Why Jake The Snake Roberts Says Austin 3:16 Promo Isn't What Put Stone Cold Over

While many have hailed Steve Austin's "Austin 3:16" promo at the 1996 King of the Ring as the moment that gave rise to the "Stone Cold" era, Jake Roberts — the man Austin defeated to win the tournament — believes the "Texas Rattlesnake" got over with the crowds more for his ability to deliver top quality matches.

"It's his work that got him over, not that f—ing interview," Roberts said "The Snake Pit" podcast recently. "The interview was sweet and everything, but if you don't back it up with your work in the ring, you're history. Steve was a f—ing machine. He was a well-oiled machine, brother, and he could go. And he went."

Roberts downplayed the importance of the aforementioned promo as a contributing factor in Austin's rise to superstardom but acknowledged that Austin would have probably sold a lot less merchandise if not for his signature Austin 3:16 shirts that became a part of pop culture in the late '90s. 

Regardless of Roberts' take, there's no denying that the pro wrestling gods smiled upon Austin on that fateful day — June 23, 1996 — at MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As the story goes, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was originally in line to win the 1996 King of the Ring until his involvement in the infamous "Curtain Call" led to him being sent to the proverbial doghouse.

While Austin has previously admitted that his career path could have been a lot different if not for his King of the Ring victory, Triple H — in hindsight — is glad that he was punished by WWE management as Austin's victory and subsequent promo flickered the flames for the Attitude Era.