This week marks the anniversary of the Austin 3:16 promo that gave birth to the most popular pro-wrestling attraction in history. Rather than focus on King of the Ring ’96 and its aftermath, I thought it would be interesting to take a look Steve Austin’s career up until that fateful night.
The later half of Austin’s career is iconic, but his early days wrestling under different names with a glorious array of blonde mullets and bowl cuts in front of audiences in Texas, Memphis and around the world are less known. Here are a few things you might not know about The Rattlesnake’s formative years…
1. Steve Austin was the designated driver in high school. The man who would become Stone Cold was born Steven Anderson in Austin, Texas, in 1964. Shortly after his birth, his mother remarried, and his name was changed to Steven Williams. In contrast to the hell-raising character he would one day play, young Steve was a pretty straight arrow. He was the star of the football team, was on the National Honor Roll and was just generally the most wholesome, Opie-ish looking guy you’d ever want to meet.
Check out this raging badass.
Hell, the guy who was pretty much constantly soaked in beer from 1996 through 2002 didn’t even drink. He tried his first beer at 14, but didn’t really take to it because he was too busy being Mr. Super Student. In fact, Steve was the designated driver for his brothers and their friends pretty much all through high school.
2. Mick Foley met Austin on his first day of wrestling training. Steve managed to land himself some football scholarships, but injuries began to pile up, and it looked like a pro career wasn’t in his future. Thankfully, Steve was also a fan of the Von Erich family’s World Class Championship Wrestling out of Dallas, and during their weekly TV show, he caught an ad for a wrestling school being run by WCCW staple, “Gentleman” Chris Adams.
Steve decided to give this wrestling thing a try, and at his first training session, he’d forge one of his longest lasting and most important wrestling friendships. A young Mick Foley was wrestling as Cactus Jack for WCCW at the time, and happened to be hanging around Chris Adams’ training camp. Foley wasn’t much impressed with any of Adams’ students, with one exception… that muscular kid with the blonde bowl cut seemed OK. Mick struck up a conversation with Steve, and the two remain good friends to this day.
The World Friendship Champions.
3. Austin still didn’t know that wrestling was fake during his first match. Austin has never had a bad thing to say about his training under Chris Adams, but he took an extremely old-school approach. Adams taught Steve a few basic moves, and how to position himself in the ring, but he didn’t teach him any psychology or clue him in to the fact that it was fake. That last one’s kind of a major omission.