Last year at WrestleMania 38 the unthinkable happened when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his return to the ring to face Kevin Owens. Austin picked up a win over KO, and heading into WrestleMania this year there was a lot of talk about WWE trying to get Austin in the ring for another match.

The Texas Rattlesnake finally opened up about what happened during an interview with Sports Illustrated and he confirmed that he did meet with WWE to talk about a potential match at WrestleMania 39.

“I haven’t spoken to this, but I’ll give you the story, I met with some people from WWE. We talked about the possibility of me wrestling at WrestleMania 39. The biggest thing in my mind was the presentation and what kind of match it was going to be. Going back to 38, the way the KO thing was presented—I love KO—I turned that down three, four, five times until the creative finally came to what it ended up being. I didn’t want it constructed as a real match, per se. I needed something that could turn into one, and it did, but I think that’s why we got away with it. The Dallas crowd was very receptive. I hadn’t been around, so the timing was right.”

Austin went on to say that he was getting ready to start production on a new show, so he turned down the match at WrestleMania 39 because he knew he didn’t have enough time to get in shape for the show.

“But to do a proper match, I’d have to be in off-the-charts shape. I told them, and this is the exact truth, I said, ‘Guys, I’m just fixin’ to go into production on this show, Stone Cold Takes on America, and until we start production, I don’t know what my life looks like. I can’t commit.’ Sure enough, there were technical issues before we finished. I was supposed to finish a month before we did. There’s no way, with the schedule I was doing—driving an RV all over God’s creation, doing all I was doing—that I would be ready. I had two 30-pound dumbbells, a 45-pound sandbag, and a 25-pound kettlebell. Working 15 hours a day, then getting in a 30- or 40-minute workout, that doesn’t get you ready for WrestleMania. I was really protected at WrestleMania 38. This time, that wasn’t going to be the case. That was a true statement: Until this show was over, I couldn’t commit.”

Even though Austin didn’t wrestle this year it’s been reported that WWE is leaving the door open for another match at WrestleMania 40. We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out in 2024.