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Big, poppa's back: Scott Steiner looks to pump up the action in WWE


AS THE OMINOUS SOUND OF police sirens reverbrerated throughout Madison Square Garden, the sold-out crowd rose to its feet to get a look at the freakish physique of Scott Steiner.

After having his arrival in WWE teased for several weeks on television in early November, "Big Poppa Pump" was in the house, walking down the aisle at the Survivor Series and entering the ring to do what he does best: annihilate anyone that dares to cross his path.

On that night, the unfortunate bystanders in the ring happened to be Christopher Nowinski and Matt Hardy. who may have been victims of circumstance, but they were victims nonetheless.

Steiner then reminded fans why he is known for being as dangerous with his mouth on live television as he is with his fists in the ring. "Give me the [expletive deleted] mike," he screamed.

Less than two minutes into his WWE comeback, he already had dropped his first "f-bomb."

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That intensity and "loose cannon" quality are two of the reasons why fans find Steiner so fascinating. You never know what he's going to say or do; whether he's playing a role or is truly out of control.

The aura of rage and unpredictability that Steiner creates could be just what WWE needs to regain the attitude and edginess the company once had in abundance. The former WCW champion also provides a much-needed fresh--although familiar--face to the main-event mix, and he is equally effective as a heel or a badass babyface.

"I'm just going to go out there and do what I do best," Steiner told the federation's Web site WWE.com shortly before his debut. For some reason, people follow controversely and like what I have to say."

The question is, what took the "man with the largest arms in the world" so long to come to WWE?

When WWE bought WCW in March 2001, Steiner was one of several WCW stars who had high-priced contracts with AOL Time Warner that WWE was unwilling to pick up. Rather than trying to get a buyout of his contract and taking a pay cut to go to WWE, Steiner sat home and got paid for eight months.

His deal expired in November of 2001, and while there was some interest from WWE, there also were concerns, the biggest of which were about Steiner's health--specifically his surgically-repaired back and the nerve damage in his foot. Officials in WWE reportedly had doubts as to whether Steiner's body would hold up to the company's demanding schedule and in-ring style.

In the meantime, Steiner, who had a previous stint in WWE with his tag-team partner and brother, Rick, in 1993, worked on some of the World Wrestling All-Stars international tours, although his mobility in the ring was clearly limited. According to backstage reports, Steiner was in a lot of pain.

After a year of rumors and speculation among fans and the wrestling media concerning Steiner's situation with WWE, he finally signed with the company in October 2002. With the addition of Steiner, WWE now has every former WCW main-event wrestler that it coveted under contract except two: Goldberg, who is either playing really hard to get or just doesn't want to work for WWE, and Sting, who has no interest in returning full-time to wrestling.

According to Steiner, his physical condition isn't an issue. "I've overcome all of my injuries," he said on WWE.com. "It makes you stronger; it builds character."

It was Steiner's character, however, that reportedly made some WWE officials wary of adding him to the roster. He had a notorious reputation in WCW for being unprofessional, difficult to work with, and sometimes violent backstage.

A couple years ago it was reported that Steiner had a physical altercation backstage with WCW agent Terry Taylor, who now works in a similar capacity for WWE. Steiner also scuffled in the back with Diamond Dallas Page after Page confronted Steiner about burying him in an unscripted promo on WCW television.

Going into business for himself, the industry term for deviating from the script, was nothing new for Steiner. He once went on a rant about Torrie Wilson's acne that had nothing to do with the story line. In perhaps his most infamous incident, Steiner cut an unscripted, profanity-laced promo on "Nitro" in which he buried Ric Flair, saying that Flair was the reason people were changing the channel to "Raw."

In WCW, such actions were rarely punished, although Steiner was reprimanded for his diatribe against Flair. The punishment? He was suspended for a few weeks--with pay.

WWE is not likely to be as tolerant of such behavior, although Steiner rejected the suggestion that he is a cancer in the locker room in an interview on the company's Web site. "That's a rumor or a label that people try to put on me," he said. "But I always keep to myself. I don't bother anybody; nobody bothers me."

Despite his protests, Steiner seemed to have difficulty staying out of trouble even away from the arena. In 1998, he was charged with threatening a Department of Transportation worker and hitting him with his Ford F-250 pick-up. Steiner pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, and a Cherokee County (Ga.) judge ordered him to spend 10 days in the county jail, pay $25,000 in fines, fees, and restitution, and stay on probation for seven years.

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