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Jim Ross On Why He Thinks Steve Austin Wasn’t At WWE WrestleMania 40

April 25, 2024 | Posted by Andrew Ravens
Steve Austin WrestleMania 38 WWE Image Credit: WWE

On a recent episode of his podcast, “Grilling JR,” Jim Ross discussed how WWE handles the Draft and why Steve Austin, who WWE wanted to use, wasn’t part of the WrestleMania 40 night two main event match. Here are the highlights:

On WWE keeping talent in the dark about Draft plans ahead of time: “I think that the concept, the theory behind the Draft is to freshen up both rosters. Raw’s roster and Smackdown’s roster. I think that’s that was always the mission. But then after a very brief while, almost immediately, those brands became integrated. I didn’t think that was the purpose. The purpose was to build two separate strong brands, and on the right occasion you can have a SmackDown vs. Raw scenario.

“But of course when you do that, Conrad, I mean somebody’s got to push somebody over. And a lot of guys, believe it or not, still have a problem putting others over. Which I don’t get. That’s part of the business. It’s like saying, ‘Well, I didn’t want to wear wrestling tights.’ Would you like to wear? Men’s Wearhouse? I don’t know what you’re doing here. So yeah, I liked the concept of it, but it got bastardized very quickly. And then compromised, quite honestly. I didn’t like that [keeping talent in the dark] and I still don’t like that.”

On Steve Austin not working WrestleMania XL: “Yeah, and the reason is to have twofold: cash and creative. Austin is probably the most particular guy as far as who he wrestles as anybody I’ve ever been around. He knows what he needs, he knows what he wants. He knows what will accomplish the best results as an in-ring product. And then, of course, the cash.

“I haven’t talked to Steve for several weeks. But I’m assuming that — if I was guessing, and that’s all it would be right now as I sit here in Jacksonville Beach, Florida — I would say that the cash had a major role in why Austin was not at WrestleMania this year. There was a spot there at the end, where all those guys are getting their flowers and their props and their ‘atta boys’ and getting their stuff over, etc., etc that would fit Steve perfectly. It’s just, I’m guessing that unless he had a commitment of work commitment, which I’m not aware of. Could have, but he would have been the great cherry on the sundae if he had been able to be there for that event.”

On Randy Orton’s rise in 2004 and his feud with Mick Foley: “I thought it was an opportunity for Randy to stand out, to be noticed. It was all in front of him. And at the end of the day when that match was over, Randy was successful. Great match, overexceeded many people’s estimations of what it might be or what it was going to be. I really was a fan of that match.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Grilling JR podcast with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.