WWE Then and Now: Has The Rock Surpassed Stone Cold Steve Austin?

Tyson Jones@@TigerKingTJSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 8, 2013

Photo courtesy of WWE.com
Photo courtesy of WWE.com

For the past couple of years, one name from the Attitude Era has been on the tongues of people all over the world. After several years away from the WWE, "The Great One" made his return to the WWE (in a smaller capacity, of course,) sending shock waves not seen in a very long time and proving why The Rock has the nickname "The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment."

The Rock has been a huge part of the WWE. Despite his long absences, he completed at WrestleMania 28 against John Cena in one of the biggest matches in the history of the company (he also took part in a tag team match with Cena against The Awesome Truth at Survivor Series). In just a few short days, The Rock steps into the ring with another staple of the PG Era, CM Punk, in a bid to become WWE Champion.

Honestly, with so much surrounding this man, it's almost inconceivable to think that he actually played second fiddle to another man. Stone Cold Steve Austin has been cited as the face of the Attitude Era for several reasons. Regardless of how you get to the conclusion, nine times out of 10, when you hear "Attitude" in the context of wrestling, Stone Cold is the face that pops into your mind.

With that said, I have to wonder if that's still the case. Does his prominent role in the WWE now push the actions of The Rock to the forefront of your mind, rather than those of Stone Cold when you hear "Attitude"?

The WWE has been doing a lot of stuff with the Attitude Era lately—it's the focus of the latest WWE video game WWE 13, it recently released an Attitude Era DVD (curious as to how well that sold, actually) and even did a recent interview with Stone Cold on WWE.com that got really in-depth about his feelings on the Attitude Era (among other things). Stone Cold was also featured with his own Collectors Edition of WWE 13.

Of course, many of you are familiar with the constant power struggles between The Rock and Steve Austin (often cited as 1A and 1B), but as stated, Austin personified the Attitude Era. Still, one could argue that Rock was the one who came out on top, beating his archrival at WrestleMania in the main event.

Now, it's a new day and things are far different. Though heavily featured, talk of Austin is few and far between, as The Rock has stepped into the limelight both within the WWE and within the confines of popular culture.

The Rock has not only been around more often by comparison in recent years, but the Rock's stock also continues to rise within Hollywood. He has various films on his schedule to work on including Pain & Gain, Fast Six and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Not only that, but even looking back, The Rock has been part of some other good films such as Gridiron Gang, The Game Plan (I liked it) and, of course, The Scorpion King.

Meanwhile, Austin has been playing it relatively low key, with his movies not gaining much exposure, comparatively. He's performing less overall, with the only films lined up for him this year being Grown Ups 2 and The Package, as well as the release of Maximum Conviction.

The WWE is a company that loves mainstream attention. That's something The Rock has been gaining for a long time now, and continues to do so—not only with his movies, but also with his apparent role within the WWE. He's more than likely not only going to become WWE champion between now and WrestleMania, but he may very well also main event WrestleMania this year again—champion or not.

When The Rock and Steve Austin were WWE regulars, I think most people would say The Rock was 1B and "The Texas Rattlesnake" was, for all intents and purposes, "The Man." However, it would appear as if that position has been usurped by "The People's Champion."

What do you think? Has the larger star power of The Rock allowed him to surpass Stone Cold in terms of popularity with the fans? Has it elevated his place in history beyond Austin's? Has The Rock become the face of the Attitude Era?