PHILADELPHIA (AP) — “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s bottom line has him at the top of the latest WWE videogame.
Austin was named Monday as the cover superstar — and he will step inside the virtual ring as a playable character — for the WWE 2K16 videogame that is set for an Oct. 27 release.
Austin strikes a classic pose for the cover, with his fists clenched and arms raised as glass shards fly around him.
Austin, the foul-mouthed anti-hero who ushered in WWE’s “Attitude Era,” earned the cover nod over some of today’s popular stars despite last wrestling in 2003.
“I think it speaks to the impact my career had on the business,” Austin said. “It was a testament to the times when the business was as hot as it’s ever been. I got a chance to lead that charge and all these years later, it comes back around.”
Austin easily became WWE’s biggest in-ring star in the 22-year history of the company’s flagship “Raw” show, and headlined cards against rivals like The Rock, Mr. McMahon and Shawn Michaels. His Austin 3:16 shirt was one of the biggest merchandise sellers in WWE history.
“Not only will Austin grace the video game’s cover, but he’s involved in shaping its creative direction. Through his numerous contributions, inclusion on the largest roster in franchise history and the game’s to-be-announced features, WWE 2K16 is certain to put everyone on notice,” said Chris Snyder, vice president of marketing at 2K.
Austin has remained in the spotlight since his final match with a variety of projects. He has hosted four seasons of “Redneck Island” on CMT. He also serves as the host of “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” which is currently in production for its third season on CMT.
Austin also hosted the WWE reality show “Tough Enough” and hosts “Stone Cold Podcast, Live.”
Austin caused a stir on his latest WWE Network podcast when he teased a potential WrestleMania match with former UFC and WWE champion Brock Lesnar. Austin said the dream match was just hype to get fans talking. Stone Cold’s black boots, black trunks and black vest will remain in storage.
He hasn’t wrestled a match since he lost to The Rock at WrestleMania in 2003. The 50-year-old Austin’s career was cut short with a variety of neck and knee injuries.
“I think I’ve left everything that I’ve got in the ring,” he said. “There’s no reason to go back in the ring and prove anything. I had to ride off into the sunset a little bit earlier than I’d have liked. But that final match I had at WrestleMania with The Rock was my last match.”
Austin, who was not scheduled to attend the official cover announcement on Monday’s “Raw,” isn’t much of a gamer.
But his career can go on in the WWE video game franchise that boasts more than 120 playable characters. Austin listed dream matches against Hulk Hogan, John Cena, CM Punk and Andre the Giant and would have loved to face Sting when both were main eventers.
Hogan, Cena and Sting are stone cold locks to be named to the video game roster later this year. 2K announced WWE world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Wade “Bad News” Barrett, Paige, Finn Balor and Austin as the first wrestlers in the game.
Fans also can use the game’s creation suite to make playable characters or go online to community creations and find and download characters made by other gamers. It’s possible to have an in-game fantasy matchup between pretty much any stars in WWE history.
WWE 2K16 will be available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3 systems.
“I thought it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve done,” Austin said. “Any time Stone Cold does something, it brings a little attitude and swagger. And that’s the bottom line, because I said so.”
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