Speaking to WWE Magazine, Steve Austin responds to Brock Lesnar telling ESPN.com during a recent interview promoting WWE '12 that he was "downright scared" to face him on the June 10, 2002 RAW (Austin balked facing Lesnar, feeling the marquee bout lacked proper buildup. Ultimately, he declined to attend RAW, briefly leaving WWE).
Austin responds, "It wasn't a Brock issue at all. It was a stupid business decision, and I flew off the handle. I was wound up pretty tight at the time. I thought they [WWE] were poking me with a stick, and I admittedly handled that in the worst possible way. It never had anything to do with Brock Lesnar—it was just a stupid business decision, and although I handled it wrong, there wasn't anyone in that company who can tell me it was a smart move to me in that match with no build and blow a total marquee pay-per-view or rivalry that could have lasted God knows how long!
"I don't have any problems with anything Brock said. He's got his take on things. And anytime you can flap your gums and stir things up—well, I'm always about that."
CM Punk's rant on the June 27, 2011 edition of RAW emboldened a vocal audience looking to return to the edgier tone of "The Attitude Era." That, coupled with The Rock's return to the ring, has created a division between people longing for the days of yesteryear and supporters of the current product. Austin comments on what "attitude" means to him.
"It's funny to me that "The Attitude Era" was named that way. Guys and gals in this business have always had attitude. But for some reason, I started cutting off-the-hook promos, and someone wanted to label it 'The Attitude Era.' It's an interesting way to reference that time, but WWE has always had over-the-top, extreme attitudes. I don't think the answer is creating something different, or bringing back the The Attitude Era. I think you need to let these cats fly. Kick them out of the nest to see if they can survive. The cream will rise to the top and the weak is going to fall by the wayside because this is a competitive environment. That's the only way to bring any edge back into the product. It's about letting guys fly, talking from their hearts, and their guts, and their brains. That's what makes for exciting TV. It ain't about 'attitude.' End of story."