Hulk Hogan is undoubtably one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the professional wrestling industry, but did he tarnish his legacy by continuing to wrestle past his prime years?
One such Superstar who avoided such an ill fate was WWE Hall Of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin, who decided to hang up the boots in 2003 after his WrestleMania match with The Rock. Injuries and abuse to Austin's body over the previous years had caught up with him, and he didn't want to give it more than it could handle if he continued to push through the pain.
Recently Austin spoke with The Sam Roberts Wrestling podcast to discuss a variety of professional wrestling topics, and touched on his decision to walk away from the squared circle those years ago (quotes via Wrestling Inc.):
"The reason I got out of professional wrestling was because my body said, 'hey Steve, you've had enough.' And, like I tell everybody, and it's also true, I could get a couple of more years out of my body.
"I could, but why? I had a very physical, aggressive style; I took hard, fast, quick bumps; the piledriver in '96 or '97, whatever it was, took its toll. Now, I'm 100% as far as doing normal human being stuff, but it was time for me to ride off into the sunset and preserve my health.
"And I want to live an active life for 10 to 20, 30 more years doing the stuff that I do, riding my dirt bikes, four-wheelers, and the outdoor stuff that I love to do for a long, long time. And it was just time."
Austin was then asked about Hulk Hogan's legacy and whether or not he believes it was tarnished when he continued wrestling after his prime. Stone Cold stated that he respects Hogan's legacy, but did admit they were never the closest of friends:
"That's interesting. I get asked the question, 'is he ruining his legacy?' and I think I always respected what that guy did with his career, an unbelievable box office draw and a charismatic performer that so many people grew up [watching] and idolized.
"A lot of respect [for] him and that as far as what he did. I don't like to talk too much about what are these guys doing still in the ring.
"That's a personal decision. I made mine to get out and I live with that decision. I'm cool with it and I'm sure he's cool with what he's doing if he's still doing it.
"Me and Terry [Hogan's shoot first name] don't trade phone calls. We're not the best of friends. We're not enemies.
"People say what they want to say or try to stir up animosity. I don't hold anything against the guy. At the end of the day, we're two of the guys. We're pro wrestlers.
"We have a lot of things in common, [and] a lot of things that aren't in common. But he does what he does and I think it is what it is. That's all I can say."
What are your thoughts on Stone Cold's comments regarding if he thinks Hulk Hogan tarnished his legacy by wrestling past his prime years? Do you think that "The Hulkster's" legacy is affected by his decision to continue on with his in-ring career after his peak years? Or will his legacy remain cemented due to all his accomplishments within the industry? Have YOUR say in the comments section below, and the fourth episode of GiveMeSport’s WWE podcast is here!
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