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Austin given the keys to the city

By PAUL BENEDETTI -- Hamilton Spectator
  It was all black T-shirts, baseball caps and bad attitude.

Throw in blasting music, a bunch of of bouncers and some good old-fashioned ballyhoo and you've got a picture of what it was like yesterday at Hamilton City Hall when World Wrestling Federation sensation Stone Cold Steve Austin arrived.

More than 2,000 people lined up for hours for a chance to see wrestling's baddest act and some of his cohorts.

They weren't disappointed. With the kind of fanfare usually reserved for Roman emperors and rock stars, the city welcomed the reigning WWF champion into the city.

As a white stretch limousine pulled up the steps in front of City Hall, the crowd began to chant, "Austin, Austin."

Announcer Dok Hendrix brought the already screaming crowd up a couple of decibels.

"He is the toughest S.O.B. He is 250 pounds of bad attitude. He is the rattlesnake of the world. Hamilton, give it up for the one, the only Stone Cold Steve Austin!"

The crowd, mostly kids with the parents tagging along, went wild.

Their hero, dressed in a tight T-shirt, jean shorts and work boots, his head freshly shaved and gleaming, pulled off his wrap-around shades and said hello to Mayor Bob Morrow.

Morrow wisely offered the hulking wrestler the keys to the city and unveiled a brand new street sign -- Stone Cold Way.

"For today," said Morrow, "Main Street and Bay Street are going to be called Stone Cold Way."

Two other wrestlers, Mosh and Thrasher, known to their adoring fans as The Headbangers, were upset at being passed over by the mayor. "Hey, we don't get nothin?" one yelled into the microphone.

After pleasantries were exchanged and handshakes completed, Austin got down to business.

"I've got a helluva job ahead of me tonight," he said, referring to Breakdown, the sold out Pay Per View WWF championship match at Copps Coliseum. "When the bell goes, I'm just going to have to beat somebody's ass."

The crowd cheered loudly and none louder than 15-year-old David Montoya.

He and buddies Geoff Eichinger, 16, and P. J. Kozuh, 15, all Notre Dame High School students, arrived at City Hall at 4:30 a.m. to make sure they were first in line for the autograph session. They'd had almost no sleep and were drenched by an early morning thunderstorm, but the three boys were thrilled to be up front. "Everything is worth it," said Montoya.

Although the testosterone level in the audience was high, there was a smattering of young women wearing black T-shirts sporting the Steve Austin skull and emblazoned with the name Stone Cold. One of them was Jessica Szucsko, a 15-year-old wrestling fan from Bishop Ryan High School.

Introduced to WWF wrestling by her brother, she became a fan about two years ago.

"I thought it was very entertaining," said Jessica, who was wearing Stone Cold blue sunglasses. Not many of her female classmates are wrestling fans, but she said she enjoys the spectacle which she described as half-sport and half-entertainment.

Mostly though, she just likes Stone Cold Steve. "He's the best star ever."

Yesterday, it would have been hard to find anyone who'd disagree.

WWF Breakdown stories & photos

  • Austin loses title at Breakdown
  • Dissecting Breakdown from Row 10
  • Wrestling fans pack Coliseum
  • Hamilton honours Austin
  • Austin given the keys to the city

  • PHOTO: Fireworks go off for the opening of In Your House: Breakdown.  31K

  • PHOTO: A ticket for In Your House: Breakdown.  14K

  • PHOTO: Edge flies from the top rope onto Owen Hart.  22K

  • PHOTO: The Headbangers with Doc Hendrix at Hamilton's City Hall.  18K

  • PHOTO: The Headbangers share a laugh.  20K

  • PHOTO: The Headbangers sign autographs.  15K

  • PHOTO: Stone Cold Steve Austin exits his limo.  20K

  • PHOTO: Austin with Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow and Dok Hendrix.  20K

  • PHOTO: Austin listens to Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow.  19K

  • PHOTO: Austin receives the key to the city.  22K

  • PHOTO: Austin shows off the key to the city.  18K

  • PHOTO: The New Age Outlaws pose with a fan.  26K