Ricky Steamboat © vs Scott Steiner 9/29/92
WCW Television Title Match
It speaks of the ability Scott Steiner had in the ring earlier on in his career that he seemed to eclipse his brother Rick, even though the older Steiner had had a credible singles run pre-tag team run. In the years that followed the heyday of the Steiner Brothers, the two would suffer the lot of many other tag teams; one would be pushed to the main event, the other would be lucky to still hold onto a job if that. With Scott’s singles run at the latter end of the decade seeing him win the WCW World Heavyweight Title, he fulfilled a lot of the promise that had been there from the very start, although with a physique and look that were in stark contrast to his youthful visage.
It was the charisma, alongside some athletically impressive and visually effective moves, that positioned Scott to be the breakout star of the team. It was the support of the fans in particular that made a singles run inevitable, and it was a decision that WCW decided to pull the trigger on as early as 1990. Steiner would ‘Run the Gauntlet’ (winning matches on Power Hour, Saturday Night and Main Event) be defeating Bobby Eaton, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, whilst a Clash of the Champions WCW World Heavyweight Title match against Flair went to a time limit draw. In 1992, Steiner would finally get a run with singles gold, though things would not pan out how WCW would have hoped in giving Steiner the belt.
A Television Title shot against Ricky Steamboat was taped for an October edition of Worldwide as two of the most popular men in the promotion would go one on one, with Steamboat’s experience in singles competition in particular giving him the edge. However, Scott was teasing a heel turn, with an attack on Marcus Bagwell the week before after a loss to Steve Austin and Brian Pillman hinting at a more selfish Steiner. Jesse Ventura and Tony Schiavone would argue pre-match about whether Steiner’s actions were justified, with Schiavone suggesting it was frustration with Rick’s injury boiling over.
In the first exchange, Steiner would throw Steamboat twice with body slams, only for Steamboat to fire back with two dropkicks of his own before multiple hiptoss reversals sent Steiner to the outside. Steamboat, looking to check on him, would be given short shrift as Steiner waved him away, though he would accept Steamboat’s help to get back in through the ropes. Clean breaks off of the ropes lead to Ventura wondering when the first cheap shot would be thrown, with Steiner eventually pie-facing Steamboat to lead to an exchange of chops and punches that fired the crowd up for the first time in the contest.
The decision by Steamboat to work the arm just as the audience was beginning to pop for the stiff strikes was odd as it slowed the match back down as an armbar became the go to weapon for the champion. Sensing the need to raise the stakes, Steiner would launch Steamboat over his head with a belly to belly suplex that looked like it legitimately staggered the Dragon, with a half Boston crab and a bear hug to follow.
Whilst the decision to slow the contest down at times didn’t work in its favour, the storytelling for the finish was pleasing in its simplicity. Having ducked a Steamboat cross body that saw the champion fall to ringside, Steiner would grab him coming back in and apply a (very loose, admittedly) small package for the three count. No full-fledged heel turn, but a directly contradictory to how Steamboat had behaved to Steiner earlier in the match. The seeds continued to be sown.
Until the Steiners walked out and joined the WWF.
Where WCW would have gone with a heel Steiner as Television champion is an interesting quandary. What is very certain is that this would be a gateway to Steiner moving up the card permanently as a singles wrestler. Whether the WCW World Heavyweight Title would have come a little earlier is debatable with the eventual Hulk Hogan arrival, but it probably would have been a better than what turned into a nothing run with the WWF.