The first round matches of the King of the Ring tournament are underway and it's Stone Cold Steve Austin up against Bob Holly under his 'Spark Plug' gimmick. Interestingly, Austin gets a decent reception from the crowd on his way out.
Not a bad match. Goes on for just under 10 minutes. Crowd are pretty engaged. It's a shame the commentary team spend most of the match discussing other feuds but they eventually get into the match. Stone Cold wins the match via sleeper. A few boos from the crowd but there's also audible cheers as soon as he locks it in.
Stone Cold advances to the next round.
JUNE 8TH, 1996 - SUPERSTARS
Stone Cold goes up against Jason Arndt, later known as Joey Abs from the Mean Street Posse. Match barely goes on for 3 minutes but it's significant because this was actually the debut of the Stone Cold Stunner.
It's still strange seeing Austin hit the stunner without the huge pop that would follow. But I did love the early stunner because it looked so brutal when being delivered.
Austin also cuts a promo on the end of the match with Jim Ross. Weird hearing Austin use the word 'butt' instead of 'ass' but a solid promo overall. Austins intensity was always incredible.
JUNE 17TH, 1996 - MONDAY NIGHT RAW
Stone Cold continues his quest to become King of the Ring, in this second round match he's up against old rival Savio Vega. These two have great chemistry together so a wise choice to put them against eachother in the early rounds.
Match starts off stiff as you'd come to expect from watching previous Austin/Vega matches. Austin works Vegas legs early on, even wrapping his leg around the turnbuckle from the outside early on, before getting back in the ring and working his leg some more.
Austin throws Vega outside and puts his arms up to the crowd only for the crowd to respond with a few boos. Savio Vega takes advantage of this and wraps Austins leg around the turnbuckle to get the upperhand. Austin begins to sell his 'damaged' knee and Vega works it more and more throughout the match. In fact for the rest of the match, Savio is more dominant.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere Austin hits the stunner and again, it looks absolutely brutal. Stone Cold advances to the next round, which will be held live at the King of the Ring PPV.
Stone Cold defeats Savio Vega with the Stone Cold stunner
Straight after the match, Steve Austin joins Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon on commentary for the Marc Mero vs. Owen Hart match, he will face the winner in the next round. Sable looking as good as ever.
"Marc Mero is built for show. Steve Austin is built for go" - Stone Cold, 1996.
Near the end of the match, Stone Cold takes his headset off and leaves the commentary booth but he's escorted to the back so he can't interrupt in the match. Marc Mero beats Owen Hart and will meet Austin at the King of the Ring tournament.
JUNE 23RD, 1996 - KING OF THE RING
The PPV opens with the first semi final of the King of the Ring tournament between Stone Cold and Marc Mero - Austin defeated Bob Holly and Savio Vega in the earlier rounds and Marc Mero defeated Skip from the Bodydonnas and Owen Hart. Owen Hart is actually on commentary.
Very technical start to the match and Mero uses his speed to get on the upper hand early on. To slow down that momentum, Austin goes to the outside for a breather. Austin gets back in the ring and both men trade blows until Austin hits the Lou Thesz press out of nowhere to gain the upperhand.
A great spot in this match is where Austin removes the protective mats outside of the ring and hits Mero with a press slam. Mero is back in the ring and Austin continues to weaken Mero down, driving his elbow into the throat of Mero. Owen is hilarious on commentary and is doing his best to put over Steve Austin. Austin gets Mero into a Boston Crab showing off more of his repertoise before Mero counters. Austin still has the upper hand though and eventually gets him in another Boston Crab before Mero counters again. The crowd getting more and more into this match.
Mero tries getting Austin in a sleeper hold but Austin counters into a jawbreaker and actually ends up biting his tongue. Austin is bleeding heavily from the mouth. Mero picks up the pace again and gets a near fall from a top rope double axe handle. Mero throws Austin out the ring and hits a somersault plancha and then a suicide dive. The crowd are going crazy for these two right now.
When both men are back in the ring, Mero goes to the top rope and hits Austin with a drop kick. Austin kicks out. Mero then hits Austin with a top rope huracanrana then gets another two count. Mero heads to the referee as he cannot believe it wasn't a three which actually gives Austin time to recover and hit Mero with an alley-oop hot shot before hitting him with the stunner and advancing to the final, where he will meet Jake Roberts
What a brilliantly underrated match. Austin at his absolute finest in 1996. Both men meshed very well and I would definitely recommend this match if you haven't seen it already.
Stone Cold defeats Marc Mero with the Stone Cold stunner
Steve Austin comes out for the final. He meets Brian Pillman on the way to the ring who shows his respects. Jake Roberts is out next, selling the broken ribs that Vader had given him in the earlier semi final.
Austin like a rattlesnake, goes straight after Roberts before the bell even rings, going straight after the damaged ribs. Austin just beats the absolute tar out of Roberts, he even rips off the protective tape wrapped around Roberts ribs and continues to beat him before Gorilla Monsoon comes out and asks Roberts if he wants to quit. Roberts declines and the match continues.
Not for long though as Austin hits the stunner and he is crowned the 1996 King of the Ring winner.
Following the match, Austin delivers one of the most memorable promos in the history of the business. One that went along way to making him a star.
“The first thing I want to be done is to get that piece of crap out of my ring. Don’t just get him out of the ring, get him out of the WWF, because I proved, son, without a shadow of a doubt, that you ain’t got what it takes anymore! You sit there, and you 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 ASS! All he’s gotta do is go buy him a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and try to get back some of that courage he had in his prime. As the king of the ring, I’m servin’ notice to every one of the ‘WWF superstars.’ I don’t give a damn what they are, they’re all on the list, and that’s Stone Cold’s list, and I’m fixin’ to start runnin’ through all of them. As far as this championship match is considered, son, I don’t give a damn if it’s Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels. Steve Austin’s time has come, and when I get the shot, you’re lookin’ at the next WWF Champion, and that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so!”
JULY 1ST, 1996
Before the KOTR finals match, Austin had 15 or 16 stitches put in his tongue backstage (not at the hospital, as they claimed on TV) stemming from the earlier match with Marc Mero. After Austin won the tournament, he "did a strong post-match interview knocking Roberts' religion and drinking problems." credit: Wrestling Observer
WAY TO UNDERSELL AN ICONIC MOMENT IN THE RISE OF STONE COLD.