Vince McMahon is unlike any other pro wrestling booker in the business. He is a pioneer and a ruthless decision-maker when it comes to the WWE product and the talents that contribute towards making it all click. Even the company's most prized assets such as Stone Cold Steve Austin aren't immune to the boss' wrath.
The new docuseries out on the WWE Network focussed on the Ruthless Aggression Era and it had an insightful part about Steve Austin walking out of the company in 2002 after he was told to lose a King of the Ring tournament qualifying match to Brock Lesnar on RAW.
Austin stated that he was against the idea of losing to Lesnar on free TV. According to the WWE legend, it was a business blunder as he could have had a big-money PPV showdown against the Beast with better build-up.
Meltzer revealed on the WOR that there was a reason why Vince McMahon wanted Austin to lose to Lesnar. The Texas Rattlesnake spoke negatively about WWE's Creative team and the company wasn't too pleased with his statements.
Vince McMahon, who was the head of creative, felt that no one had the right to publicly criticize creative, even if it was the company's biggest babyface.
McMahon then decided to punish Austin by booking him to lose to Lesnar.
The WWE Hall of Famer, however, didn't show up on RAW and walked out of the company, which has been a thoroughly documented topic ever since it happened.
Here's the exchange between Meltzer and Alvarez on the incident:
Meltzer: On this story of Steve Austin walking out because Vince was going to have him lose to Brock Lesnar in a television match and Austin was pi**ed and rightfully so, because it's like, Austin saw Lesnar as a guy who he can work a really big PPV match with.
Alvarez: This was in an opening round.
Meltzer: Was it in a tournament?
Alvarez: I think they wanted him to lose in an opening round of a tournament. It was completely ridiculous like it wasn't even in the finals.
Meltzer: I don't even remember which tournament. So here's the story. So Steve Austin had done an interview where he had ripped on Creative and so for revenge because Vince is the head of creative, Vince booked him to lose to Brock Lesnar.
And Austin was like, 'I'm the top babyface, this makes no sense for business. Brock Lesnar should be running through everyone and then get to me on PPV, not on television' because back in those days, you made your money on PPVs and not on television and Vince's explanation 17 years later is that if he'd beaten him on TV, by the time we'd got to the PPV, no one would have remembered the match anyway.
So that was his explanation as to why. It still doesn't explain why he'd have Brock Lesnar beat Steve Austin on television before the PPV match takes place, months before the PPV match should have taken place, or the very first time they should have been meeting in the first place, but anyway, not a good memory thing.
Alvarez: So I guess it was the night before RAW, they just called him and they just wanted him to show up and lose to Brock?
Alvarez: They didn't announce it a week in advance?
Meltzer: No, no, no, it wasn't even hyped because it was a punishment thing it was not like a storyline, it wasn't like something was built up the week before. He had said that creative s***s and they are like, nobody says that publicly, not even Steve Austin, and that's how they punished guys then.
And then Austin was like, 'this is b******, this isn't business and then he was pi**ed and he walked off. Actually, I was reading Jim Ross' book the other day, yesterday and I was actually reading the part about that because Jim Ross was kind of caught in the middle and Ross was telling Austin to come to the building and talk it out with Vince.
And his thing was like, 'No, he's not doing it. Not anymore. He's going home and that led to the big, Austin leaving and everything. Austin has, in fact, later on, said that it was a dumb thing for him to do, just go home, that he probably should have talked to Vince.