The Steiner Brothers
Inducted by Andrew Ardizzi
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Here’s the story of two brothers, Rick and Scott, that will leave you Steinerized.
(Years later, and I still don’t know what that means.)
Before the Steiners debuted in the mid and late ’80s respectively, Robert and Scott Rechsteiner were amateur wrestling standouts at the University of Michigan where they held All-American honours. Without ever having stepped foot into a professional wrestling ring, like any other All-American athlete, you knew they were special.
Family of Origin
Although debuting separately — Robert, better known as “The Dog Face Gremlin” Rick, in 1983 and Scott in 1986 — the Steiners made their marks in professional wrestling from the moment they entered their first rings with their unique blend of athleticism, amateur wrestling, innovation and aggression that made them early fan favourites; even though Rick began as a heel in the Varsity Club with Mike Rotunda and Kevin Sullivan in Jim Crockett Promotions. Before long, Rick started getting over and began feuding with his former teammates en route to capturing the TV title from Rotunda. Although he’d only hold it for a little less than two months, in that time his brother Scott had started seconding him in his corner. Despite his brother being by his side, Rick would lose the TV title back to Rotunda. After the loss, Rick and Scott formed the Steiner Brothers. Nine months later, they won their first of 13 major tag team championships together. The rest is history.
From the moment I first saw them in WCW in the early 90s there was something that stood out about how they wrestled. They were tough and strong, yet skilled and very technical despite their size. They could overwhelm opponents with feats of strength, shoot a double and take you down before stretching you out, or innovating moves that have become standards of the modern era. They were unique, and in leaning into their legitimate athletic backgrounds, they appeared legitimate as an act.
Physically & Technically Proficient
They were a perfect tandem. Rick was tough, strong, tenacious; take the worst, ferocious qualities of the angriest dog, the worst of the worst among the Gremlins (the movie), couple that with a smothering wrestling attack and you have Rick Steiner. Even as a face, his offence was executed with intent: every slam, every suplex was intended to secure a win. True to his name, Rick was a terror, and it’s what was endearing about him as a face, and terrifying when he dialed it up as a heel.
Scott on the other hand, long before he adopted every moniker you know him by now, was one of the most innovative, gifted young wrestlers coming out of the ’80s; it was believed WCW wanted to groom him for a singles push toward the world title. Much like his brother and their shared amateur wrestling background and mat wizardy, Scott exceeded the mold of the time. Coupled with his collection of suplexes, — including a brutally effortless dragon suplex — Steiner popularized the use of the Frankensteiner (a hurracanrana-like move where the opponent is dumped on their head and neck, not the back) which the Poison-rana descends from in its execution. Also in his arsenal was the Steiner Screwdriver, a brutal sitout piledriver executed out of the suplex position; also performed by Jushin Liger in Japan where Steiner spent time. Both are the prototypes for Brian Cage’s Drillclaw. Many of the moves Steiner popularized are commonly seen today. Finally, in what’s perhaps not widely known, but in 1987 Scott performed a 450 Splash. Take the man you know today, and envision that he was capable of a 450. That’s the type of athlete Scott Steiner was.
Scott was as strong as his brother and twice as quick. Together they could match any tag team of their day: they could match the physicality of the Road Warriors, or hang with the Harts (Bret and Owen). Their career together as a team spanned nearly a decade, and while they’ve reunited on the indies and briefly in Impact, their first run from 1989 to 1998 as a tandem were their most memorable years as a team. Their career took them around the world, spending most of their time in WCW in addition to runs in WWF, ECW, TNA and NJPW, securing numerous world tag team championships. However, as their final title reign together ended upon Scott joining the nWo in 1998, both men continued their successes inside the ring. They proved they were more than just a sum of the parts which composed the team.
Primarily in the NWA/JCP/WCW, both held countless singles titles, with Scott securing a reign as WCW World Champion prior to the company closing, while Rick also obtained success of his own with a WCW U.S. title reign. While they’re intimately linked forever as brothers, as a brother tag team, their work apart further highlights the special type of athletes the Steiners were in their primes. Everywhere they went, they were successful, and that’s something their later runs — even Scott’s final WWE run – can’t tarnish.
Their legacy is not complex; it is not Steiner Math although the solution to what the legacy is, is quite straightforward. Everything in wrestling has its origin, whether it be a move designed in Japan and carried over to a new audience, naming a move to link it to you forever, or executing the first 450 on record, much of what we see today in wrestling is traceable to some of what the Steiners did.
Their aggression, their physicality and their mat wrestling as they leaned heavily into their amateur backgrounds made them captivating in a time when many teams worked one type of style, or each individual specialized and came together akin to the Hitman and Anvil. The Steiners were both strong and fast, flashy and brutalizing, and as physically imposing as their amateur singlets were colourfully vibrant. That they could work any style and work anyone, while competing in legendary matches across the world cements their legacy as not only one of the greatest tag teams of all time, but two of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
They left professional wrestling Steinerized for the better.
- 7-time WCW/NWA World Tag Team Champions
- 2-time WWF Tag Team Champions
- 2-time IWGP Tag Team Champions
- NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions
- NWA/WCW U.S. Tag Team Champions
- PWA Tag Team Champions