Geeklings! Do you have any idea what day it is? It’s March 16th…3/16…3:16. That’s right it’s National Stone Cold Steve Austin Day! A holiday that is only known to wrestling fans or to a small section of Bible thumpers (that last statistic could very well be 100% made up). Unlike most holidays it doesn’t come with a day off, but it comes with an air of ass kickery and drinking beer in the messiest fashion possible.
Growing up wrestling had an image that was targeted towards kids. Story lines were very cut and dry and mostly revolved around the premise of good guys versus bad guys (or using wrestling terminology faces vs heels). While the action in the ring was of a high quality, the story telling was not, and a large number of wrestling fans yearned for a product with a little more edge. Something that could be more than the basic “I don’t like you cause you’re a bad dude” story lines being presented. All the good guy characters were carbon cut outs of each other and no one really seemed to be a clear stand out. This actually started to drive fans towards rooting for the villains because at least they were doing cool stuff. Have you ever noticed how villains in any story are the most interesting? It’s because they provide the most depth, and this holds true to wrestling as well. Heels (or bad guys) tend to be more interesting because they’re willing do whatever it takes to win. The say your prayers and eat your vitamins era of wrestling had run stale and it was time for a change. And fans got change in buckets with the arrival of Stone Cold Steve Austin, who became a catalyst in ushering a brand new era of wrestling which helped escape the shadows of Hulk Hogan, brother.
Everything wrestling fans had been taught to boo was present in Austin’s character. He was violent, didn’t care for authority, would cheat, would say whatever he wanted, and wrestling fans ate it up. Finally they had a character that represented a much needed shift within the sport. Not since the likes of Hulk Hogan had the wrestling world seen a character with such crazy popularity. When the glass shattered to start his entrance music fans lost their minds. “Austin 3:16 says I just kicked your ass” was more then a fantastic catch phrase it became a mantra. A slogan that slammed the door on the old ways of wrestling characters and story lines and kicked open the door that would lead to what is known as the Attitude Era.
Stone Cold Steve Austin lead a movement within the wrestling community that had never been seen before. His emergence allowed for the blurring of lines with characters. Suddenly you didn’t need to be a face to be popular with the crowd, you could be just as popular by being a heel. By all means Austin should have been viewed as a heel, his actions dictated such. It was his charisma both in the ring and on the mic that made crowds go from hating him to loving him. Austin represented the much needed change wrestling fans had been hoping for, and with a resounding “Hell Yeah” they helped push him through the stratosphere.
When the history books look back at the Attitude Era what will they say? Was Austin the best wrestler of his generation? No probably not,but he didn’t need to be either. He was the shot in the arm the sport demanded and made professional wrestling worth talking about again, and memorable. There is no wrestling fan alive who’ll ever forget watching Austin drive a beer truck into the arena or his Wrestlemania matches with the Rock or watching him push Mike Tyson. Stone Cold Steve Austin became more than just a wrestler he became a movement. Someone for fans to hang their hats on and get behind because he represented all their inner frustrations, kicked ass, flipped the bird, and drank beer. When the history books look back on the Attitude Era all it’ll say is Austin 3:16 just kicked your ass… and that’s the bottom line.