In a recent podcast, WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross opened up about the time Stone Cold Steve Austin had an argument with the boss Vince McMahon about a fight against Brock Lesnar.
On one of the shows, the creative team had decided to set up Stone Cold with a young and upcoming Brock Lesnar. Vince McMahon had approved of this and wanted it to happen.
Stone Cold, the protagonist of the Attitude Era of WWE, was not having any of it. He refused to work with that segment and threatened not to show up at all.
On hearing this, McMahon called Steve multiple times but didn’t get a response. When Steve finally decided to call back, he listened to every detail about the match that McMahon had to present and reluctantly agreed.
However, he still was in a bad state. Jim Ross gives his perspective on the entire situation, and what was really going on in Steve Austin’s head that night.
Steve Austin had been having personal issues
“He processed a lot of information that he could have processed a different way,” says Ross, “but he was fried, he was done.”
JR explains how Steve Austin had a lot on his plate to deal with. The reality was that he was a spent force. Steve was finished and WWE had overexerted him.
However, this wasn’t the only matter at hand. Steve was also facing marital problems with his then-wife, Deborah. “I knew his marriage was on rocky ground and it eventually dissolved,” says Ross.
Ross explained how Steve had an argument with his wife before the event, and she took a plane to Atlanta before him. He was already mentally strained.
“And then again I can’t stress enough the health issues,” says a concerned Jim Ross. “He was dealing with an issue that if done incorrectly with somebody that he didn’t feel comfortable with and confident with, he wouldn’t be the same man he is today, he wouldn’t be up walking around”
JR reveals the truth about Steve Austin’s injury. He had sustained a severe neck injury and was walking on shaky ground. He also suffered from Stenosis, that could not be fixed. It was a problem he was suffering from since childhood.
Steve Austin risked paralysis in every match he fought
Steve was fighting a dangerous battle, and every move could be the one that triggered the neck injury or damaged the last straw in his spine. He had to get into the ring with these thoughts.
“None of us could understand how he felt that time because of what happens if?” Said JR.
“A lot of guys that Steve worked with he knew could help and protect him. I suppose that’s the goal of every match, protect your opponent you know, take liberties and he wanted to work with guys that he thought were fundamentally sound, had enough experience or that he trusted,” says Jim Ross.
JR explains how protecting the opponent is the primary duty of a wrestler in the ring. Steve Austin only wanted to fight wrestlers that knew about his problem and would deal with him accordingly.
Listening to McMahon’s decision to pit him against Brock Lesnar deeply frustrated him. He felt betrayed that the boss, knowing his condition, would do this to him.
Stone Cold didn’t have an issue with fighting Brock Lesnar
“If he didn’t have total confidence that you were gonna take care of him, protect him as a pro wrestler should in every match, he was very uncomfortable as we saw,” concludes JR.
In his book, Steve Austin clarifies that he did not have a problem wrestling Brock Lesnar. He had a problem the way it was done. There was no storyline, no build-up.
JR speaks more truth however by elucidating Steve’s personal issues that plagued him. He needed someone who he trusted and didn’t want to risk getting paralyzed.
Vince McMahon does come across as adamant at times, and in this situation, he disregarded Steve Austin’s feelings completely. The iconic “Rattlesnake” had to call it on his career soon after this.
However, he does return to deliver Stone Cold Stunners to the McMahons every now and then and boy, do we enjoy it.