Austin 3:16 can legally buy a beer today.
On this day 21 one years ago, Stone Cold Steve Austin spat out arguably the greatest promo of all time. His legendary interview birthed the most profitable phrase in wrestling history: Austin 3:16.
After winning King of the Ring 1996, Austin spent his induction ceremony berating his latest victim, Jake "the Snake" Roberts. Austin's incantation is a joy to watch to this day, especially considering the immense impact it would make.
Once Austin finished the rant, WWE was his. Although he wouldn't win his first WWE World Championship for nearly two years, the movement had been unleashed. Austin 3:16 would become synonymous with WWE and to this day it is a reference point nearly human on earth can make.
Austin's meteoric rise is unmatched. Some WWE stars may have burned longer, but no one has ever been more explosive than the Texas Rattlesnake. Austin single-handedly changed wrestling when he started his war against his boss Vince McMahon. Using elements of reality to enhance the storyline, Austin and McMahon trailblazed a new way for wrestling to tell its stories.
If not for the Austin Era, it's conceivable to think that WWE would not be here today. When Stone Cold uttered his infamous phrase in 1996, WWE found itself in a precarious position. Its rival, WCW, had snatched away professional wrestling's market. So much so, that WCW had a strangled hold on the Monday Night Wars where Nitro would trump RAW in ratings for 82 straight weeks. Armed with a heel Hulk Hogan and the nWo, along with Sting and Bill Goldberg, WCW unconditionally had the better product.
Until the Attitude Era.
You see, without Stone Cold's aggressive promo, you could make the argument that the Attitude Era would have never come to light. That means that DX and the Rock may not have had the creative liberties that made them global superstars. Without the Attitude Era, WCW would have eaten WWE. Without Stone Cold, there is no attitude Era. Make no mistake, Austin 3:16 saved WWE.
Happy birthday, Austin 3:16! Make sure to download Uber or Lyft tonight. Don't stun any police officers. Try to avoid a late-night Taco Bell run. And most importantly - hydrate!