To stay relevant in the continually evolving world of professional wrestling is a challenge for many talented performers. Many tried, many failed. Some succeeded, some faded away with weak attempts to alter a persona. Some vanished due to stubbornness in not changing with the times at all. One individual that managed this very well, however, was Scott Steiner.
From a tag team superstar to "Big Poppa Pump," Scott Steiner remained relevant and entertaining through the changes the business has seen over the past 30+ years. This is a story of changing companies, changing appearance, a little controversy, and evolving with the times.
Scott Steiner – Early Years and Amateur Success
Born Scott Rechsteiner in Ban City, Michigan, on July 29, 1962, Steiner was an accomplished amateur wrestler at the University of Michigan. Three times a runner up in the Big Ten Conference, Steiner became an NCAA Division 1 All-American in 1986.
Scott made his professional wrestling debut later that year (wrestling under his real name) for the World Wrestling Association. After training under Dr. Jerry Graham Jr., Rechsteiner quickly won the WWA World Title, which he held for several months before forming a tag team with his trainer and winning the WWA tag team titles in 1987. After moving on from the WWA in 1988, Rechsteiner joined the CWA and found more tag title success alongside Billy Joe Travis, and later Jed Grundy, before leaving the CWA in early 1989 to join his older brother Rick in WCW.
The Formation of The Steiner Brothers in WCW
Scott Rechsteiner, now appearing under the name "Scott Steiner," first appeared on WCW programming in a non-wrestling role. Older brother Rick, an accomplished amateur wrestler himself, had already been active in Jim Crockett Promotions (soon to be WCW) for a period before Scott joined him. After the Chi-Town Rumble pay-per-view in 1989, Scott accompanied his brother to the ring for his matches. Eventually, Scott would begin working in his own singles contests before teaming up as the Steiner Brothers a short time later.
Their first serious matches would see them pitted against Rick’s former "Varsity Club" stable-mates, Kevin Sullivan and a pre-IRS Mike Rotunda. The two teams would meet in high profile contests in June and July of 1989, with the teams trading wins at Clash of the Champions VII and The Great American Bash, respectively. Despite both these early examples of The Steiners as a team being quite short, clocking in at less than 20 minutes combined, the explosive power and natural ability was there for all to see.
While tagging with his elder brother, Scott collected further tag team titles. The first being the NWA World titles after defeating The Fabulous Freebirds in November of 1989. The brothers held the titles until the crazy Capital Combat show in May of 1990.
If curiosity ever spikes as to how odd WCW was in this period, seek out this pay-per-view. The two sides of the Atlanta based promotion are on clear display here, as the excellent wrestling WCW offered is showcased in the match where Scott and Rick drop the tag titles to the equally impressive Doom. Ric Flair also carries Lex Luger to one of the better "Total Package" matches, and The Midnight Express square off against Brian Pillman and Tom Zenk in a good if overlooked contest.
On the other side of this schizophrenic wrestling coin, "Mean" Mark competes against Johnny Ace before the former becomes The Undertaker later in the year. The latter eventually turns up on WWE television as John Laurinaitis (People Power anyone?) decades later. There is an appearance by Robocop, and El Gigante makes his company debut, as WCW searched for an identity and, ultimately, an answer to the WWF juggernaut of the time.
After relinquishing the tag team titles to Doom, Scott Steiner would work some singles contests. These would include wins over Bobby Eaton and Ric Flair in very good matches and a victory over Arn Anderson in a fantastic display of two tag team specialists showcasing their singles abilities. During this time, WCW was possibly looking at trying Steiner in a singles role for a more extended period. Still, after this flirtation within the individual ranks, Scott and Rick were joined together on TV again, and more tag team gold would inevitably follow.
War Games, More Tag Team Gold, and WCW Exit
The Steiner Brothers would go on to capture the NWA United States Tag Titles in August of 1990. These championships were to be renamed the WCW United States Titles during The Steiners’ reign as the company withdrew from the National Wrestling Alliance.
Later, they vacated these as Rick and Scott regained the World Tag Titles in February of 1991. However, while still one-half of the United States Tag Team Champions, Scott Steiner would receive a World Title shot against Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions XIV. Dubbed "Dixie Dynamite," The Clash event in January of ’91 would see Steiner and Flair wrestling to a draw as the TV time limit expired.
