Would Stone Cold Steve Austin ever return to wrestling?

As his official WWE bio reads, Stone Cold Steve Austin "was the blue-collar warrior for the common man. Clad in jeans and black leather often soaked in beer foam, Austin was defiant, brash and dared anyone to try and tell him what to do." Indeed, many consider Steve Austin to have been one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Bleacher Report called him "arguably the most popular wrestler ever to lace up a pair of boots," and Collider said that the "WWF's acclaimed 'Attitude Era' would not exist without Stone Cold Steve Austin." That article also pointed out that "Austin sold more tickets and merch than nearly any other wrestler in history" during his career that spanned from the late 90s and into the first few years of the 21st century. His epic rivalries with other legendary grapplers like The Rock, Triple H, and the WWE owner himself, Vince McMahon, helped push the sport to new heights of popularity that even Hulk Hogan hadn't been able to achieve.

Steve Austin retired from competition in March of 2003 after losing to The Rock in WrestleMania 19, but there has been chatter — often spouted by the Stone Cold wrestler himself — that he would come out of retirement to give the new generation of contenders a beer-soaked lesson on respecting their forebears.

Steve Austin started some of the rumors himself

Ever since his retirement, fans have been begging for Stone Cold Steve Austin to get back in the ring. And he has said more than once that he would like to jump in and drop another Stone Cold Stunner or 316 (as seen on YouTube). According to Bleacher Report, he said in 2011 that he still had enough moxie to wrestle at "90-95 percent of what he used to give." He was asked in that interview who he would like to wrestle, were it to come to that. "That'd be an interesting scenario," he replied, then acknowledged the "dream match that never happened," which would have been Steve Austin versus Hulk Hogan, of course. "But, in the current crop? I really don't know." He mentioned wrestling John Cena, The Rock, Triple H, and Undertaker again, then said he could see a feud with CM Punk as benefiting both their careers. Punk would play a good foil to Austin's beer-chugging bravado.

Eight years later, those two years left in him had dwindled down to just one last showdown. Bleacher Report covered his podcast in 2019 when the Texas Rattlesnake said he was "most definitely" in good enough shape for one final match. As ComicBook.com had reported the month before, CM Punk said in an interview that "there was a sliver of time" in which a match with the Stunner was going to happen. "And the next minute it didn't."

No, Stone Cold Steve Austin is not going to return to wrestling. Or is he?

In January 2020, Edge made a resounding comeback to the ring after an injury had forced him to retire in 2011. This once again ignited chatter about whether or not Stone Cold Steve Austin would ever make his own spectacular return to the ring. As Talk Sport reported, however, Austin threw the question over his shoulder, slammed it down in one last Stone Cold Stunner, and finally laid it to rest. "Whatever Edge is doing has nothing to do with me," he said on his podcast, The Steve Austin Show. "I'm done." An older, wiser Texas Rattlesnake said that the recently returned Edge should be careful. "When I see a guy whose kinda had a similar type of neck situation as I had, or neck surgery in general, and to leave the business when he did nine years ago and then come back, I'm like 'Okay. Man, be careful out there,'" Austin said.

But, how definitive is the word of someone so devoted to the spectacle as a professional wrestler? Fans of the sport know all too well that you can never rule out a surprise with these attention hogs. WrestleMania 36, however — conducted with only essential personnel, rather than live, due to the coronavirus pandemic — came and went without an appearance from the Bionic Redneck. So the hardcore fans continue to wait and see.