In a candid moment on his "Monday Mailbag" podcast, veteran WWE referee Mike Chioda faced the daunting task of ranking WWE legends — a veritable clash of the titans featuring Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and John Cena.
Chioda, who's been the man in the stripes for countless iconic matches, paused, reflecting on the monumental careers before tipping his hat to Steve Austin. "It's gotta be Austin," Chioda finally declared after grappling with his thoughts.
He acknowledged Hogan's extensive tenure and unforgettable moments like the Icon vs. Icon match against The Rock and his historic bout with Andre the Giant. "Hogan was instrumental for many years," Chioda admitted, his respect for the wrestling pioneer evident.
However, it's "The Texas Rattlesnake" who ultimately clinches Chioda's vote for the Greatest of All Time in WWE lore, attributing Austin's unique flair for showmanship as pivotal in tipping the scales of the Monday Night Wars in WWE's favor.
"The energy Austin brought was something else," Chioda reminisced, noting how Austin's outrageous antics, such as driving beer trucks into arenas and his notorious beer baths, captivated fans. "That was the kind of stuff you lived for back in the day," he added with a note of nostalgia.
Chioda's Off-Camera Bond
Beyond the in-ring excitement, Chioda shared a more personal connection with Austin — a shared cold one at WWE live events, away from the TV cameras. "I didn't get the chance on live TV, but those live event moments, catching a beer from Austin, that's special," he mused, hinting at the camaraderie and backstage culture that further solidified Austin's status in his eyes.
As the debate over the supreme WWE icon continues among fans and insiders alike, Chioda's perspective adds valuable insight into the legends' impact through the eyes of someone who had a front-row seat to history.