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[1992-05-17-WCW-Wrestle War '92] Rick & Scott Steiner vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Tayayuki Iizuka

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What the FUCK? I know the story of this match, everyone does, but I haven't seen this in several years, and Good Lord. It's a hell of a match, but I felt bad for Iizuka. Scott was wrestling his normal physical style, but it looked like Rick was getting joy out of stiffing Iizuka. There is some seriously brutal matwork, headdrops and strikes in this. Give Iizuka credit for hanging in there despite being injured like this. Great match, but really beyond the pale. Someone should post Bruce Mitchell's column about this match if it's still out there.

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"The Steiner Stiffs"

Originally published: June 4, 1992

Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly newsletter #177

 

"If it ain't stiff, it ain't worth a fuck."

-Stiff Records.

 

"That Steiners match was something, wasn't it?"

-Bill Watts the night of WrestleWar.

 

As it happens, I was ringside for the Steiners match against Tatsumi Fujinami & Takayuki Iizuka. It certainly was something. In fact, it was quite a spectacle. As stiff as it may have seemed on television, it was absolutely brutal from fifteen feet away. It was one of the most compelling pro wrestling matches I have ever witnessed. It was also a complete and utter disgrace - a total exhibition of the qualities that make the Steiner Brothers one of the most unprofessional acts in the business today.

 

It started from the beginning of the match. Scott goes for the blockbuster suplex on Fujinami and blows the spot. Iizuka runs to give Scott another chance to hit the move. Steiner does it correctly this time, but he is still a little embarrassed and pissed. So he pops to his feet and levels Fujinami with a clothesline, holding absolutely nothing back. Fujinami was obviously unprepared for the blast and went down hard. He tagged out and was so out of it that he could barely stand up in the corner.

 

It certainly did not end there. Iizuka was obviously injured after Rick Steiner accidentally screwed up an admittedly innovative double-team move and landed on the man's face. Iizuka was obviously in a great deal of pain and bleeding the hard way from the mouth. It very well could have been a serious injury judging from the fall and the wrestler's reaction to it.

 

That made no impression on the Steiners. Rick and Scott continued to pull absolutely no punches or kicks as they battered and pummeled both opponents unmercifully. Being talented stud athletes themselves, Iizuka and in particular Fujinami, retaliated with stiff, hard blows. These blows, however, were delivered in a professional manner to opponents who were ready for them, not cheap shots to wrestlers who left themselves open and defenseless. The Steiners did not allow either man to stay on offense for very long and started their out of control punches and kicks as soon as they got the opportunity.

 

Both of these clowns had no respect for the fact that, like themselves, Fujinami and Iizuka are gifted athletes who make a living night in and night out as professional wrestlers. Both have made every sacrifice in pursuit of excellence in their craft. Tatsumi Fujinami is a legend in the professional wrestling business on a par in his country with a Nick Bockwinkle or a Ric Flair here and yet he received no respect from either brother. Apparently the Steiner Brothers could not have cared less. What did Rick or Scott think would happen to their opponents after they hurt them? The answer is obvious.

 

The Steiners don't think.

 

Scott Steiner certainly did not when, in front of this pay-per-view audience, many of them kids who paid twenty-five dollars a pop to watch them, he screamed, "Fuck this shit!" before powerbombing Iizuka.

 

Gee, Scott - Fuck what shit? It was YOUR team that refused to cooperate in wrestling a match that brought the best out of all the participants. It was YOUR brother who kept aiming fists and boots at Iizuka's face even after the injury. It is YOU and your brother who have spent the last six months making guaranteed money and dogging it in the ring.

 

It has become a familiar sight on WCW television shows to see Rick and Scott amble their way to the ring for a match with their heads down as though they wish they could be anywhere else. If at any particular time they happen to be holding some championship, odds are the brothers are dragging the belts behind them like they smelled bad.

 

One of two things generally happen during these squash matches. If the jobbers are lucky, Rick will just aimlessly screw around in the ring until the finish. If not, and the Steiners are mad for any reason, someone is likely to get hurt. A poorly trained, out of shape job boy is in real danger if he blows a move during one of these matches.

