Austin 3:16 wasn’t just an era in WWE, it was a culture

The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin was a one-in-a-million phenomenon
The rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin was a one-in-a-million phenomenon

Stories are swirling that WWE will bring back Stone Cold Steve Austin for WrestleMania 38. The Hall of Famer may end up having a major role at the event.

Austin's returns have always been great for WWE, as he remains one of the promotion's most popular figures ever. It's not yet clear what he will do at The Grandest Stage of Them All, but it will no doubt make an impact.

The Rattlesnake might be involved in a face-off with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and his new protege, Austin Theory. Stone Cold might be the special enforcer for a major title match, or simply just be the host of the event.

Whatever his duties are for the evening, there's no doubting the defeaning cheers we will hear from the WWE Universe when the glass breaks. It's almost hard to believe that around 25 years ago, none of us could have ever seen this coming.

This high mid-carder, and a guy no one knew what to do with, became a global star. Looking back, it all seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.

Just like the bite of a Texas Rattlesnake, the rise of Austin in WWE came so quickly, but had a striking effect.

Before long, Steve Austin went beyond being a great champion and personality to bigger than the industry itself.

Steve Austin wasn’t just the face of WWE. He was the pulse of the pro wrestling world. Sometimes, it felt like it didn't even matter what happened when the bell rang. Only that Austin was there to make his presence felt.

And it didn’t stop there, as his influence on pop culture was immeasurable. Even to the mainstream, casual crowd, he made pro wrestling cool again. Formerly closeted wrestling fans now proudly wore his popular 3:16 t-shirt. They would often quote his lines in public, without embarrassment.

Men who had never shaved their heads before suddenly went with the bald look and grew out their best goatees. People were getting Austin’s logos tattooed on their bodies, or dressing up their kids like him during Halloween. Some even named their dogs after him. That's when you really know you're really loved.

For those who weren’t there to witness the rise of Steve Austin, it’s hard to explain but cannot be overstated.

As his fire began to burn even hotter, WWE’s greatest anti-hero became part rockstar and part religious figure

Particularly among middle class fans in America, who have always represented a huge portion of the overall wrestling crowd. To them, Austin was one of them, and they were quick to share cheers and beers with him whenever he bucked authority.

His feud in WWE with Vince McMahon was the perfect remedy for every workin' man or woman that wanted to stick it to their boss.

That entire time frame of the late 90’s were special in general. There was a powder keg of things exploding all at once that we really didn’t grasp until much later.

The Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW, the rise of the nWo, the Attitude Era, DX and more. It was all one stone soup of action that shaped the hottest era in the history of modern pro wrestling.

But perhaps nothing during that entire, amazing era struck the same nerve as the Austin Revolution. This unforeseen star stepped to the forefront of a booming industry and took that rocket ship even further than anyone could imagine.

Along the way, he forged an emotional attachment with the WWE Universe that still resonates to this day. It’s why he continues to come back, and still receives a huge response.

Because Austin wasn’t just a guy on TV. He wasn’t just a poster on the wall or a logo on your keychain. Austin was a reason to get excited, a reason to laugh, and for some, a reason to hope.

He changed the culture of wrestling by being the everyman that any person could relate to in some form or fashion. In short, Austin went far beyond being just a wrestler.

He's much more than that, and so was the aura of his rags-to-riches rise to the top. Quite simply and straightforward: He’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, and he personifies the fighter that we all see in ourselves.

That's why Austin 3:16 changed both pro wrestling and pop culture forever... And that’s the bottom line.

Former WWE writer responds to Dave Meltzer's comments HERE