to develop as must see TV for the next 5 years. He was a mid-carder with a ton more charisma than today's main eventers. He really should have won his first title around the time Triple H did. Owen could have held, just like Triple H, two or three titles without being shit on..I always hoped he had a title coming to him before he tragically died. And being 34 years old when he died meant nothing. Savage won his first WWE world title when he was 35. And he went on to be the greatest wrestler in the history of wrestling. And, no, just because he's dead doesn't mean he is overrated. There are at least 50 WWE wrestlers, present, retired or dead, standing between Savage and Triple H when it comes to best overall entertainer. And Owen Hart would be one of them.
     
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  23. Hollywood Naitch

    Hollywood Naitch The current reigning and defending

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    That's the thing..HAD HE LIVED. But tragically, he didn't and that's why it's impossible to class Owen as an all-time great on the level of a Triple H. Could he have reached main event status in WWE? Of course he could, he was only 34 when he passed and had time to break into the upper echelon of the card. You're right in saying he could have had a legacy comparable to Chris Jericho's, they were similar in a way and Owen could quite easily have developed into the Jericho role of swapping between main even and upper mid card feuds.

    However, he will always remain a big "what if?", someone who was never able to fulfil their undoubted potential. He had a very good career as it is though, it's just a damn shame he passed before you could call him a "great".
     
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  24. dsotm5150

    dsotm5150 Pre-Show Stalwart

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    Its hard to say with Austin, on the one hand it definitely helped him character wise, but a neck injury of any kind is rough, its just like any other severe injury, even after its fixed, your still going to feel it. So night after night of getting beat on and pounded on still takes its toll. Plus if I remember right Austin was fairly injury prone prior to that incident, and for some reason, and I may be wrong about this, i think he was having neck issues before the match which was why he didnt want to take the piledriver in the first place. Regardless, I don't think Austin would have stuck around too much longer than he did, he stated numerous times how miserable he was with the product.
     
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  25. Hollywood Naitch

    Hollywood Naitch The current reigning and defending

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    Going back to Sally's original question about whether the damaged neck from the Hart piledriver shortened Austin's career...of course it did. Austin lost a lot of in-ring time while at his peak as a result of the botched piledriver, and retired only a few years later. Yeah, you could say he was "disillusioned with the product" as he's stated before, but you can't tell me that we wouldn't have seen Stone Cold back in the ring again after 2003 had his neck been ok. Vince would have offered him HUGE amounts of money to return, and I think it's almost certain Austin would have returned for the odd match, or even for short runs like Jericho/RVD have done. Who knows, maybe he'd even have had a HBK-esque resurrection and gone one for years more.

    Put simply, a fucked up neck will cut short your career, as it did for plenty of other wrestlers. You don't mess around with a neck injury.
     
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