Steiner is best known for his appearances with the National Wrestling Alliance, World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, both as a singles wrestler and one half of the tag team "The Steiner Brothers" with his younger brother, Scott.
Robert Rechsteiner was an amateur wrestling standout at the University of Michigan, placing 4th at an NCAA Championship competition. While there, he was introduced to professional wrestling by George "The Animal" Steele, and entered the business immediately out of college. Taking the simpler stage name Rick Steiner, he spent time in the American Wrestling Association, Montreal, Canada, and the Universal Wrestling Federation before going to work for the National Wrestling Alliance in 1988. He formed an early tag team with Sting and won the NWA Television Title from Mike Rotunda before his brother Scott turned pro. The two formed The Steiner Brothers, one of the most dominating tag teams of their time. The team proved they were for real by defeating the Freebirds for the NWA Tag Team Championship in November, 1989. The pair continued to dominate in the NWA (and later World Championship Wrestling (WCW), as NWA superterritory Jim Crockett Promotions came to be known), winning multiple championships and making occasional trips to New Japan Pro Wrestling. The two jumped to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), WCW's biggest competitor, in December, 1992. They found success there as well, winning the WWF Tag Team Championship from Money Incorporated (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster (Mike Rotunda)) in June 1993. The Steiners left the WWF later that year, however. "We left with a bitter taste in our mouth." Steiner said in an interview with the Michigan Daily. "Vince McMahon said a lot of things, but never followed through with them." 
The Steiners spent time in Japan and working for Extreme Championship Wrestling before returning to WCW in 1996. There they found renewed championship success, winning the Tag Team Championship once again from Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) in July.
In 1998, the Steiner Brothers disbanded when Scott turned heel and joined the notorious New World Order stable. Rick and Scott feuded for several months afterward. Scott gained newfound singles success in the nWo as "Big Poppa Pump," but Rick languished in the singles ranks, often disappearing and reappearing in storylines after absences of several months. When he did return from his frequent hiatuses, it wasn't always to his benefit... in one particularly embarrassing WCW storyline, Rick Steiner was locked in a heated argument with Chucky from the Child's Play movies. He did, however, have notable feuds with Chris Benoit, Sting, and Booker T over the WCW Television Title. When WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon, Steiner was a member of Ric Flair's heel group "The Magnificent Seven" with his brother Scott. Other members of this group were Road Warrior Animal, Lex Luger, Buff Bagwell and Jeff Jarrett.