The Wrestler Almost Known As Chilly McFreeze
By John Brecko
Credit: Google/ECW/Paul Heyman/Steve Austin
Thankfully, this wrestler does not exist. However, this article is being written because he almost did.
There is a man in pro-wrestling who smashes his beers together before lifting them a foot or two from his head and chugs them. Admittedly, he does not get most of the beer in his mouth, but he has also gone on to say that no one would continue to watch him if he sipped his beer slowly.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was almost known to us as “Chilly McFreeze”. Stone Cold has had several gimmicks throughout his wrestling career that have actually gone over well. He was “Stunning” Steve Austin in WCW and “Superstar” Steve Austin in ECW. He would eventually go to WWE (the World Wrestling Federation at the time) under a new gimmick. However, he was not always known as Stone Cold.
When he first came to the WWF, he was known as “The Ringmaster”. If you expect that gimmick to be terrible, you would be right.
Not even “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase could get him over, even when “The Ringmaster” won The Million Dollar Championship.
He would eventually become Stone Cold Steve Austin, cut an iconic promo on Jake “The Snake” Roberts at the King of the Ring pay-per-view in 1996 and would have one of the best Wrestlemania matches in the history of WWE’s biggest pay-per-view against Bret “Hitman” Hart at Wrestlemania 13.
Austin passed out in the ring from the pain of Bret Hart’s submission hold the “Sharpshooter” while blood poured from his busted open head. Ever since that match finished, Stone Cold Steve Austin never looked back.
However, he had to ditch the ringmaster gimmick before all of this would happen. Creative helped him come up with names for a new persona. One name was Otto Von Ruthless, which is your typical level of stupid for a bad ring name. Every other name that was given had to do with being cold, which ended up working out. However, being cold was the best creative could come up with…terrible.
The other names that were given to Steve Austin were “Ice Dagger”, “Fang McFrost” and of course, “Chilly McFreeze”.
The phrase that was eventually agreed on was obviously “Stone Cold” which sounds great and worked because it provided context for a character who had a mean streak and was ruthless to those he came across in the ring. The beers and middle fingers came during the WWF’s “Attitude Era”, where the company produced edgier content. The middle fingers had to go when WWE went back to family friendly content, but the Stone Cold salute where he smashes his beers together is too iconic to get rid of.
Steve Austin sold more merchandise than anyone with the “Austin 3:16” t-shirt and his feud with Mr. McMahon, which was the original “boss vs employee” feud is thought of by many as the greatest feud in wrestling history.
WCW was beating WWF in their ratings for well over a year and what finally turned the fortunes around for the company now knows as World Wrestling Entertainment was an advertised match on the flagship show, Monday night Raw between Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon. Personally, I am not sure if Chilly Mc Freeze vs Mr. McMahon would have pulled in the same ratings.
“Stone Cold” was instrumental in WWE’s most successful period between 1998 and 2001, which was a period the company could do no wrong. Steve Austin experienced success before this in wrestling, but never achieved the level of success in wrestling until he became “Stone Cold” and rose up against WWE’s authority figures at that time ever since Gorilla Monsoon was in an authority role. They never actually fought because Monsoon’s health was failing at the time and he was long past his physical prime anyway, but he still played a role in “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s career when he was the on-screen WWF Commissioner.
Once he achieved this level of success, Steve Austin never truly looked back, even after his days in the ring prematurely came to an end in 2003. Steve Austin left a legacy in wrestling that even when surpassed (before or after), it will never truly be duplicated and it should not be.
Once again, I do not think Chilly McFreeze could have pulled that off. Just saying…