With a myriad of headlines coming out of WrestleMania week, one that fell under the radar was that Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t going to attend the show in person. This past Friday, PWInsider had the brief note that about it: “It surprised a number of people in the company when it was announced, as [Austin] was scheduled to arrive tomorrow and there were plans in place for him. I don’t know what exactly happened there yet, but it was enough that WWE staff in San Jose are talking about it.”
There was nothing more to the story over the weekend, and Austin himself did a full WrestleMania recap on his Tuesday episode of The Steve Austin Show, giving it high praise and really putting over the company, letting on no signs of an issue between him and the company. Then this week we found out more about the issues between Austin and WWE, more specifically Vince McMahon, when PWInsider followed up with their initial story by sharing that Austin was supposed to be on the same flight as Undertaker, flying from their nearby homes in south Texas, to the Bay Area for WrestleMania. WWE even went as far as having someone at the airport ready to pick up Austin, along with having a private room for him in the stadium. Austin was nowhere to be seen, however.
It appears the root of the issue that Vince is furious with Austin, and does not like certain aspects of Austin’s live podcasts that they’ve done on the WWE Network. The fact that this coming Monday they’re doing a live podcast with Chris Jericho instead, shows that there is definitely a rift somewhere between the two parties, as WWE used Austin’s live podcasts as a selling point in both of their free month promotions.
The issues are apparently deep enough, that in the same story from PWInsider, it’s said that Austin turned down the opportunity to return to Tough Enough that will be shot later in the year. If true, that would make two coaches from the last season of Tough Enough that will not be returning. Bill DeMott, who just left the company last month, is the other. That just leaves Booker T and Trish Stratus who could return to the show, so it will be interesting to see who they consider bringing in to host the show now.
The rumor is that what started all this, is that Vince is angry at the fact that Austin brought up Chyna during the second live podcast with Triple H, and made WWE look a little hypocritical with the answer Triple H gave. WWE, and Vince in particular, really get their heels dug in on issues that just should not be issues. It’s been said that Vince is also upset at the fact that HBK used the words “strap” and “wrestler” during his induction of Kevin Nash at the Hall of Fame, along with the fact that both men credited Nash for bringing guaranteed contracts to the forefront of the business during the Monday Night Wars.
My Thoughts: Stone Cold Steve Austin is synonymous with WWE, and should be a part of the company at all times. My guess is that Vince has been unhappy ever since the Triple H podcast aired, and at some point before WrestleMania, Austin caught wind that they were going to or at least considering using Chris Jericho moving forward. At that point, Austin decided that he wouldn’t attend the show. There were hopes that Austin would bring himself to have one more match at WrestleMania 32 in his home state of Texas, but this issue may have just put the nail in the coffin on that. It will be interesting to see if Austin will address this in an upcoming episode of his podcast now that the story is gaining steam.
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Thanks to WrestlingInc for help with this story as well.