Austin quietly retired from the world of pro wrestling in 2003 when he lost to his good friend and fellow former WWE Champion The Rock in one of the top matches at WrestleMania 19.
“They always ask me, ‘Do you miss it?’ No, man, because it’s been so long now that … I mean, I have to be over it now. But there is a small part of me, even though I don’t live in the past, that says, ‘Man, when you’re 38 years old, man, in wrestling, you’re really in your prime.’
All of the learning that I’d done, working angles, talking promos, psychology with the crowd. You’re really honed up at that age. And so to walk away from the table at seemingly a prime-time age was very, very tough for me to do, at many levels.”
Austin also talked about making the decision himself and dealing with it, which Austin talked about it being hard.
He recalled having a conversation with NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr, who had to step back from full-time racing due to a history of concussions. Like Austin, Earnhardt had to make the call himself as well.
“A doctor wasn’t going to tell him, ‘Hey, you need to quit.’ He pulled the plug on himself. I did the same thing. A doctor didn’t look me in the eyes and say, ‘Steve, you must retire now.’ It was a decision I had to make for myself.
When you’re flying high, and you’re this badass, tough-ass Stone Cold guy, and all your peers are just as tough as you, and you’re riding down the road doing something you’re so passionate about and you love so much, it would be anybody’s dream to live that kind of life. And all of a sudden you’ve got to make a decision to take yourself out of the game. It was extremely hard to deal with.”