Since this match, various allegations of Flair sandbagging Steiner in this contest have surfaced. Accusations that Flair slowed the match down in moments that would emphasize Steiner’s ability and a timing issue with Scott’s pin attempt as the clock ran out have been discussed for many years. However, there will never be any definite answer to this. Yes, Flair does seem to roll out the ring on many occasions just as the contest speeds up, but would this not be the actions of a heel champion defending his title anyway? These accusations would contribute to a more controversial moment involving Flair in Steiner’s career in future years, but there’s more on this later.
Scott Steiner would meet Ric Flair again in February of 1991, as Scott competed in his first War Games match. In a fantastic contest worth revisiting, Steiner teamed with brother Rick, Brian Pillman, and Sting to face the Four Horseman team of Flair, Sid Vicious, Barry Windham, and Larry Zbyszko at the Wrestle War pay-per-view in Phoenix, Arizona. The fact that Steiner, here only four years into his professional career, is closing these two big shows in a short time frame with the talent of this standard around him is a testament to his ability and the faith WCW had in the brothers at the time.
It was not long before The Steiners would add even more titles to their already impressive resume. WCW at this time had a working agreement with New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the first WCW/NJPW SuperShow would take place in March of 1991. The Steiner Brothers would defeat Hiroshi Hase and Kensuke Sasaki in front of over 64,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles.
Holding the main tag team championships in two major companies led to Scott traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Japan a few times a year while earning excellent money for his troubles. This jet setting would shortly cease between title runs. In November, the Steiners would lose the IWGP titles back to Hase and new partner Keiji Muto before reclaiming the titles from WCW compadres Big Van Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow in June of 1992.
The stiff, "strong style" technique displayed by both The Steiners fitted very well with the New Japan product, and Rick and Scott were big hits. The working agreement also worked in the other direction, with Japanese talent coming over to the U.S. and competing on WCW shows. The talent exchange led to one of the Steiner’s best matches to date, on the Wrestle War 1992 pay-per-view.
Wrestle War 1992 is known for the outstanding War Games main event pitching The Dangerous Alliance against the renowned "Sting’s Squadron." However, due to this incredible match’s magnitude, the gem of a tag contest that preceded it can often be overlooked. Scott and Rick wrestle Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Izuka for nearly 20 minutes in a brutal display of what made The Steiners so famous in the U.S. and Japan especially. Stiff strikes and clotheslines, huge hard-hitting suplexes, and instances that make the viewer question if the rumors of The Steiners taking liberties with opponents were, in fact, right are plentiful here. If this era of Scott Steiner’s career is unfamiliar, we highly recommend this contest as a starting point to familiarize yourself with it.
Sadly for both Scott and Rick, WCW was starting to hit a time of hardship. The company’s creative was directionless, with main star Ric Flair having left and the booking team changing regularly. The era of Bill Watts was underway, and his main objective was to start cutting WCW costs anywhere he could. This included the money Scott Steiner was earning, and he was involved in a group of contract "re-negotiations" alongside brother Rick, Brian Pillman, and numerous others.
To add to these woes, Rick Steiner suffered an injury that ruled him out of competing. This lead to Scott Steiner having another short singles run and even winning the WCW TV Title. However, talks with the World Wrestling Federation were already well underway, and both Steiners decided to jump ship to Vince McMahon’s Connecticut outfit in November of 1992. Scott was still the TV Champion when the brothers departed north, and he vacated the belt upon his defection.
Rick and Scott Steiner Arrive at the WWF
Before even arriving in the World Wrestling Federation, the idea of Scott Steiner as a singles star was discussed. Two of McMahon’s closest lieutenants, Pat Patterson and Bruce Prichard, felt enamored with Scott’s athletic ability and fast-growing charisma. With the golden goose of Hulk Hogan soon to be departing for Hollywood and the Lex Luger/Lex Express experiment still months away, the WWF was looking for a new direction that was not too dissimilar to WCW.
Prichard and Patterson pitched the idea to both McMahon and Steiner that Scott could enter the 1993 Royal Rumble as a surprise and win the 30-man event. In theory, this win would legitimize Scott in the company instantly and catapult the younger Steiner into the main event picture right away. As exciting as these discussions may appear now in hindsight, they were short-lived. With McMahon unsure of the idea and voicing concerns over Steiner’s height (Scott stands at 6 foot 1) coupled with both Steiner Brothers’ reluctance to split the team, the WWF abandoned the idea.
