Induction: Steve Austin vs. Yokozuna – A match fit for a king. Apparently.

24 Submitted by on Thu, 20 March 2014, 20:00

WWF, 1996

The WWF’s King of the Ring was a pretty big deal back when the Federation held an annual pay-per-view around the tournament. Winning the crown, while not a guarantee of success, was an indicator that big things were coming a wrestler’s way. Of the tournament-winners from 1993 to 2002, Owen Hart, Mabel, Kurt Angle, and Brock Lesnar all challenged for the world title at Summerslam two months later. Everyone else, while not immediately shot into the main event, was at least booked on the biggest pay-per-view of the summer, even if it was, say, a Kiss My Ass match. With one exception: 


A little-known grappler by the name of Steve Austin, who got slotted into the pre-show.

See, Austin was only a second choice to earn the King of the Ring crown, winning the event due to Triple H being punished for the MSG curtain call incident. And it showed. It seemed that nobody behind the scenes knew what to do with Austin, despite his growing popularity as an anti-hero. Yes, despite what WWE documentaries may imply, Stone Cold’s famous “Austin 3:16” promo at King of the Ring ’96 didn’t instantly launch him to the top; Vince followed up on what would become a multi-million dollar catchphrase by booking Austin into a match on the Preview Channel.


And to make things worse, the reigning King of the Ring’s match wasn’t even the feature attraction of WWF’s Free-For-All program, the free pre-show before the Summerslam pay-per-view. That honor went to the Bikini Beach Blast-Off, where the mid-card wrestlers hung around an above-ground pool backstage in the Gund Arena and pretended they were at the beach. And yes, this was inducted onto this site long ago, making this half-hour program perhaps the most highly-concentrated exhibition of Wrestlecrap ever aired. avy03
avy04 In order to even get through the curtain, Austin had to walk past TL Hopper, The Bushwhackers, Goldust in a G-string, Peter Polaco in a jock strap, and Todd Pettengill.
And if you thought the silliness was over once he stepped into the ring with the former champion Yokozuna, you must not be a very astute reader, because this article would be finished by now if it were. avy05
avy06 From the moment Austin entered the squared circle, something seemed a bit… odd. Notice how he never actually touched the top rope when he mounted the ropes to pose?
Or when he delivered a clothesline? Either he was trying to recreate the experience of play-wrestling with your brother and pretending to run imaginary ring ropes, or Austin had developed a crippling fear of the top rope (not unlike Bill Watts during his stint in the early 90s booking WCW). Or maybe Austin was playing “the rope is lava” and doing his damnedest not to get burned. avy07
avy08 How else could you explain Stone Cold repeatedly darting backwards, only to halt his momentum completely before delivering a clothesline? Was this originally a no-ropes barbed-wire match, later digitally altered by WWE to fit its PG standards?
Probably not, given this very non-PG two-finger salute by Austin, who flips off his opponent on national television. I can’t think of anything more badass, except maybe if he had followed up the obscene gesture with — and this is just an idea — something other than pretending to bounce off the ropes for an imaginary speed boost. avy09
avy10 Yokozuna soon took control with a Samoan drop and a leg drop, then paused to groove to the kickass guitar solo playing in his head.
The 665-pounder then dragged Stone Cold to the corner to finish him off with his dreaded Banzai Drop. Unfortunately, Yokozuna had paid no heed to Austin’s irrational aversion to that red ring rope, as he grabbed the top strand and ended up pulling it off the ring post! avy11
avy12 Austin rolled out of the way and took advantage of Humpty Dumpty’s great fall by pinning the behemoth for the 1-2-3. Hey, shouldn’t this pin not have counted? Yokozuna is clearly holding onto the rope the whole time.
After that stunt, it became obvious why Austin was miming for the entire 2-minute match; the top rope had been rigged to snap off its turnbuckle. It also turned out that this match wasn’t so much about putting over Austin as it was about making fun of Yokozuna’s weight. Austin didn’t so much win the match as Yokozuna lost the match by virtue of sheer fatness. avy14
avy13 If Vince hadn’t wanted to send Yoko a message to lose weight, the big man wouldn’t have had to be forklifted out of the arena on Raw earlier in the year…
…or be taken off TV for months (before surfacing one last time larger than ever at Survivor Series)… avy15
avy16 …or, in this case, have to lose a match in the most embarrassing way since Wrestlemania X.


But at least Steve Austin got a flukey, completely accidental victory out of it. 


And what should happen a year and a half later but a WWF title reign for the Rattlesnake! Could that really be a coincidence? No, maybe it’s not superior wrestling ability or a popular catchphrase that makes you the top star of a company. Maybe it’s simply a matter of avoiding getting squashed.


Sorry, Daniel.


Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at:
24 Responses to "Induction: Steve Austin vs. Yokozuna – A match fit for a king. Apparently."
  1. Phil Melcher says:

    “Yokozuna soon took control with a Samoan drop and a leg drop, then paused to groove to the kickass guitar solo playing in his head.”

