Stone Cold Steve Austin cuts one the most famous promos in WWF history when he introduces the Austin 3:16 catchphrase after defeating Jake Roberts on June 23, 1996, at King of the Ring.
It's somewhat odd to think of but in a roundabout way, The Kliq -- and Triple H, specifically -- are indirectly responsible (at least partially) for the booming success of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Back in early 1996, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, two of The Kliq's members, were leaving the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) for the larger contracts and guaranteed main event slots being offered by World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Shawn Michaels and Triple H, however, were staying behind. During a house show at Madison Square Garden in May, the four orchestrated a small ceremony to say goodbye, in which each member got into the ring at the end of the night and hugged each other before giving a curtain call.
This was a major breach of kayfabe, as the group consisted of both heels and babyfaces, and showed enough lack of professionalism that someone had to be punished. With Hall and Nash leaving the company and Michaels the WWF champion at the time, that left Triple H to take the fall. This was unfortunate timing, too, for him, at least. That's because he was penciled in to win the King of the Ring tournament the very next month to begin a big push.
Instead, that push went to a rising star in the company, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Last we left "The Rattlesnake," he was losing a Caribbean Strap match to Savio Vega at In Your House: Beware of Dog 2, which served to rid Austin of his manager at the time, Ted DiBiase. He entered the King of the Ring tournament immediately after and advanced by defeating Bob Holly in the first round and getting his win back on Vega in the second.
That led him to the pay-per-view (PPV) and a match-up against Marc Mero in the semifinals, which he won after a damn fine 17-minute match that saw him get his lip busted open. Because of this, he had to go straight to the hospital while the event continued on before returning later to meet Jake "The Snake" Roberts in the final.
Stone Cold made it back in time and the two had a mostly underwhelming match. Roberts had his ribs busted up earlier in the night by Vader after their match ended and he was selling that injury all throughout the match. Austin, of course, used it as his focal point before ending it just under five minutes in with the Stone Cold Stunner, a finisher he had just started using at that time.
The match itself was quickly forgotten but the promo Austin cut during his coronation will live on forever in the annals of pro wrestling lore.
Roberts was using a born again Christian gimmick at that time, as he had recently converted to as much in his real life. So Austin used it for inspiration in his promo and created one of the most famous catchphrases in pro wrestling history:
"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've 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 dig back some of that courage he had in his prime. As the King of the Ring, I'm serving notice to every one 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 fixing to start running through all of them. As far as this championship match is considered, son, I don't give a damn if it's Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels; 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 because Stone Cold said so."
Austin 3:16 signs quickly started popping up at WWF events and once the company plastered it on a t-shirt, it became one of the hottest selling pieces of merchandise in its history. To this day, 16 years later, you might run into a fan wearing a shirt with that phrase on it.
Talk about over.
Stone Cold would get treated like a main event talent soon after, entering into a feud with Bret Hart and winning the Royal Rumble the next two years in a row before finally winning the WWF championship at WrestleMania 14 in March 1998.
And it all started right here with Austin 3:16.
Watch the entire match before listening to Austin cut one of the most famous promos in pro wrestling history below.