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Stone Cold Steve Austin Talks Walking Out On WWE In 2002

Stone Cold Steve Austin may not be on WWE television but that doesn’t mean he is keeping a low profile. The Texas Rattlesnake is podcasting like a mad man, addressing all of his career controversies, one of the biggest being the night he refused to put over Brock Lesnar.

Austin is generally regarded highly among his peers for doing business the right way. However, there was a moment in Stone Cold’s career that he will readily admit that wasn’t the case. The one black mark came in 2002 when Austin refused to put over Brock Lesnar and walked out of the company.

Austin has talked about this moment a handful of times but I think he revealed more in a recent interview about his mindset than he ever has before. Austin was interviewed on former WWE star Chris Jericho’s podcast and talked extensively about what he called one of the biggest mistakes of his career.

“Well I handled the [Brock Lesnar] situation like a total a$#. What had happened, I was working Columbus the night before Monday Night RAW, I was working Flair in a cage. Jim Ross calls me. I’m laying in a hotel, just kind of resting up for the match because I got into town early and made the drive. He told me creative and he told me that they wanted Brock to beat me. And I’m thinking, okay hold it. I’m drawing stupid money right now. Obviously WWF had spent a lot of money getting me into this position. I busted my ass getting myself in this position. Guys that draw stupid money don’t just happen overnight. So now all of a sudden you want me to do a job for a guy, now I love Brock Lesnar and he’s a monster, and as soon as he walked in the door everybody saw massive potential in the guy, but for me to do a job for him without any kind of buildup? A match but no two or three weeks talking about it? A pay per view match is what it was.

So anyway, he told me creative. I said, ‘well, if that’s going to be the case I won’t be there.’ He said, ‘okay. I’m just telling you what the old man told me. ‘So he calls the old man and tells him. Jim calls me back. Hey, call the old man when you get through working. Vince gives me the scenario when I call and I say that’s what we’re doing, huh? He goes, ‘that’s what we’re doing,’ and I said, ‘okay.’ Well, when I said okay, you can’t see my eyes, I mean okay. I’m not going to be there. That’s why I don’t like phone calls when we’re talking business.

So anyway, me being in the place I was in my head at the time, hell, I was drinking a lot of damn whiskey and beer. I showed up every night. I was the first guy in the dressing room and the last guy to leave and I worked my ass off. But hey, man. We were running hard back then, Chris. I just said, ‘piss on these guys. Why would they try and do this to me?’ I got back on an airplane and flew to San Antonio.

It was stupid, Chris, because you have to own up to some responsibility and accountability and show up. Honor your deal. You’re packed with the boys and your job. So I should have showed up like a man, come up with a solution. Could have been a different solution, could have been just don’t even do the match, but show up and talk to Vince face to face, solve the problem in some way or fashion, and get through it like a grown man.”

It’s an interesting perspective because anytime I have heard Austin talk about this in the past he never fully apologized for it. He has admitted his wrongdoing yet he generally defends it at the same time by putting it all into context. His take now, over a decade later is interesting considering who all of the major players were at the time of the incident.

In retrospect it really is an odd booking decision to say the least. Why would they book the match on free television without any buildup? Austin admits to having a drinking problem at the time so maybe they were planning on writing him out? What Austin did not bring up in this interview is that the booking decision was made shortly after Stone Cold buried the creative team in a public interview. Obviously he felt that this was some kind of retribution which it would certainly seem to be.

Regardless it is a fascinating topic to this day and while Austin says he should have handled it differently, I am not so sure I agree with him.

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