10 Fascinating WWE King Of The Ring 1996 Facts

9. The Stone Cold Stunner Was Born In The Tournament

stone cold 1996

Fans in Fayetteville, NC didn't quite understand what they were bearing witness to. On Memorial Day 1996, Steve Austin wrestled a King of the Ring first round match with rival Savio Vega, which wouldn't air on TV until six nights before the pay-per-view (only the last two rounds were set for the PPV broadcast).

In the finish, Austin planted Vega with a seated Ace Crusher that Michael Hayes had only suggested to him earlier in the day. It was the first ever "Stone Cold Stunner", and while it lacked the oomph of its later applications, it was a landmark moment in the rise of a WWE icon.

It should be noted that one day later, Austin taped a squash victory over a young Jason Ahrndt (Joey Abs) that actually aired on TV before the Vega match did. Nonetheless, Vega is in the books as the move's "patient zero".


Justin has been a wrestling fan since 1989, and has been writing about it since 2009. Since 2014, Justin has been a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine. Justin also writes for History of Wrestling, and is a contributing author to James Dixon's Titan series.