WWE Ricky Steamboat
Written by: Tom Hopkins
Ricky Steamboat is definitely on the short list of my favorite wrestlers ever (a list which includes Macho Man, Kurt Angle, and Ric Flair) and there is a good reason for that – the man could wrestle. Even during his cartoony 1992 WWE run I enjoyed his work. This DVD is long-awaited is one I can’t wait to get through.
The Main Characters
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat burst onto the wrestling scene in the late 70’s coming from Gagne’s training camp but soon found himself in the NWA. He is best remembered for his ***** matches in both the WWE and NWA in the late 80’s.
The Film (1:10:13)
The usual montage starts off and Ricky starts off by saying he was not born in Hawaii, but in West Point, New York. That’s also where my brother was born. Ricky was a brat and his parents met in Japan. His mother is actually Japanese. As a brat he moved around a lot, including stays in Italy, Turkey and Chicago. He was always sports-oriented. He got into Championship Wrestling from Florida in the late 60’s. Ricky was a great amateur but he never had aspirations to be a professional. Ricky was looking into being a fireman or police officer but that was before he went to Verne Gagne’s camp.
Ricky moved to Minnesota when his girlfriend moved there and he got hooked up with Greg Gagne. He started in the school and he was off. He was sent down to Florida. His name was changed from Ricky Blood (too much of a heel name, even though that was his real name). His name was changed to Steamboat and he was billed as the nephew of a Steamboat that had come through the promotion earlier. From Florida he went to Mid-Atlantic where a wrestler named Ric Flair worked. Flair could tell right away he could wrestle and they had a series of matches. Steamboat says that started his main event run. Flair and Savage fought many times after their original meeting and everyone says that these two had phenomenal matches that more importantly drew money.
Tony Atlas talks about Ricky’s great matches but also their competition in body-building. Ricky won a competition in 1978 although Ricky says it was just a hobby for him. Ricky liked the home life and having the simple things and someone mentions that prevented him from really being the main event guy like Flair would. Steamboat wanted to do something other than singles wrestling and he teamed with Jay Youngblood. The two were friends on the road and were together almost 24/7. They fought cage matches with Slaughter and his partner before doing a series with the Brisco’s. Steamboat went after that series and soon found himself in the WWE. Vince wanted to add something to his name and that addition was The Dragon.
Ricky was pushed into the WWE machine and Jericho, Edge and Christian talk about how big a fan of Ricky they were and the merchandise of his they owned. Kofi also talks about how Ricky influenced him. Evan Bourne stole his arm-drag from the Dragon although Ricky stole that from Jack Brisco. Ricky had feuds with Don Muraco and Jake Roberts. Roberts DDT’ed Steamboat on the concrete and Steamboat was literally knocked cold as a result of that bump. He had a huge knot on his head and suffered two black eyes. Steamboat moved on from those feuds to one of the best remembered WWE feuds of all time. Ricky had his larynx crushed (in storyline terms) by Randy Savage. Ricky was kept off the road for a long time until his match at Wrestlemania III which many consider the best match (to that point, of course) of all time. After the show everyone was congratulating the two of them for having a great match while ignoring Hogan!
Ricky was disappointed with what followed. He could’ve had a series of return matches with Steamboat but he asked for some time off and Vince decided to take the belt off of him for business reasons and he put it on Honky. Ricky says there was no political reason – just a business decision. He wishes he could’ve had the belt but he didn’t seem TOO bitter about it. Ricky would end up in the NWA not too long after his vacation and he showed up as Barry Windham’s mystery partner on television. Steamboat had his trilogy of matches with Flair on television which are widely regarded as the best wrestling matches ever. Their feud was so good because at its base it was just good vs. evil.
Ricky won the NWA Title in Chicago and he calls it a real big moment for him. Flair says he was proud to be in that match. Their 2 out of 3 Falls Match was even better than their Chicago match. Their trilogy ended with Wrestlewar where Flair won the title back. Cornette puts it best – this was the pinnacle when wrestling was an entertaining sport as opposed to sports entertainment. Steamboat didn’t like how the match turned into an angle immediately afterwards with Funk and that left a sour taste in his mouth. He returned to the WWE and was told he was waiting for a main event spot to open. Of course, he was breathing fire by this point. Steamboat hated the taste of that liquid. Steamboat enjoyed his series with Haku but he didn’t move up at all in almost a year so he put in his notice. He left and found himself back in WCW. This time he had a rubber dragon head.
Ricky teamed with Dustin Rhodes and Dustin says he learned a lot. In fact a lot of other wrestlers were asking Ricky to watch his matches and help them out. Ricky found himself passing the torch during this time. Ricky ended up hurting himself in a match with Austin. He fell off the top and landed in a seated up position on his butt. That led to a spinal compression and he ruptured some disks. That led to Steamboat’s retirement from wrestling. He’s happy he could go out on his own terms instead of just hanging on. Ricky opened a health club in 1995 and he did that until 2000 until his wife asked for a separation. He was fortunate that he could sell that he gets paid rent for that. Ricky tells us he spent the time from 2000-2004 (when he was back with the WWE) spending time with his son and helping him get into racing although with the economy and lack of sponsors that was tough to get into.
Ricky was hired in 2004 as a producer. He helps a lot of the young kids with working their matches. We see him with some of the Nexus guys which makes this very recent (including Daniel Bryan!). Ricky got a call that he was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and even now he’s a bit emotional about it – about being recognized in this capacity. Arn says that besides his kids being born Ricky going into the hall of fame was one of his proudest moments. Ricky talks about his return to wrestling against Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania XXV and Ricky did well in a tag match. Jericho likened him to Wayne Gretzky if he ever returned to the NHL. Ricky had one more match against Jericho at Backlash as well as a 10-man match the night after Wrestlemania on Raw. Ricky’s son got into professional wrestling although Ricky never pushed him into it. He’s currently in FCW (WWE’s farm system) honing his craft. We end with the talking heads speaking about Steamboat.
Like Steamboat this is a very professional feature. Steamboat always played the babyface during his career. You just couldn’t boo him. That attitude crossed over into this DVD, too. No one had anything bad to say about Steamboat and even Steamboat, while talking openly and candidly about some aspects of his career, never really had anything bad to say about his career or how it happened. I thought it was one of the best features we’ve seen in a while. It was comprehensive, no but moments were overlooked and I thought it was an honest point of view from one of the best wrestlers of our time.
1) Ricky’s First Car (2:44)
Ricky bought a ’57 Chevy for $50 back in 1967. He goes with his dad to pick it up. Unfortunately, the car isn’t going anywhere because the drive didn’t work! So he drove it home in reverse. The car was a wreck but someone actually bought it from him for $100. He made 100% profit.
2) Mike Graham remembers Richard Blood (1:09)
Mike Graham talks about wrestling Richard Blood as a senior when Richard was a sophomore. The two ended up teaming together in Florida.
3) Ricky Forgets his Name (1:34)
Ricky heard that Dick Blood couldn’t make it to the match, almost forgetting that he changed his name to Ricky Steamboat. Ricky learned what name recognition really meant at that point.
4) Having a Positive Attitude (2:04)
This is from the February 16th, 1982 World Wide Wrestling. Ricky talks about needing a positive attitude when wrestling in the ring, although some carry it too far (like Ric Flair).
5) Tuesday Night Titans 04/05/85 (4:37)
TNT was WWE’s talk-show type program that ran for about two-years. Wrestlers would be interviewed on the show and squash matches of them would be shown. This was an early appearance of Ricky on WWE television. Vince asks him about the karate he uses in the ring. Ricky says he uses it not to injure someone but just to get the 1-2-3. Vince brings us pictures of a gym owned by Ricky Steamboat. It’s called Mid-Atlantic gym, maybe a reference to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling?
6) Steve Lombardi Remembers Ricky’s first match in the WWE (1:12)
Steve remembers doing TV Tapings in Poughkeepsie NY and he had his first match against Lombardi. Lombardi said he was very green at this point.
7) The Body Shop (2:06)
This is from the June 22nd, 1985 episode of All-Star Wrestling. The Body Shop is Jesse Ventura’s interview show. Ventura asks him about the name Steamboat. Ventura makes fun of the last name. Ventura tells him that kung-fu he uses is illegal. Ricky says he would never break the rules.
8) Becoming the Dragon… The Three Moments of Truth (5:23)
Gene is on location with Ricky Steamboat at a Japanese temple. This is a 28-month program. We move through the Temple of Chang-Lau for the three moments of truth. We see Ricky’s first test was at the Bridge of Serenity – fighting ninjas. His second test came in the Garden of Tranquility. This time Richard fought ninja’s with weapons. The third test was at the temple. Ricky had to prove himself in front of the monks at the temple. He fought more ninjas and with his victory he earned his black belt and outfit. The fighting was so choreographed the whole thing came off as unintentionally funny.
9) Chris Jericho Meets Ricky Steamboat for the First Time (1:08)
Chris went to the World of Wheels – an antique car show in Winnipeg. They always had a wrestler and a Playboy Playmate. He says he never cared about the girl but always went for the wrestler. Chris spent all this time thinking of a question and Jericho asked how tall he was and Steamboat says he was 5’11. Jericho was happy knowing that maybe he could do it. The picture he took with him was funny because it was mid-sentence for both guys and Jericho says he looks like an overgrown Muppet.
10) Tuesday Night Titans 09/10/86 (3:25)
Okerlund is hosting the show now. Ricky comes out with his something that looks like a crocodile. We join a Steamboat match in progress that is unfortunately cut out here. Gene asks about his feud with Jake Roberts although talk deals mostly with the dragon.
11) Update With Gene Okerlund (2:00)
This is an update from the February/March issue of the Magazine. It is from the 01/31/87 Superstars. Ricky is at a hospital recovering from his attack at the hands of Macho Man. Ricky was unable to talk during most of his recovery. Ricky is with a group of kids saying I love you. That’s sweet. Of course you couldn’t boo this guy.
12) Dragon in the Oven (0:54)
This is from the 04/11/87 Superstars. Ricky has his IC title and he’s with his wife. Ricky says that this will be the year of the dragon because he has the belt and his wife is pregnant (she has a dragon in the oven!). Of course, that pregnancy put an end to Ricky’s WWE IC run.
13) Return from Japan (2:04)
This is from the March 18th, 1989 World Championship Wrestling show. Ricky is with Jim Ross and Ricky has the NWA title with him. Ricky enjoys seeing his paychecks increase but doesn’t like that Flair is calling the money and the title HIS.
14) William Regal Remembers Watching Ric Flair & Ricky Steamboat (1:08)
Regal talks about their Clash of the Champions match and how he received it in the mail. Regal said he would just do crunches through the match and he ended up doing a ridiculous amount because he didn’t stop when the match was on! Regal says he spoke to Flair about it and how they had better matches on the road.
15) World Television Champion (1:23)
This is from the September 19th, 1992 episode of WCW Saturday Night. Teddy Long is here with Ricky. Teddy talks about WCW Power Hour while Steamboat mentions his ongoing feud with Stunning Steve Austin.
16) Ricky The Dragon Steamboat’s WWE Hall of Fame Induction (22:14)
This was on the eve of Wrestlemania XXV (April 4th, 2009). The King Jerry Lawler is Emceeing the event and he makes his entrance. Lawler brings out Ric Flair. He’s here to introduce his good friend and better combatant: Ric Flair. Flair gets a very nice ovation. Flair calls all of the wrestlers here brothers before he starts with his written speech. Flair calls Steamboat his greatest wrestling opponent of all time. We have a nice Ricky Steamboat highlight video before Flair talks a bit more about Ricky. Flair says he probably wrestled Steamboat 2,000 times and they never had a bad match. Flair inducts Steamboat and Ricky makes his big entrance. Steamboat and Flair embrace and both are a bit emotional. They do a lock-up, too, for old time’s sake. Ricky says he stands before the crowd a blessed man. He talks about those he worked with, like Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, and Slaughter, as well as others that he’s crossed paths with throughout his time in the business. Steamboat says that tonight this ring is his Oscar.
—Disc Two (2:32:53)—
I don’t have the times next to the matches because some of them (on both discs) have been lumped together. So I’ve just included the total time on next to the disc number.
1) The Brisco Brothers(c) vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood for the NWA Tag Team Titles
Taken from ‘Most Powerful Families In Wrestling’ DVD Review
This is from the very first Starrcade, held on November 24th, 1983. Ric and Crockett, at the Greensboro Arena, introduce this match. The belt can change hands on a DQ for this match. Angelo Mosca is your special guest referee. Gordon is calling the action here. Jack and Ricky start things off with a lock-up. Steamboat goes for the chops early but Jack avoids them. Gerry comes in but is taken down, and he tags out quickly. Jack with an armbar, which Steamboat flips out of, then armdrags Jack. Gerry is tagged in and works Steamboat for awhile. Steamboat takes over again, and the challengers double-team Gerry in the corner. Youngblood is tagged in and takes Gerry down with a side headlock while the announcers mention the next match, Flair vs. Race for the title, in a “Flare for the Gold.” Youngblood with a couple of pinning combinations gets two. Steamboat is tagged in and chops the arm off the top rope. Youngblood does the same. The Brisco’s take right over and Jack comes in and drops Steamboat on the ropes. Jack is shoulderblocked down but back body drops Steamboat, then Jack with a double underhook suplex, and a roll-up gets two. Gerry with an arm-bar of sorts, but Steamboat stands up and powers him up off the mat and slams him down. Gerry tags out his brother, but Steamboat makes the hot tag and Youngblood cleans house. Youngblood tries for a suplex, which is blocked into a Jack suplex. That turned the tide real quickly. Gerry dives on Youngblood and covers, but Youngblood’s foot hits the ropes. Gerry with another suplex gets two. Small package gets two, and Gerry is pissed, pushes the ref, who pushes back. This allows Youngblood to make the tag to Steamboat who chops Gerry down. The challengers with a double-chop, then Steamboat lifts Youngblood into Gerry for a dropkick, and they double-teaming continues. Steamboat with a slam, then Steamer military presses Youngblood onto Gerry for the pin and win at 12:16. We have new tag team champions! The Brisco’s don’t like this and attack the referee, as well as Steamboat. They put the figure four on him, and then splash him. This was a good match, with a pretty decent finisher, and a good amount of wrestling. ***.
2) Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair(c) for the NWA Title
This isn’t from their famous series (that’s on disc two!) but instead it’s an earlier match from March 17th, 1984 and was from an event called Boogie Jam. Steamboat and Matt Striker are doing commentary for this. I assume that means there was never commentary recorded back in 1984 or they just don’t want the commentary team on the DVD. Ricky thanks the people who put this together. Flair and Steamboat share a hand-shake before the match but it starts very quickly with Steamboat getting a quick cover. It’s hard not to do play-by-play when these guys wrestle because they are just so damn good. Steamboat works over the neck of Flair for a good portion of the first 10-minutes with Flair trying to escape but not able to really break the hold or Steamboat’s control of the match. Ricky says he did that to try and surprise Flair who may have been expecting an arm-drag. Flair finally escapes from Steamboat’s headlock and the two share another handshake.
Flair goes to work now, trying to take out the leg of Flair. Steamboat gets the better end of that deal and puts a Boston Crab on Flair. Flair breaks but he’s being outpaced badly here and if there were a score-card he’d be down a lot. Steamboat and Flair pick it up in the ring with Steamboat dropkicking Flair and Flair bailing to the outside. The two stare down again but instead of a handshake Flair shoves Steamboat. Steamboat unleashes a great springboard chop off the top and Flair bails right to the outside, again. Flair returns and is chopped down to size. Flair counters with a knee to the gut and soon he’s in control of the match. Flair works the neck and he gets a bunch of pinfall attempts. He walks into a sleeper (which Ricky swiped from Johnny Weaver). Steamboat’s standing splash finds the knees of Flair but he returns with another Sleeper. Flair breaks and he wears down Steamboat with an abdominal stretch. Steamboat powers out of it with a hiptoss and we have a nice bridge sequence. Flair turns the table with a sleeper of his own.
Steamboat breaks at the 43-minute mark by charging into the corner. He schoolboys Flair for two and gorilla presses him down. Steamboat covers but Flair’s foot makes the rope. Steamboat tries a Lou Thesz press but Flair catches him and stun-guns him over the top rope. Flair hits a nice double underhook for two. Flair tries for the figure-four and gets down to the mat but Steamboat blocks his leg from coming down in a great counter to the move. Steamboat back suplexes Flair but telegraphs a back drop and gets booted in the face. Flair is sent into the corner. Steamboat heads upstairs and hits a big right that sends Flair down. Steamboat covers and Flair somehow manages to kick-out. After brawling outside Steamboat sunset flips Flair from the apron for two. A backslide gets two, as does a small package. Flair goes low (he is the dirtiest player in the game) but Steamboat comes back with a chop to the throat. He covers and Flair reaches his hand out to grab the rope. Steamboat suplexes Flair and rolls over for two. Flair goes low again but he winds up chopped down. Flair tries a knee drop but Steamboat blocks it by grabbing the knee and he puts Flair in the figure-four! Flair grabs the ropes to break and follows up with an elbowdrop. Flair heads upstairs but he’s tossed off. Steamboat bodyslams Flair and heads upstairs but there is only five seconds remaining. Steamboat hits a flying headbutt and covers. The ref counts to two and the bell rings at 54:43 to signal a time-limit draw.
This is another classic Flair/Steamboat match. It’s not as great as their 1989 series but it is still miles better than almost anything other match I can think of from 1984. Steamboat and Flair were just magical in the ring. I feel that the beginning started off a bit more slowly than their other classics. ****1/2.
Here are some highlights from the commentary.
–Ric and Ricky are not friends, per se, but they have a great deal of respect for each other.
–Ricky didn’t consider himself a superstar at the time of the match but he did think he was a main eventer.
–He’s always been gracious to his fans.
–Ricky went to Gagne’s wrestling camp where he trained under Iron Sheik (and only two of his four classmates are alive)
–Greensboro Arena was the Mid-Atlantic’s version of MSG.
–Flair and Steamboat probably had 500 encounters by the time this match took place (1977-1984)
–Wrestling has changed, but so have other sports.
–This was recorded during the 2010 Winter Olympics!
–He got advice early on from Harley Race.
–He needed to learn to pace himself to last in the ring during these time limit matches.
–He talks about stealing his chops from a former teammate of Rocky Johnson and the arm-drag from Jack Brisco.
–Ricky believed he could’ve won the title when Flair won the title.
–The only wrestlers that Steamboat wishes he wrestled are the ones that are working now: Michaels, Edge, etc.
3) Ricky Steamboat vs. Bob Orton
This is from the Capitol Centre and took place on July 20th, 1985. Gorilla Monsoon and Gene Okerlund are calling the action and Monsoon references Ricky’s interview where he won’t use karate unless he absolutely needs to. It’s cool that the interview in question was shown. Steamboat does one of the best leapfrogs you’ll see and he goes right to work on the cast-ridden arm of Orton. Orton kips up at one point. I never realized he was that agile. Ricky works over the arm of Orton and there are some cool moments with Orton trying to break out of it but not quite getting it. Orton ends up on the outside but splashes a soda he finds at ringside into Ricky’s eyes and now Orton can control the match. Orton is content in working the neck of Steamboat. Orton tries a piledriver but Steamboat manages to back drop out of it. Steamboat hits a crossbody off the top but Orton kicks out at two. I thought that may have done it. Steamboat is tossed but he skins the cat and he karate kicks Orton to the outside. Steamboat suplexes Orton in from the apron but his standing splash finds the knees of Orton. Orton starts loading up his cast and he drives it into Steamboat off the top rope. The referee disqualifies Orton at 14:47. I thought the ending ruined what was a really great match. Steamboat and Orton both kept things interesting during their control portions and the ending sequence (up to the DQ) was great. ***3/4.
4) Ricky Steamboat vs. Don Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji) in a Lumberjack Match
This Maple Leaf Gardens match is from September 22nd, 1985. We start with the Lumberjacks heading out to surround the ring. The Maple Leaf Gardens had the awesome raised entrance that led right to the ring. Ricky walks out with Tito Santana. Steamboat blindsides Muraco. I don’t remember attacking your opponent from behind as being one of the Truths of the Dragon. I’ll have to re-watch that portion of the DVD. Muraco immediately tries bailing but of course he cannot. A bit of miscommunication leads to both guys trying a move at the same time but the end result is the same – Muraco bails to the heel corner and they let him take a breather. On the flip side, when Steamboat falls to the heel corner they immediately shove him back in. Muraco controls early – even going so far as to drop the “Banzai Thumb.” Monsoon clears up the rules for Jesse Ventura – this is no-disqualification. Muraco slows things down with a nerve-hold (devastating!) Steamboat is dumped to the outside in the face corner and he actually gets a shot in on Mr. Fuji. The heels immediately run over and roll him in where Muraco gets a very, slow, two-count. Even Monsoon and Ventura talk about how bad that count was. Steamboat is dumped and Orton gets in some cheap-shots and things start getting out of control. Fuji distracts the ref as Steamboat pins Muraco. Orton interferes but he ends up colliding with Muraco and Steamboat rolls him up for the pinfall at 8:42. This was a very weak match between the two often succumbing to the Lumberjack stipulation rather than letting the two work a good match. It just never got a good flow going because of the constant use of being sent to the outside. **1/4.
5) Ricky Steamboat vs. Jake Roberts
This is from another Garden – the Boston Gardens – taking place on August 9th, 1986. As mentioned in the main program this feud was set up when Jake Roberts DDT’ed Steamboat on the concrete floor on Saturday Night’s Main Event – a move that legitimately knocked Steamboat out. Jake does a nice job blocking some of Steamboat’s early karate maneuvers and stalls a bunch of times. The mind games that Jake plays really add to the match. In fact, this pays off when Steamboat finally hits his karate shots and the crowd pops like crazy. Jake takes another powder, not happy with this turn of events. Jake escapes when again when things don’t go his way but this time Steamboat goes after him. Things take a turn when Steamboat misses a karate chop and hits the steel ringpost. Roberts wisely works on that now injured arm. There’s a really nice spot where Steamboat snapmares Roberts down and Roberts just grabs Steamboat’s injured arm to turn things back into his control. The ref prevents Roberts from using the tape he had on his wrist and this distraction leads to Steamboat stunning Roberts over the rope. Steamboat sends Roberts into the steel barricade outside. Angry Steamboat is awesome. And he’s still selling the left arm! Steamboat heads upstairs and nails Roberts with a karate chop. Roberts sends Steamboat into the ref and now all three men are down. Roberts is up first and connects with a short-arm clothesline. He covers but the ref is still down. After he covers a second he gets fed up and tries reviving the ref. Once again the distraction hurts Roberts as Steamboat rolls him up for the pinfall at 17:18. Roberts gets some of his heat back by DDT’ing Steamboat. I believe this would set up their Big Event match. This was an INCREDIBLE match with some amazing psychology. I loved how the match was set up with Roberts blocking the karate chop, Steamboat playing a really angry wrestler (for good reason in terms of storyline) and the match just kept building to its logical conclusion. I can’t go higher than what I gave it just because Roberts didn’t really do more than punching when he was in control. ****1/4.
6) Ricky Steamboat (w/George Steele) vs. Randy Savage(c) (w/Miss Elizabeth) for the WWE Intercontinental Title
This is their famous Wrestlemania III match. I’ve reviewed it before on the Wrestlemania Anthology Volume 1 Collection and I watched it this time with the Steamboat/Striker commentary. We see the pre-match interviews from both men. Steamboat remembers hearing about the huge amount of people that would be watching them. They went out to 93,000+ people and their adrenaline was pumping. It helped that the two worked well together. Steamboat used the choke early on to remind Savage about what he did to him. That’s really cool. Steamboat and Savage really wanted to steal the show and they wanted people to talk about their match. Steamboat says this match instantly elevated him to the general public. Ricky points out that he was friends with Andre – a fact I never knew. Steamboat is honored that so many people liked this match and voted it Match of the Year. Striker tells Steamboat that him and Michaels appear the most times on the Greatest Matches of All Time. I want to see that list. Steamboat talks about his career and he thinks he’s well-remembered because of the guys he wrestled. Steamboat says he didn’t remember much of his entrance because he didn’t want to get overwhelmed. Ricky talks about the current talent and he really plays up Kofi Kingston. Steamboat talks about the surprise finish to the match.
—Disc Three (2:29:21)—
1) Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair for the NWA Title in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match
Taken from WWE: Ultimate Ric Flair Collection (when I was more verbose in my reviews)
This is their Clash of the Champions VI match from April 2nd, 1989. They circle to start and hit a headlock. Steamboat pushes Flair to the corner and Flair pushes him off and WHOOOOS in his face. Steamboat quickly slaps Flair to shut him up. They circle again and hit a nice reversal sequence which leads to some swank mat wrestling leading Flair to bail to the ropes. He makes it and Steamboat AGAIN with a vicious slap to the face. They lock up and Steamboat goes to a side headlock. Flair reverses it into an overhead wristlock and brings Steamboat to his knees. Steamboat starts to power out of it and brings Flair down but Flair quickly makes the ropes and slides under to the outside challenging Steamboat. Flair takes a quick break and heads back to the ring. They lock up again and Flair hits the side headlock but Steamer pushes Flair to the ropes to break. Flair is sent to the ropes and shoulderblocks Steamboat down but Steamer hip tosses Flair over and hits a side headlock on the mat which gets a two count. He keeps on the side headlock and Flair turns him over for a two count a few times. They make it to their feet but Flair forearms out of it and sends Steamboat to the ropes, only to get shoulderblocked down. Steamboat bounces off the ropes and Flair goes down for Steamboat to hop over, but Steamboat just stops and puts the side headlock on again. They get back to their feet and Flair pushes Steamboat to the corner and hits some vicious chops. Steamboat comes back with some vicious chops of his own and hiptosses Flair and follows with a headscissors and a dropkick. Steamboat goes back to the headlock on the mat, switches to a facelock and starts working Flair over pretty good. Steamboat drops a knee to the back of Flair’s head a few times and picks Flair up only to snapmare him over and works a facelock into a headlock. Flair pushes Steamboat to the corner and Flair elbows Steamboat in the corner then a huge chop but Ricky chops right back and sends Flair to the turnbuckles. Flair bounces off and Steamboat with a back body drop. Steamboat hits a dropkick which gets a two and Flair begs for mercy. Steamboat lays off of him too. Flair lures Steamboat to him and kicks him in the gut and follows up with a punch to the face knocking Steamboat down.
Flair sends Steamboat to the ropes but Steamboat slides underneath a Flair punch and rolls up him up for two. Steamer follows with a clothesline then a big headlock takeover brings Flair to the mat for yet another two count. He turns it around to a front face lock and works Flair over for a while. Flair breaks and drops the knee to the back of Flair’s head. Ross calls it methodical and for once it doesn’t mean slow and boring. Steamboat brings Flair to the corner and unloads some monster chops. Flair walks out of the corner and just collapses. Steamboat wisely jumps on top for a two count. Steamboat comes back with a front facelock which Flair turns into an atomic drop. Steamboat comes right back with a chop and a cover gets a two count. Ricky with another headlock but Flair sends him to the rope only to get shoulderblocked down. Again to the ropes and Flair gets shoulderblocked down. Flair sends Ricky to the ropes but as Ricky bounces off the ropes he takes Flair and sends HIM to the ropes then hits a double chop for two. Flair bails and catches a breather outside. Steamboat draws Flair to the center of the ring and goes for a lock up but Flair knees Steamboat in the gut and stars chopping away. Steamboat responds with some chops of his own and knocks Flair over with a double chop for two. The ref had to go outside to count the cover which was pretty cool. Flair bails to the apron but Steamboat catches him and suplexes him right in. He tries for a splash but hits Flair’s knees. Flair snapmares Steamboat over and just jumps on Ricky’s stomach. Flair hits a double underhook suplex and that gets a pair of two counts. Flair keeps trying for the pin and gets another pair of two count. Flair keeps at it and yet 3 more two counts. Then another. Steamboat just keeps fighting out. Flair gets at least 5 more two counts as the match gets more awesome. Flair tries again to hold Steamboat’s hands down but Steamboat kips up as we head right into a test of strength which is broken by a Flair kick. Steamboat kicks right back and chops away. He hiptosses Flair out of the corner but misses a dropkick. Flair goes right for the figure four but Ricky turns it into a small cradle which Flair reverses to his own cradle for the pin at 19:33.
We’re back for the second fall and the two again circle each other. They lockup and Flair hits the headlock but Steamboat sends him to the rope to break and gets shoulderblocked down. Steamboat is on fire though, moving like a madman, having Flair hop over him, then leapfrogging Flair then picking him up and over, then going to the top rope for a flying tomahawk chop for two. Steamboat goes right to the side headlock which he turns into a facelock then back to a side headlock which Flair turns into a back suplex. Flair then drops a knee to Steamboats face. He tries again but Flair misses and Steamboat starts right away dropping elbows right to Flair’s knee. He does this at least a dozen times and finally goes for a figure four in the center of the ring. Flair sits up and Steamboat punches him down for a two count. Flair sits back up and is sent right back down for a two count. Flair finally makes the ropes and Steamboat breaks unwillingly. Steamboat pulls him off the ropes and tries for the figure four but Flair kicks him off. Ricky bounces off the ropes and Flair is ready to kick him off but Ricky grabs his legs and puts on the Boston Crab. Flair again makes the ropes causing Steamboat to break the hold. Flair crawls to the corner and Steamboat just lays some rights into Flair’s face. Flair tries to comeback and connects on a few chops but Steamboat chops right back. Flair takes Steamboat down into side headlock but Steamboat reverses into a headscissors and a niceee pinfall reversal sequence leading to a Steamboat backslide for two. Flair goes out side and grabs Steamboat, pulls him out, and sends him to the steel railing then bodyslams him onto the padding. Flair rolls into the ring to break the 10 count and heads right back out, sending Steamboat to the steel railing again. Flair rolls back in as the ref begins the ten count. Flair grabs Steamboat as Steamboat’s on the apron and uses the top rope to choke Steamboat. Flair then connects with a huge punch leading to Steamboat falling on the apron. Flair suplexes Steamboat from the apron into the ring and gets a two count. Flair goes to the abdominal stretch and cradles him over for a two count (which Funk calls an Oklahoma cross-body ride, I won’t dispute it). Flair keeps Steamboat down and gets a multiple number of two counts, even while using the ropes. Flair goes for a belly to back suplex but Ricky reverses and cradles for two but Flair kicks out. Ricky tries for a rollup but that also gets a two. Steamboat sends Flair to the ropes and tries for a back body drop but he’s kicked instead. Flair chops him down and goes up top but Ricky catches him and crotches him. Steamboat suplexes Flair from the top and Steamboat chops away on Flair’s back, and then elbows him in the back. He goes right for a double chicken wing and Flair gives up at 34:14 making the match even at 1 fall apiece.
We return to the third fall with Ricky trying for an abdominal stretch but Flair breaks out of it. Flair chopblocks Ricky’s leg but Ricky starts chopping away, causing Flair to fall down and get covered for a two. Flair begs for forgiveness but The Dragon gives none. He works Flair over in the corner and whip to the turnbuckle leads to a back body drop. Flair comes right back with a HUGE chop but Steamboat comes back with an even BIGGER chop. Flair comes right back by dropping Steamboat on his knees and goes right to the figure four but Steamboat quickly makes the ropes. The referee untangles the legs so Flair pushes the referee. Now we know where HHH got all his heel tactics from. Steamboat sells the leg like a champ as Flair and Steamboat exchange blows which Ricky gets the best of, chopping away at Flair in the corner. He sends Flair to the corner and Flair flops out onto the apron running but gets PLASTERED with a huge chop. Flair rolls back into the ring from the apron and begs for mercy in the corner. He lured Steamboat in and does the Flair pin for two. He then places Steamboat in the corner and absolutely kills him with some chops. He sends Steamboat to the corner but Steamboat uses the ropes and jumps over Flair only to charge at Flair and hit a Flair boot. Flair tries to send Steamboat to the corner but Steamboat reverses. He charges Flair but misses a big boot and his leg just hangs from the top rope. Flair like a shark smelling blood goes right after the leg. He abuses it in the corner and sends Steamboat to the center of the ring and drops a knee. He goes for a few spinning toeholds then applies the figure four. Steamboat can barely move and he falls over on his shoulders for a few two counts. Steamboat tries to roll Flair over to reverse the hold and manages to do it, but Flair grabs the ropes to break the hold. Flair goes right after Steamboat’s leg and rams it into the apron a few times for good measure. Steamboat can barely stands but he connects with some huge chops in the corner. He sends Flair to the corner and Flair flops over and runs to the opposite corner and goes up top hitting a crossbody for two. Steamboat is the first one up and tries for a bodyslam but his leg buckles and Flair falls on top for two. Flair sends Steamboat to the ropes but misses a clothesline and Steamboat bounces of the ropes and hits a flying headbutt and follows with a chop to the face. He goes to the top rope and hits a flying body press and Flair BARELY, I mean BARELY gets the shoulder up at two.
Steamboat drops an elbow, but misses and Flair is back up. He works Steamboat over and whips him to the ropes but a back body drop attempt is reversed into a swinging neckbreaker which gets two. Flair is up first however and tosses Ricky to the outside. Flair goes after Steamboat who is on the apron but Steamboat hits a sunset flip and that’s good for a two count. Steamboat shoulderblocks Flair over but Flair grabs a sleeper-hold as Steamboat comes off the ropes. The ref picks up Steamboat’s hand but it drops, he does it again and the match is over…but Steamboat somehow finds the strength to wake up. He breaks the hold by diving into the ropes and ducking so Flair’s head hits the top turnbuckle. Flair bails to the outside as Ricky recovers in the corner. Flair sneaks in and chops at Ricky’s leg, knocking him over. He then grabs the leg of a standing Ricky Steamboat but he turns in into an enzuguiri and gets a two count. Ricky goes up to the top but misses a flying body splash and Flair starts working over Steamboat’s knee. Flair works over Ricky in the corner some more and Steamboat is dazed. He can barely walk but Steamboat fights back with huge chops. He sends Flair to the ropes and connects with a double chop and Steamboat is pumped up as Flair cowers in the corner. He goes to the top turnbuckle and chops Flair a few times. Flair tries to turn that into an atomic drop but Steamboat counters and clotheslines Flair. He covers but Flair makes the ropes. He sends Flair to the ropes and put his head down, only to have Flair elbow it. Flair follows up with a belly to back suplex and Flair goes up top. Steamboat catches him and body presses him off the top and Steamboat goes right back to the double arm chicken wing, but Flair falls on top of Steamboat but leaves his shoulders on the mat as referee Tommy Young counts to three giving Steamboat the win at 54:26. This lead to a rematch because if you look at replays, Flair’s foot was on the rope. What the hell, awesome match. Perfect match, buy the DVD for this match. The match was an hour long but it felt like 10 minutes, really. *****.
2) Ricky Steamboat vs. Lex Luger(c) for the US Title
This is from the 1989 Great American Bash and the event took place on July 23rd, 1989. Ricky is carried to the ring on a platform and in his hands he has a huge Komodo dragon. This is announced as a No-Disqualification match. Lex doesn’t like that stipulation and he tells Ricky to have that stip waived or he’s gonna bail. Steamboat accepts those conditions which should give you an idea of how this will end. Steamboat gets a couple of quick-pinfall opportunities as the match starts. Steamboat chops away outside but is caught with a knee coming in and Luger takes control of things. Luger hits a press-slam and starts working the back of Steamboat. Luger hits a hat trick of clotheslines that are really made by the selling of Steamboat. Steamboat slugs at Luger in the corner but the ref stops him from using the closed fist and Luger takes control again. He hits a very nice powerslam but telegraphs a back drop and takes a neckbreaker as a result. Luger misses a bodypress and lands outside. Steamboat tries to bodyslam him back in but Luger fall on top of him for two. Luger heads upstairs but is tossed off by Steamboat. Ricky hits a chop off the top and covers for two. Ricky gets backdropped into the adjoining ring and Luger goes out to grab a chair. Steamboat slingshots Luger into the corner and Luger’s face hits the chair. Steamboat grabs the chair and destroys Luger with it but getting DQ’ed in the process at 10:26. Steamboat got his revenge but at the cost of the title. This was really non-stop action from the opening bell to the ending bell. The finish fit the match and it was just another great Steamboat match – a match that Luger was able to keep up with. ****1/4.
3) Ricky Steamboat & Dustin Rhodes vs. Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyzsko(c) for the WCW Tag Team Titles
This one took place at Clash of the Champions XVII on November 19th, 1991. Larry must’ve just finished killing off the AWA title for good. Dustin Rhodes was supposed to team with Barry Windham but he had reconstructive surgery on his right hand. So Dustin has a new tag partner: Ricky Steamboat! This was his debut back in WCW after his WWE run that saw him breathe fire and wear a ridiculous dragon outfit. Of course he’s walking out with a dragon mask looking much more ridiculous than he ever did in the WWE. Thankfully his entrance is done with a bit more grace than the Shockmaster’s. Ricky gets a nice pop from the crowd. Ricky starts things off with Arn and a donnybrook quickly ensues with all four men battling. Zbyzsko tags in and both Rhodes and Steamboat work over his arm. Dustin gets caught by the heels briefly until another pier-six erupts. Soon Zbyzsko calls for Steamboat and as Steamboat chases Zbyzsko, Arn is able to blindside Ricky. There’s a cool spot where Ricky sunset flips Arn but Arn makes the tag and Zbyzsko comes in to regain control. Zbyzsko and Arn keep Steamboat on their side of the ring, especially wearing him down with a Boston Crab. Ricky makes the tags to Dustin but the ref doesn’t see it and so he shoves Dustin back in his corner. I love that spot. Ricky fights off Arn with an atomic drop into the corner but Arn rebounds and collides with Ricky. Arn is up first and tries an axe-handle off the top but Steamboat lifts his boots in time to block. Ricky makes the hot tag and Dustin cleans house. He bulldogs Arn and Ricky comes in and finishes him off with a crossbody off the top for the pinfall at 14:48. This started off slowly for me but Steamboat was wisely used for most of the match – controlling for the faces and then playing the face in peril. Steamboat rocked here, and the other guys weren’t too bad, either. ****.
4) Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude in an Iron Man Challenge
This is from the 1992 Beach Blast from June 20th. This is the standard Iron Man rules – the wrestler with the most pinfalls at the end of the time limit (in this case 30 minutes) wins the match. Rude looks absolutely ripped here. Steamboat comes out with his family and that irks Jesse Ventura. During the next few seconds Jesse makes a reference to Dan Quayle and Jim Ross mentions Ice-T. Ricky attacks right away and hits a nice-looking gut-buster. Ricky attacks those ribs as Jesse questions the sportsmanship of Ricky (keeping his kid in there so Rude won’t attack and then Ricky attacking him!). Ricky puts Rude in the Boston Crab about 4-minutes in as Ross tells us that Paul E Dangerously and Madusa have been banned from ringside. Rude makes the ropes so Steamboat goes back to work on the ribs. Steamboat charges at Rude in the corner but Rude puts his boot up and it stuns Steamboat enough for Rude to get the first pinfall at 7:40 (Rude 1 – Steamboat 0). Rude follows with the Rude Awakening and he secures the second pinfall at 8:38 although Rude sold the rib injury during the move (Rude 2 – Steamboat 0). Rude hits a nice backbreaker and he heads upstairs. Rude actually connects with a knee-drop but the ref disqualifies Rude for coming off the top rope at 9:45 (Rude 2 – Steamboat 1). Rude isn’t concerned and cradles Steamboat for the pinfall at 10:10 (Rude 3 – Steamboat 1).
Rude puts Steamboat in a Camel Clutch but Steamboat powers out of it by standing up and falling backwards. Steamboat misses the follow-up standing splash by hitting the knees of Rude instead. Rude hits a swinging neckbreaker but since it’s not a Rude Awakening Steamboat is able to kick out for the first time this match. Rude continues controlling Steamboat as we head to the final 13-minutes of the match. Rude delivers a nice piledriver and covers for two. Rude goes for a Tombstone but Steamboat reverses and gets the pinfall at 17:38 (Rude 3 – Steamboat 2). Rude heads upstairs again which doesn’t make sense given his disqualification before. Steamboat catches him and suplexes him off the top (which is a legal move) and covers for two. A double clothesline knocks both guys down. Rude crawls over Steamboat and covers but Steamboat bridges out and the backslide actually works at 20:21 (Rude 3 – Steamboat 3). Steamboat gets a bunch of pinfall attempts but can’t get that critical three-count.
Rude and Steamboat go back as we head to 7-minutes remaining. Ventura likes the gutsiness of Rude because he was able to pose with his right arm despite his injury. Rude tries another Rude Awakening but Steamboat breaks Rude’s grip on him. Steamboat hits a Rude Awakening of his own and covers. Rude gets his foot on the ropes to save him from falling behind in the Iron Man Challenge. Steamboat suplexes Rude for two and a back suplex also gets two. Rude grabs a sleeper with 4-minutes remaining. Steamboat tries charging into the corner to break but Rude won’t break the hold. Steamboat tries reaching for the ropes and Rude uses his feet to kick his arms away. That’s a great looking tactic. Steamboat wears down and falls to the mat with two-minutes remaining. We’re in the last minute now and Steamboat finds some energy to stand up and kick off the corner. He falls on top of Rude and gets the pinfall at 29:25 (Steamboat 4 – Rude 3). Rude is pissed and in the last 30-seconds tries everything to cover Steamboat but Steamboat keeps kicking out. Time runs out for Rude and Ricky us victorious. This actually did go 30:00, too, not a second over.
This was an awesome Iron Man Match that was a perfect length for the two guys involved. The pinfalls all made sense and I loved the psychology involved, especially with Rude getting the first three falls. I really enjoyed the fact that both guys sold their injured body parts the whole time. I still think the HHH/Rock Iron Man is the best Iron Man match ever (which I had at *****) but this one is really damn good, too. ****1/2.
5) Ricky Steamboat vs. Steve Austin(c) for the WCW Television Title
These two fought at Clash of the Champions XX on September 2nd, 1992. Paul E will be in a cage for this match, Ricky has his ribs taped up, and Austin has hair. I should also mention that this is a No-Disqualification match. Austin goes right for the ribs but Steamboat wards him off and takes him down with a side headlock. Ventura and Ross debate the rule that banned top-rope moves. Austin eventually rips the tape off Steamboat and goes to work on the ribs. Austin puts Steamboat in an abdominal stretch. Steamboat escapes and hits a crossbody off the second rope. Austin rolls through that and gets a two count. Austin misses a dropkick and Steamboat catapults Austin into the corner and covers him for two. Steamboat Tombstones Austin down for two. Austin tosses Steamboat into the top rope and schoolboys him for two. Steamboat blocks a superplex attempt and cradles Austin. That’s countered but it looked like an odd looking spot. Austin tries tossing Steamboat to the outside but skins the cat. He returns and quickly gets clotheslined to the outside. Steamboat crawls underneath the ring and pops up on the other side. Austin is oblivious and when he turns around Steamboat hits a crossbody off the top for the pinfall and the title at 10:35. Austin worked the ribs well enough but there was a spark missing from there. I don’t know what it was but Austin’s control portion was good but not great. ***.
This is the third and final match that has the special Steamboat/Striker commentary. Striker asks Steamboat about the ribs and he separated them at the hands of the late Steve Williams. Steamboat says that Austin had IT and he knew he’d be a big star. He remembers Starrcade 1991 where young wrestlers were asking him to critique their matches. Steamboat mentions how you need to keep the business going and let the young guys shine. Someone should tell that to the current bigwigs at the WWE. On the flip side there were workers who were lazy. Steamboat, ever the gentleman, won’t throw any of them under the bus. Striker asks how he got the name Steamboat and Ricky tells him the story we heard in the main feature. Ricky would sometimes talk to his opponents during the match almost like trash talking. Skinning the Cat came from Ricky’s days on the monkey bars. I thought this was the best of their three commentaries together.
6) Ricky Steamboat vs. Chris Jericho
These two battled at Backlash 2009, which aired on April 26th. I know that Ricky fought at Wrestlemania and the next night on Raw so this is probably his last ever match. It’s ironic that they’d have this feud considering how much respect Jericho has for Steamboat. I thought Jericho during this period was at his heelish best. Steamboat looks the same just with a little bit less hair and not as toned. Actually the same can be said of Jericho when you think about his debut. This is the only match that actually utilizes the full-screen presentation. Steamboat draws Jericho to the outside and Jericho follows. Ricky rolls back into the ring and baseball slides him down. He follows with a slingshot plancha! I don’t remember him even doing that when he worked in the 80’s and 90’s. Steamboat does his trademark deep arm-drag. Jericho tries tossing Steamboat but Steamboat skins the cat. Jericho has scouted Steamboat well and immediately clotheslines Steamboat over the top. Steamboat gets to the apron and Jericho nails him with a springboard dropkick. Jericho uses a side headlock for a good portion as he screams at the ref to ask Steamboat if he quits. The ring is miked very loudly since you can hear everything. Steamboat dodges a bulldog and sends Jericho into the corner. Steamboat follows that up with a back suplex off the top rope. He covers and gets a two-count. Steamboat powerslams Jericho down for two but Jericho comes right back with a running enzuigiri for two. Steamboat blocks the Lionsault by carrying Jericho on his shoulders but Jericho rolls through and locks on the Walls of Jericho. Steamboat gets to the ropes and puts Jericho in the figure four (though he did a terrible version of it) and now Jericho gets the ropes. Jericho charges at the corner and he collides with the ringpost. Steamboat hits his crossbody off the top for two. Steamboat tries a chop off the second rope but Jericho blocks with the Codebreaker. He covers but Steamboat’s foot makes the rope. Steamboat rolls through a bodyslam and gets a two. Jericho is up quickly and locks Steamboat in the Walls of Jericho and Steamboat taps at 12:30. This was as good a match you could expect from Steamboat I guess. It was kind of disheartening to see him blow the figure-four like he did. It was a decent match and it wasn’t out of place considering other WWE matches I’ve seen recently. Ricky is still Ricky and he can still entertain. **1/2.
This is the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 offering WWE usually puts out. It sounds great but there was an issue with the video. WWE was going to the widescreen stuff and that’s great. However, during the main program we had the current recorded footage in Widescreen while the older footage recorded for other DVD’s is in the box format with WWE sidebars. It gets real annoying when watching matches that weren’t originally intended for widescreen (namely: every match on here) as the sidebars are there the whole time. There is a dragon overlay in the margins which is cool. I guess for future releases the background will change based on the DVD set. I got used to it quickly, but it is a big adjustment over other releases.
C) Packaging / Liner Notes
We have the usual fold-open DVD case with the three discs and a little folder including the liner notes. I love the look of these fold-open cases, especially the images they use of Ricky.
D) Easter Eggs
1) Ricky’s PSA (0:40)
Ricky tells us not to do drugs. That was interesting. I don’t remember WWE doing PSA’s like that. To get to this go to Chapters, highlight Wrestlemania III and press right twice.
We start with the usual array of WWE commercials (WWE Classic On Demand – still not available in my area, WWE Home Video, Undertaker’s Deadliest Matches, WWE Best PPV Matches of 2009-2010, the US Coast Guard spot and finally Don’t Try This At Home). Well, I guess there’s nothing like two hour-long Flair/Steamboat matches to sell a DVD! Other than the Flair DVD I can’t think of another release of a singular wrestler with this many amazing matches. There are only 12 of them, two ***** matches, five ****+ matches, and everything else around the *** mark. That’s a great collection. The main program was fitting for Steamboat, the extras had a variety of extra stories and old promo’s and the whole thing just exudes the respect that Steamboat richly deserves. This is definitely a must and the only negative thing I have to say about it arises because of the production (damn sidebars!) and even that is a very minor negative. A fourth disc of Steamboat matches would’ve been nice, too.
9.0-9.5 Near Perfect, Highly Recommended
8.0-8.5 Really good disc, Recommended
7.0-7.5 Good DVD, Mildly recommended
6.0-6.5 Above Average DVD. Mildest of mild recommendations
5.0-5.5 Decent all around disc, but catch it on TV
4.0-4.5 Great Movie but horrible DVD
3.0-3.5 Horrible movie but great DVD
2.0-2.5 There’s at least some merit to this DVD, but not much.
1.0-1.5 Horrible DVD, don’t even bother
0.0-0.5 Worst DVD ever