Insider Explains Why ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin Didn’t Appear at ‘WrestleMania 40’

Courtesy of WWE

The final sequence of the main event of WrestleMania 40 featured a who’s who of wrestling royalty as numerous legends past and present interfered in the title match between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes.

First, Reigns’s cousin, Jimmy Uso, attacked Rhodes. Another cousin, Solo Sikoa, also came out to attack Rhodes, just as he had done in the first match between Reigns and Rhodes a year earlier. That led to a parade of other stars entering the ring—first John Cena, then The Rock and later Seth Rollins. As The Rock attacked Rhodes, the unmistakable gong of The Undertaker sounded, and ’Taker dispatched The Rock with a chokeslam.

As excited as fans were to see ’Taker in the ring again, many felt his spot in the match would have been better suited for another legend: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who has his own rich history with The Rock. But Austin was nowhere to be found.

“Austin was the person originally earmarked for that spot,” Dave Meltzer reported in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter, “but in the end WWE couldn’t reach a financial agreement and Undertaker was put in his place.”

Austin’s last appearance in a WWE ring came in 2022 at WrestleMania 38, where he had a surprise no holds barred match against Kevin Owens on the first night of the two-night event and then hit Austin Theory with a Stone Cold Stunner following Theory’s match against Vince McMahon on Night 2. The Undertaker’s last official match was at WrestleMania 36 in 2020, though he has made a handful of surprise appearances for WWE since his retirement.

Dan Gartland


Dan Gartland is the writer and editor of Sports Illustrated’s flagship daily newsletter, SI:AM, covering everything an educated sports fan needs to know. Previously published on Deadspin and Slate, Dan also is a former Sports Jeopardy! champion (Season 1, Episode 5).