Stone Cold Steve Austin reached peak popularity in the late 1990s by impersonating the gimmick of "Stone Cold Steve Austin", an irreverent anti-beer drinker who routinely challenged the despotic federation leader Vince McMahon: this character has been described as the symbol of Attitude Era, one of the best boom periods in WWF history, and the "face" of the federation for four years: speaking of its power to attract audiences McMahon and Jim Ross have indicated Austin as the most profitable wrestler in the history of the federation, so much so that in 1999 alone he managed to bring over 15 million dollars to the WWF coffers only with the sale of his shirts.
Austin has main evented multiple pay-per-view events for the WWE, including three WrestleManias (XIV, XV and X-Seven). He was forced to retire from in-ring competition in 2003 due to a series of knee injuries and a serious neck injury.
Throughout the rest of 2003 and 2004, he was featured as the Co-General Manager and Sheriff of Raw. Since 2005, he has continued to make occasional appearances and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by Vince McMahon.
In 2011, Austin returned to WWE to host the reboot of the reality series Tough Enough. During a long interview with Peter Rosenberg of ESPN, he talked about working with Vince McMahon: “Vince can read a crowd, and he plays to that crowd, and he just loves to be, as a heel, he would love to be hated so much, and of course, I was so over as a babyface, it magnified, what I did magnified what he did and what he did magnified what I did, so just great chemistry. Pretty much always on the same page”.