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‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin Reflects on Raw’s Return to MSG After 10 Years Away

“I got a lot of great memories of the Garden, and I can’t wait to be back.”

Steve Austin is only hours away from his return to the most historic building in the history of professional wrestling.

The sound of glass shattering provides an added reason to watch tonight’s Monday Night Raw, as “Stone Cold” steps through the curtain at Madison Square Garden.

“Walking through those doors at the Garden is still special for me,” said Austin. “That’s the WWE’s backyard. Even though they’ve been away for a couple of years, that’s a very special building to Vince.”

Austin’s role on the show will be to oversee the Universal championship contract signing between Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman. But storylines aside, Austin is thrilled to return to the site where a plethora of his most quintessential moments occurred.

“Some of my most iconic moments happened at the Garden,” said Austin, who began to redefine his career after wrestling Bret Hart in a Survivor Series match at the Garden in November 1996, the same place where he delivered his first-ever Stone Cold Stunner on Vince McMahon in 1997. “They play at the Barclays a lot, but they wanted to go back home to the Garden and I’m thrilled to be there.”

The last time Raw took place at the Garden was in November 2009, and Austin noted that there are only a few places that offer the chance for performers to perfect their craft quite like the building at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza.

“That crowd is a tough crowd, and if you win them over, you’ve really done something,” said Austin. “It’s a crowd that you’ve got to work really hard for to earn their respect, and I love that about that building.

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“Vince would always show up at the Garden, even for the house shows. And when the old man rolled into the building, we made sure we worked our asses off even more than we already were because Vince was watching.”

Austin’s Straight Up Steve Austin show will air immediately following Raw, and the program is one week removed from a phenomenal episode that featured Becky Lynch.

Austin has appeared on the television sets of wrestling fans for three decades, and his show is another opportunity for a weekly dose of his personality—though this time offering a far more personal look. This week’s show features an interview with comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, and airs immediately after Austin’s return to Raw, which will be full of memories for the WWE icon.

“I remember when the business got so hot back in the day that when you would drive your rental car into the Garden, the fans would line up and wait for you on the way out,” Austin. “Depending on how over you were as a babyface or how much heat you had as a heel, they would tear off your side view mirrors and rip off your antennas. People tearing up your automobile was almost like your reward for being over or having heat. We didn’t like it, but that was how it was. And eventually it started meaning something to us.”

Austin became so popular that he needed to be snuck out of the Garden in an ambulance in order to make it past the rabid crowds.

“They’d stick me in the back of an ambulance and someone would drive my car 10 blocks down the road,” said Austin. “The ambulance would pull over, I’d jump out, jump in my rental car, and haul ass.

“I got a lot of great memories of the Garden, and I can’t wait to be back.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.