Rock Star Gary reflects on NWA Starrcade ’89: Future Shock

Live from Atlanta, GA

Airdate: December 13, 1989

Attendance:  6,000

Hosted by Jim Ross, Terry Funk, & Jim Cornette

Since WCW used Funk for color commentary on singles matches and Cornette on tag teams, I thought I’d offer my own special guests…read on!

Read more…

Heel Steiners?

Hey Scott,

I’ve been watching a bunch of old Steiner Brothers matches of late. It amazes me they spent their entire 1st WCW and WWF runs as babyfaces when everything about their style screams heel. Their body language, the way they’d smile when suplexing people, they didn’t give anyone much offense, and they were kind of bullies in the ring. And that doesn’t even go into how stiff and rough they were.

Didn’t anyone see the money in an extended Steiner’s run as dominant, viscous heels? Or were bookers so enamored with their amateur background and relatively wholesome looks?

Yeah, pretty much. I mean obviously Scott Steiner figured out himself that the money was in being a heel later on, but I think most people that booked them just wanted them at most to be the "rough babyface" character like Lou Thesz used to do. But I mean, sure in hindsight we know what an awesome heel that Scott turned out to be, but for years and years they were natural babyfaces even with their behavior in the ring, so I can see why no one wanted to try something different. If it’s still making money, why change it?

Steiners’ WWF run

Hey Scott,

The WWF gets a lot of deserved heat for failing to push stars who've previously established themselves outside the company.  Sting is an obvious recent example, but you can go back to Goldberg or pretty much any post-Monday Night War WCW refugee.

One act that doesn't seem to get brought up a lot in this context is the Steiner Bros.  But if you think about it, their 1993-94 run in the WWF was one of the more disappointing flops in WWF/E history, given expectations coming in.  The Steiner Bros. were far and away the best tag team in the world when they jumped in early 93.  No one else was even close.  Not to mention Scott's breakout potential as a singles star.

Their first few months with the company were OK. Wins over the Beverlys and the Headshrinkers at the Rumble and Mania, respectively, weren't terrible ways to establish them as contenders.  But letting Hogan and Beefcake completely overshadow the rest of the tag division before WM IX was a mistake, I think.  And when it finally came time for the Steiners to win the titles from Money, Inc., it happened on a random house show (and, IIRC, they dropped and regained them in the next two cities for no reason whatsoever).  Other than that, they never really definitively beat Money Inc.; the latter just split up and faded away unceremoniously (the cage match on Summerslam Spectacular and/or RAW was great but they should have saved it for the PPV).  To make things worse, they then paired the Steiners up with the Heavenly Bodies, who were literally marketed as an indie team.  Shortly thereafter, the Steiners unceremoniously lose the belts 3 months into their reign to the newcomer Quebecers, an old midcard comedy act teamed up with a rookie.  After that, with the exception of the Survivor Series main event, they were pretty invisible (MOM got the Mania X title shot over them for Gods sake!)

I know there were issues about them working Japan.  I can see that pissing Vince off, I guess.  Other than that, though, was there any reason for their short run?  Did they bomb at the box office?

Well they were never really put into a position to draw so it's hard to say they bombed.  But certainly there was tons of friction over their refusal to give up Japanese dates and their reputation for being hard to get along with in general.  And then Vince may have wanted to break up the team and push Scott and they wouldn't go along with that either.  For me, you've got the greatest tag team in the world, who fucking cares if they want to work New Japan dates half the time.  But Vince is Vince and if you weren't a WWF creation and don't want to do things 100% his way, you're nothing and get treated like nothing.  

MOTD: Steiners v. Money Inc

Steiners vs Money Inc Cage by CrossFaceChickenWing Steiners vs. Money Incorporated for the WWF tag titles…in a steel cage! Awesome ending as well that I bet Vince just loved due to the crowd reaction… Yeah, this was from the Summerslam Spectacular on USA if I’m not mistaken.  I did a review of this show a few years ago on 24/7 and the ending of that cage match was pretty insane. 

Titles and Steiners

Dear Scott,

  Longtime reader of your reviews and rants. I just have two(2) quick questions:
  1. With Vince putting so much of the product on TV now and him squeezing every penny he can out of merchandising, how come he never created a TV title. I would think you could get more mileage out a TV champion on television than say the US title (especially when u already have the Intercontinental title). Always wondered why he never did that.
They have WAY too many titles already.  A TV title is just another name for another secondary belt that no one gives a crap about, to be honest.  Plus once Jim Duggan pulled it out of the trash to become champion, the concept was gonna be dead for a LONG time.  Frankly I'm shocked he resurrected the US title concept instead of reusing something of his own creation like the European or North American titles.   

   2. I was watching an old Impact episode and Scott Steiner was on. As I was explaining to my wife the complete change in character and skillset he did she didn't believe me until I showed her a Steiners match from '92. She still didn't believe they were the same person!!! I told her that Steiner from 91-94 is what Kurt Angle is today. Do you think that's a fair statement?? and how do think his career would've gone if: A) he broke from his brother when Flair wanted to put the title on him and 2) if Steiner from 91-94 debuted today??

I often have trouble reconciling the two people as well.  His reintroduction on Nitro in 98 took some getting used to, believe me.  Anyway, by "Steiner from 91-94" are you meaning that he was the often-injured former can't miss megastar like Kurt Angle is today, or an entertaining wrestler frequently having to carry the promotion on his back?  Because I don't think he was ever NEAR the star that Angle is even today as a shell of his former self.  Really, Scott Steiner 89-91, before the initial biceps tear that started him down the road to roidville, was the most awesome worker you'd ever see.  I think that if he debuted today WWE would probably tone him down to the point where he wouldn't get over, because he worked a very different style than most North American heavyweights, understandable given their time in Japan.  You'll note today that there's not a lot of suplex-heavy and hard-hitting intense guys, outside of Angle as noted.  Given the wrestling background, I think he'd have a shot as a Brock Lesnar-type once they molded him into the more homogenized style they prefer, but without trying to be too facetious about it I'd say that he wouldn't last two months without getting fired for multiple Wellness violations. 
As for the first part of the question…I dunno.  Older Scott Steiner as champion would have been a throwback to the classic NWA champions, but the business was changing and I really think that Big Poppa Pump was the key needed to make it as a long-term main eventer.  It's kind of the classic case of the Eddie Guerrero issue, where a guy doesn't develop a World champion level personality until long after his body has broken down from being a World champion level athlete.  Wrestling is weird that way, in that guys don't typically hit their peak until well after they're no longer able to capitalize on it.  So I'm gonna say he would have flopped as champion and been a victim of politics to play it safe.

Steiners heel run in WWF?

Was just watching the Steiner Brothers final WWF televised tag match on Raw from April 1994, and it seems as if WWE was possibly teasing a heel turn for them. The Steiners are clearly not playing to the fans and are really aggressive, a point Vince makes on commentary throughout the match. Scott even attempts to slap the ref during the match.
They hadn't been on tv for close to 2 months before this  and were seen only 1 more time after this match, when Scott lost to IRS in a KOTR qualifying match on Superstars.
Was this a test run for a possible heel turn had they remained with the company?

They could have just been really pissy too that day, but Vince and everyone else in the world wanted to break them up and push Scott as a singles star so that could have been towards that goal.