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This Day in Wrestling History (June 23): Austin 3:16 is Born

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33 years ago today in San Antonio, Texas, Gino Hernandez defeated Ric Flair in the finals of a one-night tournament to win the vacated WCCW Texas Heavyweight Championship.

The title was vacated back in February following the death of David Von Erich. In an interesting note, Hernandez was actually eliminated in the semifinals by Kerry Von Erich, but Kerry was injured in the match, so Gino went in Kerry’s place in the final.

Other participants in the tournament were Terry Gordy, Black Gordman, Johnny Mantel, Jules Strongbow, John Tatum, Buck Zumhofe, Michael Hayes, Kevin Von Erich, Killer Khan, and Jose Lothario.

25 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Super Destroyers defeated Glenn Osbourne & Max Thrasher to become the first Eastern Championship Wrestling tag team champions.

23 years ago today, WCW presented Clash of the Champions XXVII (WWE Network link) from McAllister Fieldhouse in Charleston, South Carolina.

  • In a dark match, The Patriot defeated Bobby Eaton.
  • Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan defeated The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • The Guardian Angel defeated Tex Slazenger.
  • Lord Steven Regal defeated Larry Zbyszko to win the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Johnny B. Badd defeated Steve Austin by disqualification in a WCW United States Championship match.
  • Ric Flair defeated Sting to unify the WCW International and World Heavyweight Championships.

21 years ago today, WWF presented King of the Ring (WWE Network link) from the MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 8,762 were in attendance, with 197,000 homes watching on PPV.

  • In a Free for All match, The Bodydonnas defeated The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy).
  • In a dark match, Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Aldo Montoya.

King of the Ring Semifinals:

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Marc Mero.
  • Jake “The Snake” Roberts defeated Vader.

King of the Ring final:

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Jake “The Snake” Roberts to win the King of the Ring tournament. His victory speech would cement him in wrestling lore (promo transcript via

[Austin:] 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!

*crowd cheer*

[Hendrix:] Come on, that's not necessary...

[Austin:] 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 'em.

And 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 is come, and when I get that shot you're looking at the next WWF Champion. And that's the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so.

Though stories varied on when he was presented with the premise of the promo (Roberts' becoming a born-again Christian), his "Austin 3:16" declaration would inspire many T-shirts, including this one that goes on to become the most popular shirt in wrestling history. Austin himself would become the face of a resurging WWF less than two years later.

Non-tournament matches in order of occurrence:

  • The Smokin' Gunns (Billy & Bart) defeated The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • The Ultimate Warrior defeated Jerry Lawler. This would be Warrior's final WWF PPV appearance until Wrestlemania XXX; he was fired before next month's In Your House 9 after allegedly missing house shows.
  • Mankind defeated The Undertaker by submission.
  • Ahmed Johnson defeated Goldust to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated The British Bulldog to retain the WWF Championship.

15 years ago today, WWE presented King of the Ring (WWE Network link) from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. 14,200 were in attendance, with 320,000 homes watching on PPV.

This was the last time the tournament was held until 2006, and the last time the tournament was held on a traditional PPV.

  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) defeated Raven and Steven Richards.

King of the Ring semifinals:

  • Rob Van Dam defeated Chris Jericho.
  • Brock Lesnar defeated Test.

King of the Ring final:

  • Brock Lesnar defeated Rob Van Dam to win the King of the Ring tournament and a WWE Championship match at Summerslam.

Non-tournament matches in order of occurrence:

  • Jamie Noble defeated The Hurricane to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Ric Flair defeated Eddie Guerrero.
  • Molly Holly defeated Trish Stratus to win the WWE Women's Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Hulk Hogan by submission. This was Hogan's first submission loss in a WWE ring.
  • The Undertaker defeated Triple H to retain the Undisputed WWE Championship.

14 years ago today on RAW from New York City (WWE Network link), Triple H defeated Kane in a title versus mask match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. As a result of the loss, Kane was forced to unmask.

9 years ago today, WWE presented the 2008 Draft Lottery on RAW (WWE Network link) from San Antonio, Texas.

As with the 2007 edition, wrestlers competed to earn draft picks for their show. The winning brand would take one wrestler (or two wrestlers for the battle royal) at random from an opposing brand. Also, as with every draft since 2004, all on-air talent was eligible to be drafted.

That little rule led to one of the evening’s more memorable moments: the switching of Jim Ross and Michael Cole’s commentary spots. As it turned out, Ross wasn’t even aware the switch was going down. Even more interesting, he nearly quit the company over it. Ross detailed it in his blog:

As many of you know, I was “drafted” to Smackdown Monday night in the “random lottery”. Obviously that means I will be leaving Monday Night Raw and my long time partner Jerry Lawler. I am not happy about this surprise development.

I also contemplated calling it a career Monday night and not going to Houston to tape SD. After speaking with my wife and thinking on this matter until 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, I have decided to do the right thing for the fans who care and the talent who care and begin my new assignment. It has been explained to me that the WWE’s Smackdown tenure on My Network is a high priority within the corporation. Allegedly, my presence is needed in that effort.

