Today is March 16 and that holds a special significance in WWE due to one person. “Austin 3:16” was born in 1996 and that forever changed the pro wrestling business. Stone Cold Steve Austin is in just about every wrestling fan’s top ten list of greatest pro wrestlers and if it wasn’t for him, the Attitude Era and WWE would have looked very differently.
So in honor of 3:16 Day, we take a look at five of the most memorable moments in Stone Cold Steve Austin’s WWE career.
5) “Austin 3:16 says ‘I just whipped your ass!'”
The promo that started it all. The planets really aligned for everyone to get to this moment. When he joined WWE, Steve Austin was a buzzed cut generic wrestler named “The Ringmaster” but in less than six months, he turned himself into this and after Triple H got taken out of this spot due to the “Curtain Call,” Stone Cold stepped up and the rest is history. Austin would further develop his character as the years went on but this was the promo that launched everything and made WWE (and himself) millions in t-shirt sales.
4) Austin stuns Vince McMahon at MSG
Ignore the fact that this was probably the worst stunner ever taken (well other than Linda McMahon), this is memorable for what it symbolized. This was two months before the Montreal Screwjob that really became the catalyst for Vince McMahon to turn into Mr. McMahon but the seeds were being planted here. Before this, Vince was not really acknowledged on TV as the owner of the company and he wasn’t really touched by any of the wrestlers. This changed The Austin vs. McMahon rivalry over the next few years would transform the industry as we know it.
3) Austin’s endless pranks on Mr. McMahon
There are so many of these to list. From hitting Mr. McMahon in the head with a bedpan to filling his Corvette with cement to driving a zamboni or beer truck to the ring to shooting a fake gun at his head to make him pee his pants, these pranks served two purposes. Not only were these pranks very memorable but covered for Austin as he was recovering from his broken neck. This made the best of a bad situation that ultimately shortened his career but it turned Austin into the all-around performer we know him to be.
2) The heel turn at WrestleMania X-Seven that we wished we could forget
WrestleMania X-Seven was the first and only WWF pay-per-view I bought as a kid and, not to pat myself on the back, I picked myself a good one. The first 99 percent of this show was as great as it can be and despite the finish, is still one of the best WWE shows ever. But that finish, where Stone Cold turned heel and sided with his enemy… that sounded better than actually seeing it happen. Nevertheless, it was the start of Austin’s fifth WWE Championship reign and capped off one of the best shows (and eras) ever.
1) Winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XIV
It’s debatable exactly when the Attitude Era started but everyone agrees that this was when the Attitude Era hit its peak. With Mike Tyson as “special outside enforcer,” this garnered WWE lots of mainstream publicity and soon ended WCW’s 83 week consecutive win as the superiorly rated show. WWE entered a new frontier, with Austin as its leader, and ultimately kept WWE in business to this day.