 

I am not naive when it comes to this sort of thing. Anyone who has attended television tapings for WCW on a regular basis for the past several years has seen any number of no-name wrestlers get the crap beaten out of them by more established stars. I never saw a live squash match involving Kevin Sullivan, for one, where he did not legitimately beat up his hapless opponent.

 

In many ways, the destruction of jobbers by someone like Sullivan is understandable. Before the Titan expansion and the existence of newsletters such as this one, the pro wrestling business was essentially closed to outsiders. Anyone wanting to become a wrestler had to get by a stringent set of requirements before they could even become trained. Guys like Billy Robinson or Jack Brisco might take an aspiring lug and twist him into a knot to prove that the candidate had either the guts or the physical prowess necessary to participate in the ring. That level of pride has for the most part been lost in a business where promoters try to take unathletic steroid fed clods and immediately proclaim them "stars".

 

It has been lost where anyone, no matter how short, or fat, or out of shape, or lacking in wrestling skills, with a few bucks in his pocket can find a school to "train" him. The proliferation of independent promotions has undoubtedly given talented young wrestlers a place to learn their craft, but they have also provided a lot of guys who did nothing more than buy a pair of boots a chance to think that they are actually wrestlers. It must be frustrating for a lot of the old guard in the business to watch this. Someone like Kevin Sullivan, who has to battle to continue to stay in the mainstream, might be expected to feel some bitterness. Sometimes that frustration can spill out into the ring. It is hard to feel very sympathetic when an unprepared, out of shape clod takes an ass whipping in that circumstance.

 

But what do the Steiners have to feel frustrated about? They couldn't care less about wrestling traditions. They make over a quarter of a million dollars a year in guaranteed money. They are promoted as the top tag team act in the company and never have to do jobs. They seem to have a self-enforced policy of only doing jobs to fellow fan-favorite and pal Sting, a policy that makes no sense for any number of reasons. The matches with Sting & Luger and Sting & Muta showed that the Steiners certainly can have good matches without hurting their opponents, when they feel like it.

 

At least in the match at WrestleWar they were pumped up and trying. Most of the matches since Scott's bicep injury have seen both brothers at quarter speed or less. The feud with Eaton and Anderson was a flop in large part because of the Steiners' indifferent attitude in the ring, although to be fair it should be pointed out that Eaton and Anderson never clicked as a team and that the television supporting the feud was the usual incoherent mess. Still, this feud should have at least produced a series of good matches. That never happened because of the brothers' unprofessional attitudes and lazy ring work.

 

Those unprofessional attitudes may manifest themselves in yet another area. David Shults was quoted in several media outlets during the TitanGate scandal to the effect that "you can train, say your prayers, and take all the vitamins you want, but if you want 24 inch arms, you have to take steroids." Scott Steiner is beginning to look like the Toxic Avenger without the green skin. His bicep injury which put him out for several months and cost the company money and momentum, is an injury that occurs more easily to steroid users. Coincidentally, unemployed moron Sid Eudy suffered the same injury at one point.

 

The Steiner Brothers work for Turner Broadcasting which has an official anti-steroid policy. As employees of that company, they have an obligation to abide by company procedures. There is no real reason for the two of them to look that pumped up. The extra muscle slows them down and makes them more prone to injury. It also makes a lie out of WCW's public service announcements and policy to have them at the top of the card.

 

It is up to company management, Bill Watts in particular, to handle that problem, one that certainly transcends this act alone. It is the Steiners' ring style that rankles in a personal way. The Steiners can stop potatoing their opponents now. Some fans may look at their brutal style and think that it is proof of the boys' toughness. Those fans are wrong.

 

The Steiners' potato style is proof of their cowardice. Insiders like to speculate on the authentic toughness of guys like John Tenta, Haku, or Steve Williams. They are least earned that rap outside of the ring in "legitimate" ways. Real toughness and "shooter" reputations are beside the point of professional wrestling.

