“Stone Cold” Steve Austin: One More Round


Alex Smith, Feature Writer

For over twenty years, “What!?” has been one of the most popular phrases shouted at any professional wrestling event across the country. That one-word phrase became popularized by one of the most influential men in the professional wrestling industry, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Steve Austin has been retired from in-ring competition for nineteen years. His last match was against The Rock at WrestleMania 19. But it looks like it’s time for one more round as of late. 

In late 2002, Steve Austin left the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) over creative differences. After a several-month hiatus, Austin made amends with the company and owner Vince McMahon. He was making his return in 2003, just in time for WrestleMania 19. He returned on a 2003 episode of the WWE’s Monday night show RAW to a thunderous reaction. However, not everyone was thrilled by his return as the fans were. During Austin’s in-ring promo on that episode of RAW, he was interrupted by The Rock. The Rock had an ax to grind with Austin. The Rock wanted one more match at WrestleMania with Austin; he lost their two prior bouts at WrestleMania 15 and 17. This set the stage for WrestleMania; weeks later, they’d get into brawls and verbal confrontations. 

All the technicalities were thrown out the window, and the match between Rock and Austin was an all-out brawl, going nearly 18 minutes. It would take three rock bottoms for Austin to stay down for the count of three. After WrestleMania, Austin would quietly retire from in-ring competition. For the next nineteen years, Austin would make sporadic appearances for the company and have a podcast and television shows.

With WrestleMania 38 just around the corner, rumors and speculation is running wild amongst the wrestling community. One of these rumors was the in-ring return of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Kevin Owens, a Canadian-born wrestler, has been bad-mouthing the United States for weeks. Specifically, the state of Texas, finally on a recent episode of RAW, Kevin Owens challenged Austin to a match at WrestleMania. Austin, a Texas native, took to social media on March Eighth (3/8/21) by posting a video accepting Kevin Owens’s challenge.

“Nineteen years ago, I wrestled my last match in a WWE ring. After three rock bottoms, 1… 2…3… I lost the match, and I’ve had to live with that defeat for nineteen years, knowing my time was up. Kevin Owens, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for waking something up deep inside me that I’ve kept buried for nineteen years ever since you started running the damn mealy-mouth of yours talking about the state of Texas, the great state of Texas! You got my attention.” ~Steve Austin

As a fan, I am torn about this announcement. On the one hand, I was ecstatic when I heard this announcement; to see an all-time great return to the ring at WrestleMania would be amazing! I’m sure everyone can relate in some form or fashion, whether it be music, sports, television, etc. However, I am worried. I’m afraid that Austin will be a parody of himself when he returns. He also had a freak accident back in 1997 where he broke his neck and suffered near paralysis. So I wouldn’t want him to get injured even further. Regardless, come the weekend of April second, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will have one more round.