Stone Cold Steve Austin retired nearly 20 years ago, but that doesn't make it any easier to think about walking away from the only thing he ever wanted to do.
At WrestleMania XIX in 2003, The Rock retired Stone Cold Steve Austin with one final encounter between the two at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. While it wasn't common knowledge that Stone Cold was going to retire at that time, the performers and personnel in WWE knew that that would be the end of one of the most popular characters in company history.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Steve Austin stated that it is still hard for him to think about that moment and he still gets emotional because of everything that the professional wrestling industry meant to him.
"Almost nobody on the roster that day knew that was going to be my last match. My nerves were acting up from the previous spinal injury that I knew it was going to be my last one," Austin recalls. "As you can see, I still get emotional as I'm even talking about the story and going back there. I damn near started crying [in the documentary]. My love for the business is so much, it's the only thing I really wanted to do in my life for a living. Deciding to retire from that dream at 38 was extremely hard."
Steve Austin then tipped his hat to his former rival for the gesture of respect that The Rock extended to him when their match was finished.
"Normally when somebody wins a match, they stay in the ring," he explains. "Rock won but because I was leaving, he let me have the ring so I could do my final farewell. He gave me that moment and it was really cool."
Recently, Jim Ross stated that if that match was able to be marketed as the final time Stone Cold would ever wrestle, it would have broken buyrate records. Learn more here.