 

The idea behind professional wrestling is to produce a legitimate-seeming, entertaining, but ultimately inauthentic fight which the audience can suspend their disbelief during, if only for a while, and enjoy. All the participants have to cooperate in order to produce a good pro wrestling match. A stiff, professional style produces the best kind of matches. When Ric Flair laid in those chops to Ricky Steamboat's chest, no one hit harder or looked more realistic. The difference between that and what the Steiners do is that Steamboat was prepared for those chops and Flair sold his stuff equally as well. It is the height of cowardice to hit someone full force in the face who is leaving himself wide open for what they expect to be a pulled punch. It proves nothing about the Steiners' "toughness". If they wanted to fight Fujinami and Iizuka, great, fight them head up and go to jail or the hospital afterwards. The Steiners for some reason do not seem anxious to do that, though.

 

Wrestlers have to put an enormous amount of trust in their opponents. The Steiners spit on that trust on this night. If Terry Gordy and Steve Williams end up hurting these guys when they are forced to protect themselves, I for one won't shed a tear.

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Coincidentally, unemployed moron Sid Eudy suffered the same injury at one point.

What was the point of that? Those are the types of cheapshots that make me dismiss an entire column. On an internet forum it is one thing, but I expect more from someone claiming to be a journalist.

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Mitchell is a polemicist. Cheapshots are his job.

 

The double team crossbody devastation device thing the Steiners do in this match is in-fucking-sane and almost kills Iizuka.

 

I'm not going to lie either - this is probably one of my favorite matches of all time.

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Mitchell is a columnist, not a reporter/journalist.

 

At the time Sid was unemployed because the WWF just fired him after a dope testing issue leading into Mania. Sid was an moron to screw up a big contract with the WWF.

 

I'd be interested in whether this holds up as a great "match", or if the greatness is the spectacle / trainwreck / spotfu / the Steiners just being cocksuckers aspects of it.

 

John

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I don't like the match because I just generally don't like the Steiners. They absolutely suck at structure and they botch plenty of moves. This match could have been interesting if they were cooperative, but they weren't.

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I remember Dave mentioning once that fans in Japan knew the score with this match. They had a rematch that I don't believe was televised -- we looked for it because we hoped to include it -- where I think Dave was there live and said the fans understood the storyline, so it had a unique heat about it.

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I'd be interested in whether this holds up as a great "match", or if the greatness is the spectacle / trainwreck / spotfu / the Steiners just being cocksuckers aspects of it.

 

John

The match is a really brutal, spot-fu spectacle, which is what makes it hold up.

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I remember Dave mentioning once that fans in Japan knew the score with this match. They had a rematch that I don't believe was televised -- we looked for it because we hoped to include it -- where I think Dave was there live and said the fans understood the storyline, so it had a unique heat about it.

I assume by this you mean a rematch in Japan?

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From prowrestlinghistory.com:

 

August 11, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan

Sumo Hall drawing 11,500

 

7. Rick & Scott Steiner beat Tatsumi Fujinami & Takayuki Iizuka (12:27) when Scott pinned Iizuka

 

It was underneath the Chono-Mutoh and Rude-Sasaki semifinals of G1.

 

Interesting Steiners tour:

 

08/10/92 Steiners vs Choshu & Saito (12:13)

08/11/92 Steiners vs Fujinami & Iizuka (12:27)

08/12/92 Steiners vs Mutoh & Sasaki (15:33)

08/15/92 Steiners vs Bigelow & Norton (12:06)

 

The 8/12 is on the Yearbook, from the G1 Commercial tape. There was taping going on 8/10 and 8/11 given the Commercial Tape. I remember Dan G had a link to a website that had really detailed coverage NJ Classics, so it would be interesting to see what they aired when they got to 1992. We know that in 1995 and 1996 that a lot of stuff turned up on Classics that wasn't on TV or was cut up on TV.

 

John

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Not that I'm aware of.

 

He was in 1992 a top star in NJPW, and the senior vet along with Choshu. It's likely that the Steiners, even as out of their minds as they were, grasped the concept that roughing up Fujinami like they did Iizuka wasn't a terribly smart idea.

