In the 2000s, the Attitude Era was slowly coming to an end and WWE was looking to do something new. The first-ever draft made it even harder for the storyline to work as the superstars were drafted to another brand. However, thing got even worse when The Rock started focusing on his acting career and gave limited time to WWE. Now, WWE had only one face - Stone Cold Steve Austin. Stone Cold Steve Austin was the biggest pro-wrestler in WWE at that time.
In the 2000s, when fans used to hear Stone Cold’s theme song, they knew chaos was about to happen. Fans used to love Stone Cold Steve Austin and his badass attitude. He was known to be the man who could stand in front of anyone and show his middle finger. However, Stone Cold Steve Austin was not happy with the way WWE was working. He didn’t like the idea of bringing out new superstars of WCW and ruining the career of WWE superstars. In the recently released Ruthless Aggression documentary, Stone Cold can be seen expressing his frustration.
“Bottom line, everything sucks. I’m not happy with the direction where Stone Cold Steve Austin is going. I’m not happy with the direction where our company is going. The writing is substantial too,” said Stone Cold.
In the documentary, Stone Cold accepted that he got so frustrated that he started drinking a lot. He said Stone Cold Steve Austin was the biggest name in the company and he was not satisfied with the things he was presenting. However, not all was bad with the company. The newcomer from OVW - Brock Lesnar - was making a name for himself and was attracting a huge fan base. Though he was not as famous as Stone Cold Steve Austin at that time, he still packed a lot of power and agility.
The slow dominance of Brock Lesnar sparked an idea in WWE RAW’s creative heads. They decided to make Stone Cold face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. However, WWE CEO Vince McMahon didn't like the idea and decided to make the two face each other in the King of the Ring 2002 qualifiers. Not only that, he wanted Stone Cold Steve Austin to lose the qualifier match and make Brock Lesnar the next big thing. Stone Cold didn’t like the idea and he asked WWE legend and then producer Jim Ross many times, “are you guys really thinking of this?”
When the match was made official, Stone Cold disagreed and decided to leave the show unannounced. Vince McMahon was angry to hear the news and went on to the stage to slam Stone Cold Steve Austin. He said Stone Cold owes an apology to the WWE universe and him. According to many, both didn’t talk to each other for weeks. Later, Jim Ross set up a meeting between the two and the two talked about the incident.