Instead, alongside Rick, Scott Steiner would debut in an interview segment on the December 21st, 1992 episode of Prime Time Wrestling. The Steiner Brothers’ in-ring TV debut would take place on the first-ever episode of Monday Night Raw, emanating from the Manhattan Center. Entering wearing new University of Michigan jackets, The Steiners would squash the masked "Executioners" team in less than five minutes, displaying their trademark suplex and power move-sets.
Following this impressive debut, The Steiners would enter into a feud with The Beverly Brothers, based mainly on the premise of who the better team of brothers in the World Wrestling Federation were. Ironically, Blake and Beau Beverly were not related. This led to a Steiner victory in the 1993 Royal Rumble show opener, as the massive Yokozuna went on to occupy the spot once discussed for Scott Steiner and win the Rumble itself.
Scott and Rick would continue working with the Beverly Brothers on the house show loops for the coming weeks and months, before somewhat surprisingly being pitched against The Headshrinkers team at WrestleMania 9. In another relatively stiff contest, the Steiner’s would defeat Samu and Fatu in one of the better matches on quite a disappointing, low-quality show. In one of those less enjoyable confrontations elsewhere on the card, the tag team champions, Money Incorporated, would narrowly escape with their titles. With their opponents that WrestleMania day now busy elsewhere in the company, the champions would require new challengers. Step forward, Rick and Scott Steiner.
WWF Tag Team Champions, and Departure from the WWF
Scott Steiner would next embark on chasing the WWF Tag Team Titles with brother Rick, and their matches with champions Ted DiBiase and old foe Mike Rotunda (here working as Irwin R. Schyster or IRS for short) would be prominent on the house show circuit for many weeks. However, similar to the Beverly Brothers series going into WrestleMania earlier in the year, the next pay-per-view would not feature this regularly scheduled contest. Instead, The Steiners would face Money Inc. alongside the Smokin’ Gunns in an eight-man tag match while IRS and DiBiase allied with The Headshrinkers.
The fact that this took place at the inaugural King of the Ring pay-per-view instead of a straight title match was quite strange. It seemed even more unusual when the Money Inc. title defense against the Steiner Brothers was scheduled for Monday Night Raw the next evening.
However, this did not concern Scott as he and brother Rick went on to defeat Money Inc. on that June episode of Raw to be crowned new WWF tag team champions. This reign, while months in coming, only lasted days though as DiBiase and Schyster regained the titles on a house show only 48 hours later.
The Steiners then returned the favor by winning the belts back five days after this, again at a house show, to become two-time champions in less than a fortnight. WWF creative was working on the premise that title changes on house shows may improve falling ticket sales with the mindset that you need to attend, as anything can happen at any time, not just on TV. This method had been tried and tested in the past, yet it is possibly a slight shame for the talent involved as the footage of individual title wins can be of poor quality, if it exists at all.
After this second victory, The Steiners would embark on a much longer run and head into SummerSlam 1993 in their home state of Michigan as champions. The brothers’ opposition would come in the form of The Heavenly Bodies, a tag team from Jim Cornette’s Smokey Mountain Wrestling company.
Cornette, wanted by the WWF as an on-screen talent and to help behind the scenes, worked an agreement into his contract that Smokey Mountain would have access to some WWF talent. SMW would then have some wrestlers featured on WWF television to help promote his own business.
Again, as with the Headshrinkers match at WrestleMania, The Steiners match was quite the highlight of a very mediocre pay-per-view. Perhaps not aging as well as other events from this era of Scott’s career, The Heavenly Bodies worked a slighted dated old school style to which the Steiner’s did well to adapt. It was an entertaining contest for the period, but nothing exceptional compared to other tag team matches in Scott Steiner’s extensive back catalog.
A few weeks after SummerSlam, The Steiners would defend their titles against the newly formed Quebecers team on Monday Night Raw. The Quebecers were tag team veteran Jacques Rougeau and WWF newcomer Pierre Ouellet (now known as PCO and working for Ring of Honor.) The match had the stipulation of being fought under "Province of Quebec Rules," meaning the Championships could also change hands via disqualification. The manager of The Quebecers, Johnny Polo (a pre-Raven Scott Levy), threw a hockey stick into the ring, and Scott caught the foreign object. The referee, thinking Scott was using a weapon, then disqualified The Steiners and awarded the match and titles to Jacques and Pierre to a chorus of boos.
