If the resuscitation of wrestling in the late 1990s were to be credited to one man, pundits and fans alike would be hard-pressed not to give Stone Cold Steve Austin his due.
From his small-time beginnings in the USWA, WCW and ECW, it wasn't until several months into his tenure in WWE when Austin would go on to become arguably the most popular figure in the industry.
And the beauty of his ascendancy was that nobody—not even former WCW boss Eric Bischoff—could predict the once-in-a-lifetime lightning in a bottle that transpired with the black trunk and black boot-wearing brawler.
Although he was plagued with unfortunate neck and knee injuries, the "Texas Rattlesnake" would end up leaving an indelible mark in the relatively short period of time he ruled WWE.
Even today, over 10 years since his last bout at WrestleMania 19, fans still pine for one last hurrah, this time against an old rival or one of this generation's stars.
The good news is that Austin, who is still in uncanny shape, may lace his boots again; however, the bad news is that his proposed clash with Triple H may be off, according to Dave Meltzer's members-only Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required):
The original WrestleMania main event for next year (this was proposed in booking, but had never been agreed to) where HHH would be the heel in his feud with Vince McMahon, leading Vince to bring back Austin in a battle for full control of the company appears to be off the books. As far as why, whether it’s because they are going to stay with Vince as the heel and HHH as the face or Austin won’t be wrestling (and Austin wrestling on that show was never more than a 'Isn’t this is a great idea' thing if we could do it and he had to the best of my knowledge never agreed to it, nor had he gone through medical clearance), that I don’t know.
All in all, the possible upheaval of the Steve Austin vs. Triple H plans may turn out to be the best for all parties involved.
Suffice it to say, Austin would be best served locking horns with someone he hasn't stood opposite in the ring before, instead of an all-too-familiar rival like Triple H.
Not to mention, the involvement of Vince McMahon in the proposed storyline would evoke comparisons to a past that will likely never be paralleled again. While McMahon and Austin were two sides of the same coin during the Attitude Era, the motivations that impelled both characters would be absent today.
A new direction should be paved if Austin were to agree to a return, and that should be one that features CM Punk in a co-starring role.
It's a match that has been teased, yearned for and one that makes the most sense. It would give members of the WWE Universe something new to sink their teeth into, not the least of which would be to witness the coronation of CM Punk as a bonafide legend.
In such a scenario, though, Punk's culmination as a performer would be appropriately embraced by the live attendees, not rebuffed, as was the case when John Cena overcame The Rock at WrestleMania 29.
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