It used to be The Rock, then it was Brock Lesnar, now social media and WWE fans and media are clamoring for the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin. With WrestleMania 32 in Texas Austin seems like a fit, yet the stone cold reality is that Austin is never coming back and it’s time to move on.
Austin has not has a pro wrestling match in a WWE ring in 12 years. Since that time Austin has established himself in the entertainment industry and appears to be enjoying life away from the squared circle. Austin has dabbled with the WWE many times since retirement, yet it has been several years since he appeared with any consistency on WWE programming. For whatever reason it has become abundantly clear that while Austin and the WWE are still on good terms, their relationship remains at a distance.
Their relationship, much like Vince McMahon’s relationships with his other biggest stars (Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Bruno Sammartino) at times, has been somewhat fragile since Austin’s retirement. Austin recently returned WWE television with a pair of podcasts on the WWE Network. A recent report however indicates that Austin’s last podcast with Triple H opened up too many old wounds and Vinnie Mac is not happy with him. That would explain the sudden announcement of Chris Jericho’s podcast coming to the WWE Network.
But as we have also seen in the past, this relationship could be repaired in a second if Austin agreed to lace up the boots. Offers have been extended to Austin in recent years, including a proposed match with Triple H at WrestleMania 30. Austin however has remained consistent in his commitment to retirement. Austin has talked about the subject many times in interviews and his podcasts. He never says “never” and always says everything would have to be aligned for it to happen.
A recent idea proposed on Austin’s own podcast seemed to peak his interest. In a 2014 interview with Paul Heyman, the idea was broached about a Brock Lesnar vs. Steve Austin WrestleMania match. Heyman sold Austin on it like he was calling up Terry Funk for one “final” ECW appearance. Austin appeared intrigued and as someone listening to Heyman hype up the fantasy scenario, so was I. Yet here we sit several months later and the match seems no closer to happening today than it did before Heyman even brought it up.
So while it is nice to dream, I think it is time to finally close this chapter, even if Austin won’t close the book completely. WWE television desperately needs some Stone Cold Steve Austin as do his fans. Unfortunately Austin is more interested in his legacy than he is with either of us and you have to respect him for that. Steve Austin isn’t coming back and that’s the bottom line even if he won’t say so.