411’s Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2010: Rick and Scott Steiner
By themselves, Scott and Rick Steiner would never make it to any sane Hall of Fame as individual wrestlers. Given that Scott Steiner is a former World Heavyweight Champion and at one time considered one of the great innovators of wrestling, says as much about just how much we the wrestling fan deride their singles career, but rhapsodies over just how great they were as a tag team despite what they’ve become today.
Rick Steiner came first. Coming out of the Mid-South/UWF region as part of Eddie Gilberts stable and sometime tag team partner of Sting. Rick was an amateur standout at collage and was considered a good prospect when entering the business, and for the most part he delivered on that hype. After gaining traction as part of the Varsity Club in the NWA he really started to get going when he turned face and had a great feel-good win over Mike Rotunda with brother Scott watching from the crowd. His future seemed bright.
Not long after Rick broke into the business, Scott got his start. An All American at Michigan, he debuted in the WWA based out of Indianapolis and quickly made a name for himself before moving onto Memphis and becoming a successful tag team wrestler. Much was made of Scott’s ability with most pundits saying if you think Rick as good, wait to you see his brother. Scott was a dream amalgam of strength, speed and innovation. When he landed in the NWA to team with his brother, no one really knew what was going to come next….
If you look close enough, sea changes in wrestling styles tend to start in and around the tag team divisions. While those wrestlers tend to become more cult-ish in their acclaim a few manage to break out and in the case of the Steiner’s, they changed how everyone looked at tag team wrestling in North America.
Most teams always did one thing well, The Road Warriors were big, muscled brawlers, The Rockers, The Rock ‘n Roll Express and the Midnight Express where fast, high flying and technically gifted smaller guys, The Brain Busters were sneaky heels…you get the picture. The Steiner’s broke the mould from that. They could do everything. Big, strong and agile they also had great wrestling smarts and talent to back it up. However, you watch one of their matches and you see that all their big innovative moves were brutally realistic and not some high flying, convoluted mess.
They could work their asses off and had thousands of intensely physical matches and when you threw them in the ring with a team with size and skill like them (Bam Bam Bigelow and Vader spring to mind) you would be amazed at how these guys just tossed each other around. In Japan they are legend for doing just that and stories of them basically getting grumpy and shooting on wrestlers have become almost as big a legend as their talent.
They always worked well with each other and their loyalty knew no bounds. It’s part of wrestling lore that Scott, having achieved almost Kurt Angle god-like status as a worker was set to be given the NWA Title but refused because he knew it would be the end of any meaningful push Rick would receive. Not long after Scott injured himself and spent an extended period on the shelf. When he returned, things just weren’t the same.
First they jumped to the WWF amidst much hype. To say their run at that time was disappointing would be an understatement due in large part to their seeming disinterest. Only occasionally they really look motivated and if you ask me, it would have as much to do with the lack of truly great teams to work with than anything else. Sight their famous match against Bret & Owen Hart. Personal pride took over and they lifted themselves to the level of their opponent and gave us a true classic. Something they couldn’t get themselves up for against The Headshrinkers and The Quebecois.
After this The Steiners never really figured again as a tag team threat. Sure they had a solid run in ECW and spent the better part of 1996/97 feuding with The Outsiders when they returned to WCW but things weren’t the same, especially after Scott injured himself again and came back with a seriously changed physique. We aren’t talking about a little extra muscle; we’re talking about a completely new looking body. Much speculation has floated around at just HOW he manage to add so much muscle mass to his frame but the recent revelation that the WWE wanted him to take a drug test during his 2002-04 run and him stating he only would if he went with HHH and the matter was dropped, I think says it all.
With his new look Scott had trouble working his usual style and for all intents and purposed the “team” of The Steiner’s was that of two singles wrestlers instead of a tandem that wowed the world. They split and Scott became a world champion and Rick became an also ran having lost much of the spark and offbeat charm that endeared him to fans.
So why do we want this team in the 411 Hall of Fame? They were trailblazers and I just don’t mean Scott. Both brothers brought a uniquely tough move set into the ring, Scott’s has more wow factor and high risk but Rick would have looked right at home trading suplexes with Kurt Angel and Chris Benoit had he been in his prime from 2000-05. Go back and look at their matches and see Rick throwing release German’s all over the place. Check out his ultra-brutal looking Steinerline (lariat) and OMG did he just bust out a Death Valley Driver! He had a great mat based offence and could match it with ANYONE in the ring.
As I pointed out, Scott was the innovator. I mean it’s not called the Frankensteiner for nothing! Sure the Huracanrana has been around for a while before Scott started to use it but his modification and the snap on delivery was just breathtaking for the time. Ditto the Steiner Screwdriver and twisting double underhook powerbomb. All moves done previous in some form but taken to the next level by Scott. His power and agility really was something to behold.
You paired these guys up and just watch them go. No matter the type of opponent and their skill they could do it all and do it in such a way that kept you riveted. They could cram so much into a 10-minute match they you sat there and wondered how they could do it to effortlessly. Watch out if you gave them good workers, the level they could crank it up was almost obscene. It’s what makes their decline so hard to watch. When they were disinterested it was a sorry sight. I mean, if I was wrestling Hall & Nash and getting screwed out of any meaningful parity for nearly two years I would have given up as well. Wrestling is littered with stories of once great workers dogging it but it was sad to see in such talented wrestlers who could seemingly do everything and anything if they wanted.
Why the Steiner Brothers were selected…
So yes, The Steiners belong. They not only changed tag team wrestling but also were working a style that is the staple of the modern day wrestler nearly 20 years ago. On that alone they deserve recognition but beyond that they had an endless string of great matches that were thrilling and exciting that still gets wrestling fans excited to this day, they were that good. So ignore the Big Bad Booty Daddy who is a clone of “Superstar” Billy Graham and the guy who thinks he’s some kind of shoot fighter. They are imposters, shadows of greatness that once dripped off them. Think of The Steiner Brothers beating the holy heck of Sting and Lex Luger at Superbrawl ’91, a match that was voted best of the year by PWI, or maybe check out their match with Hiroshi Hase and Kensuke Sasaki from the WCW/New Japan Supershow from the same year the was given MOTY status by WON. That is the team we are honoring and that is the team that deserves our praise.