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Bruce Prichard Discusses Rock Coming Back After Steve Austin Went Home, Austin Being Upset With Rock’s Comments

August 3, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
The Rock WWE Raw 6-10-2002, Young Rock Dwayne Johnson Image Credit: WWE

– During the latest Something to Wrestle With, Bruce Prichard looked back at the time when The Rock returned after Steve Austin went home in June of 2002. Austin no-showed the June 10th episode of Raw, just a couple of months after he had previously no-showed the Raw after WrestleMania, citing exhaustion. This time, Austin blacked at putting over Brock Lesnar, thinking it would make him look weak while not doing enough to help Brock since it was a free TV match with no build-up.

WWE buried Austin on that episode of Raw, including Jim Ross saying on-air that Austin had “taken his ball and gone home.” The Rock returned from hiatus, cutting a promo where he talked about how all the guys in the back were there because they wanted to be there, and if there was anyone in the back that didn’t want to be there, ‘get the F out.’ Austin would return in early 2003, but took issue with Rock’s comments in a January 2003 interview, saying Rock’s comments were “pathetic.”

You can listen to the full podcast and check out highlights below:

On Rock coming back: “You know, Vince is looking at, when you have that kind of a shock and you have that kind of a void on the roster, you need to fill it with the biggest plug that you possibly can. And while everybody thought Rock’s gone, you know, ‘God, we’re never gonna see him again.’ For him to come back, that’s just as big, if not bigger, than Stone Cold at the time. So all of that being fresh in everyone’s mind, and people still talking about it, this was the message that Vince wanted to get out. And this was a way to get Rock back in the fold and get people talking, go ‘Holy s**t!'”

On Austin’s absence: “And at the same time, not knowing exactly where the hell we were with Steve, it was also the perfect time and the right way to — you know, sometimes, you’d say ‘Don’t even mention his name.’ But then, why not mention his name? And there were those of us that were always hoping, ‘You know, we’ll get Steve back. Steve will be back, everything will cool off, everybody’s gonna kiss and make up and we’ll move on.’ As it went on longer and longer, you wondered. But everybody was hopeful, because everybody liked Steve and wanted to make it work. And in this particular situation, when you’ve got a huge star like The Rock and he was able to come do this, it was the right thing to do. And yeah, Vince calling out and saying, ‘I need star power! I need help.'”

On Austin being offended by Rock’s comments: “I’m sure Steve felt that way. And Steve felt that no matter what he did, and no matter what Steve did do, Steve did walk out. So at that point, how do you counter that? How do you come back and say, ‘Okay Steve, it’s okay that you got upset and you went home, but what are we supposed to do.’ Just say ‘Okay, Steve left. We’ve got all this equity in him, built him up for all these years and done everything that we could to get him over, and he decides what day he just wants to go home … I don’t know that [Rock] buried him, as much as he told the truth at the time. He told the story and went out in character, and yeah. If you’re gonna go out and do it, then you’re gonna go out and you’re gonna protect the business that you’re there trying to keep going. Steve’s not there anymore, and Steve had made that choice at that point. So I see Steve being pissed, I completely understand Steve being pissed. But you also have to look at the other side of it, from the standpoint of, we were in business continually being in business and trying to continually find and build another star to fill that void that was made when Steve left. Well, that’s Rock at that point, and that’s being able — Vince wanted controversy, and Steve can go out and say whatever he wants to say at any point in time. And Vince was gonna have his say on his television show, with anybody and wherever he could as well.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something to Wrestle with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.