The Ribbing Steiner Brothers
The Steiners would continue to work with the Quebecers for the coming months, with Scott wrestling against Pierre in singles action on Raw and both teams being part of a Survivor Series match that November. Scott would also restart his Japanese career, alongside brother Rick, surprisingly with Vince McMahon’s consent.
At this time, the WWF was trying to open a working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling and often sent The Steiner Brothers to NJPW events to help smooth the deal. During this period, The Steiners started to add to an already strong backstage reputation. On his excellent Something to Wrestle With podcast, Bruce Prichard has described walking past a locker room and seeing Scott and Rick chaining a fellow workers bag to the ceiling. Prichard also mentions another, perhaps weirder visual, of seeing New Japan officials all sleeping in catering on a business trip to meet with McMahon. Whereas it was never proven, the former Brother Love believes The Steiners were responsible through spiking their coffee.
Back in the ring, Scott would appear briefly in the 1994 Royal Rumble, entering early and being part of the elimination record set by Kevin "Diesel" Nash that year, before flying off to New Japan once again to compete in a further tour for the company. Scott would also surface on WWF television in the build-up to the 1994 King of the Ring pay-per-view but was defeated in a qualifying match by IRS. With a lack of direction in the WWF, and higher-paying opportunities available to the brothers in Japan, Scott and Rick left McMahon’s promotion in May of 1994 to rejoin New Japan on a full-time basis.
ECW and WCW Return
In 1995, Scott would compete alongside his brother in Extreme Championship Wrestling while also working for New Japan. The team made their debut in July and worked with various combinations of The Dudley’s for several weeks. Scott Steiner’s ECW high point was potentially the 6-man tag match he participated in at Wrestlepalooza that year. Alongside brother Rick, Scott teamed with Eddie Guerrero to face the trio of Mick Foley (in full Cactus Jack vibe) technical wizard Dean Malenko and the high flying 2 Cold Scorpio. In a typically gimmick match driven ECW show, this contest was handed the most time. Even when sandwiched between an eight-man tag match and a Singapore cane match, this talent here stood out.
After finishing up with ECW in late 1995 and New Japan work not as regular as bookings in the U.S., Scott and Rick rejoined WCW in early 1996. In hindsight, their return to the company in an era of exciting surprises and shocks feels somewhat overlooked in recent times. On March 11th, 1995’s Nitro episode, The Road Warriors were scheduled to face The Nasty Boys. However, instead of Knobbs and Saggs making their way to the ring, The Steiner Brothers entered riding motorcycles. What followed was an impressive display of power moves, especially considering the four men’s size in this match. However, The Steiners would be on the losing end of this return when The Road Warriors used a foreign object to floor and then pin Rick.
The following week the returning Steiners picked up a win over Public Enemy. Further matches with both The Road Warriors and Public Enemy would lead to Scott winning tag team gold again after the brothers defeated Harlem Heat in July. Booker T and Stevie Ray would reclaim the titles a few days later. The title change was never mentioned on TV, and Scott picked up an injury shortly afterward that sidelined him until the following January.
Upon Scott Steiner’s return, WCW was in the full flow of the nWo angle. The Outsiders, Hall and Nash, had captured the tag team titles from Harlem Heat in Scott’s absence, and The Steiners were thrust into an on-off feud with the nWo pair upon his return. This rivalry and matches against Harlem Heat would see Scott through the rest of 1997 and into the new year. However, during the latter part of this period, changes in Scott Steiner’s appearance and on-screen personality were beginning to be noticeable.
Scott Steiner Splits from Rick and the Arrival of "Big Poppa Pump”
As 1997 drew to a close, all was not well in the Steiner camp. Scott started to gain visible muscle mass on his already impressive physique and even began feuding with nWo member Buff Bagwell over who had the best body. The long mullet was gone; instead, a shorter cut was favored, as was a goatee beard on the usually clean-shaven younger Steiner’s face. Scott also started to act differently in tag matches involving his brother, often not tagging him during contests and, on occasion leaving his brother to fight alone. Another tag team title win would follow, though, and shortly afterward, a defense against old foes The Outsiders was scheduled for SuperBrawl VIII in February ’98.
The Steiners, unusually for this time, started the match with Rick in the ring. Upon clearing the Outsiders pair out on his own, Rick was joined by Scott, and they formed one of their trademark poses. To the surprise (and joy to the partisan nWo fans in the arena that night), Scott then attacked his brother. Once the pinfall formality was completed, Scott handed over the championship belts to Hall and Nash personally as the commentary team damned his betrayal. Scott Steiner was now a nWo member, and at initial glance, officially a singles competitor for the first time since joining WCW originally back in 1989.