Many are speculating about when I learned of this development...the same time those of you were watching at home. I should have detected something with the demeanor of certain individuals either thru their plastic, poker faces or the perceived smirk that I thought I might have seen on some of their faces during the day.

Ross remained on commentary until a third Bell’s palsy episode occurred in October 2009. He sporadically appeared on commentary until his release in 2013. Ross would return to WWE at Wrestlemania 33, just days following his wife’s passing.

This episode was also the third and last of “McMahon’s Million Dollar Mania”, where Vince himself gave away a million dollars every week. After giving away that week’s top prize ($500,000), a portion of the set collapsed, injuring McMahon. Whether it was a second attempt to kill off the Vince McMahon character in as many years (following the limo explosion of a year prior) is up for debate, but the story is never resolved.

  • In a preshow dark match, Cryme Tyme (JTG & Shad) defeated Deuce & Domino.
  • Triple H defeated Mark Henry to win a draft pick for RAW.
  • Finlay & Hornswoggle defeated Carlito & Santino Marella to win a draft pick for Smackdown.
  • Cody Rhodes & Hardcore Holly defeated Bam Neely & Chavo Guerrero to win a draft pick for RAW.
  • John Morrison & The Miz defeated The Hardys (Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy) to win a draft pick for ECW.
  • Melina & Mickie James and Natalya & Victoria fought to a double disqualification giving one pick each to RAW and Smackdown.
  • John Cena defeated Edge by countout to win a draft pick for RAW.
  • MVP defeated Tommy Dreamer to win a draft pick for Smackdown.
  • John Bradshaw Layfield defeated Kofi Kingston to win a draft pick for RAW.
  • Edge last eliminated John Cena to win a 15-man, tri-branded battle royal to earn Smackdown two draft picks. Other participants were Triple H, Batista, CM Punk, Kane (representing RAW), The Big Show, The Great Khali, MVP, Jeff Hardy (representing Smackdown), Matt Hardy, John Morrison, The Miz, Chavo Guerrero, and Shelton Benjamin (representing ECW).

4 years ago today at a ROH on Sinclair taping in Baltimore, Maryland, Team ROH (BJ Whitmer, Jay Lethal, Kevin Steen, and Michael Elgin) defeated SCUM (Cliff Compton, Jimmy Jacobs, Rhett Titus, and Rhino) in Steel Cage Warfare. As a result of the loss, SCUM had to disband.

3 years ago today on RAW from Washington, DC (WWE Network link), Stephanie McMahon, in her first match in over a decade, defeated Vickie Guerrero in a mud wrestling match. As a result of the loss, Vickie was fired.

This served as a write-off for Guerrero, who was retiring from the wrestling business.

2 years ago today, WWE debuts the sixth season of Tough Enough.

As with past seasons, the reality competition series focuses on a group of outsiders going through rigorous training overseen by former WWE competitors. In the end, one man and one woman will earn a one-year, $250,000 deal with WWE.

Unlike past seasons, eliminations were decided by a nationwide vote, with each judge (Hulk Hogan, Daniel Bryan, and Paige, with Hogan later replaced by The Miz) nominating one person for elimination, and the vote deciding who goes home. Each judge is allowed to save one person from elimination during the season.

For the record, Hank Avery was eliminated in the season opener. Joshua Bredl and Sara Lee went on to win the competition. In the end, seven of the thirteen contestants were signed to WWE deals.

The female winner, Sara Lee, was released when her one-year deal ended in October 2016. On the day of her release, she announced that she and fellow wrestler Wesley Blake were expecting their first child together. Their daughter, Piper, was born in May.

Bredl is still with the company as Bronson Matthews. There were reports that he was released in April 2016, but they turned out to be false, and Josh is still with the company with NXT, WWE’s developmental brand.

Also with the developmental brand are first runner-up Amanda Saccomanno (aka Mandy Rose), Patrick Clark (aka Velveteen Dream), and Daria Berenato (aka Sonya Deville).

The full season is available on WWE Network here.

2 years ago today, Matt and Rebecca Hardy give birth to their first child. Son Maxel was born weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces.

The couple gave birth to a second son earlier this month in Wolfgang Xander.

1 year ago today, WWE presented the first round of the Cruiserweight Classic (WWE Network link) from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

The first round matches aired over four weekly episodes from July 13 to August 3. All matches were contested under a 20-minute time limit, though only one match went beyond 10 minutes.

  • Gran Metalik defeated Alejandro Saez.
  • Ho Ho Lun defeated Ariya Daivari.
  • Cedric Alexander defeated Clement Peitot.
  • Brian Kendrick defeated Raul Mendoza via submission.
  • Tajiri defeated Damian Slater.
  • TJ Perkins defeated Da Mack via submission.
  • Lince Dorado defeated Mustafa Ali.
  • Akira Tozawa defeated Kenneth Johnson.
  • Zach Sabre Jr. defeated Tyson Dux via submission.
  • Drew Gulak defeated Harv Sihra via submission.
  • Kota Ibushi defeated Sean Maluta.
  • Rich Swann defeated Jason Lee.
  • Noam Dar defeated Gurv Sihra via submission.
  • Jack Gallagher defeated Fabian Aichner.
  • Johnny Gargano defeated Tommaso Ciampa.

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