Wrestlemania: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin Retired 15 years ago
What a great end to a great feud.
It may seem hard to believe, but it has been 15 years since "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's final wrestling match at Wrestlemania 19 on March 30, 2003. In the bout, Austin went toe-to-toe with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson--the third meeting between the two at WWE's biggest show of the year.
That match put a cap on a WWE in-ring career that spanned nearly a decade and included six reigns as WWE World Champion. While he may not have been able to perform as long as names like John Cena and The Undertaker, there's no doubting Austin is one of the most important--if not the most important--figures in WWE history.
It's the feud between the Texas Rattlesnake and Vince McMahon that catapulted WWE's Attitude Era to success against WCW during the Monday Night Wars, and it's Austin's matches against the likes of Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Triple H, and The Rock that made him a household name and one of the most popular figures in professional wrestling history.
That's what makes his match at Wrestlemania 19 so fitting. In a black leather vest emblazoned with the letters OMR, which stand for One More Round, Austin made his way to the ring for one final confrontation with arguably his greatest in-ring opponent--and the only man who could give him a run for his money in terms of popularity--The Rock.
The story told in the buildup to the match was practically perfect and a textbook example of how to promote a Wrestlemania feud. After losing to Austin at Wrestlemania 15 and 17, The Rock was now on his way to becoming a movie star outside of wrestling. However, he couldn't move on until he finally beat Austin once and for all on the grandest stage of them all.
Theirs was the sort of blood feud that is largely missing from wrestling today. In a world where AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are going to Wrestlemania 34 to put on a dream match that will no doubt be an incredible sight to see, Austin and Rock made their issues personal each and every time. There's no better example than this match between the two at Wrestlemania 19, which you can watch above.
It remains to be seen whether Rock or Austin will be involved in Wrestlemania 34. Both have made sporadic appearances over the years as their careers outside of wrestling continue to grow. That said, whether they show up or not, this is a match that will go down in history as one of Wrestlemania's best.
Wrestlemania 34 airs live on April 8 on the WWE Network. Take a look at GameSpot's comprehensive coverage of the show, including the full match card, predictions on who will walk out a winner, and everybody going into the WWE Hall of Fame.