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Exclusive: The Steiner Brothers to Be Inducted Into the 2022 WWE Hall of Fame

Collegiate grappling stars Rick and Scott Steiner inaugurated the era of the bruising, ultra-legitimate amateur sports star whose power moves resonated with fans and banged up opponents

Ringer illustration

Scott and Rick Steiner, known popularly as the Steiner Brothers, will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2022 on April 1, the company confirmed to The Ringer. The Steiner Brothers had individual success and also worked as a tag team on and off for 20 years, and their physicality and presence defined them as two peerless athletes and earned them a place among the legends.

The 2022 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony will occur immediately following WWE SmackDown at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The ceremony will stream live on Peacock directly after SmackDown at 10:30 p.m. ET.

The Steiners left a trail of bruised and mangled bodies scattered in their wake on their way to the Hall of Fame: the dozens of collegiate grapplers who Rick and Scott pinned during their amateur heydays at the University of Michigan; a Fabulous Freebird who stood in the way of their burgeoning WCW careers; a Japanese standout willing to take Scott’s ridiculously overpowered “Steiner screwdriver” slam into a sitting piledriver; or a member of the nWo in the early days of that faction’s invasion. In terms of fraternal mat-based ultraviolence, no tandem in history came close.

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The closest comparison would be the Brisco Brothers, Jack and Jerry, who loomed large over the pro sport in the 1970s as individual competitors before finishing up their run as a team in the early 1980s. Jack was an NCAA championship runner-up for Oklahoma State in the 191-pound weight class 22 years before Scott finished sixth in 1986, and Jerry had his own promising freshman career with the Cowboys cut short by injury.

Comparisons between the Briscos and the Steiners should stop there, though, because Scott and Rob (Rick) Rechsteiner weren’t lithe, rubber-jointed technicians like the Briscos, but rather buzz saws cutting through the Big Ten, racking up double-digit falls in a sport in which only the biggest and baddest guys, like Oklahoma University legend Danny Hodge, pinned the majority of their opposition.

Neither brother ever won a Big Ten championship, but as would be the case at various times during their star-crossed wrestling careers, they found their progress to the top blocked by immovable objects—heavyweight Lou Banach in Rick’s case and 190-pounder Duane Goldman in Scott’s. Both rivals occupied the spotlight for the unbeatable Iowa Hawkeyes dynasty of that era.

That didn’t matter. Neither Steiner wanted to stick around in the amateur ranks, chasing unlikely Olympic glory after college. Rick, who is the older brother by 16 months, headed to Minnesota to learn the ropes of the pro game from amateur legend Verne Gagne and veteran trainer Eddie Sharkey. Scott cut his teeth a few years later, training with Jerry Graham Jr. out of Toledo and wrestling matches in the World Wrestling Association territory formerly owned by Dick the Bruiser.

Their early work bears careful rewatching. A look at the 5-foot-11 Rick wrestling for authenticity-obsessed promoter Bill Watts’s Universal Wrestling Federation alongside other mat standouts like Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, is a glimpse at one of the absolute finest physiques in the business during that era, a man so pumped up he rivals the likes of Billy Jack Haynes, Hercules Hernandez, and Kerry Von Erich.

And when you watch some of Scott’s efforts in the WWA, whether it’s hitting a slow-motion 450 splash on a hapless opponent or having an extremely crisp WWA title match against fellow former NCAA standout Greg “the Great Wojo” Wojciechowski, you realize you’re seeing the 6-foot-1 220-pounder—already filled out well past the 190 pounds of his college grappling days—on the cusp of something special.

The brothers finally joined forces in the WCW in 1989. As he would throughout their early days, Rick had blazed a trail into the promotion, having a successful run as the somewhat slow-witted monster college wrestling heel in Kevin Sullivan’s criminally underrated “Varsity Club” stable alongside Syracuse University wrestling alum Mike Rotunda. Rick, who was a bad guy only because of Sullivan’s machinations, broke from the stable and won the TV title from Rotunda at Starrcade 1988 despite the efforts of Sullivan and Steve Williams, another hard-hitting amateur standout—but he dropped the belt back to Rotunda at Chi-Town Rumble 1989 with Scott in his corner.

Scott initially arrived as moral support for Rick in his feud with the Varsity Club. But once the Steiners got up and running, their pairing affected a sea change in tag-team wrestling. Valets like Missy Hyatt and Nancy Benoit (then under the ring name “Robin Green,” and later as “Woman” after she turned on the brothers) and Rick’s character work as the “dog-faced gremlin”—a play on the “gremlin” nickname he was given in Bill Watts’s UWF after he obliterated Freebirds Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts in a behind-the-scenes amateur wrestling exhibition—helped keep the story lines moving. Although that stuff was fun, we viewers stayed glued to our sets because of serious, hard-hitting matches against the likes of the Jimmy Garvin–Michael Hayes incarnation of the Fabulous Freebirds, from whom they first won the NWA world tag-team championships in November 1989, and the Butch Reed–Ron Simmons team known as Doom, to whom they would lose those titles at Capital Combat in 1990. The Steiners’ peak arguably came in early 1991, when they briefly held both the WCW world and U.S. tag-team titles, then beat New Japan stars Hiro Hase and Kensuke Sasaki for the IWGP tag-team championship. Their ongoing success in Japan served as proof they could work any style, against any opponent, and make it look good.

