When “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his triumphant return to the ring at WrestleMania 38 for a match that technically wasn't announced but was arguably the worst-kept secret in professional wrestling, it sent shockwaves through the professional wrestling world.
After nearly 20 years away from the ring following his unannounced retirement match against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at WrestleMania XIX, “The Rattlesnake” was back in action against one of the best in-ring performers the WWE Universe had to offer, Kevin Owens, and the match checked every box of a long-time fan. Do you like beers? “Stone Cold” had them in spades. How about ATV rides? Austin brought that too. Heck, despite having a pair of massive knee braces strapped to his legs, Austin still hit stunner after stunner on “The Prize Fighter,” with ever-growing cheers accompanying each successive stunner.
But, you may wonder, how did Austin get so 3:16-ready for his in-ring return? Well, according to the man himself in an appearance on Out of Character with Ryan Satin, the preparation required a ton of exercising but very little in-ring training.
“Zero. Zero in-ring training,” Austin said via Fightful. “I was doing cardio. Here is an inside tip for you. I love Sheamus, he has a great YouTube channel, the Celtic Warrior Workout. I got on there, I watched Edge's routine, I watched Bryan Danielson's training routine. The one that really got me was Becky Lynch's comeback routine. I did her routine over and over, then I invented my own out of that. I was training hard at my house, but I didn't have a ring. Once I got to Dallas, I got there three or four days early because I always do, I ran the ropes a lot with Drew Gulak, who is absolutely wonderful, a great talent. Super guy, very intuitive in the ring, we did a lot of criss-cross stuff. Locked up, grab a headlock, a couple of spots. Just a little bit of that and I was gassing. When I tell you I was in good shape, I was, but doing cardio at the house, as hard as I was working out, is not in-ring activity. It's very specific, cardio is. When KO [Kevin Owens] or Drew come in, they've worked on the road a lot. As much as I worked, it was short notice, but as hard as I worked, I still wasn't in shape because they were doing a specific task.”
Asked by Satin for his feelings about how the match turned out, Austin gave it a thumbs up, even though he had to “sip beers” to catch his breath.
“It was what it was, I wanted to give them more, but the whole time, when you have that amount of people out there, I've been in front of a million crowds, but you're trying to pace yourself,” Austin said. “When you saw me go sip beers, I wasn't doing that to advertise my beer, I was doing that to take a breather and kind of monitor the system because I was getting a little gassed. You don't want to go out there and freak out. I was taking those opportunities to slow down and catch a breather.”
Welp, there you go, folks; “Stone Cold” was slinging down Steveweiser during his fateful in-ring return not to advertise for El Segundo Brewing Company and their array of Broken Skull brews but to instead take a few moments off to catch his breath during a near-14 minute match. If you see a bunch of beers around the ring at WrestleMania 39, another impromptu match may be in the cards.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin talks about his ever-lasting popularity.
Elsewhere in his interview with Satin, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was asked about appearing in video games, including his appearance in the new 2K game, which had its launch party at the El Segundo Brewing Company on 3:16 Day. For Austin, becoming a video game character is a full-circle moment for a young kid from Edna, Texas.
“It was War Zone, the one with my arms up in the air [on the cover],” Austin said. “When you are a punk ass kid growing up in South Texas, you never expect you're going to be on the cover of a video game and you know, A&E did a Biography on me. I told them, I said, ‘Dude, at the end of the day, I'm just a dude from Edna. I'm still that guy.' so yeah, to see myself on the cover of a video game and to be on a couple of the 2K Games, that's a blast. I never envisioned it in a million years. Does it mean something to me? Absolutely.”
Asked about how all of his post-wrestling escapades have impacted his legacy, Austin noted that all of his appearances, from video games to A&E Biographies, have surprisingly kept him as popular as ever.
“Well, all these years later, when I retired in '03, the video games and the WWE Network, I'm still as – people recognize me as much now than they used to when I was on fire, due to the video games and do to all that stuff,” Austin said. “So it's really helped me a lot.”
You've got to give it to Austin, it's a real testament to his character that he remains as popular as ever despite only wrestling one match over the past 20 years. If he can continue to take advantage of opportunities presented to him by being a legacy WWE guy, it's safe to say that legend will only continue to grow.