Scott Steiner is crazy. This much is true and cannot be argued. Steiner reinvented himself in the 1990s in one of the most drastic character overhauls of all time, altering from a neon singlet-wearing amateur hoss to a bearded, bulky mental case with the nickname “Big Poppa Pump”. Although a top star in WCW’s dying days, Scott found that the grass was not greener when snatched up by WWE after WCW had ceased to exist. A poorly-timed injury, stripping back of the character, and general immobility would cause a downfall under Vince McMahon’s corporation.
His Time In WWF & WCW
In 1992, WWF talent recruits were keen on The Steiner Brothers, who had made their names in NWA/WCW and NJPW, where they had proved themselves to be one of the premier tag teams in pro wrestling. This includes WCW World, WCW United States, and IWGP World Tag Team titles. Towards the end of his WCW run, Scott had a brief solo run, wrestling world champion, Ric Flair, to a time-limit draw and winning the Television title from Ricky Steamboat. Scott gained fame for his much-adored Frankensteiner-standing hurricanrana finisher.
Scott and Rick’s WWF run can be described as semi-successful. After initial plans for Scott to win the Royal Rumble were rejected – including by both brothers, who wanted to stay a tag team – the team appeared on the first Monday Night Raw in 1993. Despite the fact The Steiners stood head and shoulders above everyone in the tag division, the team had two tag title runs, one lasting just two days, and both won at house shows. They even lost the belts via DQ which did make them look strong but a more legitimate loss may have helped all. The Steiners had virtually no tag opposition outside a few teams but did manage to main event 1993’s Survivor Series before a Royal Rumble appearance and departure.
Scott Steiner & The Emergence Of ‘Big Poppa Pump’
Scott only propelled in WCW when returning. With bleach blonde facial hair, chainlink headgear, and jacked physique, he stood out. More than that, he was not scared to cross any lines, regularly cutting impromptu shoot promos knowing everyone was far too scared to square up with the yelling, rambling monster. Steiner was a rare lengthy world champion in WCW, reigning as one of the promotion’s biggest talents. WWE did not bring him in during the Invasion once WCW folded, that was until 2002.
Whilst in WCW, Steiner had pretty much no strict booking, he certainly would have that in WWE and it would be rather ungenerous to Scott.
“Hola, Can You Hear Me?”
It all started well.
At Survivor Series 2002, Scott debuted in grand style, doing so at Madison Square Garden at Survivor Series. Steiner cleared the ring of heels Matt Hardy and Christopher Nowinski, before yelling “Give me a fucking mic!”, if you wanted an indication of how Steiner had not changed one bit. That was probably a high point.
Both Raw GM Eric Bischoff and SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon vied to hire Steiner, who was presented as a huge get for either side. After rejecting “Big Poppa Pump”’s sexual advances, Steiner decided to spite Stephanie, signing with Bischoff to join the red brand.
Steiner’s first major feud was against newly-crowned World Heavyweight Champion Triple H during his ‘Reign of Terror’. This included a number of non-wrestling skits including overtly macho and pompously masculine competitions such as an oily posedown and arm-wrestling match.
Steiner’s run quickly flopped when the world title match came around at the 2003 Royal Rumble. Steiner was already miscast as a face and a notable foot injury (foot drop syndrome) served to further hinder the match quality. After 17 minutes of boring brawling, the match even ended in DQ, a death knell for Steiner only a few months after his debut. It won Wrestling Observer’s Worst Worked Match award in 2003.
The next night, Evolution officially formed and after seeing the first dreadful encounter, the WWE naturally decided to do Steiner/HHH again. Steiner was not able to compete at WrestleMania XIX.
When returning, Steiner formed a tag team with Test, managed by Stacy Kiebler. At Badd Blood, Steiner had perhaps the most memorable moment of his return, trying to ‘Pearl Harbour’ (sneak attack) Test from the ring apron before the match but slipping and missing his attack on the master of the big boot. Steiner won and thus earned Stacy Kiebler’s services, the lucky dog! The duo did some gross but expected stuff together, almost inevitable when Scott is involved.
Steiner re-united with Test, with Scott even belly-to-belly suplexing Stacy. Stacy remained a defiant valet, trying to cause her team to lose matches to earn her freedom. A ‘woman is property’ angle – was Russo booking this? At Survivor Series, Steiner was not a main player, being the first eliminated in his match.
Steiner was fired on Raw in December by Mick Foley. He made a final appearance at the 2004 Royal Rumble, lasting under seven minutes, eliminated off-camera, and getting no eliminations.
He was given his release in August.
Reasons For Failure?
Steiner thrived in WCW, and to a lesser extent later on TNA, for a few reasons.
Steiner simply did what he wanted in WCW, with many too scared or unwilling to try to dictate to Scott. Under the WWF, things were always going to be more scripted and subdued, which limits the freedoms of the wacky, off-the-wall Steiner.
Injuries plagued Steiner the moment he stepped into WWE., which were never going to help Scott.
Scott likely did not make allies when refusing to take a drug test, remarking:
“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.”
“Freakzilla” was already over 40 by the time he dropped back into the WWF scene. Naturally slowing down. At this age, the WWE would never have made him a solid main event-scene player. This is not even to mention that he worsened with age, with the “Big Poppa Pump” gimmick seemingly substituting in-ring prowess for a bombastic character.
He was also a non-WWE guy, having not made his name in the WWE, which Vince McMahon famously detests.
Steiner was, despite what many would have wanted, never going to be a top star. He could have made a good upper mid-card talent but once WWE saw a main event run capsize, he was immediately shoved into the lower card abyss.
Already aging by his time in WWE, the numbers didn’t lie and they spelt disaster for Scott Steiner in WWE.