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Amateur days at Michigan helped shape Scott Steiner
By BLAINE VAN DER GRIEND - SLAM! Wrestling


Before he was ever "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner, he was Scott Rechsteiner at the University of Michigan -- here in 1982. -- University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed: July 13, 2014.

Scott Steiner received an education like no other at the University of Michigan. He started wrestling in high school, but really perfected his skills at the collegiate level. But as good as he was at amateur wrestling, he became an even better professional.

"Amateur wrestling's probably the toughest sport there is in the United States," Steiner recently told SLAM! Wrestling. "That's why a lot of the amateur wrestlers right now are champions in the UFC."

Along with his brother Rick, Scott will join this year's George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame class in Waterloo, Iowa, at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. The ceremony takes place over the July 19 weekend.

Rewinding all the way back to his amateur days, Steiner fondly remembers becoming an All-American at Michigan when he was known under his full name of Scott Rechsteiner, as well as watching one of his best friends win the national championship.

Steiner certainly loved wrestling for the Wolverines; he finished 2nd in the Big Ten wrestling championships in 1983, 1985, and 1986, and was an All-American in 1986 at 190 pounds. But what Scott really loved to do was sit back and watch professional wrestling on TV. His brother Rick (Rob Rechsteiner) was already well on his way to becoming a professional wrestler, so it made all the sense in the world for Scott as well.


"My brother was two years older than I was and he went up to Verne Gagne's camp in Minnesota. He (Gagne) was also an Olympic wrestler" Steiner said. "At the time, I was watching a lot of professional wrestling on TV and I actually thought I could beat some of those guys; beat a lot of them up." (Rick also trained with Eddie Sharkey.)

Those beatings from Scott Steiner would have to wait, however. Before he ever frankensteiner'd his way into most people's living rooms, Steiner first had to learn how to transfer his skills from the collegiate level to the pros.

"The training is what you do on your own. If you watch professional wrestling, you can tell who the guys are that are properly trained and the ones that aren't. Usually, the guys that train are on top," Steiner said. "I used a lot of the suplexes that I did in college and then I became famous for the frankensteiner. 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."

It was almost as if Steiner was the new kid in school, which can be quite intimidating. But his brother was already there to watch his back, and he also had years of experience under his belt as an amateur wrestler, which quickly eliminated the intimidation factor.


Rick and Scott Steiner early in their pro careers. Courtesy Chris Swisher, www.csclassicwrphotos.com
"When I first got there (to professional wrestling), it was amazing. I was doing something that I always wanted to do," Steiner said. "My brother and I proved that we were the best tag team in the world, and then I went off and became a world champion on my own."

Steiner never had an interest in trying out for the Olympics, because he wanted to make some serious money, and he realized that the only way he could do that was by wrestling professionally. In fact, winning the WCW World title for the first time in 2000 was like his gold medal.

The frankensteiner really got Steiner over. It was the most innovative move in wrestling at the time. It was so popular, that it's actually a common move in wrestling today. And most fans will agree that it looked flawless, every time Steiner delivered it.

"I thought up the frankensteiner on my own and I just waited for the right time to do it on TV," Steiner said. "I did it, and the fans were amazed. It was a hard move to do, so most guys had to be pretty athletic to take it."

Steiner has had an amazing career and has done just about everything there is to do in pro wrestling. He has competed in every major promotion, faced every major star and held almost every major title. The only thing left for him to do, is be inducted into a hall of fame. That time will come this weekend in Waterloo, Iowa, alongside his brother, and posthumous inductee Wilbur Snyder.

The unique thing about this particular hall of fame is that it honours athletes of both professional and amateur wrestling, so it's only natural for the Steiner brothers to be inducted together.

The Steiner brothers were previously honoured by the Bay County, Mich. Sports Hall of Fame in the fall of 2000, which includes their hometown of Bay City, Mich.

Scott Steiner loves the tie-in to his amateur days at the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame.

"I have a lot of respect for Dan Gable. I've competed against his teams when he was at Iowa," Steiner said. "They were winning national championships and the gym was named after him."

RELATED LINKS

  • Scott & Rick Steiner story archive
  • Previous SLAM! Wrestling George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame coverage

    Blaine van der Griend hopes he never has to take a frankensteiner...