    NOTHING has ever been written on this site that made me laugh louder than that. LOL indeed!

  2. The Doctor of Style says:

    I can’t believe the WWF would run an angle so obviously fake (which is saying something!)

    And they thought this would help *sell* a PPV?!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “making this half-hour program perhaps the most highly-concentrated exhibition of Wrestlecrap ever aired”

    What would be the top list of Highest Concentrations of Wrestlecrap? I’m thinking Bikini Beach Blast-Off, WrestleMania IX, and the one WCW PPV where the fans kept doing “WE WANT FLAIR” chants (can’t remember the name of it). Does anything else rival/surpass those?

  4. Alexandru says:

    Yeah this looked like utter Wrestlecrap. It is funny that WWE tries to say Austin was a main-event guy right after KOTR when he was a mid-card guy for well over a year after i, though having very good feuds/programs for the most part (this not being one of them).

  5. Scrooge McSuck says:

    This match was such a joke… Yokozuna was disgustingly out of shape to the point he was sucking wind before the match even began, and the finish is some weird way to embarrass him for being a fat ass. It didn’t work when he was forklifted out of the arena to sell a broken leg, so why should losing a match by being so fat he pulls the turnbuckle out be much worse?

    Oh, and yeah, Austin wins KOTR and spends SummerSlam working the Free for All with a guy mostly MIA in 1996 for being a disgusting slob. RIP Yokozuna, but you belonged anywhere but in a wrestling ring at this point.

  6. John C says:

    What really happened was Austin became paranoid that Brian Pillman was going to hit him from behind with his giant pencil if he bounced off the ropes.

  7. Alan says:

    This Induction is easily one of the best ever written for the site! Let’s review poor Daniel Bryan’s “rise” at Wrestlemania: 27, thrown on to the pre show into a US Title match with King Sheamus, which barely started and then changed from a Lumberjack Match into a battle royal (and fans think the writing crew ignores the US Title now), 28, again with Sheamus, being squashed in 18 seconds and losing the WHC, an idea both Sheamus and Bryan hated but went along with, and 29 FINALLY “moving up” to the. 3rd match on the card defending the Tag Titles with Kane against Dolph Ziggler and Big E. At least this year he should make it to the main event. I still can’t believe they were going to have poor Bryan wrestle Sheamus AGAIN until Punk left and the Yes! chants took over and went mainstream and an out-of-shape Batista came back performing so bad that FINALLY Vince had to change direction or deal with a WM walkout and/or riot for his main event. Out of shape Yokozuna, out of shape Batista, hugely over Austin, hugely over Bryan. Let’s not forget the infamous Justin Roberts/tie incident on that fateful Raw that got him fired legit. If anybody has earned his spot over the last four years, it’s Bryan Danielson. WWE has put the guy through Hell and he persevered the past four years.

    • Guest says:

      Yeah I’m pretty sure that fans would’ve never walked out or rioted over Batista vs Orton plenty of other godawful main events in the history of wrestling should tell you that.

      Great American Bash 91 and BattleGrounds are good examples that come to mind.

  8. Porter "Budsgrand" Sultzbaugh says:

    “Yokozuna soon took control with a Samoan drop and a leg drop, then paused to groove to the kickass guitar solo playing in his head.”

    Where is Man Mountain Rock after this?

  9. Deathedge says:

    I remember on that Ultimate Insiders thing with Vince Russo he said that Vince didn’t want to do anything with Austin 3:16 and that he didn’t get it. I kind of dismissed it as Russo blowing smoke out his ass but after reading this induction… Huh.

  10. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    I loved Yoko when he first debuted… before he got really huge and lazy and unmotivated…

    And then he turned face.. ugh.

  11. Thomas Moffatt says:

    Summerslam 96 was a mess full stop – the tag title match featured four craptacular tag teams; there was the terrible angle with Jake Roberts and Jerry Lawler; Owen Hart defeated Savio Vega in the opening contest and then reappered later in the event as two of the Druids who removed the Undertaker; Todd Pettengill was present; Marc Mero and Goldust with the threat of Mankind feuding with Mero for the affections of Sable that was thankfully nixed – only the Boiler Room Brawl and VAder v Shawn in the main event saved it…

    • Art0Donnell says:

      And don’t forget Boddydonna Skip working the show with a neck brace (due to a real-life neck injury) and conveniently not getting tagged in. It was either that, or replace him with a new Bodydonna at the last minute. I’m thinking “Bodydonna Chip,” played by Steven Dunn or Timothy Well.

  12. TerrierChad says:

    Usually I wouldn’t have said this was WrestleCrap worthy in itself. Short and forgettable but nothing more. Honestly, that was a waaaaaaaay better induction than it should have been. Damn funny read that, great work!

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