When discussing the endless debate about who deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of wrestling, two men often brought up are Ric Flair and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. What some fans may not know is that Flair and Austin were entangled in a feud in the early 2000s that didn’t get the type of praise and attention one might expect.
Flair had recently joined the company after his impressive run in WCW, but hadn’t worked with WWE since 1993 up until that point. As for Austin, this was during a time when his character was trying to find its footing after years of memorable storylines with Vince McMahon, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, and others. Their rivalry also played out around the time of the first WWE brand split, and it was clear that "WWE Raw" was relying on the Flair vs. Austin feud to keep viewers interested for weeks to come. Unfortunately, the lackluster story remains an underwhelming feud that, on paper, should have been spectacular.
The two men began the story with a common goal –- to make Vince McMahon’s life harder at every turn. With the infamous WCW Invasion angle wrapping up, Flair became the kayfabe co-owner of WWE alongside McMahon. Since Austin and McMahon had such a storied hatred for one another, Flair’s character wanted to keep giving Austin opportunities. But once the brand split really got underway and Austin was sequestered to "Raw," Flair started seeing Austin as a threat to his authority.