Steve Austin – “The Rock Was Always My Favourite Opponent”

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Stone Cold Steve Austin has laid the bottom line on his relationship with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as he looks back on their historic WrestleMania XIX clash.

At WrestleMania XIX on March 30, 2003, ‘The Texas Rattlesnake’ went one-on-one with ‘The Great One’ in a match that would turn out to be Austin’s last hurrah inside the squared circle. Though fans didn’t know it, the former WWF Champion had spent the previous night in hospital for a severe bout of dehydration and was in poor shape both mentally and physically as he marched down the aisle.

Though the war in question was one of attrition with The Rock finally pinning his arch rival on ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All’, it was one particular moment at its conclusion that got fans talking when, following the final bell, ‘The Brahma Bull’ sat up and in front of the entirety of Safeco Field spent a sizeable amount of time whispering to a visibly exhausted Austin.

Now, wrestling’s toughest SOB has joined The Kelly Clarkson Show in order to discuss the match and moment in question and what Rocky told him in those closing few seconds:

“Rock and I headlined three WrestleManias together, which nobody has ever done. And he knew that after that match, I was going to retire and ride off into the sunset. And he knew that I didn’t want to retire but I had some nerve and neck issues that [forced me] to get out of the business.

After the three count, after he pinned me following three Rock Bottoms, he told me, ‘man, I can’t thank you enough for what you did for me. I just want to know I love you, man.’ And I’m laying there, with 70,000 people going crazy, and I remember looking up at him and saying, ‘I love you, too.’ Verbatim.”

While the pair shared their love and respect for each other following a third outstanding WrestleMania encounter, Austin was keen to share his admiration and adoration for the man people know in the present as Hollywood mega-star Dwayne Johnson:

“Rock and I had been great friends from the moment he came into the company, and we turned our relationship into a rivalry. And at many times, regardless of who was playing the good or bad guy, we always had a great friendship, and a lot of respect and love for each other.

The Rock was always my favourite opponent because he brought out the best in me, and I brought out the best in him. And when you put the two No. 1 guys in there together, magic happens.”

While WrestleMania XIX was the final time both men collided inside the ropes, they shared the ring alongside Hulk Hogan in the opening segment at WrestleMania XXX.

Credit for the interview: The Kelly Clarkson Show

h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.