Here are the highlights:
Not wanting to watch his WrestleMania 19 match with The Rock:
I really did not want to leave the business of professional wrestling. This is a match, WrestleMania 19, that I might have watched one time, maybe soon after it happened, but I never watched that match because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to watch that last match. But this is the match where I had the vest made, OMR, One More Round. Not everybody knew that was going to be my last match. Only a handful of us did [know].
The Rock, Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler being the only ones to know it was his last match:
I remember going to the building that day and it was just a very emotional day because if anybody said anything to me, I would damn near start crying because I knew that this was my last match. This was me riding off into the sunset. Nobody else knew that. The Rock did. Jim Ross did. Vince did. But I think Jim Ross probably put a little extra mustard on his commentary on this in building me up and talking about me. Maybe Lawler knew. Maybe Jim had told him.
Being hospitalized the day before:
I finished working out with Kevin [Nash] and I said, ‘alright, man, I’ll see you later.’ And I go back to my hotel room. I was staying at the Grand Hyatt. I’ll never forget it and I was way up on about the 25th or 26th floor. And, man, I remember right before I got to my floor my heart started beating out of my chest. I was thinking to myself, ‘oh man, this is just like Fred Sanford, ‘this is the big one’ – I’m going down!’ My heart rate reached about 180 beats a minute and I’m about to just s–t myself because I’m scared to death. I don’t know what’s up.
Anyway, those elevator doors open and my room is right to the left, literally about 15 steps away and I know I need some help. When I got out of the elevator, there was one person coming down the hall and that was Liz DiFabio. She used to work in the [WWE] office. I don’t know if she still works there. And man, when those elevator doors opened and I was standing there, trying to walk to my room and my legs were shaky. I was in a panic, but I was trying to maintain my composure. But as soon as Liz saw me, she knew something was up. And I looked at her and I said, ‘Liz, I need help,’ so she grabbed my key from me. She slid it on the magnetic thing and we went to my room. And I said, ‘Liz, I need help,’ so she dialed 911.
And shoot, before you know it, there [are] two ambulance crews in my room trying to figure out what’s going on with me. They’ve got heart rate monitors hooked up to me, they’ve got blood pressure things on me, and there are literally two ambulance crews there. And in the meantime, I’m on the phone with one of my best friends, he’s still my doctor to this day all of these years later, from San Antonio [Texas], my personal physician, Dr. Jimmy! And I called him up amongst all this chaos and everything that was going on, Jimmy was my guy.
Being severely dehydrated:
Here’s the thing, man, when you’re at the Grand Hyatt and you’re in WrestleMania, there are thousands and thousands of people there, so they got sheets draped up all around me. It was like a big shower curtain surrounding the stretcher that they [were] carrying me out to the ambulance on because you can’t let everybody know that ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin is going to the hospital! There’s WrestleMania the next day and I was in a major match with The Rock.
This was our final match ever. So I go to the hospital and they don’t know what’s wrong with me, but they do figure out that I’m severely dehydrated and they put about four liters of fluid in me. And then, they’re thinking, ‘from the way this guy is acting, maybe he has a pulmonary embolism,’ so they do a bunch of scans, x-rays, all kinds of stuff on my chest cavity.
And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with me other than the fact that I was severely dehydrated, drinking way too much wine at night, drinking way too much coffee and all those caffeine drinks I had before I worked out. And after running so hard for so long, it finally caught up with me and the s–t hit the fan and my heart just wigged out.
The hospital refusing to clear him for the match:
When morning came the day of WrestleMania, and I guess that would’ve been a Sunday, and I think Jim Ross was there. Jim Ross was there every time something happened to me, whether it was getting my neck fused up or returning to the company, recruiting me as well, all the times that he did. I remember the doctor saying, ‘hey Steve, man, I’m not going to medically clear you to wrestle today for tonight.’ He goes, ‘now, you can do whatever you want to, but I’m not going to technically clear you.’
And for me, well, I was going to clear myself because this was going to be my last match. I owed one to The Rock. I’ve got to go out there in front of 54,000 people and put on the best show I can because that’s just the way the [professional wrestling] business is. If you can go, you go. And I didn’t know how I was going to hold up because of how jumpy my system was the day before, my legs. I was rehydrated. I didn’t know what my heart was going to do. There’s no permanent heart issue. I was just drinking all that s–t and not drinking enough water.
Deciding to retire because of neurological issues:
My neurological issues were a shoot and I was living fast. And I decided it was going to be in my best interests for my longterm future to ride off into the sunset and that’s exactly what I did.