WWE successfully trademarked the term “3:16” in July for city-specific merchandise use. While 3:16 references John 3:16 from the Bible, it is known in wrestling circles as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s signature catchphrase. The plain black “Austin 3:16” shirt is the best selling WWE shirt of all time, and the phrase was born after Austin defeated Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who was doing a religious gimmick at the time, at the 1996 King of the Ring pay-per-view.
“Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16. Austin 3:16 said I just whipped your a–!” Austin exclaimed after the win, to a big pop from the crowd.
Despite Austin popularizing “3:16” in WWE, he has no problem with WWE trademarking it. I recently visited the set of Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch. While giving myself and a few other journalists a ride in his humvee touring the massive set of the show, I asked Austin about WWE trademarking the phrase.
“Smart move, I wish I would have thought about it. Hell, I didn’t want to mess with John!” Austin joked, referencing John 3:16.
“Nah man, I’m cool with it,” Austin continued. “I think Stephen Colbert did something about it [which is in the video above], I didn’t see it.”