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Opinion: Stone Cold’s ‘Austin 3:16’ speech was a reality-based promo done right

The most iconic promo Stone Cold Steve Austin ever delivered was his 1996 King of the Ring victory speech.

It not only spawned the Austin 3:16 marketing juggernaut but it set the tone for the Stone Cold Steve Austin character perfectly; it also showed that reality-based storylines can work in wrestling, they just have to be done right.

With those icy blue eyes, gravely voice and mean mug, Stone Cold looked and sounded the part of a badass. He bucked conventionality. He swore, did not play games, and told it exactly how it was.

His iconic promo was in direct response to a religious promo Roberts had cut earlier in the night.

Stone Cold was given the freedom to cut his own promo. He had no script and just had the premise of responding to a religious-based promo to go off of. The scripted promos of today often give wrestlers the deer in the headlights look.

Stone Cold looked right in the camera and said, ”You sit there and 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 a**!”

He also touched on Jake Roberts’ alcoholism by suggesting Roberts should ”go get a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and get back some of that courage he had in his prime. It was real, realistic and gritty and awesome.

It was unlike CM Punk’s pipebomb promo. Punk cut a decent a promo and the fans loved it, but it was also not very good from a big picture perspective. The issue with the promo was how he broke kayfabe, wrong.

Punk calling The Rock ‘Dwayne’, instead of by his character’s name and then looking at the camera and talking about breaking the fourth wall. It just reestablishes the worked nature of wrestling and distances the fans from what was happening.

Stone Cold used reality in his promo, but he still called Jake by his character’s name and thus bringing reality to wrestling without breaking the fictive dream.

Earlier in the evening, Stone Cold had been sent to the hospital. He had received sixteen stitches in his mouth. His opponent, Jake Roberts, had injured his ribs earlier in the evening and Stone Cold exploited this by stripping off the tape from Roberts’ ribs and repeatedly dropping elbow after elbow into Roberts’ ribs.

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