If you’re a wrestling fan, the date 3/16 is a day that should forever be celebrated as “Stone Cold Day”, and we at PSE are obligated to concur with the assessment. He even returns tonight on Raw, emanating from the performance center. At the 1996 King of the Ring, Steve Austin had one hell of a night in which he broke out in a major way. He took a trip to the hospital after opening the show with a victory against Marc Mero, in which Austin broke his jaw. He returned toward the end of the show to defeat Hall of Famer Jake Roberts to win the elusive 1996 King of the Ring and finally break out. But, it was the promo that happened after words that would shift pop culture forever:
With Michael Hayes (under the moniker “Dok Hendrix”) doing the christening, Steve Austin would give the most impactful interview in WWE history. Roberts obviously had to go buy himself a cheap bottle of thunderbird and dig back some of the courage he had in his prime after Austin 3:16 whipped his ass, right? Obviously, this was after Jake’s first attempt to clean up and his rebirth in Christ, and John 3:16 is one of the most popular verses in the New Testament. The next night, however, it was everywhere and Steve Austin was no longer to be the bad guy they had hoped for. To this day, you still see Austin 3:16 shirts in public, and Steve Austin became the biggest star in wrestling since Hulk Hogan. Though his run at the top was relatively short (first championship win in 1998 and retired from competition in 2003), it was impactful. Crack open a cold Steveweiser and let’s look at the top 10 Steve Austin moments post-King of the Ring 1996, with 5 honorable mentions.
10. Austin Fills McMahon’s Corvette With Cement
The scene is The Raw WarZone, October 12th, 1998. I don’t what gives me more life: 1998 nerdy Michael Cole or Steve Austin calling him “son.” The next PPV was 6 days away, and it was In Your House: Judgement Day, in which Steve Austin was to crown a new WWF Champion as the official between a match pitting Kane vs his brother The Undertaker. Of course, the title was vacant after both pinned Steve Austin at Breakdown the month before. If Stone Cold did not declare a new champion, well, as the Vince adage goes “screw you, you’re fired.” Vince McMahon shows up in a convertible from his own “prized car collection”, invites Steve to come to Raw that week and then the action begins. Later in the night Steve shows up with a cement truck as Vince is visibly angry, probably wishing this was one of those “plans change, pal. You’re no longer invited” moments. But alas, it’s live television and you never know what exactly Stone Cold is going to do this week! After a fast-paced match between Sean Waltman and Jeff Jarrett, the camera cuts back to the Texas Rattlesnake as he unloads the cement into the luxury vehicle. The window shattering is still the most satisfying sight of all. Unfortunately for Sarge and Mick, I don’t think they ever did find the briefcase.
9. DX Explosion
3 days before Triple H defended the WWF Championship against the Rock in a match where Shane McMahon donned the referee stripes and Steve Austin was in the Rock’s corner, Steve Austin lit up Thursday Night in a major way. Austin had missed WrestleMania 16 after being hit by a car at Survivor Series (the culprit later being revealed as Rikishi who was hired by Triple H), but had previously engaged in a program with DX, including hunting them down on SmackDown where he caught Billy Gunn in a snare trap and the Road Dogg in a bear trap. With his return to the WWF finally arriving, however, DX was still running roughshod on the World Wrestling Federation at the height of the McMahon-Helmsley regime. Austin took a crane and a steel beam, and dropped it on their tour bus, “The DX Express.”
8. “Price Check on a Jackass”
Just watch the video, sucka.
7. “Austin with a beer bath!”
This is most people’s favorite Austin memory, and judging by Vince McMahon’s swim stroke in the beer, I can see why. This was the go-home show for WrestleMania 15, where Steve Austin looked to take the belt from “The Corporate Champion” The Rock. Again, with Steve Austin’s “how can I top myself this week” mentality, he did some wild stuff on national television…including driving a beer truck into an arena?
Just listen to the electricity in the audience as he steps on the top of the truck. “If you’re ready for WrestleMania, give me a hell yeah!” Obviously Shane McMahon is with that European Championship, am I right?
“Steve Austin is going to check right into the SmackDown hotel, roll right into room 3:16 and burn that sum’bitch to the ground!” Then, as the “Great One” went on his rant with the soundbites you hear every week, he hosed them down with beer.
6. “I’ll Take It From Here, Nurse”
Of all of the moments on this list, this is my second favorite. Ranking it was a struggle because it’s more funny than was impactful for Austin, but the fact the next week there were “bedpan McMahon” signs every week really shows you just how great Austin was in that he could get anything over. The true impact of the segment is that it was the debut of one Mr. Socko. For full effect, this’ll be the whole night of Vince at the hospital, including Yurple:
5. Bang 3:16
Finding new ways to terrorize Vince McMahon every week seemed to come easy for the Rattlesnake, especially after being fired at Judgement Day for not declaring a champion. So what does Austin do the night after Judgement Day? Well, he holds Vince McMahon hostage at gun point for hours before taking him to the ring.
