I think we can all agree that it would be nice to see Stone Cold Steve Austin climb back inside a WWE ring for one more match, particularly against current WWE Champion CM Punk.
But what if he's not healthy enough, as evidenced by the serious knee surgery he recently underwent or the various neck problems that ended his career early?
In an interview with the Busted Open radio show (via ProWrestling.net), Austin said his health isn't the issue and it never has been:
"It's not even about being cleared. I'm 100 percent fine. Once I had my fusion done in 2000 and I went into the recovery phase and then got back in the ring, everything was fine and dandy. I was just running too hard towards the end and had a few issues. It was time to get out. Passing the physical isn't the issue."
That runs contrary to popular reports citing sources close to Austin who have said his neck is worse off than he likes to pretend. Those same reports have said it's highly unlikely "The Texas Rattlesnake" ever actually seriously considers a return for any kind of program that stretches longer than a single episode of Monday Night Raw.
But let's assume Austin is telling the truth and he's healthy enough to return. Is Punk the guy he would work with? He says Punk is tops on the list but he's not the only option:
"I think John Cena would be a guy as well. I really like John. He is the face of that company right now and he has done a hell of a job and I got a lot of respect for him. You look at a guy like Triple H, that was one of my favorite guys to work in the ring with. Such a ring general and such a pro. Just an easy night at the office. Undertaker is kind of beat to shreds, kind of like me. Those would be a few guys off the top of my head. Would it just be CM Punk? No. Is CM Punk at the top of the list? Yes!"
I really don't know what to make of this anymore. A feud with Punk makes the most sense because they've done a stellar job of building it up to culminate in a wrestling match that would do insane business if properly promoted and put on the correct pay-per-view (PPV). Austin has stated many times that he'll "never say never," and, interestingly enough, Triple H recently gave an interview in which he said the very same thing about Stone Cold potentially returning to the ring.
But he, too, said not to expect it to happen. All the right pieces would have to be in place and the situation would have to be nearly perfect for all parties. Seeing as that's a near impossibility, especially anytime soon, it would seem prudent to simply take note of this latest development, allow yourself to keep that sliver of hope it could happen, and go on about your business getting excited for WrestleMania season.