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You could close your eyes and throw a dart at a board containing a listing of the Steiners’ matches from 1989 to 1995 and hit something tremendous. They were athletic enough to match any opponent’s pace, their vicious release suplexes and clotheslines shook the ring, and Scott innovated impressive offensive moves like the “frankensteiner” and “Steiner screwdriver.” Even in 1991, at the peak of the Steiners’ success in WCW, the taller and more agile Scott was starting to branch out into the singles ranks, including a time-limit draw title match against Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions XIV.

“I used a lot of the suplexes that I did in college and then I became famous for the frankensteiner,” Scott remarked in a 2014 interview related to the brothers’ admission to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. “A lot of the guys try to do that move now. I would do a lot of suplexes off the top rope, and my brother would come off the top rope with a bulldog. These were moves that people never really saw before.”

Fans would see those moves in the WWF starting in late 1992, when a dispute over money with tight-fisted new WCW executive Bill Watts caused the Steiners to bolt to the WWF. Although this put Scott’s burgeoning singles career on hold—though not the growth of his huge body, which was already orders of magnitude bigger than his brother’s stockier frame—it also meant that WWF fans got to watch them win the company’s world tag titles twice during a year and a half of feuds against some of the company’s more skilled tag-team pairings, such as Money, Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Mike Rotunda as wrestling accountant “Irwin R. Schyster”), the Heavenly Bodies (Smoky Mountain Wrestling mainstays Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray), and the Quebecers (Jacques Rougeau and Pierre Carl Ouellet, who is still active today as PCO).

After the WWF—which they left because, in Rick’s words to wrestling historian Greg Oliver, “Vince’s thing was singles”—they took bookings in New Japan, wrestling more top-tier matches against Hiro Hase, Kensuke Sasaki, and Keiji Mutoh, then enjoyed a quick run in ECW, including a great six-man tag match at Wrestlepalooza 1995 alongside Eddie Guerrero, before returning to the WCW in 1996. There, they served as a core part of WCW’s “defense” against the invading nWo, trading WCW world tag title wins while holding off the Outsiders tandem of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as well as any pairing could, dominating the nWo’s B team of “Vicious” (Scott Norton) and “Delicious” (Buff Bagwell) and continuing to do battle with Stevie Ray and Booker T of Harlem Heat.

At this point, it was clear that Scott and Rick were going in very different directions. Both brothers had dealt with injuries due to their hard-hitting styles. Rick was older and had slowed down and slimmed down considerably from his own late-1980s prime. Scott, however, had grown larger than life, and though somewhat slower, would eventually swap out his trademark mullet for a bleached-blond goatee and short haircut that recalled the look of “Superstar” Billy Graham updated for the age of alternative rock. That look debuted in full after Scott turned on Rick during a match against Hall and Nash at SuperBrawl VIII, costing the Steiners their world tag titles and eventually, following a number of run-ins and matches against other nWo members, giving Rick a pretext to get surgery on his shoulder.

Rick would eventually heal and get some redemption, scoring a pair of wins against Scott at the same Halloween Havoc 1998 card that saw Hulk Hogan defeat the Ultimate Warrior, but these were pyrrhic victories, similar to Marty Jannetty’s 1993 defeat of former partner Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Title. Both Shawn Michaels and Scott Steiner held long-term winning hands and would eventually win world championships in the WWF and WCW, respectively. Even as Scott grew his massive muscles, added a chainmail headdress, surrounded himself with valets, and shouted so-dumb-they’re-smart catchphrases in the voice of a Michigan gym teacher, Rick continued to do fun character work. They did reunite briefly at the tail end of WCW’s existence as an independent company, losing to Booker T and Dallas Page on Monday Nitro in 2001, and put together a surprisingly fun nostalgia run in TNA in 2007 that saw Scott occasionally pulling the frankensteiner out of the tool kit and Rick going up to the top rope for some tandem offense during a feud against the Dudleys.

But those later moments didn’t create the legacy of the Steiner Brothers that Rick’s son Bronson, who wrestles in the WWE on the NXT brand as Bron Breakker, evokes when he puts on the neon-colored singlets that his father and uncle wore when running roughshod over the best American and Japanese wrestlers of the early 1990s. Breakker is a true generational star in his own right, but he has considerable shoes to fill as he follows in the footsteps of a pair of statuesque, ferocious legends so legit they turned the unreality of pro wrestling into Steiner Brothers–infused hyper-reality.