Steve Austin and Jeff Jarrett debuted within just three years of one another.
Jarrett debuted in 1986, working for his father’s Continental Wrestling Association at 18 years of age. He was born into the business, and benefitted from that nepotism immediately: he didn’t stare at the lights in his first match, nor get smashed into the learning curve as a jobbing greenhorn: he took an enhancement talent to a ten-minute draw, as a referee, in a match driven by an actual storyline. That enhancement talent was named Tony Falk—a figure of fun in the ring, a referee and a wrestler, and a man about whom nobody has said a bad word. As the senior man, he of course steered Jarrett through this baptism of fire.
Austin, meanwhile, debuted in 1989. He wasn’t born into the business; he was drawn into it through the alluring pull of the Von Erichs lighting up the Dallas Sportatorium. There, he was also victorious in his debut against Frogman LeBlanc. Tony Falk officiated that match and guided Austin through it.
Jarrett and Austin were also linked by their early promise as newcomers; Austin, prodigious, won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter award for Rookie of the Year in 1990. Jarrett in 1992 secured Feud of the Year for his work in a rave-reviewed USWA feud in which he and Jerry Lawler waged war with the Moondogs.
Their paths were bound to cross in the ring at some point or another; just three years separated them, they came up in the same states, and those paths converged amid the World Wrestling Federation’s relentless expansion. As preternatural talents destined to make it to the big time, there were but two promotions that could be designated as such: the WWF and World Championship Wrestling.