10 shocking moments from WWE 2003
With the Attitude Era officially in the WWE's past, a new cohort of stars would take centre stage over the course of the next few years. 2002 and 2003 are seen very much as transitional years for the company, but with Vince now fully in control of the wrestling business, the urgency to follow ratings and PPV buys was no longer as prominent as it once was.
That being said, 2003, very much like 2002 before it, did deliver some intriguing and entertaining storylines. This certainly wasn't the low point of 1993-1996 following the end of the Hogan Era as many big time names like Triple H, Brock Lesnar, and Shawn Michaels were still around to prop the company up.
2003 was also not without its share of shocking moments. Here is a look at 10 of the best:
#1 Steve Austin retires from in-ring wrestling
Whenever professional wrestling goes through a boom period, the sad reality eventually sets in that sooner or later, all good things must come to an end. For those who loved the 1980s Hulk Hogan era, 1993 was a difficult year to sit through considering most of that era's talent had left or were in the process of leaving the company.
In many ways, 2003 is a similar year to 1993 as a lot of the aspects that went into making WWF's Attitude Era such a success were also diminishing. Both The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were on their way out, at least in terms of consistent in-ring action, and fans had to face the reality of having to embrace a new cohort of main event stars.
It is fitting therefore that Austin's last match with WWE was against his main Attitude Era rival. Having defeated him on two previous occasions on the biggest stage, Rock finally earned a victory at Wrestlemania 19 over The Rattlesnake. Soon after, Austin shockingly announced that he would not be wrestling again, and much to the displeasure of wrestling fans worldwide, this is a promise he still upholds today.
Austin had been struggling with injury ever since his match with Owen Hart at Summerslam 1997. He has since admitted that from 2001 onwards he consistently ignored his doctor's advice and continued to wrestle through quite a bit of discomfort and pain.
Thankfully, Austin wouldn't be going very far, as later on in 2003 he became a joint GM of RAW alongside Eric Bishoff, but the sight of him tearing it up in the ring is now sadly a distant memory.