Steiner in elite company
BY JIM VARSALLONE
When discussing the top stars who succeeded at a high level in singles and tag team action, names like Jack Brisco, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr., Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Booker T come to mind.
Let's not forget Michigan's own Scott Steiner.
Steiner, 46, is currently competing in TNA as part of the star-studded Main Event Mafia with Kurt Angle, Booker T, Kevin Nash and Sting. What a collection of talent.
Steiner has been involved with top factions before.
''I was part of the nWo also, but even that wasn't a collection of all the world champions,'' Steiner said. ''There's five world champions [in the Main Event Mafia]. I'm talking about WWE, WWF, WCW world champions.
''So we're all legit before we formed the group, and we all formed the group out of respect for each other and respect for this business. It actually has the same kind of feel as the nWo, but I think Hogan and Nash were the only former world champions. Scott Hall was probably the best wrestler never to win a world championship.
''With us, we're all established stars. We've had 15-20-year careers, and the people are buying into it. You can't re-write history, and you can't forget about history. We've all had world championship type careers. So people can relate to us.''
Steiner signed with TNA is 2006. He has overcome a few injuries -- including a huge scare in 2007, after an accidental kick to the throat by Apolo during a TNA house show in Puerto Rico -- to star with the Main Event Mafia.
Doctors in Puerto Rico saved his life. To now see him compete in TNA is a miracle.
Years earlier, Steiner earned NCAA All-American honors in amateur wrestling for Big Blue at the University of Michigan. After graduation, he turned to the professional style.
Trained by the original Sheik, Steiner debuted in 1986 for the World Wrestling Alliance in Indianapolis, Indiana and later wrestled for the Continental Wrestling Association in Memphis.
In 1988, he and his older brother Rick formed the Steiner Brothers, and they competed for Jim Crockett Promotions which became World Championship Wrestling. In 1992, they joined the World Wrestling Federation.
The Steiner Brothers became one of the most successful tag teams in wrestling history. They won the Mid-Atlantic, New Japan, NWA, United States, WCW and WWE tag team titles and more.
In singles action, Steiner, 46, won the United States, WCW television, WCW and WWA titles among others. He proved his worth in tag team and singles action.
''They happened at different times of my career,'' Steiner said. ''When I first was in a tag team, that's exactly what I wanted to do. I just graduated from Michigan, and my brother was two years ahead of me. We just wanted to keep on going to see how far we could go as a tag team. We've won every world tag team title there is to win -- WWF, WCW, Japan.''
The Steiner Brothers spent time with the original ECW in 1995.
''We wrestled all over the world and won basically every world championship that was important,'' he said. ''We're not talking about ECW because that was a joke. I've gotten prizes out of a cracker jack box that were more real than that world championship. That aside that's what I wanted to do at the time, tag with my brother and see how far we could go.
''After you wrestle everybody, the Road Warriors, everybody, we beat everybody, it came to a point there were no more mountains to climb. That's when I started focusing on my singles career. Then I end up becoming world champ in that also.''
Steiner's bad guy turn began in late 1997 when he changed his look, showcasing a bigger physique, a goatee and a blond Fu Manchu mustache. He feuded with Buff Bagwell over who had the better body.
Scott then joined the nWo at SuperBrawl VIII on February 22, 1998, by attacking his brother Rick while they were defending the WCW World Tag Team Championship against The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash). The next night on Monday Nitro, he adopted a new gimmick, reminiscent of Superstar Billy Graham in look and talk.
Big Poppa Pump was born.
''The championships, tag team and individual, came at different points,'' he said. ''When I became a singles wrestlers, I changed my look, and it was just a reflection of how I had evolved as an individual.
''When you just come out of college, you're looking at the world with rose colored glasses, but in this business, especially in this business, you see how cut-throat it is and how many pieces of %$#@ there really are, but there are definitely good people, too.
''Over time and being in the business, you change your perspective on a lot of things, and that's how the Big Poppa Pump persona evolved. Tag team, singles, I had a great time doing both.''
Steiner could easily work for the Travel Channel or Food Network.
''I've traveled all over the world, but I have to say my favorite place to go is Australia,'' he said. ''That is the country that's most comparable to the United States -- food wise; their coast is like Florida; they speak the same language and eat the same kind of food.
''When you go to England, the food is brutal, so greasy. It doesn't taste good. If you go to Japan, sushi is great. If you go outside Tokyo and don't know somebody who knows. Luckily we had a referee, a good friend, who would take us to all the good restaurants. Once you go out of the big city, it wasn't that good.
''North Korea, that food was brutal. That's some of the worst stuff I've ever eaten. That was an experience itself because it's still Communist.
''It's been great because I've been able to see a lot of places in this world.''
Steiner's also wrestled many opponents which reads like a Who's Who list.
''The guys you enjoy wrestling the most, of course I was a bad guy so you gotta get somebody just as competitive and just as liked,'' he said. ''As much as I was hated, you needed somebody someone just as much liked on the other side, so that made the matches a lot easier -- against guys like Sting, Hogan, anytime you win a world championship, when I wrestled Booker T, when I wrestled Ron Simmons with my brother in tag teams.
''Ron Simmons was a [heck] of an athlete. He used to ride around in his Trans-Am with his picture hanging on top of his car. When you wrestle other athletes who came from other sports like Ron did with football, and Goldberg, football, that was good.
''Goldberg had a good match with me. I was, of course, hated. It was in Buffalo at a pay-per-view, and he was liked. So there was a lot of juice in the building. Anytime you wrestle guys like that, Kevin Nash at the time, it just makes it more exciting, and it makes the matches a lot easier. People want to see them kick my %$#, and they want to see me get my %$# kicked.''
Steiner also expressed himself on another matter.
''Of course, you got the flip-side with pieces of ^%$# like Ric Flair and Triple H,'' he said. ''Ric Flair would rather wrestle in front of 200 people and have the belt than wrestle in front of 200,000 people and not have the belt. He's a piece of ^%$#.
''Triple H, the same thing. He wouldn't even be in this business, if he wasn't &^%$#@! the boss's daughter. I think everybody realizes that. He's viewed that way, and he's under the protection of the McMahons so nobody beats him up. Trust me, people wanted to beat him up.''
Steiner competed for WWE from 2002-04.
''When I was up there, it was ridiculous,'' he said. ''Flair was kissing Triple H's %$# so bad, carrying his bags to buildings. Now Triple H can't stand Ric Flair. To each his own.
''There's a reason why Flair's not there anymore. It's not because he's retired. Flair's a piece of ^%$#. I've been able to read people real good throughout my life. I knew Flair was a piece of ^%$#, and Triple H was a piece of ^%$#. It didn't take long to figure out.''
Steiner understands the business.
''No matter what happens outside the ring, I've always given 100 percent,'' he said. ''Some guys aren't like that. Some guys actually believe they're winning a world title. It's a joke.
• The TNA pay-per-view Genesis is Sunday, Jan. 11 at the Cricket Arena in Charlotte. Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Jarrett and more.
• TNA tapes four shows a month for its TNA iMPACT! TV shows at Soundstage 21 at Universal Studios Orlando.
See Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Sting, Samoa Joe, Booker T, Rhino, Scott Steiner, Matt Morgan, Kevin Nash, Awesome Kong, Abyss, Hernandez, Homicide, Roxxi, the Motor City Machine Guns, the Beautiful People, Beer Money Inc., ODB, Sonjay Dutt, Hector Guerrero, Jay Lethal and more.
Admission is free.
• TNA iMPACT! is 9-11 p.m. EST Thursdays on Spike TV.