The following weeks on Nitro, Scott would appear with the nWo sporting a newly bleached beard and haircut. Still gaining muscle mass rapidly, Steiner would also start posing and kissing his biceps during his entrance while calling himself "White Thunder" or "Superstar."
While neither of these nicknames stuck, the similarity in Steiners new look of dyed beard and massive physique did bear a resemblance to Superstar Billy Graham and could well have been an influence. Eventually settling on the nick-name "Big Poppa Pump," Scott, alongside Nash, offered brother Rick the chance to join him in the nWo. Rick declined, and the elder Steiner brother started to seek revenge on his turncoat sibling.
However, this was not easy to come by, as Scott used any excuse he could muster to avoid facing his brother. Often feigning injury or having Rick attacked beforehand, Scott used every trick in the book to prevent a match. Eventually, sick of all the nWo shenanigans, WCW commissioner J.J. Dillon made a match for Spring Stampede 1998 that would see Scott team with fellow nWo member Buff Bagwell and finally face Rick with his tag partner Lex Luger.
Before the contest, Steiner and Bagwell would again try to avoid the match. This time citing a hand injury that Buff had supposedly picked up, the pair would try to get the confrontation canceled. This pre-contest exchange between Steiner, Bagwell, J.J. Dillon, and a doctor would show another developing aspect to the Steiner character. As Bagwell tried to portray pain, Steiner would attempt to help his partner while telling Bagwell to "be careful" and showing comical concern for his stable-mate.
Eventually, the ruse was exposed, and the match went ahead but was a somewhat disappointing five-minute encounter, not concluding the rivalry at all.
Scott continued to dodge his brother heading into the summer of ’98. Eventually, a one-on-one match was set for Road Wild in August, and a contract signed. On the day of the show, Rick Steiner came out to the ring as the WCW announcers explained how long people waited to see this grudge match.
The next face on our screens was not Scott, but rather that of J.J. Dillon, carrying a doctor’s note. He explained to Rick that this match could not go ahead due to injuries Scott sustained in an attack by Rick previously. To hammer the point home, Scott was wheeled out onto the entrance ramp by partner Bagwell.
Steiner led on the gurney, complete with neck brace and drip, plus his leg in bandages/plaster (over his jeans, to complete the ludicrous visual) as Buff reiterated what Dillon had already stated. The match was off. Dillon then made a further announcement: yes, the contest was off on that evening. However, a clause in the contract stated that WCW could rearrange the event if Scott avoided the match again for any time in the next 44 days. Dillon elaborated that this had already happened, and Scott would have to face his brother at the upcoming Fall Brawl pay-per-view or be banned from WCW for life.
Steiner, obviously going through a miraculous recovery before our eyes, sat up and yelled his protests. Rick then chased off the nWo pair, with Scott still in the full ridiculous medical gear, in another example of the humor this version of Steiner’s character could display.
The build and hype for the eventual showdown between the brothers had been executed very well by WCW. However, in typical fashion, the promised match was not delivered at the Fall Brawl show in September. Scott and Rick started the contest, but Bagwell took a bump on the outside and started to sell a recurrence of a severe, real-life, neck injury he had months prior.
As the announce team built this incident as a real injury, wrestlers and officials came to Bagwell’s aid. On this occasion, there was no humor or comical actions by anyone involved. Eventually, after a very long somber segment, Bagwell was loaded into an ambulance as officials, medical staff, and Rick Steiner looked on. Then, as Rick turned his back, both Scott and a perfectly healthy Buff attacked him from behind. The match was officially declared a no-contest, and the crowd reaction was (rightfully) very unfavorable.
The feud between the two brothers seemed to reach a form of conclusion at the following month’s pay-per-view, Halloween Havoc. On the October Supercard, Scott Steiner would team with The Giant to face brother Rick and, somewhat oddly, Buff Bagwell after Bagwell had earlier volunteered his services to Rick after saying he was sick of Scott’s antics. In a shock to perhaps no-one, Bagwell turned on Rick and re-aligned himself with Scott during the contest.
