Speaking on the latest episode of his Drive Thru podcast, Jim Cornette has given his opinion on the most important promos in wrestling history.
Responding to a listener who asked whether Steve Austin’s legendary “Austin 3:16” promo at the 1996 King Of The Ring was the greatest promo in history, Jim Cornette ran the rule over that and the rest of the competition.
After entering the WWE in January 1996, Steve Austin was a far cry from the megastar he would become. Austin initially appeared as The Ringmaster alongside Ted DiBiase, but the character failed to take off. Within months Austin switched his character to the beginnings of his “Stone Cold” alias and began his rise to stardom.
After beating Jake “The Snake” Roberts to claim the 1996 King Of The Ring, Austin delivered his now legendary Austin 3:16 promo.
Reflecting on the promo, Jim Cornette said that while it was certainly the “most impactful,” there have been numerous other great promos, including Dusty Rhodes’ ‘Hard Times.’
Jim Cornette went on to add that Rhodes’ promo, while good, was just another in a long line of great promos from the Hall of Famer.
“It wasn’t as impactful to me or people that worked with Dusty in the 80’s, that was just a Dusty promo. Not to say that it was bad, but to say that they were all that good… Every week on the syndicated TV’s the promos were like that.”
The long-time podcaster continued by saying that Austin’s promo was important for not only himself, but wrestling in general.
“There’s been great promos and promos that people quote, but as far as a direct, impact on not only that particular guy getting really over, but business in general, I don’t know that I can think of another one.
Cornette continued by running down the other contenders for the title. Promos that may not have been the ‘best’ but that made a big impact.
“You can say in another way that the promo that Vince cut on the simul-cast when he brought WCW, when he was on both shows at the same time. That was important, it wasn’t necessarily great, didn’t do a lot for business.”
“That’s got to be on the list [Hulk Hogan joining the nWo] but it still can’t be as big as Austin 3:16 because Hogan rejuvenated himself, switching heel, something people thought that they’d never see, and a new atmosphere, with new people to play off etc. That was big, but he’s already been the biggest star in wrestling. Austin was about to be and that was a big thing in getting him there, just where people hooked onto it and took notice. Not only bringing the signs, but also just the whole vibe of Austin.
The former manager closed by explaining that the key to a great promo is that the performer is completely into what they are saying. Again he noted Austin as an example.
“They were into who they were, and they gave that vibe off. So that promo was something that people just hooked onto as getting into Steve Austin in general because that was the perfect example of Steve Austin.”
Interestingly in a recent interview, Austin commented on not being able to commit to his “Stunning Steve Austin” character in WCW. Austin said that the disconnect came from not knowing who the character really was.
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