WWE: Austin 3:16 – Best of Stone Cold Steve Austin (Cert 18)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 196 minutes approx.
Release Date: October 3rd
Something we can never accuse the WWE of is being subtle. If you notice the run time of this DVD, it’s 196 minutes or 3 hours 16 minutes in old money; also, it first debuted on the WWE Network on March 16th this year – as they write the date the wrong way in the US and put the month before the day, it reads – you guessed it – 3/16.
True story – I once worked for a company which was taken over by Americans and one of them in my department saw my birthday was listed as 11/3 and gave me a card on November 3rd. I felt awful telling him the 11/3 for my birthday was in fact March 11th. But I digress.
Ported over from the WWE Network to DVD, this compilation of matches and segments offers nothing particularly new for fans of Stone Cold, aside from the occasional link from the man himself. Basically, it is simply a themed time waster to keep people occupied and glued to the Network whilst enjoying some wrestling nostalgia – or would be the case if we hadn’t seen these clips many times before across various prior releases.
As ever, taking the proclamation of “best” at face value is still stretching things a bit, even with three plus hour to play with. I am sure there are a number of matches and segments we could all recall and would prefer to see included here rather than the same old selection; however, many of those are also already floating about on other releases too.
In fact there are just four matches featured, part of a chronologically told look at the highlights of the impressive WWE run of Austin, which actually only last just over six years when we subtract the time off for injuries and the controversial walkout of 2002. As they are not telling the Stone Cold story and are merely looking back, this paucity of in-ring action might be justified and forgiven by the Austin faithful, less committed fans might feel charitable.
Beginning with the now legendary victory promo after Austin won the 1996 King Of The Ring tournament, which marks the first time the phrases “Austin 3:16” and “That’s the bottom line cos Stone Cold said so!” were uttered and I believe possibly the first uncensored uses of word “ass” in WWF, we jump to another pivotal moment in WWF history, as well as Austin’s career with our first match, taken from Wrestlemania 13.
Hopefully, even newbies to WWE should be aware of this classic paradigm-shifting bout in when Austin, then the hottest heel in the company was being cheered even against perennial hero Bret “Hitman” Hart. Yes, this is the famous Submission match with Ken Shamrock as the guest referee, where Austin bled all over the place and we had a rare successfully executed double turn, that changed the direction of the company – until something else Bret Hart related happened later in the year.
Vince McMahon taking his first Stunner on RAW – and until this year’s Wrestlemania it was the worst sell ever – is next, before we jump to the 1998 Royal Rumble, joining the eponymous match with Austin’s entrance and his subsequent victory. Naturally, this is followed by the WM 14 title win over Shawn Michaels, then some more whacky Austin vs. McMahon skits from 1998/99, including the attack on Vince in the hospital and the beer bath segment.
Match number three is Austin vs. The Rock from WM XV, aka the Russo Era of WWF, a match I have never really been fond of, not that I can necessarily blame that on Vince Russo but I may do anyway. Suddenly we take a massive time jump forward to over two and half years to December 2001 and the semi-legendary supermarket brawl between Austin and Booker T on Smackdown.
Granted Austin was injured in November 1999 and most of 2000, after which he won the Rumble in 2001, had a blood feud with Triple H, turned heel at WM X7 and fronted the Alliance Invasion. Surely something from this period was worth covering? I suppose they wanted to focus on Austin as a face, but let’s be honest, the fans didn’t want to boo him in 2001, especially after he got over as a face again with the dreaded “What?” gimmick, before reverting back full time as a face when the Alliance ended at Survivor Series.
Rock vs. Austin from WM XIX is the final match, which for many was the true end of Austin’s in-ring career, despite coming back for the odd brawl as RAW GM. Again, this was another period where plenty of segments involving Austin dealing out stunners to Eric Bischoff and his parade of lackeys could have been represented but wasn’t. Neither was Austin’s Hall of Fame induction even mentioned, unless the remit is strictly limited to in-ring action.
Closing this set is Austin’s appearance at WM 32 with Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley, beating up the League Of Nations, the short lived group of Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and Rusev (Miro in AEW). The problem was the League had just beaten the WWE tag champs The New Day in a non-title match so, to be beaten up by the aged wrestlers sets the hierarchy as Old Men>Young Heel group>WWE Tag Champs! Finally, Vince and Shane McMahon eat stunners on the 25th anniversary of RAW.
Regardless of whether you have the WWE Network or not, there is little substance to this collection other than having something to watch for a few hours if you want a Stone Cold fix. More of a random mix tape than a bona fide best of collection, this at least gives us a flavour of what Austin 3:16 was all about. Unequivocally for the most die-hard Austin fans, a fun if familiar trip down memory lane for everyone else. And that’s the… end of this review!
Rating – ***
Man In Black