Recently on The Steve Austin Show, WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin shared his thoughts on his final match, his loss to The Rock at WrestleMania 19. Also, Austin talked about being hospitalized the day before 'The Showcase Of The Immortals' and his decision to retire from professional wrestling.
From Broken Skull Ranch 2.0, Austin recounted the final match of his trilogy of WrestleMania bouts versus The Rock. Austin admitted to being reluctant to watch the match given that it was his last performance as a professional wrestler in the squared circle.
"I really did not want to leave the business of professional wrestling," Austin divulged. "This is a match, WrestleMania 19, that I might have watched one time, maybe soon after it happened, but I never watched that match because I wasn't sure that I wanted to watch that last match. But this is the match where I had the vest made, OMR, One More Round. Not everybody knew that was going to be my last match. Only a handful of us did [know]."
According to Austin, only The Rock, who he will be appearing with on tonight's WWE SmackDown premiere on FOX, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, and commentators Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler knew that WrestleMania 19 would be 'The King Of Attitude''s final match.
"I remember going to the building that day and it was just a very emotional day because if anybody said anything to me, I would damn near start crying because I knew that this was my last match. This was me riding off into the sunset. Nobody else knew that. The Rock did. Jim Ross did. Vince did. But I think Jim Ross probably put a little extra mustard on his commentary on this in building me up and talking about me. Maybe Lawler knew." Austin explained, "maybe Jim had told him."
The day before WrestleMania 19, Austin was hospitalized. A WWE staffer saw Austin struggling to return to his hotel room after working out with Kevin Nash and called 911.
"I finished working out with Kevin [Nash] and I said, 'alright, man, I'll see you later.' And I go back to my hotel room. I was staying at the Grand Hyatt. I'll never forget it and I was way up on about the 25th or 26th floor. And, man, I remember right before I got to my floor my heart started beating out of my chest. I was thinking to myself, 'oh man, this is just like Fred Sanford, 'this is the big one' - I'm going down!' My heart rate reached about 180 beats a minute and I'm about to just s--t myself because I'm scared to death. I don't know what's up. Anyway, those elevator doors open and my room is right to the left, literally about 15 steps away and I know I need some help." Austin continued, "when I got out of the elevator, there was one person coming down the hall and that was Liz DiFabio. She used to work in the [WWE] office. I don't know if she still works there. And man, when those elevator doors opened and I was standing there, trying to walk to my room and my legs were shaky. I was in a panic, but I was trying to maintain my composure. But as soon as Liz saw me, she knew something was up. And I looked at her and I said, 'Liz, I need help,' so she grabbed my key from me. She slid it on the magnetic thing and we went to my room. And I said, 'Liz, I need help,' so she dialed 911. And shoot, before you know it, there [are] two ambulance crews in my room trying to figure out what's going on with me. They've got heart rate monitors hooked up to me, they've got blood pressure things on me, and there are literally two ambulance crews there. And in the meantime, I'm on the phone with one of my best friends, he's still my doctor to this day all of these years later, from San Antonio [Texas], my personal physician, Dr. Jimmy! And I called him up amongst all this chaos and everything that was going on, Jimmy was my guy."
Austin was secretly taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with severely dehydration.
"Here's the thing, man, when you're at the Grand Hyatt and you're in WrestleMania, there are thousands and thousands of people there, so they got sheets draped up all around me. It was like a big shower curtain surrounding the stretcher that they [were] carrying me out to the ambulance on because you can't let everybody know that 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin is going to the hospital! There's WrestleMania the next day and I was in a major match with The Rock. This was our final match ever." Austin said, "so I go to the hospital and they don't know what's wrong with me, but they do figure out that I'm severely dehydrated and they put about four liters of fluid in me. And then, they're thinking, 'from the way this guy is acting, maybe he has a pulmonary embolism,' so they do a bunch of scans, x-rays, all kinds of stuff on my chest cavity. And, of course, there's nothing wrong with me other than the fact that I was severely dehydrated, drinking way too much wine at night, drinking way too much coffee and all those caffeine drinks I had before I worked out. And after running so hard for so long, it finally caught up with me and the s--t hit the fan and my heart just wigged out."
Austin was kept in the hospital overnight for observation and he took four somas to help him sleep.
"Man, they keep me overnight," Austin recalled. "I remember spending the night in the hospital. And I'll never forget when they came into the hospital, I said, 'hey, man.' I had the wherewithal to bring my backpack. And because at that time in my life, if I didn't have what I needed to go to sleep, I wasn't going to go to sleep. I was like a light switch - I was either on or I was off, but I needed that light switch to help me, if you know what I mean, because I couldn't go to sleep on my own. So anyway, we get in there, they run all these tests on me. I'm laid up there. I'm going to spend the night there. They're going to observe me and I remember this nurse comes in there and she had this little paper dish, one of those Petri dishes, and there was a little white pill in there. And I recognized the pill. And I asked her. I said, 'hey, what is that?' And she said, 'well, that's a soma. That's going to help you sleep.' And when she says that, I'm thinking to myself, 'haha one soma ain't going to do the trick,' but I didn't tell her that because most people don't take somas. So anyways, I take the soma and she goes out of the room. She goes, 'I'll be checking on you during the night and if you need anything just ring this bell.' And I was good to go. There was nothing wrong with me. They filled me up full of fluids, so I get in my backpack and I grab about three or four somas and washed those down. I remember thinking, 'I wish I had a beer to help kick them in,' but that was the only way I was going to sleep that night."
The morning of WrestleMania 19, the hospital's medical staff refused to medically clear Austin to wrestle that evening.
"When morning came the day of WrestleMania, and I guess that would've been a Sunday, and I think Jim Ross was there. Jim Ross was there every time something happened to me, whether it was getting my neck fused up or returning to the company, recruiting me as well, all the times that he did. I remember the doctor saying, 'hey Steve, man, I'm not going to medically clear you to wrestle today for tonight.' He goes, 'now, you can do whatever you want to, but I'm not going to technically clear you.' And for me, well, I was going to clear myself because this was going to be my last match. I owed one to The Rock. I've got to go out there in front of 54,000 people and put on the best show I can because that's just the way the [professional wrestling] business is. If you can go, you go. And I didn't know how I was going to hold up because of how jumpy my system was the day before, my legs. I was rehydrated. I didn't know what my heart was going to do. There's no permanent heart issue." Austin noted, "I was just drinking all that s--t and not drinking enough water."
Following the match, Austin was ambivalent as he felt like the weight of the world was lifted off of his shoulders, but he was also concerned about his own future as he stepped away from the only business he knew.
"Going to the back was weird because what do you do next? You'd been on the road. You've had some high times, some mid times, and some low times. You quit the company. You came back. You got fused up. You came back. The fans have accepted you back." Austin asked rhetorically, "they wanted you back and where do you go from here?"
Austin claimed that his decision to retire from professional wrestling was based on his health issues, including neurological issues.
"My neurological issues were a shoot and I was living fast," Austin admitted. "And I decided it was going to be in my best interests for my longterm future to ride off into the sunset and that's exactly what I did."
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