The superior numbers did not lead Scott Steiner and The Giant to victory, though, and Rick won the match independently. The added stipulation to this event was that if Scott’s team were to taste defeat, he must finally go one-on-one with his brother. Once the tag match was completed, the singles contest finally happened, and Rick was victorious again.
Controversy Finds Scott Steiner
During this run in 1998, Scott Steiner was again not without controversy. In April of that year, Steiner threatened a Department of Transportation employee in Georgia after being informed that an exit ramp to the interstate was closed. Scott then hit the employee twice with his pickup truck, severely injuring the individual. Steiner was arrested and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and making terrorist threats, both of which carry 30-year prison terms as they are felony offenses. However, due to being in Georgia, this being the first offense, and not violating his probation, Steiner only served ten days in jail. Scott did have to pay $25,000 in fines and legal fees and went on to perform 200 hours of community service on top of this, but the possible alternative far out-weighed any financial cost.
Singles Success for Scott Steiner, The End of WCW, and Further Controversy
Entering into 1999, and still with the Georgia court case looming, Scott Steiner enjoyed numerous title wins. Starting with the U.S. and TV titles, Scott honed his craft as a formidable singles competitor, yet with an unstable character. The "Big Poppa Pump" character was fast becoming a highlight of WCW television, with Scott’s undoubted ability in the ring coupled with an incredible look and snappy catchphrases making him must-see TV. Sadly, at this moment in time, and through no fault of Steiner’s, WCW was a mess. With titles changing hands far too regularly and various factions popping up only to disappear again just as suddenly, there was no continuity to WCW television, and everyone on the roster suffered.
Steiner himself also went through many changes in 1999 and 2000, turning into a fan favorite before returning to his heel nature. Steiner also left the nWo as it dispanded, then rejoined the group when it reformed, only to see it split again. Scott then formed an allegiance with The Millionare’s Club group as they feuded with Vince Russo and the New Blood faction, only to turn back and join the New Blood himself later in the year.
Despite this being a period of chaos in WCW, Steiner seemed to thrive when given a live microphone. Perhaps enjoying some creative freedom, or more likely knowing no-one would stop him from doing as he wished, Steiner would regularly go off-topic and, at times, use coarse language live on air. Right or wrong, this made for some exciting and unpredictable television, as well as backstage controversy.
The most famous incident of this nature occurred on the February 7th, 2000, Nitro, as Scott decided to address his long time issues and dislike for Ric Flair, stemming back to their match in the early 1990s at Clash of the Champions XIV. Taking the mic, Steiner gave Flair a dressing down as only Scott can. Citing "Slic Ric" as a reason people change the channel to the WWF and declaring that it was Flair who had Steve Austin fired, Steiner called Flair a "jealous old bastard" while insinuating he held younger talent down. Steiner finished his rant by declaring "WCW Sucks" and earned himself a two week (paid) suspension.
Another slightly earlier example of Steiner crossing a line and causing backstage issues came after an equally scathing promo directed towards Diamond Dallas Page and his wife, Kimberley. Scott made some very derogatory remarks towards the pair while on air to hype an upcoming contest (one of which referenced needing a sex change.) Page decided this had to have real-life repercussions.
When Steiner returned backstage, DDP confronted "Big Poppa Pump," and a physical altercation ensued. There are many "shoot" interviews online discussing this incident with various people claiming they were there, with Buff Bagwell even stating that Steiner tried to remove Page’s eye during the fight. Rick Steiner has also reported on an episode of The Hannibal TV that Page arrived with numerous security guards to confront his brother.
These controversies, and WCW lacking direction as a company, did not hinder Scott’s career in the ring. In November of 2000, Steiner won his first World Title, defeating Booker T at the Mayhem pay-per-view in an excellent contest. Steiner was now the main focus of the promotion as it headed into its final few months while joining yet another short-lived WCW faction, Ric Flair’s "Magnificent 7." Steiner continued to feud with Booker T over the World Championship in the coming weeks but retained each occasion in high caliber matches.
Acting ever more erratic and unpredictable on-screen, the Scott Steiner World title run was a highlight in a dark time for the company. However, as the level of debt rose, WCW (along with its assets) was purchased by Vince McMahon in March 2001. Steiner, whose large contract was with AOL Time Warner and not WCW, decided to wait out his current deal at home rather than join the WWF with some of his peers. On Monday Nitro’s final episode, Scott dropped the world title back to Booker T and went home.
