A catchphrase that transcended everything that sports entertainment ever knew.
A catchphrase that defined not just the career of one of WWE’s biggest Superstars of all time, but one that defined an entire era of professional wrestling. A catchphrase that, to this day, is responsible for a major chunk of WWE’s merchandise sales and a catchphrase that is well and truly immortal, in every sense of that word.
But what does Stone Cold Steve Austin’s 3:16 actually mean?
Fans of Stone Cold Steve Austin are probably familiar with the origins of the catchphrase itself, but today we’re going to go into a little depth about it.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, who had just recently rid himself of his association with Ted Dibiase, had taken part in the 1996 King of the Ring tournament. The tournament’s semi-finals and finals were held on June 23rd, 1996 at the MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
After Austin defeated Marc Mero in the semi-finals of the tournament, he was set to face Jake “the Snake” Roberts in the finals. Roberts had earlier defeated Vader by disqualification.
Now Jake Roberts, who had been the epitome of a “cool” character in his previous stints with the WWE, had recently returned to the company with a preacher gimmick. The gimmick, inspired by him turning into a born-again Christian and actually becoming a preacher in real life, had him as a religious Christian man who frequently quoted the Bible.
After Austin pretty much destroyed Roberts in the final in four minutes and twenty-eight seconds, he was interviewed by Dok Hendrix (better known as Michael Hayes), it was here that Austin delivered the iconic speech that would be later credited by the WWE as the “beginning of the Attitude Era”.
Here’s the video of the speech in its’ entirety:
As you can see in the video, Austin mocked Jake Roberts’ faith, by referencing John 3:16 and stating that “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”
John 3:16 is the most famous and the most well-known verse from the Christian Bible. The verse is synonymous with the teachings of Christianity itself and is often quoted by preachers and priests alike.
Here’s the full text of the John 3:16 verse from the Bible:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
So when Austin came up with Austin 3:16 during the aforementioned promo, this was the verse that he was talking about. It is also worth noting that Jake Roberts had quoted this verse while cutting a backstage promo on Austin prior to their match.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, when he was asked about the origins of “Austin 3:16”, this is what Stone Cold Steve Austin himself had to say:
“As I was getting my lip stitched up following my match against Marc Mero, I was told that Jake Roberts just did an interview about me referencing “John 3:16.”
I knew the verse, but I also remembered that at football games there was always a fan in the end zone holding up a sign that said “John 3:16.”
So it was a pretty famous quote to begin with, and after I won the tournament it just came to me on the fly. To me, it was pure luck that “Austin 3:16” would become what it did.”
Stone Cold Steve Austin has also clarified that even though he referenced John 3:16 and paraphrased it into Austin 3:16, he didn’t mean any offence to Christianity or towards the Bible, it was just something that he thought up on the go and let it out.
In the same interview by WWE.com here’s what he had to say about the religious aspect of Austin 3:16:
“When I did “Austin 3:16,” it wasn’t meant to be anti-religious or anything. In fact, I can’t tell you how many priests and nuns have asked me for my autograph throughout my career.
There was nothing sacrilegious about it. “’Austin 3:16’ says I just whooped your ass” was prophetic, and it became a phrase that defined my career.
It is still one of the most popular phrases in WWE history, and anyone who doesn’t like it can piss off.”
So that is all that Austin 3:16 means, ladies and gentlemen. It was something that Austin came up with to insult Jake Roberts and his priest gimmick during the post-match interview, that’s all there is!
As we all know now, however, Austin 3:16 went on to become, undoubtedly, the most popular catchphrase in the entire history of professional wrestling. Austin 3:16 shirts sold like hot cakes during the peak of the Attitude Era and continue to do so, to this day, through WWEShop and it’s associates, despite Austin no longer being on-screen.
Stone Cold Steve Austin is legitimately a bonafide legend of the Wrestling business. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by none other than Vince McMahon himself and continues to mesmerise and inspire countless professional wrestling enthusiasts as well as up-and-coming wrestlers.
Here’s a video of several current-day WWE Superstars reenacting the infamous Austin 3:16 promo!
If you wish to catch Stone Cold Steve Austin, you can do so by tuning into his podcast, The Steve Austin Show where he talks about a lot of topics including professional wrestling and interviews pro wrestlers from all around the planet.
If you have any other questions about Austin or Austin 3:16, feel free to ask them in the comments below!