He made a billionaire cry on national TV, just hours after the infamous “cross the boss” promo, and then shot the gun at his head…to see it wasn’t a real gun. Referencing the Bret Hart promo, he then says “McMahon 3:16 says I just pissed my pants.”
He made Vince cry on national television. As Jim Ross puts it, “AUSTIN WAS ARMED WITH A TOY.”
4. Work Within The System
Steve Austin assaulted a police officer, because of course…and commentary McMahon who’s just now portraying the owner on television. In my favorite moment on this list, McMahon explains why Austin can’t work after Owen 3:16 said he just broke his neck. Then, McMahon took the worst stunner known to man, but it altered the course of Pro Wrestling because it ignited the spark that saved the company. Although, one can argue it truly began after the promo the night after Bad Blood 1997 a month later. It looked like the company was holding him back, which only made the groundswell larger. “You ain’t the one sitting on your ass at the house like I am…hell, I feel like Cool Hand Luke, I’ll work within your stupid little system. I appreciate the fact that you and the World Wrestling Federation care…I also appreciate the fact that hell, you can kiss my ass!”
Austin taunting McMahon after the stunner gives me life.
Honorable Mentions: “It’s a Me Kicking Your Ass Thing”
“Austin’s Got McMahon!”
Austin and Bret in an Ambulance
“Do You Like Nature?”
With five great honorable mentions out of the way, what made our top 3?
3. “Tyson and Austin!”
It’s always great seeing Steve Austin foiling the plans of Vince McMahon, is it not? Well, this left McMahon shouting “YOU RUINED IT” to Steve as they held him back because he got into a fight with the Baddest Man on the Planet “Iron” Mike Tyson. It was hyped as the “biggest announcement” in WWF history and shifted the tides in the Monday Night War. Tyson was supposed to be confirmed as the outside enforcer for Steve Austin’s title match with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14, but standing in Stone Cold’s ring, Tyson ultimately put his little beady eyes on “the world’s toughest son of a bitch!” Also, nice to hear Tyson give Nikolai Volkoff a shout.
2. “The Austin Era Has Begun!”
The next moment on the list, however, was almost two years in the making since the landscape-changing Austin 3:16 promo. Steve Austin wrestled Shawn Michaels in Philadelphia at WrestleMania 14 for the WWF Championship and won the belt for the first time after blocking a superkick and hitting him with the stunner. The person who counted the pinfall? Mike Tyson.
Shawn Michaels had a broken back and wouldn’t wrestle for four years, and while he made his return later on as the WWF’s Commissioner, they needed a top active superstar in a time where they didn’t really have any. Steve Austin was the perfect candidate to help lead them through as they built up the Rock, Mankind, Triple H and later on Kurt Angle.
So, what’s the number one pivotal Steve Austin moment on 3:16 day? Well….
After having an outstanding match with Bret Hart in Bret’s return at the 1996 Survivor Series, they embarked on a personal rivalry that helped solidify Stone Cold’s status as the WWF’s resident badass. While Bret had been the company’s premiere talent following the 1994 departure of Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin was supposed to be the villain, WrestleMania 13 changed the landscape entirely. When he wrestled the submission specialist in a submission match, Steve Austin did not quit. With blood pouring down his face in an image that will stand the test of time, he passed out from the pain of Bret’s sharpshooter. He walked into WrestleMania a star, but walked out a superstar. Ever since this moment in time, nobody has booed Steve Austin. Any time anybody has a bloody face incident, case in point, Becky Lynch the Raw before Survivor Series in 2018 that solidified her as a bonafide superstar, it’s compared to Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. He was rocket strapped.
Happy 3:16 Day! We hope to have a preview up soon on Raw, which will feature an appearance from the Texas Rattlesnake himself! You can also catch the most recent addition of the Broken Skull Sessions on the WWE Network, with the Bret Hart. You can catch most of your favorite Steve Austin moments on the WWE Network. Some of your favorite matches, which we didn’t even cover, whether it’s Over The Edge 1998 with Dude Love, WrestleMania 17 with The Rock or Summerslam 1998 with The Undertaker. You can also see some of his best pre-3:16 moments such as his work with Brian Pillman in the Hollywood Blondes, matches with Rickey Steamboat in WCW and infamous ECW shoot interviews.
Follow me on Twitter: @TheJameus