"When I stopped WCW, I went overseas for three-and-a-half years. I was going back and forth over there," said Stevie. "I didn't want to go to WWF; as a matter of fact, the last WCW Nitro I didn't even attend and they sent me a ticket, but I was always in the mindset of this is competition to me. This is NFL vs AFL or National League vs American League in baseball. WCW vs WWF, to be honest with you bro, I didn't want to go out like a b****."
Stevie said Harlem Heat helped revitalize the tag team division in WCW which helped them win the Monday Night Wars for 83 straight weeks. He didn't want to then just hop on to the other team that he was battling for so long.
"We had been fighting for the team, but when I heard Vince McMahon had come in and stuff like that - which I knew was coming. It's like, you saw the writing on the wall and you put it in the back of your mind, but at the end of the day I knew it was going to happen. But I didn't attend the last show because my brother [Booker T] said that they are going to be auditioning people. I told him that he should do it, but I'm done."
Stevie always valued the essence of Harlem Heat and felt that WWE may tinker with what made the tag team so successful. Thus, when WWE reached out to him after WCW was bought out, he was hesitant about joining as he didn't want to become just another WWE-created gimmick.
"This is the thing, I wanted people to remember Harlem Heat as an ass-kicking tag team of color, you see what I'm saying? I didn't want us to be something else. I didn't want us to turn into a Doink the Clown, so I'm not saying that they would have done this with Harlem Heat, but I didn't want to lose the edge that we once had as Harlem Heat," said Stevie.
"But then I had seen what they did with my brother and his character, I was like, okay, it is what it is. Vince McMahon does things his way, but I'm not mad, it's his show and he can do whatever he wants to do. But I just wanted people to be honest and break it down. I wanted people to remember Harlem Heat the way that they remember them today."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Conversations with the Big Guy Ryback with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.