Scott Steiner Returns to the WWE
Once Scott Steiner’s contract with AOL-Time Warner expired in November 2001, "Freakzilla" started working part-time for the World Wrestling All-Stars promotion. Steiner wrestled on a couple of short tours of Europe and Australia for the WWA and even won their version of the World Title. Steiner would also appear on New Japan’s 30th-anniversary show alongside brother Rick, before eventually signing a three year deal with Vince McMahon’s WWE (vacating the WWA title in the process) in October 2002.
Scott Steiner’s on-screen return to the WWE happened in November at the Survivor Series. Emanating from Madison Square Garden, the 2002 edition of the "Thanksgiving Tradition" was a stellar show throughout.
With an exciting tables match early on the card, a very entertaining women’s hardcore contest, two enjoyable matches for the WWE and Cruiserweight titles, respectively, Survivor Series 2002 started very well.
The show was rounded off with an amazing triple threat tag team spectacle and the first (and maybe still the best) Elimination Chamber match; this could have meant that Steiner’s surprise return could have easily been lost in amongst so many memorable performances. However, the moment Matt Hardy and Chris Nowinski are interrupted by the familiar sirens as they insult the New York crowd still stands out today, some 18 years later.
Steiner looked fantastic and even more muscular than before as he suplexed the mid-card heels all over The Garden. More important than how Scott looked, however, was the reaction of the New York fans. Having just lost The Rock and Steve Austin, and John Cena still a couple of years away, WWE were searching for their new top star. At that moment, it seemed they had found him.
Quickly pushed into Raw’s main event picture, Steiner found himself heading up against Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title. Steiner’s crowd reactions remained sizeable during this time, as fans started to genuinely believe that "Big Poppa Pump" could dethrone the hated champion. In the build-up to the title match, scheduled for the 2003 Royal Rumble, Steiner and HHH would face off in numerous challenges. These included a pose-down, a bench press competition, and an arm-wrestling match. While these segments were reasonably entertaining and mildly comical, they also served another purpose.
When returning to WWE, Steiner was not the same physically as he was in his WCW run. Carrying various injuries and suffering from drop foot syndrome, "Freakzilla" struggled to move around the ring as well as he once could. The WWE and Triple H especially did an excellent job of building towards the Rumble match and hiding Steiners physical issues. However, once the bell rang at the January pay-per-view, Vince McMahon may have felt buyers remorse.
The Royal Rumble match was nothing short of awful. The Boston crowd soon lost interest and responded quite negatively by the time Triple H was disqualified. The slow 18-minute affair earned the years Worst Match award from the Wrestling Observer, and the rematch at No Way Out the next month was only marginally better. Shortly after this, and with WrestleMania fast approaching, Steiner failed to win a number one contender Battle Royale on Raw and was out of the title picture.
Steiner claims that WWE asked him to take a drug test around this time, with the possibility of being found positive for steroids due to his incredible physique. Scott declared, "I’ve never failed a drug test in my life. I told [WWE] to have Triple H pick me up in a limo, then we could go test together. (laughs) They never asked again…" Steiner has since explained that neither analysis for Hunter or himself was carried out.
Steiner did not appear on the WrestleMania card that year, perhaps showing how far his stock had fallen within the company already. As the year progressed, Steiner found himself working on the house show loop with Christian, Nowinski, and Lance Storm. A series with Test followed this as Scott formed a tag team and then feuded with the late Andrew Martin, sometimes over the "services" of Stacey Kiebler, but the WWE return seemed to be a failed experiment.
Steiner found himself used mainly in tag matches on Sunday Night Heat for several months before picking up an injury and eventually being released in August 2004. The fact that his last appearance for the WWE was the 2004 Royal Rumble, some eight months prior, is a testament to how this run fell apart fast.
Later Years, TNA, and More Controversy
In July 2004, Steiner underwent numerous surgeries to fix nagging issues from years on the road. After having six screws inserted into his foot, a tendon transplant, and a bone graft, Steiner spent eight months in a cast. Towards the end of 2005, Steiner finally returned to the ring and booked various independent dates as a singles star, or sometimes alongside Rick as the Steiner Brothers team. While working these dates, Steiner again had a little clash with the law as he was asked to leave a flight after causing a disturbance alongside Lex Luger and Buff Bagwell. After being held for several hours, the authorities released Steiner without charge.
In the spring of 2006, Steiner started to appear for TNA Wrestling. Initially, in a bodyguard role associated with Jeff Jarrett and then eventually as an in-ring competitor, Steiner looked sharp and more mobile than in recent years. This run only lasted until August of that year before Scott disappeared from television again.
