When the Steiner Brothers split up in February 1998 wrestling fans witnessed a long bait and switch between Rick and Scott Steiner. They eventually collided at Halloween Havoc in October of that year and Rick won the singles match. On that show, Rick won the WCW World Tag Team Championships and would have tag partners such as Kenny Kaos and Judy Bagwell (seriously), while Scott Steiner continued to go up the ranks and feud with top WCW stars.
The titles were vacated because Rick suffered an injury and he would return to action on March 1st 1999 but before long he would have singles gold for most of the year.
Rick returned to action teaming with Goldberg to compete in tag team action against his rivals Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell. Rick started off on a good note by pinning Bagwell with a bulldog. However, for the following month and a half Rick would be lost in the shuffle wrestling in singles matches against Scott Norton, Brian Adams and a very brief TV feud with Fit Finley.
At an April 28th house show in Pittsburgh, PA Rick Steiner won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from Diamond Dallas Page, but a second referee came out and changed the decision to a disqualification.
For the first time since Starrcade 1988, Rick Steiner held singles gold when he defeated WCW Television Champion Booker T to win the title at Slamboree 1999. Rick had help from Scott Steiner, but wasn’t aware of it. Later on in the show, Rick would officially turn heel and aligned himself with his brother Scott by helping him beat Buff Bagwell at the pay per view.
There were a few house shows in May ’99 that saw Rick Steiner successfully defend the WCW Television Championship against another heel in Diamond Dallas Page. His first feud on television since winning the title would be against one of the most popular wrestlers in WCW, Sting.
Their first match was a steel cage match on the May 31st edition of Nitro. UFC legend Tank Abbott was involved in the match which eventually ended with Abbott attacking Sting and aligning with Steiner. There wasn’t a finish to the match and the feud would continue.
Steiner and Sting met again at the Great American Bash pay per view on June 13th. The bout was a non-title contest and had a falls count anywhere stipulation. In one of the worst moments in WCW history, Rick Steiner won the match thanks to a dog attack that was orchestrated by himself, Tank Abbott and Scott Steiner. There were two Dobermans and a Rottweiler “viciously” attacked Sting. The Steiner Brothers demanded that Rick be declared the winner and that was granted by the referee.
On the July 1st edition of Thunder saw Steiner defend the WCW Television Championship against Buff Bagwell in the main event. The feud between these two would end thanks to David Flair interfering and helping Steiner retain the title.
It was weird at the time and it’s weird now, but WCW decided to give Van Hammer a push and a WCW Television Championship match at Bash at the Beach on July 11th. The push culminated in a less than five minute match that saw Steiner get a clean victory and Hammer went back to wandering around WCW collecting a paycheck for the next year.
At around this time Rick formed an alliance with Sid Vicious and Kevin Nash effectively making him one of the top heels for WCW while being the WCW Television Champion. Steiner and Sid got a disqualification victory over WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan and Sting on the August 2nd Nitro program. The following week, the new heel trio lost to Hogan, Sting and Goldberg in a six man tag match.
Rick continued to be involved in top feuds and squared off against Goldberg at Road Wild on August 14th. As you would expect, Steiner had no shot in hell and lost to Da Man in under six minutes.
Steiner would defend the title against the likes of Disco Inferno and Brian Knobs. He returned to reaming with Sid and Diamond Dallas Page this time around for a handicap steel cage match on September 6th against Hulk Hogan and Goldberg. Of course, Hogan and Goldberg prevailed and Steiner was sent back to the mid card and got involved in a feud with Perry Saturn.
At this point, Perry Saturn was part of the Revolution with Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit. Saturn got a WCW Television Championship match at Fall Brawl and was confident that the young wrestlers would win the title. That didn’t happen as Steiner won with the bulldog to retain the title. The following night on Nitro, Steiner lost the belt to Chris Benoit. Steiner regained the title at Halloween Havoc thanks to Dean Malenko turning on Benoit.
Steiner would be stripped of the title due to injury. Prior to losing to Chris Benoit, Steiner held the championship for 127 days. He was the longest champion since Lord Steven Regal held the belt in August 1996 to February 1997 for 181 days.
What are your memories of Rick Steiner’s WCW Television Championship reign during this time? Did you buy him as a main event heel? Leave your thoughts below.
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31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.