Happy Austin 3:16 Day, or as non-wrestling fans know it, “Is it still okay to eat that leftover pie you forgot to put in the fridge” Day. By now, Austin 3:16 is timeless; it was the birth of a whole new era, and an important cog in the gears of the Monday Night Wars. Stone Cold Steve Austin cut the following promo on Jake The Snake Roberts after winning the King of the Ring tournament in 1996:
The first thing I want to be done is to get that piece of crap out of my ring. Don’t just get him out of the ring—get him out of the WWF. Because I proved, son, without a shadow of a doubt, you ain’t got what it takes anymore. You sit there and you thump your Bible and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16 — Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass. All he’s gotta do is go buy him a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and try to get back some of that courage he had in his prime.
As the King of the Ring, I’m serving notice to everyone of the WWF Superstars — I don’t give a damn what they are — they’re all on the list and that’s Stone Cold’s list and I’m fixin’ to start running through all of ‘em. Piss off. As far as this championship match is considered, son, I don’t give a damn if it’s Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michael- — Steve Austin’s time has come. And when I get the shot, you’re looking at the next WWF Champion, and that’s the bottom line ‘cause Stone Cold said so.
For the tl;dr crowd (or “too long; didn’t memorize”), you can also watch the entire speech on the WWE Network, or, should you feel more inclined, just right here in glorious YouTube form:
To celebrate, let’s take a look back at the origins and aftermath of one of the most iconic phrases in pro wrestling history.
1. No Michael P.S. Hayes, No Austin 3:16
Now, this falls squarely in the wheelhouse of people who will inevitably respond with “what the heck, of course we know that. Earlier today I saw someone say they didn’t remember King of the Ring 1996 because it happened before they were born. After taking a personal moment to remember that I’m nine days away from turning 30 and then taking some deep breaths into a paper bag, I figured the actual origins would be a good place to start.
Initially, Steve Austin was never supposed to compete in King of the Ring. In what’s described as some “disciplinary measures,” Austin was put into the tournament as a last-minute decision. It’s said that Austin’s push was supposedly meant for Triple H, which is a real shame. That guy can never catch a break, huh. Any cursory knowledge of Austin’s career will tell you that he was the best at taking the meager opportunities handed to him and spinning them into some of the most memorable and beloved character work of his career. This was no exception.
During his first match of the night, Austin got kicked in the mouth by Marc Mero so hard he had to be taken to the hospital. 14 stitches later, Austin arrived back at the show after Jake the Snake Roberts had already cut his promo for their match set for later in the evening.
Michael P.S. Hayes – former Freebird, Badstreet occupant, then ring announcer under the name Dok Hendrix — told Austin about the promo, letting him know that he was to wrestle Roberts for the title of King of the Ring, and that he had cut a religious-based promo on Austin.
Now, this timeline does gets a little squicky: in Austin’s book, it’s intimated that he found out before going to the hospital, but in later interviews and retrospectives it’s said that he found out he was going to go over in the final after coming back. Either way, without that conversation with Hayes, the idea to respond in kind would have never been born. Hayes is now in the WWE Hall of Fame along with the rest of the Fabulous Freebirds. It’s probably not for his association with this famous promo, but it isn’t NOT for that.