Steiner resurfaced, once more in a bodyguard type role, alongside Christian Cage in early 2007 before reuniting with brother Rick to take on Team 3D (The Dudley Boys) in a series of matches. During this period, Scott was accidentally kicked in the throat during a house show contest and began coughing up blood.
Rushed to the hospital, Steiner was found to have a torn trachea and given just hours to live. After being placed in an induced coma for two days and having two weeks of complicated surgeries and procedures, Steiner was finally allowed to leave and head home. Upon Scott’s return, the Steiner brothers worked as a team for several months and challenged for the TNA tag team titles, albeit unsuccessfully, in November 2007.
Steiner then reverted to working as a singles wrestler in 2008 and forged an unlikely alliance with X-Division competitor Petey Williams. Acting as Scott’s "protege," Williams sported a similar hair/beard dye job to Steiner and wore a replica of his chain mail. As the weeks passed, Steiner and Williams earned opportunities at the titles in their respective divisions. Williams won the X-Division title on an episode of Impact, and Steiner would challenge Samoa Joe for the TNA World title at the Sacrifice pay-per-view.
The title opportunity led to one of the most memorable moments in the latter years of Scott Steiner’s career. Now referred to as the "Steiner Maths Promo," Scott would rant about his chances of beating Samoa Joe at Sacrifice, going into different equations and percentages and explaining why he had a "141 and 2/3% chance" of victory in comparison to Joe’s "8 and 1/3%" chance of winning. This was Steiner at his absolute promo best. However, Steiner did not leave the May pay-per-view with the title. Instead, he picked up another injury as a torn ACL would sideline him for many months.
Watch: Scott Steiner and his Legendary Steiner Math Promo
Further Controversy Surrounding Scott Steiner, Hulk Hogan, and his Ex-Wife Linda
Upon Scott’s return, he would join yet another faction. This time the TNA Main Event Mafia required his services, and Scott would go on to win the tag team titles with old WCW adversary Booker T. After losing the titles a short time later, Steiner would work singles matches for a while before leaving TNA again.
In the last decade, Scott Steiner continued to work independent dates in various countries. Steiner would win more titles in Canada and Puerto Rico and return to TNA for another run before being released in 2012.
In recent years more independent dates followed, as did yet more controversial moments. A legal battle with TNA rumbled on for a few years after Steiner made several negative remarks about the promotion and Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff on Twitter. TNA’s attorneys filed a complaint which led to a countersuit concerning money owed to Steiner, and a second suit regarding an injury sustained while working against an allegedly intoxicated Jeff Hardy. Hulk Hogan’s now ex-wife also contacted the police and claimed that Steiner had aggressively approached her at an airport, stating he would kill her husband. Scott Steiner denied these claims but was subsequently banned from the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony in 2015 due to the accusations.
Scott Steiner Collapses
In early 2020, Scott Steiner made a surprise debut on the NWA weekly show "Power." Steiner was aligned with the NWA World Champion Nick Aldis and worked a few matches for Billy Corgan’s promotion. Shortly after this, while recording shows for another TNA/Impact wrestling return, Steiner collapsed backstage. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency heart surgery but was cited to make a full recovery.
Reflecting on the Career of Scott Steiner
Professional wrestling is an odd business. Scott Steiner’s former boss, Eric Bischoff, once famously said, "controversy creates cash." Steiner has undoubtedly created his fair share of controversy throughout the years and picked up many injuries and ailments for his working efforts and troubles.
However, few in-ring competitors have managed to bridge the different styles and presentations of the past decades in such an accomplished manner as Mr. Rechsteiner. Being popular in the stiff, "strong style" world of Japan, an excellent tag team competitor, and a potential main event star in the colorful New Generation era of the early ’90s is no easy task. Steiner has also displayed an ability to reinvent himself in the later ’90s, and the emergence of the "Big Poppa Pump" character is a further example of his talents.
Adding to this, Steiner has shown a natural talent to work as a heel or fan favorite throughout his career. "Freakzilla" still gets a crowd reaction to this date, and Steiner’s in-ring expertise and incredible career cannot be ignored.
Over 30 years in the crazy wrestling business deserves recognition alone. Being relevant and entertaining for that long? Your author believes that deserves the utmost respect.
Holla, if ya hear me!
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