Editor’s Note: This report was originally published in March 2020.
Stone Cold Steve Austin has been one of the most popular wrestlers in the world since his breakthrough moment in the mid-1990s. He has won six WWE Championships in his career, headlined several WrestleMania cards, and is the only superstar on the WWE to win the Royal Rumble three times.
Austin’s popularity accelerated at the 1996 King of the Ring, when he delivered his famous “Austin 3:16” promo. That promo became Austin’s catchphrase throughout his career, and Austin 3:16 merchandise can be seen in almost any wrestling audience to this day.
As we head into the home stretch heading into WrestleMania 36, we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the Texas Rattlesnake of Texas.
June 23, 1996: The birth of Austin 3:16
At the King of the Ring pay-per-view event in 1996, fresh off his victory over Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the tournament final, Stone Cold Steve Austin mocks Roberts’ preachy persona by dropping the “John” in John 3:16 and adding Austin in his place, driving home the point in the interview with Dok Hendrix.
“Talk about your psalms, you talk about your John 3:16, well Austin 3:16 says I just spanked your ass.”
September 22, 1997: First Stone Cold stunner to Vince McMahon
He was the Stone Cold stunner who changed the world of wrestling forever. After suffering a legitimate neck injury, Austin is not medically cleared to compete and is stripped of the WWF Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships. He bursts into the ring, where he is confronted by a quartet of “New York City cops”.
Vince McMahon leaves the commentary desk to confront Austin, which leads to Austin hitting McMahon with a stunner for the first time. Austin is led away in handcuffs, and a rivalry between Austin and McMahon ignites that will last for many years.
January 19, 1998: ‘Tyson and Austin!’
As Mr. McMahon prepares to announce Mike Tyson as a special guest at WrestleMania 14 for the match between Austin and Shawn Michaels, Austin, one night after his Royal Rumble victory the night before, comes out and confronts Tyson.
“I respect what you’ve done in the boxing world, but Jesus Christ, son. When you walk into this ring, you’re playing Stone Cold Steve Austin, and that’s something you don’t do. Let me make this plain and simple, what I’m telling you I want a piece of Mike Tyson’s ass.”
Austin continues to escalate the situation, and as soon as he gives his signature middle finger salute to Tyson, Tyson pushes Austin away and a brawl ensues.
March 29, 1998 – Austin wins his first WWE (then known as the WWF) championship
Two months later, Tyson assists Austin in the main event of WrestleMania 14. After Austin dodges Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music, Austin’s stunner attempt is blocked and he then catches Michaels’ leg on his second Sweet Chin Music attempt. . Austin connects with the stunner the second time and Tyson counts it to 1-2-3, securing Austin’s first WWE championship.
After the match, Tyson, who has been rooting for Michaels and D-Generation X for weeks, punches Michaels and tears up his DX jersey to reveal an Austin jersey 3:16.
September 28, 1998: Austin drives a Zamboni into the arena
On Monday Night Raw, McMahon and company attempt to present the WWE championship belt to either The Undertaker or Kane, after the brothers simultaneously pinned Austin the night before at the WWE Breakdown PPV.
The Texas Rattlesnake destroys the party by driving a Zamboni into the ring and attacking McMahon before finally being handcuffed.
“I’m not done with you Vince, I’m not done with you yet, not even close.”
October 5, 1998: Austin visits Mr. McMahon in the hospital
A week after the Zamboni incident, McMahon is in the hospital with a broken leg courtesy of The Brothers of Destruction in retaliation for neither Kane nor The Undertaker being crowned WWF Champions. After McMahon is visited by Mankind and the clown “Yurple” in his room, Austin, disguised as a doctor, visits McMahon and turns a wedge into a dangerous weapon.
October 12, 1998: Austin pours cement on McMahon’s car
An injured Mr. McMahon proudly arrives on Monday Night Raw in a new white Corvette, then goes into isolation to avoid Austin. However, this did not stop Stone Cold from getting away with it again. Austin arrives at the arena in a cement truck and empties the contents of it through the open roof of McMahon’s “$50,000 car”.
March 22, 1999: Beer Party
As Mr. McMahon and WWF Champion The Rock discuss Rock’s upcoming match with Mankind, Austin drives a Coors Light truck up the ramp, climbs onto the top, and addresses the crowd. After taunting the McMahon family and The Rock, Austin goes down and turns on the beer hose, dousing The Corporation and the corporate champion with the liquid.
April 4, 2009: Austin is inducted into the Hall of Fame
The six-time WWE Champion is introduced by his arch nemesis Vince McMahon. Austin heads a class of immortals that includes Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Koko B. Ware.
January 22, 2018: Austin returns on Raw’s 25th anniversary
After Mr. McMahon receives a plaque, Stone Cold returns to Monday Night Raw during the 25th anniversary show. He stunners Shane McMahon and shares a beer with Vince. Unsurprisingly though, it’s only a matter of time before Austin also stunners Mr. McMahon to send the crowd into hysteria.
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Iconic moments in Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career
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