Jim Ross has revealed that Vince McMahon once pulled sales of a popular t-shirt after Steve Austin made it known that he disliked them.
At SummerSlam 1997, Owen Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin met for the Intercontinental Championship. However, in a now famous incident, Austin suffered a broken neck after receiving a piledriver from Hart where his head and neck were positioned too low to be protected.
The injury led to legitimate backstage tension between the pair, as Austin had been assured in the lead up to the match that the move was safe.
In the weeks after the match, in an effort to continue the on-screen feud, Hart began wearing “Owen 3:16” shirts, mocking Austin’s catchphrase. The t-shirts were quickly made available for fans to buy.
Speaking on a recent episode of his Grilling JR podcast, available via AdFreeShows, Jim Ross, who was Head of Talent Relations at the time, said the shirts were eventually pulled by Vince McMahon. They were taken off sale after Austin had gone to JR to make management aware he wasn’t happy with them.
“Who gets paid on that shirt? The guy that invented 3:16 or the guy named Owen? It opened up a Pandora’s box of issues. I don’t think that shirt lasted long, I really don’t. I expressed to Vince [that] Steve was unhappy with it and I asked that question: who gets paid? Eventually the shirt disappeared,”
While the bad feeling between Austin and Hart lingered, Ross confirmed that the two men made peace before Hart tragically passed away in 1999.
Reflecting on Austin’s popularity, JR said that he connected with fans simply by being himself, something today’s stars can maybe learn from.
“He’s a role model for everybody wrestling today,” Ross continued. “He didn’t look like Hulk, he didn’t look like Warrior. He just was Steve, and what Steve was was this organic, real-feeling athlete. Being real got him over, and I don’t understand why guys can’t think of that today.”
It has been confirmed that Steve Austin will be returning to WWE at WrestleMania 38 for a special episode of the KO Show.
H/t to Sportskeeda for the transcription.