Date: May 22, 2005
Location: Ocala, FL
Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, mikemooneyham.com
Rick Steiner ranks up there with JBL and Bob Holly as one of pro wrestling’s modern day bullies. Steiner and his brother Scott have always worked a little stiff in the ring, but Rick is the one who often felt more of a need to throw his weight around and take liberties with those in the ring he felt like roughing up for whatever reason. The best example of this was the last few weeks WCW Monday Nitro was on the air, when he potatoed guys like Konnan and Big Vito just for the fun of it.
Unfortunately for Steiner, an unknown indie guy named Vordell Walker wasn’t going to allow that nonsense to happen to him.
Almost 1,900 people showed up for an indie show put on by Southern Championship Wrestling in Ocala, FL billed as “Day of the Legends.” Part of the reason for the big (lightly papered) crowd was the Marshall Tucker Band, who played in conjunction with the show.
The advertised main event was Dusty and Dustin Rhodes against Jerry Lawler and Kevin Sullivan. But Sullivan no-showed (as did Road Warrior Animal), so it was switched to Lawler vs Dusty, a match that had a lot of stalling because it was 90+ degrees in the horse arena and Dusty wasn’t in shape and it was hard to breathe in there. Dustin was then put into a tag team match, partnering with Vordell Walker against Rick Steiner and Erick Stevens.
Many of the workers on the card had warned SCW about booking Steiner, as they knew about his reputation (which had gotten worse in recent years as Steiner knew he had less to lose) of stiffing young guys, being lazy in the ring, and not planning out his matches. Walker almost quit over it, but decided to work the show.
And everyone who warned SCW about Steiner ended up being proven correct.
Steiner refused to plan out the match with Walker and Stevens backstage, or even talk to them much. Dustin was far nicer, and said because of Steiner’s behavior the four of them would just wing it in the ring. This concerned Walker and Stevens, who didn’t have anywhere near as much experience as Dustin and Steiner, plus hadn’t worked with each other the way those two had in WCW.
When the match started, Steiner decided he wanted to rough Walker up. His reasons are unknown, but he either didn’t like the way Walker acted backstage, didn’t like how he played to the crowd, didn’t like the way he sold, or simply just felt like it. Whatever the reason, he delivered a stiff kick to Walker’s face, busting his lip.
Walker began bleeding from the mouth. Steiner, who earned his reputation by wrestling in college at the University of Michigan, went to mount Walker.
Little did he know that Walker was trained in mixed martial arts and submission wrestling.
Once Walker realized what was going on, he escaped the mount and kicked Steiner repeatedly the same way he had just done to him. He charged him against the ropes and took him down and applied a guillotine, as well as some other choke holds. Steiner was unable to escape any of these. Walker could’ve easily finished him at any time, or put a real hurting on him, but that wasn’t his intent. He just wanted to teach Steiner a lesson without having the match fall apart, and show him that we can either wrestle, or we can fight, and if you want to fight, I’m going to beat you.
Dustin sensed what was happening (as did many of the fans) and told Walker to tag him in. Things were tense, and later when the two were in the ring together, Steiner went to powerbomb him from the ring apron to a table outside. Problem was, Walker wouldn’t go up for it. He didn’t trust Steiner, and would’ve been a fool if he did. Steiner got upset and cursed and made a comment that Walker didn’t know how to work. He motioned for Walker to tag Dustin back in.
Later, Dustin and Steiner were brawling in the concession stand area. This left Walker and Stevens in the ring, not knowing what they should do. Frustrated, Walker took off his gloves and rushed to where Steiner and Dustin were, including walking through where the fans were. He ran up to Steiner and shoved him off a table (one report said he kicked him in the face again, but Walker said it was just a shove). He challenged Steiner to fight right now if that’s how he wanted to handle it. Steiner audibly told him to “F*ck off” as some of the wrestlers from the back came out to pull Walker away.
Steiner and Dustin fought back towards the ring, where Dustin did the planned finish of a chair shot that led to the pin. Walker and Stevens brawled outside during all that, in an attempt to keep the match together. Steiner, after losing, raised Dustin’s arm for the easy pop, which was not part of the plan.
Backstage, everyone made sure to keep Walker and Steiner apart. Walker was nicknamed “The Shooter” and everyone was aware he knew how to take care of himself. Steiner was 44 at the time, a full 20 years older than Walker.
Stevens packed his gear and left immediately. Eventually Steiner and Raven (who were sharing a dressing room) tried to get Walker to explain the miscommunication, but Walker was hot and felt it was too late and the damage had already been done. He figured Steiner saw him bleeding from the mouth in the ring and could’ve apologized then, but chose not to. So Walker just went to the bathroom to take care of his busted lip.
Steiner followed him in there, and Walker thought things were going to get physical again. Instead Steiner just said they needed to talk outside. Eventually he apologized to Walker, saying he was just trying to rough him up and didn’t realize he was a shooter and didn’t expect him to fight back. A friend of Steiner noted that he only apologized out of fear, because Walker was still steaming mad and he now knew he couldn’t outwrestle him.
Still, there was a nonchalant attitude Steiner had, as if nothing had ever happened. This only angered Walker more. It reminded him of his middle school days, when he was bullied himself and felt the need to lift weights and learn self-defense in order to protect himself.
The entire incident was a boon for Walker’s career. When word got out that he backed down big bad Rick Steiner, he received a lot more interest on indies and developed a reputation as a real shooter. He still wished it had never happened, saying he doesn’t enjoy hurting people but that guys like Steiner couldn’t get away with pushing people around. He said he really could’ve hurt him if he wanted to, but kept letting him go from the submissions and kept the match from falling apart. He just wanted to send a message and teach him a lesson to not do this, but that if he did, he’d finish it.
Steiner never apologized to the promoter or admitted any wrongdoing, but he did admit to a fan there that no one had ever fought back like that before. His apology to Walker was weak, and his reason for stiffing him in the first place showed what a coward he really is. It shouldn’t matter if Walker was going to fight back or not; Steiner was wrong for shooting on his opponent. The fact that he got whipped shouldn’t be the reason for his apology.
Walker posted a message to Steiner online that said it best: “You are what makes this business look bad. I’ve heard about your rep for trying to be a bully to the young guys that you wrestle. I hope you learned a lesson from this shoot. Not every young guy is a pushover and you found that out this past Sunday. Your shoot attempt on me has now cemented me as a legit shooter. You tried to stretch me, but what you did was you made me. People now know I’m for real because of this incident. I never want to be like you when I become a grizzled vet. I looked up to you as a kid for your accomplishments as an All-American wrestler and what you and your brother did for the wrestling business. That now is not the case. I look at you now as a washed up All-American wrestler with a bad attitude for the young guys that got his ass handed to him by me. You, as a vet, are supposed to help up-and-coming guys like myself and Stevens to be better… What really pissed me off is that after the match when you followed me into the bathroom, you acted like nothing ever happened. I was saying to myself, “Is this dude for real? Is he retarded?”.. I hope I never have to be put in a situation like this again. If I still wanted to fight for real, then I would be training full-time again for MMA. I really don’t like hurting people, but I will when put in a situation like the one I was in on Sunday. If this shoot would have ended with me getting my ass kicked, then Steiner would have beat me until I was out. However, Rick, I’m not a poop stain like you and I didn’t have to beat you until you were out. I did just enough to embarrass you. I now, more than ever, push the issue with guys trying to get into the business to get an MMA background. Shoots don’t happen all the time, but they do, and you need to be prepared to take care of yourself.”
It should be noted that Rick Steiner was never an All-American. Scott was, but Rick wasn’t.