Recently on The Steve Austin Show, WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin talked about his recently announced return to Madison Square Garden and some of his fondest memories from working in the world's most famous arena. Additionally, Austin discussed his difficult decision to retire from in-ring competition and why he enjoys interacting with today's WWE Superstars.
Austin will return to Madison Square Garden next week after a 20-year absence from New York City's famed venue. 'The King Of Attitude' stated that he had a lot of memorable moments at MSG, including sitting backstage and watching matches with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.
"It has just been announced I will be making my comeback after a 20-year absence - a 20-year absence - September 9, 2019, Monday Night RAW, WWE, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin will be back making his return to the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. I cannot believe it has been 20 years since I've been to Madison Square Garden. I've got so many memories of working in that building." Austin recalled, "I remember hiding behind that blue curtain, watching all the matches, sometimes with Vince, getting all that knowledge from him, listening to what he [has] got to say about some of the matches."
Austin divulged that being being introduced to the Madison Square Garden crowd by The Fink was one of 'Stone Cold''s proudest moments.
"One of the proudest moments in my WWE career, WWF back in the day, walking out to Madison Square Garden with the one and only Howard Finkel announcing my name, 'from Victoria, Texas, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin.'" Austin added, "this was old school. He had been with that organization forever. To hear him call out my name in The Garden, I knew I had arrived. That's how much that meant to me."
Also, Austin reminisced about his close relationship and legendary feud with his fellow WWE Hall Of Famer, Bret 'Hitman' Hart, which both began at Madison Square Garden.
"Going back to November 17, 1996, Survivor Series. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart was making a comeback from getting some cleanup done in one of his knees and he handpicked none other than myself, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, for his return match. And Bret got the best of me that night and I'll never forget it. And we formed a chemistry and a bond that night in that ring and everybody knows how much I respect Bret Hart. Everybody knows how much Bret Hart meant to the career of 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and it goes back to one special night, November 17, 1996."
Another first for Austin in 'MSG' came when 'The Bionic Redneck' delivered his first 'Stone Cold' Stunner to McMahon on the September 22, 1997 episode of WWE Monday Night RAW.
"September 22, 1997, there, in The Garden, hey man, I was running through some neck problems. They were trying to keep me out of the ring. Vince McMahon finally calls me to the ring and tries to settle me down [saying], 'hey man, we just care about you.' What I said, whatever I said, 'you can basically kiss my ass,' and I gave Vince McMahon, the owner of the company, who had really just started coming out as being the owner. He had always been a behind-the-scenes guy. We pulled him out and gave him the first 'Stone Cold' Stunner. And that Stunner was the one heard around the world and shifted the tide in the Monday Night Wars and I'll never forget that. And that was kind of a rough Stunner because Vince ain't the most coordinated guy in the world. He almost slipped out, but we nailed it and that crowd went absolute bats--t crazy." Austin remembered, "it was that old school flop sell. I loved it! He had his eyes open. It was one of the best things I've ever seen in my life."
"I can't forget August 3, 1998, Undertaker at SummerSlam: Highway To Hell. I'll never forget we needed a name for that pay-per-view. And, man, I was big into AC/DC and because of The Undertaker's gimmick, because of my gimmick, it was these two forces clashing. I said, 'man, what about 'Highway To Hell'?' and they made these badass posters, they licensed the 'Highway To Hell' song from AC/DC, and they made all those badass videos. And there we were, Undertaker and myself in a sold out Madison Square Garden. Once again, it all comes back to The Garden."
Also during the podcast, Austin divulged that deciding to end his storied professional wrestling career was one of the most difficult decisions he has had to make. 'The Texas Rattlesnake' claimed that he was waiting for his doctors to tell him to retire, but they never did.
"So, man, it was interesting for me walking back in [at the RAW reunion show] because it's like - I don't know - that's my home. And I had to leave and I didn't want to leave and I had to leave at 38 years of age! I mean, Goddang, there were so many matches and money left on the table. And the fact that I had to pull the plug on myself." Austin continued, "but I was talking to Dale [Earnhardt] Jr., and he had a lot of concussions from being in car wrecks and stuff like that, and he wanted someone to say, 'hey man, you need to stop,' but the doctors wouldn't tell him that. And it's the same thing with me. It's like I probably could've kept going on, but it was like me looking at what where I was at right then, pulling the plug on myself was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do and it took me three years of, man, I was doing a lot of crazy stuff to occupy those three years and not making the best decisions to finally be able to come to grips with it."
On the subject of sharing advice with young professional wrestlers, Austin said that it is interesting because the performers are all at different stages of development, so his advice has to be tailored to each individual talent.
"To go back and be around the guys and girls is cool because it's like someone would come up to you and say, 'hey man, you got any advice for me here?' and depending on where they're at, whether they're a year in the [professional wrestling] business, three years, seven years, it's like going to college, 101, 201, 301 level. You're dropping that information on them because if you try to drop some scientific s--t on someone who's not ready for that, it's in one ear, out the other because they can't comprehend it. So it was cool to go back and do that. But it's just cool to see the kids, the boys, and when I say that I mean the guys and the gals, all doing what we did."
Check out the podcast here. If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.