Not to mention, Austin was in pretty bad shape. He says the match wouldn't be good because the styles are different but it's obvious that in 2002, Austin wasn't what he used to be. Rock was in good shape and pretty healthy, so it made sense to be Rock/Hogan.
I personally feel Austin didn't want to work with Hogan anyway. Guys like Austin and HBK are a different breed than Rock, they don't like jobbing as often as a guy like Rock. Fact is, Hogan/Austin didn't have to happen at WM, it could have happened at another PPV but it didn't. What's the excuse there, because Rock was first choice?
This is all true. Jericho stated something in his latest interview that he told Vince Mcmahon that the planned match he had for WM 25 would be shit. He claims Vince responded by saying the match was not suppose to be good. I know some may take it that Vince doesn't care about putting out a quality match at the biggest event with that response, but I believe what Vince really meant was that it was about the spectacle of seeing the original Mania guys at the 25th anniversary wrestling.
Now I bring this up because the argument being made about Austin's condition may be true, but there is evidence in Vince Mcmahon's past that he is more about spectacle of excess. There might be a whole other reason why Hogan/Austin didn't happen which the public doesn't know about, but the excuses I see doesn't match the way Vince does business.
This is the same boss who brought back Andre The Giant with a bad back to have a match with Hulk Hogan at WM 3 because he knew it was a big money match to sell out the Pontiac SilverDome. So I'm suppose to believe that this same man years later won't even think of doing Hogan vs. Austin when he signed Hulk Hogan back in 2002? It's about the spectacle to him more than about matches being 5 star clinics.
Just like there a whole bunch of theories on why Hogan/Flair never happened too at WM. The company is known for butchering dream matches and it wasn't more evident than the wcw vs. wwf vs. ecw feud that was riddled with pure politics.
I am pretty sure The Rock was the younger and more hotter commodity.
Austin's contract was running out of time during that period wasn't it?
These two things are correct somewhat(Austin was still under contract as evident by him being at the following Mania)and also shine some light on Austin's mindset at the time as some have brought up. Austin felt he was being phased out. Look at how the Rock vs. Hogan match was being billed "to see who was the best ever". Then Brock Lesnar is brought in as "The Next Big Thing".
I can see how Austin felt a bit betrayed returning to the company a year and change after coming back from major neck surgery that had him out for parts of 1999 and parts of 2000. He was the main guy responsible for the company returning to glory from when he was really hot and over since the summer of 1997.