 

John

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Fujinami trained with enough legit guys (ie. Gotch) that he could shoot if the need arose.

 

I just looked at the complete NJ Classics list and that match isn't there.

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Mitchell is a columnist, not a reporter/journalist.

Even if he is a columnist, I still dismissed what he wrote after that. Its Scott Keith shit.

 

I think Uncle Brucie predates Scott Keith.

 

Mitchell greatly dislikes Sid and insists on calling him "Sid Eudy" with total distain to this very day.

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Fujinami trained with enough legit guys (ie. Gotch) that he could shoot if the need arose.

He was also old and broken down in there with a pair of quality college wrestlers who probably thought at the time (as mot tough guy college wrestlers did) that that Gotch shooty stuff was bullshit and they could just steamroll it. Highly unlikely that the Steiners "respected shooter Fujinami" as opposed to simply "respected high ranking vet Fujinami in a company that treated the Steiners like gods".

 

Iizuka was a young, lower ranked guy. They'd seen/heard how younger guys were treated in Japan. After getting pissed and becoming pricks in the match, they knew who they could take advantage of and not have any negative issues with the NJ front office.

 

You'll notice they never did that with Mutoh, Hase, Chono or Sasaki. Seriously doubt that the Steiners were anymore "afraid" of those guys as "shooters" than they were of Fujinami. They just were stars once the Steiners got over there, and they knew not to fuck them up.

 

They largely treated Iizuka like one of the job boys in WCW.

 

John

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I have seen The Steiners vs Fujinami/Iizuka match from Japan on handheld. Terrific match.

 

They absolutely suck at structure

Incorrect

 

 

Didn't Fujinami have a reputation for being tough? Enough that he could of handled either Steiner?

 

 

Scott Steiner is somene who you don't want to mess around with. He could handle himself too.

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Mitchell is a columnist, not a reporter/journalist.

Even if he is a columnist, I still dismissed what he wrote after that. Its Scott Keith shit.

 

I think Uncle Brucie predates Scott Keith.

 

Mitchell greatly dislikes Sid and insists on calling him "Sid Eudy" with total distain to this very day.

 

I know I was just making a comparison.

 

 

This is probably bull plop. But I once heard a story that Fujinami knocked out Kevin Nash or Scott Norton with an open hand slap. But this was a long time ago and I can't even remember the source.

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As usual, a legendary Steiner match is just an overatted stiffest, although this one does looks better than the Dome Shows or the Lex/Sting match because at one point Scott actually sells for a while and it's a brutal spectacle. Still, they knew they could stiff the fuck out out of Iizuka without getting reprimanded, and it comes off as unprofesionnal although in Japan it wouldn't look that bad considering how young workers are treated in dojos.

The Steiner really could have been much more of a team if they would have known anything about building a match, which they never knew shit about. Watching them in context since 1989, it's no surprise that their two best matches came at the end of Doom, who would throw bombs back and had Butch Reed to slow down the pace and give structure, and the Nasty Boys who would let themselves be thrown around but who also knew how to structure a match. Yeah, I said it, the Nasties were better tag team wrestlers than the Steiners.

Anyway, fun brutal match (except for Takayuki), but not a great match by any stretch of the imagination.

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Seen this a few times now and I find myself wavering on how good it is. This time around I didn't think it was as great as I once thought though it is still good . Rick was annoying me here because at least Scott was doing some selling earlier in the match. Yeah, it is something else to see Iizuka take such a beating. He gets his face messed up pretty early and he is just holding it most of the time. Poor guy but he did stick it out so he was easy to root for in this match. But damn was there some stiff looking suplexes in this match. Rick catching Iizuka is mid air was really impressive.

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This used to be one of my favourite matches back in the day. Whilst it still has entertainment value it's not half as good as I used to think it was.

 

I like stiff work but some of this was the wrong kind of stiffness and downright dangerous. The match had no downtime at all, it was non-stop high impact moves. Spectacular for sure and absorbing in its brutality. The downside is that there was no structure or pacing, just move after move. Matches need to have a beginning, middle and end. Memorable and entertaining at times but not a classic.

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