Jim Ross and WWE respected Steve Austin's wishes by not advertising his last match, but JR believes by doing so, money was left on the table.
To many fans, WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001 was the peak of WWE’s popularity. Having ended the Monday Night War with WCW just six days prior, WWE was embarking on a new chapter as they headed toward a legitimately sold-out Astrodome in Houston, Texas on April 1, 2001.
Speaking of the legendary pay-per-view on his podcast, Grillin’ JR, Jim Ross would address whether or not the 2001 WrestleMania offering was actually the peak of the company, saying that if it wasn't the peak, the peak was coming up soon due to how hard it would be to replace Superstars the magnitude of The Rock and Steve Austin.
“Well, the captivating part I think was Rock and Austin. Two once-in-a-lifetime talents that were on this great story and telling this story. It just was, I thought, amazing. It might be, it might have been the peak. If it wasn't, we could see the peak,” said Ross of the fanfare surrounding the World Wrestling Federation in 2001.
Continuing on, Jim Ross would talk about the WrestleMania XIX match between The Rock and Steve Austin having the potential to generate more income had they been able to market it as Steve Austin's last match. Austin did not want that to be a part of the build, despite knowing that he would never wrestle again.
“I guess it's hard to debate if it was the peak because we did [WrestleMania XIX] two years later with the same match… The missed opportunity there was, nobody knew it was going to be Austin's last match. I've always said that if we would have promoted it as such, it would have had an even bigger buyrate because ‘this is it for Stone Cold, win, lose, or draw, he's gone.’ But he didn't want to go that route. He didn't want to be a part of the show. So, we respected his wishes and never mentioned it. But I do think that was a missed opportunity from a marketing standpoint.”
Despite being a recurring television character for most of the remaining decade, Steve Austin would never have a match again. He would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by Vince McMahon himself.
The closest he'd ever come to having another match is admitting that he would be open to hearing the creative of a match between himself and CM Punk during CM Punk’s 434-day WWE Championship reign.
Recently, CM Punk joked on Twitter that the match would end with him defeating Steve Austin easily in the middle of the ring. You can read the comments at this link.
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