Put the rumors to rest, it is official. Stone Cold Steve Austin will be the special guest referee for the Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole WrestleMania 27 match. Steve Austin returns to the familiar role of guest referee that he has played to acclaim at past WrestleMania events.
Michael Cole promised all throughout the first hour of RAW that he would announce his special guest referee for the match. Cole finally made the announcement and teased Austin saying that the ref is a Texan and a former WWE champion. Instead he swerved the audience with JBL. The longest reigning WWE champion on SmackDown made his way to the ring and celebrated with Cole. Cole handed JBL the contract and all of the sudden glass broke and all hell broke loose.
It was a real clever way to get Austin involved in the match and on WrestleMania 27. News broke last week that Austin would be the referee for the match but it didn’t make any sense at the time. With Cole allowed to pick the referee, the idea that he would pick Austin didn’t make sense. I’ll give the WWE a ton of credit tonight because they made it work. The JBL swerve was great and in the end it all makes sense.
In a nostalgic moment, last week’s video from The Rock played following the Austin angle. It has probably been eight years or so since a WWE fan could tune into RAW and see Austin and Rock back to back on the same show.
This marks Austin’s first official return to WrestleMania since he donned the stripes at WrestleMania 23 to referee the Donald Trump vs. Vince McMahon challenge between Bobby Lashley and Umaga. Austin then appeared briefly at WrestleMania 25 but only to come out live and be acknowledged for his WWE Hall of Fame induction. Austin returned to RAW last year as part of the Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon build up but was never part of WrestleMania 26.
RAW ratings have been dramatically up since the return of The Rock. I would imagine they would continue or even grow tonight with Austin back in the fold. There is talk of The Rock appearing on one more RAW before WrestleMania either next week or the following Monday. Just the idea that fans think they may see both Rock and Austin on RAW over the next two weeks should result in the highest RAW ratings in years in upcoming weeks.
Check out the WWE – The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin