Repost: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat shoot interviewby Brandon Truitt
Feb 2, 2004, 23:00
I didn't quite finish the Sandman shoot due to family committments, people overflowing my in-box with pictures of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl slipup, and The Critic being released on DVD, so here's another classic shoot.
This is appropriate because I ALSO missed Steamboat's appearance on Wrestling Observer Live last night, so if anyone has a link to the MP3 of it, I'd appreciate it if you could contact me. My e-mail is in the lead-in to the original article.
The Sandman shoot from 2001 WILL be done next week, dammit, as I was pretty close to finishing it when I finally had to give it up. After that, I'll have to dig through the box 'o tapes to find something worth reviewing.
This article was originally posted on November 4, 2002.
Here it is… a new and complete review of the Ricky Steamboat shoot. While few people know it, my first ever column for the Smarks Krew folder late last year was an incomplete version of this shoot, along with thoughts on some ECW DVDs, old WWF PPVs, and the RAW I’d attended a few weeks prior.
If I ever find where I put my Word file of it, or where I had it on this board, I’ll post a cleaned up version as a mid-week extra just so you can see some examples of my early work.
In other news, I’ve got several shoots coming soon including the Sheepherders/Bushwhackers, Brian Christopher (Grandmaster Sexay), and X-Pac. Once they come in, I WILL be reviewing X-Pac’s shoot immediately because of the information it’s supposed to have on the Invasion and recent WWEff backstage situations.
Also, I’m going to be covering several shoots released by Highspots Video soon, including the Ricky Morton Shoot Interview (1998). Morton doesn’t really care what anyone thinks of him and, as such, was MORE than willing to shoot on any subject that he was asked about. The one topic that REALLY got him talking was Kevin Nash, as Nash had made comments about how Morton supposedly took all the money he’d ever made in the business and snorted it up his nose.
In addition to the stuff listed above, I’ve also been collecting a nice set of wrestling books recently, including biographies of Bobby Heenan, Dynamite Kid, and ring announcer Gary Cappetta in addition to the Vince McMahon book released by ESPN senior writer Shaun Assael. If I ever get some time, I’ll probably do full reviews of Pure Dynamite (by Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington) and Tonight In This Very Ring (by Gary Cappetta) and mini-reviews of Bobby The Brain (by Bobby Heenan) and Sex Lies and Headlocks (Shaun Assael)
I’ve also been hearing good things about the new Martha Hart book, Broken Harts: The Life And Death of Owen Hart, which Dave Meltzer put over in the Wrestling Observer newsletter this weekend. While there are some comments of questionable validity, like the Summerslam 97 piledriver mishap with Owen and Steve Austin being a work because Austin’s neck had been hurt before that, there is still a lot of insight into Owen’s life and the events leading up to his death. (I don’t have this one but, since Meltzer put it over as a good read and it’s unavailable from Amazon’s US site, I figured you guys would appreciate a link to a company that’s selling it in the US.)
And finally, I went to see Jackass: The Movie this weekend. That in and of itself isn’t a big story, as it was the #1 movie when it made its debut and #3 last week. The story is that Jackass is supposedly one of the shows that Vince is blatantly ripping off, except that Jackass isn’t pretending to be wrestling, the stunts are actually funny, and they’re more self-depreciating than humiliation for someone else (although there are some exceptions like the Japanese Party Boy). If Vince wants to do cutting edge stuff, he needs to do what he did back in 1996 and turn one of his late-night slots into a show like Shotgun Saturday Night. If it works there, THEN he should start putting it on RAW and Smackdown. If it doesn’t work (and, given his track record in the past two years, it won’t), at least very few people will have to suffer through it.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, or just want to send me free stuff, drop me an e-mail at this address.
Ricky Steamboat Shoot Interview (4-22-01)
The shoot starts out with an NWA match from Japan, with Steamboat against a masked wrestler, apparently Tiger Mask although I don’t know which of the 4+ Tiger Masks it is. Good match., although not as fast-paced as I prefer my Puro to be. Not like it’s any surprise though… about the only time Steamboat had bad matches in his career was whenever he was in the WWF after Wrestlemania 3 (including a run where he dressed as a dragon and spit fire.”) After about 11 minutes, Steamboat tries to piledrive Tiger Mask, who turns it into a bridged pin, at which point Steamboat reverses that and rolls him up for the win.
The interview starts with the standard question of how he started in the business. He was going to junior college to become a teacher, but found out that there was a 3-5 year wait to be a physical education teacher in Florida due to northern coaches moving to Florida to finish up their careers. Around that time, his girlfriend had been at flight attendant school in Oregon rooming with Donna Gagne, daughter of Verne Gagne and the future Mrs. Larry Zbysko. Eventually, Verne asked who her boyfriend was and she said “Richard Blood”, Steamboat’s real name. Coincidentally, he’d heard about him through Eddie Graham because Steamboat had wrestled Mike Graham in a high school tournament. Eddie kept note of him because he was always looking for new talent who had legitimate wrestling ability. Verne eventually invited him to move to Minnesota and train at his pro wrestling camp.
The veterans who trained him in the ring included Billy Robinson (who’d mostly just stretch guys at the training camp) and Kozrow Vasiri (Iron Sheik). When training started, there were about 16 potential wrestlers. Soon after, that number dropped down to four… Steamboat, Scott Irwin, Jan Nelson, and Buck Zumhoff. Steamboat says that Nelson didn’t last long in the business and had heard that he’d died at a Rolling Stones concert of an overdose. (Scott Irwin’s probably best known as being the brother of “Wild Bill” Irwin, aka The Goon in the WWF. Buck Zumhoff is, to my knowledge, only known for working a series of Weasel Suit matches with Bobby Heenan in the AWA.)
Early territories he worked for- He started out in the AWA, went down to Florida to work for Eddie Graham, then headed up to Georgia to work for Jim Barnett. At first, he begged off on Barnett’s offer to go to Georgia because it was made about a week after he’d returned to Florida. Barnett asked him every week at Florida’s TV, until Eddie Graham came up and insisted that he go to Georgia because Barnett wanted him there BADLY. After that, he went to Mid-Atlantic.
Georgia- He worked with Dick Slater, amongst others. The booker, Tom Ernesto, pulled the wool over his eyes and told him that he was going to start a main event program with Slater that involved him losing the first match in the feud. He lost the first match then kept waiting for the second match, which never came about. He said that he didn’t mind putting Slater over because Slater was a main event guy and he was just a green rookie, but “they didn’t have to swerve me to get me to put him over.” He also worked with Dean Ho, who’d invite him over for dinner every night and have a barbecue every Sunday. He credits Ho with teaching him psychology and said that he also learned most of the karate stuff he used from him.
Mid-Atlantic- He was only there about 6 months when Flair insisted on doing an angle with him for the TV Title. Up until then, he was on the bottom of the card. Flair “is like wine… he improved with age”. He felt the chemistry between the two of them early, and figured that their stark contrasts in appearance, interview style, and in-ring style (pure heel vs. pure face) made them great. That set him up to be a main event guy for years, especially since they’d worked against each other MANY times. He credits Flair with being probably the biggest single influence on his career.
Working the 45-60 matches each night- Once he and Flair realized they could make the matches work for that long, they started doing them. They’ve done MANY matches that lasted about 59 minute and 55 seconds before a decision. No guys ever complained openly about working long matches with him, although people who heard they’d be working with him would start doing a lot of cardio work to be able to keep up with him. He talks about how he’d been told by bookers many times to just do 20 minutes, but that he can’t tell a story properly in only 20 minutes.
Roddy Piper- Their program was crazy. Roddy’s also aged like wine, and has chilled out quite a bit. Roddy would bend over backwards for you if you were his friend.
Jim Crockett- He tried to give the impression that he knew about the business, but he didn’t really know what he was doing. He contrasts that with Vince McMahon, who loved the business and learned how to run his own town as well as doing other work for the WWWF before buying out his father, Gorilla Monsoon, Phil Zacko, and Arnold Skaaland in the early 80’s. (I’m reading Shaun Assael’s Sex, Lies, and Headlocks right now, so a LOT of what Steamboat’s said is ringing true… Assael said that Jim Crockett was always embarrassed as a child that his family was involved with wrestling, then had to take over the business without warning because Jim Crockett Sr. died suddenly) He said that Crockett could be persuaded very easily to go down the wrong path.
Matches with Harley Race- Harley’s old-school, but Harley likes him a lot. Of the approximately 13 tours he’s had in Japan, about 8 of those are ones that Harley was on. Harley had a reputation as a badass, but if he liked you he took care of you. One night, Harley reached over and picked Steamboat up from the floor just by holding onto his tights, which impressed the hell out of him.
Jay Youngblood- He thinks they started teaming because they’d been riding together. He talks about working against Flair and Greg Valentine, the Brisco Brothers, Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernoodle, etc.
Matches he’s commonly asked about- The Wrestlemania 3 match with Savage and the Flair series from 1989. He talks about how he doesn’t hear much about his tag work, but that may be because few people had ever seen them.
Georgia again- He was there when Ole Anderson was booking there, and he was quite a hardass. He was an okay guy but not the best boss in the world.
All Japan tours- It was a struggle making it through them. Because his mother was Japanese, he was accepted as a babyface there after a few tours and, as a result, he was getting booked against the other Americans. The Americans loved it to death because they preferred him as opposed to Tenryu when he was trying to impress his countrymen.
Road stories from the Carolinas- The Brisco Brothers would drive back from Richmond, Virginia, to Charlotte, North Carolina, while they were drinking heavily. Gerald (the McMahon stooge) would always drive but, occasionally, would drive all the way through Charlotte until he ran out of gas. Eventually, Gerald had to walk the interstate to get gas but, when he came back, the keys were in the ignition and Jack had locked the doors and gone to sleep. He started banging on the window so hard to wake Jack up that Jack’s head was bouncing off the glass but he STILL didn’t wake up for quite a while.
Tully Blanchard- Hard worker, “everyone knew he had a bit of an attitude” (which, when you take Steamboat’s politeness out, translates to “COMPLETE asshole”), good athlete, etc. He thinks the problem with Tully was that he was living up to being a promoter’s kid (the Blanchards ran Southwest Championship Wrestling out of San Antonio), so he always had a chip on his shoulder. “Sometimes you just wanted to slap the shit out of him.”
Wrestling Flair in areas typically promoted by the WWF- They loved it. They’d gone into the Meadowlands in New Jersey and, to make a statement about how they’d stand up to the great workers like Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales that had wrestled there before them, and gave them the same great kind of match that they’d been having for years.
Dusty Rhodes- Dusty started booking himself as a top babyface, so he and Roddy Piper saw the writing on the wall and left to the WWF. It started when Steamboat and Tully were having a long series over the TV title. The matches would be up to 60 minutes long, but the TV title was only up for grabs for a certain period of the match. They started at the belt being up for the first 20 minutes of the match and finishing at 25 minutes, and kept increasing the time it took but Tully always stalled Steamboat out JUST enough to keep the title when he lost. After they got up to about 45 minutes out of 60 in that series, Dusty came in and beat Tully in 12 minutes for the TV title and set up Steamboat to work with the green Nikita Koloff who needed to be built up as a heel. That’s when he left for New York, as George Scott (who used to book Mid-Atlantic) had just been brought in as one of the WWF’s bookers.
Going to the WWF- Everyone was excited to be flying instead of driving… until they realized that the average week would see them go from Los Angeles to Miami to Dallas to Boston to Chicago to Portland Oregon to New York City. They’ve since fixed this problem, as they now run loops where they’ll cover
Impressions of Vince- Likeable at first. Pioneer since he was running TV and shows across the whole nation. Everyone used to see Vince in a better light since he used to project a very positive image, but now everyone sees him as a scumbag because money and power have gone to his head, ESPECIALLY since he bought out WCW.
Any WWF guys intimidated by his work ethic? No one ever said anything if they did, although you could feel the vibe that said “Cut out 20 minutes of the match so I can wrestle and get the Hell out of here.” He talks about working a program with Don Muraco in 1985 where he was totally out of shape compared to what he was like in Florida a few years back. He was always exactly where he was supposed to be in the ring, though. “He would look like he was on the verge of dying, throwing up, hemorrhaging, and having a miscarriage all at the same time, but he’d still be there for you.”
Comparison of Ric Flair and Randy Savage- The series of matches he’s had with them are the most asked about ever. He prefers the Flair matches more because they went into the 57 minute 2 of 3 Falls match at Clash 6 only knowing the three finishes going in, while he and Savage had laid out the entire match, move by move, months beforehand. They’d go over it verbally each night they were booked in the same town for months leading up to Wrestlemania 3. They got to the point where one of them could name a step number from the match then complete the entire rest of the match from memory. Savage was so detailed that the list even started with “#1- lock up”.
Wrestlemania 3- They went in knowing that Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan were drawing a HUGE crowd but weren’t going to have a match worth a shit, so they were going to steal the show.
They hit the 1-hour mark at this point and show a match between the break in camcorder tapes.
Match- Steamboat vs. Harley Race from 1982 in Japan. VERY old-school match at first, with headlocks out the wazoo. If there were any more headlocks in this thing, I’d swear it was one of those matches where Mick Foley was wrestling old school VERY badly to piss off the ECW mutants. I swear, they spent about 20 minutes working a SINGLE headlock. The match picks up after that, with them trading piledrivers, suplexes, top-rope maneuvers, chops (WHOOOO!), etc. until Steamboat rolled up Harley, who rolled through it and got the three on Steamboat.
Hulk Hogan- “I don’t think there’s a single time outside of the ring where we ever ran into each other.” Then again, Steamboat would be at shitty motels in an attempt to save money for life after wrestling while Hogan was in 5-star hotels in every city he went to.
Wrestlemania- He realized that the Wrestlemania concept was a big thing when it got to Wrestlemania 3. Before that, it was a local thing for Wrestlemania 1 and a somewhat national thing with the tri-city Wrestlemania 2 (BTW, The three venues were Nassau County in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles) Wrestlemania 2 kind of sucked because they all went on a one-week tour of Australia as soon as they were done with the show. He’d wrestled Hercules at WM 2 and puts him over as a guy who wants to do great things even though he would screw up a bit.
Aussie tour- They flew 18 hours from LA to Sydney, then from Sydney to Perth. He compares flying from Sydney (on the eastern half of the continent) to Perth (on the western half) to flying from Baltimore to LA after a big show AND a separate 18 hour flight. Everything was timed just right so that they were on planes for what must have been about 26 straight hours, did a show, then immediately flew another 4-6 hours back to Sydney.
Drugs in the business- He says they’re prevalent in the business and he’d be a liar if he claimed he hadn’t done them before. The main thing he mentions is speed, which is understandable considering that they were expected to fly all over the country on red-eye flights and wrestle every day for months at a time.
Honkytonk Man- He was a very nice and polite guy when he came in. It hurt his feelings a bit to drop the Intercontinental belt to him, as well as shocking the hell out of the other wrestlers. He figured he’d have had the IC belt for a year before losing it back to Savage, but Vince was upset that he’d asked for a few weeks off to be with his wife Bonnie when she gave birth to his son, Ricky Jr. Vince didn’t want the belt out of circulation for so long, so he told him to drop the belt. His reservations about HTM were mainly because he hadn’t seen him work for long before dropping the belt to him, but he was a good guy and was a hard worker. The problems the locker-room had were that several heels who had tenure weren’t getting the belt instead of some goof with an Elvis pompadour. (Sidenote- “The Natural” Butch Reed was SUPPOSED to get the belt, but he was nowhere to be found when Vince made the decision. As HTM says in his interview, Hogan threw his name out to Vince as a suggestion and Vince ran with it.)
Did his relationship with Vince change after that? Yeah, it did, but it was more of Steamboat’s feeling being hurt than Vince being upset with him. He had just stolen the show at Wrestlemania 3 with Savage and they were getting a bunch of praise wherever they went over their match. He’d felt great because pure work ethic had put him and Savage on top of the company, but it all came crashing down two months later.
Aside- Considering the widespread rumors that they both had heat with Hogan over stealing the show, it doesn’t really surprise me. The only reasons Savage survived were because he was a heel, meaning he could work against Hogan, and that Hogan’s suggestion of the Honkytonk Man as the next IC champion indirectly resulted in Savage becoming a face and winning the WWF title at Wrestlemania 4. Savage was programmed to lose to HTM for months and became a VERY over face due to the MASSIVE negative heat towards HTM, and HTM’s later refusal to drop the IC title to Savage at The Main Event got the WWF title for Savage as a consolation prize.
Jake “the Snake” Roberts- Great worker in MANY ways, but has a lot of personal problems. His psychology and timing were some of the best he’s ever seen.
Why’d he leave the WWF and return to the NWA- After he dropped the Intercontinental belt to HTM, he got six months off and didn’t come back until late in the year. He claims it was around December or January, but he was in the inaugural Survivor Series on Thanksgiving Day of 1987. Once he got to Wrestlemania 4, several things happened that told him it was time to go. The first was that he was booked to lose to Greg “The Hammer” Valentine in the first round of the WWF title tournament instead of losing to Savage in the second round in a rematch of their WM3 classic. He didn’t mind jobbing to Greg but thought it was stupid to do so considering the potential of Savage-Steamboat 2. The second was that when his wife Bonnie went to the concession stands that night, she couldn’t find a single piece of his merchandise on sale, despite it being the biggest show of the year and that he’d just come back from a long absence.
Chi-Town Rumble- He wasn’t under any pressure to put on a classic with Flair that night because wrestling fans knew the classics he’d had in the past and that he knew he still had it.
Wrestlewar 89- He knew he was losing the belt back to Flair at Wrestlewar, but he was upset that Flair turned face immediately after the match due to Terry Funk piledriving him through a table (he expected some rematches for the title).
Great Muta- Hard worker.
He takes an aside to tell a story about a house show match between him and Savage. Hogan and Paul Orndorff were being flown in to work the main event of that show after working an earlier show in a different city and, because they were the last match before Hogan-Orndorff, Savage and Steamboat had to kill time until they got there. It was supposed to be about 20 minutes… but went WAY longer than expected. It ended up being at 52 minutes, and that may have been much longer than it needed to because Steamboat, Savage, and the referee might not have been looking for the sign from road agent Blackjack Lanza because they were so tied up in their match. Afterwards, both of them were laid out on the floor of the locker room sucking air because they’d gone balls out for WAY too long.
Terry Funk- Terry’s matches “would go from ‘so serious’ to ‘you’d want to kill him.’” Lots of hardcore stuff like chairshots, as well as a lot of comedy stuff.
Working with Lex Luger as opposed to Ric Flair- “See this lamppost here? That’s what Luger’s like to work with. Like working with a steel pole.” Their match at Bash 89 was one of his best matches ever because he took a guy who didn’t know how to work well like Lugar and still put on a great match with him, getting him to start learning to work in the process.
Sting- Never hung out with him. The only way he’d know him is from when all the wrestlers would congregate at the airports. He always kept to himself, though he was always cordial.
Leaving WCW in 1989- He got into contract negotiations with Jim Herd late in the year and left because they didn’t turn out well.
Coming back to the WWF in 1991- Vince punished him for leaving before by dressing him as a dragon and making him breathe fire. He said the gimmick seemed good on paper, but the suit weighed too much and the fire-breathing gimmick was a mess, as Vince convinced him to do it every night instead of just at big shows. The guy that taught him how to blow fire, a huge fan of his, did an example of the trick for him and messed it up. Just as the guy spit the kerosene into the fire, the wind shifted and it went right back into his face, setting him on fire. Steamboat looked over at Bruce Pritchard and said something to the effect of “This guy’s a pro who’s done it for 10 years and he just set himself on fire… I’m not going to do this!” He eventually learned how to do it and did it every night, but wasn’t happy about it.
Did he take it as an insult that he was jerking the curtain coming off his legendary series with Flair? Yes. His relationship with Vince wasn’t particularly good because Vince promised him a main-event spot within 3 months yet, 10 months later, he was still in the opening matches. Eventually, he gave 2 weeks notice, which occurred just as Ric Flair finally jumped to the WWF.
Did he see Shawn Michaels as a future star? He wasn’t sure if Shawn could get the fans to believe he was a credible top guy, although he eventually did it.
Rick Rude- Hard worker, very opinionated. Kind of preferred to do things his way. “Rick Rude always looked out for Rick Rude.”
Any truth to Vince’s claims that he quit because he wouldn’t job to Undertaker? That’s a distortion of the truth. His last night in the company was a set of TV tapings (which covered about 3-4 weeks of TV at that time), and Vince told him he was going to do stretcher jobs for both IRS (Mike Rotundo) and Undertaker. He refused to do two stretcher jobs because it would expose the business to the fans at the tapings if he did a stretcher job in the first hour then did another in the second hour. He was more than willing to put both over cleanly, though. Vince told him that if he didn’t want to do stretcher jobs, he was going to be fired on the spot, and so he left for WCW.
Teaming with Dustin Rhodes- Dustin’s a good kid, would work VERY hard, always tried to live up to Dusty, etc. He says he always knew Dustin was going to be a good worker.
Bill Watts- They respected each other. Very old-school and protective of the business.
His series with Barry Windham and Arn Anderson- Puts over Arn as a worker and as a person.
Cactus Jack- “Every time I hear you bring up one of these names, I think that these guys would go to bat for me and work hard for me.” Mick’s a great guy off-camera anyway as well as a good guy in the ring.
Getting paired with Shane Douglas- He’s not sure how that came about… He doesn’t think that Shane went to the office and asked to be teamed with him, and he didn’t do it either. He thinks that the office looked at the guys that they weren’t doing anything with and just paired them off. He had a lot of fun working with Shane, as Shane would tell him that he’d be sitting on the apron waiting for the tag and would be awestruck watching him work in the ring. They still talk to each other every so often. Of the approximately 5 guys who’d always be there for him, those names include Douglas, Arn Anderson, Nikita Koloff, and Ric Flair.
Working with Douglas against the Hollywood Blondes (Steve Austin and Brian Pillman)- He thinks they’re great, too. He tells a story of a sold-out spot show where, during the intermission, an announcement was made that a blizzard was coming through and anyone who wanted to make sure they got home left. When they came out for the match, there were only 12 people left, and they all lived across the street from the arena. Both teams walked out wondering what the hell was going on, and the referee told them what happened. They still went out and put on a 40-minute match for those 12 people and had a lot of fun doing it.
Slamboree 1993- While the tag team cage match at the PPV was billed as between Los Dos Hombres and the Hollywood Blondes, with wink-wink comments that the Hombres were Steamboat and Douglas, it was actually internet columnist Tom Zenk in the place of Douglas. (Zenk claims that Douglas was trying to pressure WCW into giving him a better paying deal and walked out, and that WCW countered it by making the team masked and would put Zenk and Brad Armstrong in Douglas’s place. Zenk claims he was so good at playing Douglas that even Dave Meltzer didn’t know it was really him under the mask when he first saw the show.) Steamboat describes the situation as being “so damn goofy” with the big sombreros and so forth which, considering he was a gimmicked Hawaiian playing a Mexican, was pretty embarrassing.
Vader- “Oooooh…. You had to watch out for Vader.” Good guy with a big heart who’d jump in front of a bullet for you, but VERY stiff in the ring. He claims that it was a part of the edge that had made Vader a offensive lineman with a Super Bowl ring. Once he’d get into his match, “his eyes would turn red, like the Devil was possessing him” then he’d start getting stiff and you’d have to ask him to calm down. He had incredible matches but would scare you to death in the ring. “It would be like ‘–click- Oh shit…’, as if it was Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde”
Working his last match with Steve Austin- He’d hurt his back in Roanoke but finished the rest of the tour by just walking and talking. WCW terminated him with 2 months left on his contract, and the boys in the back were shocked. “They were like ‘God Ricky… we’ve got a lot of dickheads in the business who are out for a whole year and still get paid each week and you, a nice guy who only had 2 months left who got hurt on the job, got canned.” It was one of those moments that really stuck in his gut. He understood why they advertised him for Fall Brawl 94 in order to make money, but said it was wrong to do it since it swerved the fans, which hurts the fans as well as him because he’d effectively no-showed a pay-per-view. (I’d have said it was wrong because they took one of the best workers ever and replaced him with fucking Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who proceeded to squash Steve Austin and give him WCW’s unofficial “Get The ‘F’ Out” message.)
They take a break to change tapes, and put some interviews and matches in the gap.
Steamboat cuts a promo about his long-time rivalry with Ric Flair and how he’s planning to capture the NWA title from him. Considering the date of the house show advertised (February 5) and the fact that Steamboat mentions that it’s 1985, this must have been just a few short weeks before he jumped to the WWF and was on the inaugural Wrestlemania card.
Next is a 6-man bunkhouse match involving Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater (who comes to the ring wearing a big foam cowboy hat) against Outlaw Ron Bass, Tully Blanchard, and Black Bart, with JJ Dillon at ringside tied up by Magnum TA. Hardcore comedy crap match, which is to be expected with Dusty booking.
They come in during the middle of a question, as Steamboat’s telling stories of how jobbers would come up to him talking about how they had heat for the first time because the fans had seen a match in which they’d almost beaten Steamboat on TV, and how they appreciated how he’d worked with them.
Would he come back for one more match? Yeah, in a heartbeat if he was able to do it. His back’s fucked, though. He could come back but he wouldn’t be the same. If he came back, it would have to be against Ric Flair or Randy Savage, and it would probably end up being Flair.
Guys he still keeps in touch with- Ric Flair every so often, Shane Douglas, and “Peanuthead” Teddy Long, current WWE referee and former manager in WCW. Long is the only one who calls him up on Christmas Day every year to wish him a merry Christmas, and that’s because Steamboat had put in a good word for him at the office that turned his career around and he’s very grateful because of it.
Has he ever been asked to book? No, and he doesn’t think he ever would because he’d probably insist on doing things his way and it wouldn’t happen.
Thoughts on today’s wrestling- “I feel for the guys today” who are just entering the business because it’s hard to learn ring timing and psychology anymore. “They aren’t going to be able to experience the art form of being able to know what to do when.” He’s done a lot of wrestling workshops and teaches psychology, and has to insist that guys keep working on the same body part instead of working the arm until the heel misses a kneedrop, then working the leg until something else happens. He says this is a by-product of the territory system dying, as people are now watching the same few guys work instead of watching a bunch of guys work in Florida for a year then going to Texas and watching a different set of guys work for a year. It will be hard for the new generation of guys to learn this because they’re so wrapped up in chain wrestling and doing highspots.
David Flair- He doesn’t know what they did with him before they used him on TV. He says that he doesn’t watch a lot of wrestling anymore due to the loss of the artform in the business, but that when he saw David Flair’s matches that he wondered why WCW management and Ric would let him on TV when he was unprepared, especially since Ric’s such a professional and hard worker. He commends David Flair though, based on rumors that he’d tried to have himself taken off of TV until he’d worked enough off TV to know what he was doing, as most guys would take the found money and wrestle on TV even if they didn’t know what they were doing.
The Rock- Doesn’t know him very well, although he knows he’s Rocky Johnson’s son. He doesn’t really know him well enough to make any definitive comments, but thinks he’s probably an okay guy and does a hell of a job in the ring and on the mic.
Steve Austin- He’s glad for him, although he doesn’t talk to him much. Hard worker.
Was he shocked when he heard about Rick Rude and Brian Pillman’s deaths- Yeah. He does the Pillman Memorial Show with Les Thatcher each year.
Is Ricky Jr. a wrestling fan? No, he’s into racecars instead. He said it’s funny because his friends are all into wrestling and they go “Your dad’s Ricky Steamboat and you don’t watch wrestling?!?” He figures it’s because he doesn’t like the styles now, although he’ll watch Rock, Austin, or the last Nitro match ever between Flair and Sting.
Is there anyone who had a world of potential but didn’t make it? Chavo Guerrero Sr. and many of the other Guerreros. They did a lot of highspots but had Americanized their act.
Is he disappointed he never had a major run as a heel? Yeah. He’d talked to Pat Patterson about having a heel run in 1991, but Patterson shot it down because he thought it would be impossible for him to get heel heat on him even if he went out there and cut off Bret Hart’s head with a chainsaw. He asks how many other guys who’ve been in the business for a long time who’ve never changed from heel to face or vice versa, and they can’t think of anyone who’s done it. (This has been one of those message-board topics that ALWAYS comes up and Steamboat’s the only one anyone can think of who’s never had a turn)
How does he rate himself as a worker out of 10? He thinks about the variables going into it before giving himself a rating between an 8 and a 9.
Bret Hart- Man of excellence in the ring. REALLY hard worker. Doesn’t know him as a person outside the ring, though, as Bret was very solitary and tended to travel alone. He even notices that he has a lot of the same stock answers for many of these guys.
Is he surprised that guys like Hogan and Flair are still around? Not really, as he figures they both must love the business because they, Hogan especially, don’t need the money.
Any good ribs he saw or pulled? Mr. Fuji would put superglue in door locks, chains all around the car so that no one could open the doors, M80’s on the distributor cap of the car, cars up on blocks, etc. He says that if someone took your wheels and tires, they took them with them so your car would be in Raliegh but the wheels and tires would be in Charlotte. Johnny Valentine did a bad rib once in which he put lighter fluid in Harley Race’s inhaler, and after that Harley came back and shot holes through Valentine’s bag.
Does he want to say anything to his fans? He doesn’t think that celebrities should ever blow off their fans and not give them an autograph. They'll never see it from him, though, because he appreciates everything that the fans have done for him. He does personal appearances and workshops as a way to give back to the business and not for the income, as he’s invested well and gets to do what he wants to. He talks about how a particular fan had sent him a letter about an autograph session he’d done years ago, saying that Steamboat had stayed well over the time he was supposed to stop signing because the line was all the way out the door. He sent him the letter to thank him for doing that and a copy of the picture they’d taken together after the session and said he was going to try and make the next autograph session. When the guy came into the autograph session the day before this interview, Steamboat already had a picture signed and waiting for him when he came up and gave it to him for free, which impressed the hell out of all the other fans.
The first is a Muta-Steamboat match from Japan. Nice, great match, although a bit shorter than I’d expect for the two of them. Muta wins with a moonsault off the top rope. IIRC, this matchup was in booker Ric Flair’s original plans for Starrcade 89, and would have been MUCH better than anything that did show up on that show, as it was instead a set of round-robin tournaments and Steamboat had been gone for months by the time the show happened.
The next match is a Flair-Steamboat matchup from Japan for the NWA title. I don’t know when this is from, but I’m guessing that this is the same one included in the Best of Ric Flair tape, which has been reviewed by another internet writer. Good match, although it has a bit of the excessive headlock use that I’d knocked the Steamboat-Race match for. Steamboat went for a high cross-body from the top rope and Flair rolled through it for the three, a finish swiped by the WWF when booking Steamboat-Valentine in the WWF title tournament at Wrestlemania 4.
Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody vs. Steamboat and an unidentified Japanese wrestler - Brody and Hansen eats the everloving shit out of Steamboat and his partner before Hansen gets the three on Steamboat with the lariat.
The next bit is a sequence from early 1989 building up Steamboat-Flair at Chi-Town Rumble, as Steamboat trains with Dustin Rhodes and two unidentified jobbers so that Steamboat can be prepared for anything Flair can throw at him. Among other things, Steamboat works on counters to the figure-four. Midway through the session, Flair comes out and cuts promos with announcer Jim Ross about how he’s not going to lose and how he’s upset that people are comparing Rhodes and the other two jobbers to him. They take a commercial break and, when they come back, they show footage of an impromptu brawl between Steamboat and Flair. Steamboat eventually rips off Flair’s dress shirt (leaving the tie still around Flair’s neck), which causes Flair to take a powder.
The last bit on the tape is a forgotten piece of the Steamboat-Flair feud, as it’s the Steamboat-Gilbert vs. Flair-Windham match from NWA TV. Flair and Windham had signed a tag match with Gilbert and a partner of his choice, and they had no clue it was Steamboat until he hit the ring. This is a LONG TV match at about 30 minutes, which ends with Steamboat doing a high cross-body from the top rope to get the three, setting up their Chi-Town Rumble match. Great choice of a match but a dumb choice in positioning by the video crew, as it comes after the training session which was right before Chi-Town Rumble.
Recommendations: The actual interview is pretty good because Steamboat’s very honest and has some good stories, although it doesn’t top the interviews with Jim Cornette or Arn Anderson. On top of that, the matches are pretty good, including a forgotten match with Flair. That alone should be worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.