Skip to main content

#IndieWeekend: A Look at the History of Steenerico (Part 1)

Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. Purefoods vs. Ginebra. La Salle vs. Ateneo. Everyone loves a good rivalry, and I'm sure you've all followed your fair share of these kinds of things in wrestling.

This #IndieWeekend entry takes a look of one of the biggest indie feuds over the last decade — Kevin Steen vs. El Generico. You may know them by their WWE names (Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, respectively), but did you know that these two have had a long story together and against each other? Over the span of several years, these two have been under the spotlight in one of modern wrestling's greatest feuds, and over the next two weeks we go over the rich and storied history between them.


Crossing the Border

Kevin Steen and El Generico started out wrestling in their home country, competing in matches for the Canadian-based International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) some time between 2002-2003. In 2004, several wrestlers from IWS were invited to compete in Combat Zone Wrestling, with the two competing in a IWS four-way match. It was here where they began to demand the attention of several fans, and their efforts here led them back across to America for bigger opportunities.

This led to both men being featured in another American promotion, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Here they made their debut at PWG's Free Admission, Just Kidding event, where a tag team match became a singles match due to some last minute complications. Nevertheless, both men put on a show that once again attracted the attention of many. Now, this was not a marquee matchup (at least not yet). This match was simply two men going into the ring and hitting their best moves on one another. Their stellar effort convinced PWG to keep the two men on their roster, which eventually led to Steen and Generico establishing PWG as one of the hottest indy feds in America.

This stint with PWG also captured the attention of yet another wrestling federation, Ring of Honor. Steen and Generico had their tryouts in 2005, and after some struggles, they eventually established themselves in the eyes of ROH's fans. It would not be long before they teamed up again.


On Top of Tag Mountain

Having successfully settled in America, the two Canadians started to capture the hearts of many a wrestling fan. Their in-ring chemistry was evident, and it had real-life roots—Steen and Generico are both Quebec natives, with French as their first language. With a language barrier between them and the rest of America, the two leaned on each other to make it through the business. This was a story of two countrymen standing together on foreign soil, with one relying on the other for support and motivation. Fans were able to see that these two had that level of in-ring chemistry that separates great tag teams from mediocre ones. To borrow a popular term in Filipino pop culture, these two had sparks.

However, much as they seemed to be two peas in a pod, their in-ring styles were vastly different. Generico was your typical babyface, known for his fair play and crowd-pleasing manuevers. He frequently wowed the crowd with his high-flying pizazz, living up to the luchador gimmick he wore proudly. Steen was your hard-nosed brawler who cared more about the W's than the rules. He'd cave your skull in, pin you for the win, and celebrate while a medical team tended to your injuries. Despite the contrast in style, their mutual respect and camaraderie for each other turned them into one of the hottest tag teams around.

In 2007, Generico and Steen started a feud with the Briscoe Brothers that carried throughout the year. This rivalry spawned a number of memorable matches, including an amazing Ladder War that some consider one of the finest matches in ROH history.

Meanwhile, in PWG, El Generico rose to the top after capturing the PWG World Championship. Steen challenged his partner for the championship, which resulted in a great match where both men resorted to using the other’s finisher in an effort to put each other away. This would set the benchmark for their future encounters, all of which would prove to be memorable matches.

Generico and Steen continued to dominate the tag team division, capturing the PWG World Tag Team Titles in June when they defeated Roderick Strong and PAC (now known as "The Man That Gravity Forgot" Neville). Heading into 2008, the two now set their sights on ROH’s top tag team prize, conquering Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black (now current WWE World Heayweight Champion Seth Rollins). They would also go on to capture the PWG World Tag Team Championship again after losing it, firmly establishing themselves as the top tag team across the indies.

Steen and Generico during happier times — unfortunately, it would soon be over.

Photo from TJR Wrestling

Walang Forever

However, not everything is meant to last. Couples break up, businesses close, and in the case of wrestling, tag teams implode. Tensions started to rise when Steen and Generico dropped the ROH World Tag Team Championship to Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards. At ROH's Final Battle in 2009, the two squared off against the flashy, flippy tag team known as the Young Bucks.

In the end, the Young Bucks picked up another victory over the Canadian pair (they previously squared off at PWG's Battle of Los Angeles, where it took 10 superkicks for the Bucks to finally put Steen away and pick up the win). This was the catalyst for Steen to go on an impassioned promo about himself, his limitations and his future. With Generico and the world watching, Steen left his feelings out in the open for everyone to see. It was a moment of pure heart, which would make that succeeding low blow all the more shocking.

Over the next year or so, Kevin Steen and El Generico took every opportunity they could to make each other's life a living hell. Cages, chains and steel chairs all got involved in one way or another, and for some time the two even brought in some backup to help them get one over the other (Steve Corino for Steen, and Colt Cabana for Generico). The feud led to a change in character for El Generico, as he began down a darker path, coming to the ring in an all-black outfit and with a darker persona previously unseen. You see, in order to beat Steen, he needed to embrace the darkness within him. The same kind of darkness that Steen housed, and the kind that would help him get rid of his nemesis.

This led to a huge match between the two at Final Battle 2010, with Generico putting his mask on the line against Steen's career.

After a grueling bout, El Generico was able to pick up the victory, sending Steen packing from Ring of Honor. It seemed to be the end of what was a remarkable feud, one voted by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter as Feud of the Year in 2010.

With Steen forced away from ROH, he went back to wrestling for PWG. With his focus now exclusively in one promotion, Steen captured the PWG World Championship by defeating Claudio Castagnoli (some very European guy). Naturally, this would set him on a collision course with El Generico, and the two faced off at the Battle of Los Angeles in 2011. With a shot at Steen's title at stake, El Generico once again bested his former friend, setting up one more match for the title between the two. On October 22, 2011, the two added another chapter to their historic rivalry.

Thanks to some interference by the Young Bucks (who also had something to settle with Kevin Steen), El Generico was once again able to best his former partner, capturing the PWG World Championship once more. It was another resounding victory for the masked man, and with Generico having beaten Steen thrice now, many thought it was the end of their vicious feud.

Of course, that was not the end. But we'll get to that next week, when we take a look at the succeeding chapters of this storied rivalry.


Be sure to check back next week, when we close with a look at the second half of this historic rivalry. Until then, let us know — what were YOUR favorite Kevin Steen/El Generico moments? Let us know in the comments section below!

Trending This Week

#FinisherFriday (7/12/19): A Priest's New Weapon

"La Estrella" Alex Cuevas To Make PWR Debut at Championship Spirit!

How WWE Wrestling Rings Are Made

Smark Healthy: Come Back Like A Champ

#ThemeSongTuesday: OH! WALK WITH ELIAS!