This would be the end of Ricky Steamboat’s career, as he hurt his back during this match and never recovered. Of course, Steve Austin would disappear from the wrestling scene forever not long after this and would be the constant subject of “Where Are They Now?” articles.
On the 6/10/89 edition of World Championship Wrestling, Lex Luger complained of being held back, and thought he was worthy of a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship over the likes of Ricky Steamboat or Terry Funk. At Clash VII, Luger made the save for Steamboat when Funk attacked the Steamer with a microphone, but then promptly turned on The Dragon, once again becoming a heel. On World Championship Wrestling, Luger cut a promo saying that he turned on Steamboat because he was tired of making the fans happy, and wanted to prove that he was better. So this match for the United States Championship was signed for Bash ’89.
NOTE: The Network does not have a milestone marker for anything from Bash ’89, and I already posted the link to that show a few days ago, so here’s the Dailymotion version.
Vance Middle School is where my sons went to middle school, and I can tell you, their gymnasium is more ghetto than your regular school gymnasium. The showers don’t always work unless you love cold showers, which ought to make for a fun experience for the TNA wrestlers once their match is over and they’re looking forward to a nice, hot shower. So if you really need a sign on how low TNA has sunk, here you go: they’re reduced to working in a outdated-by-30-years middle school gym with no working showers.You might be interested in knowing that Ricky Morton himself lives in this area and works for Beau James’ Southern States Wrestling, and it’s quite the sight to see a 60-year Ricky barely being able to walk and with that ’80s mullet now pretty much half gray and half dingy yellow rather than blonde. Saw him at a local Food City once taking out every nickel and quarter he had in his pocket to be able to buy a pick of cigarettes.
This was filmed in 2001 and has a run time of two hours and twenty-five minutes
He got started in wrestling while attending junior college. He was going to transfer to the University of Tampa in order to pursue a degree in teaching. He always wanted to be a Physical Education teacher. When he met with a guidance counselor, he was told that there was a 3-5 year wait to get a job in Florida due to the fact that a lot of coaches from the North would move down and get a job a few years before their retirement and the schools wanted experienced teachers. His girlfriend at the time moved to Minnesota and became roommates with Verne Gagne’s daughter, Donna. He said that one night, his girlfriend was invited to Verne’s house for dinner and his daughter Donna told her that Ricky was a good wrestler, as they were talking a lot at the time. Apparently, Verne heard of Steamboat’s real name, Richard Blood, through Eddie Graham from the time Steamboat wrestled his son, Mike. Ricky said that the old-time promoters always paid attention to amateur wrestlers. Verne then contacted Ricky and asked for a resume.
When asked who helped train him, Steamboat said that the Iron Sheik was instrumental in training him. Billy Robinson would pass through and stretch the guys out on occasion but most of the camp consisted of exercising.
When the camp started, there were 16 guys. After two weeks, only four remained. Besides Steamboat were Chad Nelson, Scott Irwin, and Buck Zumhoffe.
His first territory was the AWA. he only worked there for eight weeks then went down to Florida and worked for Eddie Graham. He only stayed there for a few months. From there, he met up with Jim Barnett and ended up working in Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1976 after he asked him repeatedly for two months.
He tells a story about the booker at that time in Georgia, Tom Renesto (The Assasin), and how he was told that he was going to get a push and work with Dick Slater. He put over Slater one week then the following week he was at TV then told that they were not going to start the program until the following week and that continued for a while.
Still talking about Georgia, he says that Dean Ho helped him out a lot. In the territory, they would work six days a week and have Sunday’s off. Dean would have a barbecue every Sunday with him and his wife. Steamboat said that he kept to himself most of the time.
After Georgia, he went to work in the Carolinas. Steamboat said that he was doing opening matches for the first six months there and is unable to recall who he was wrestling at the time. He then said that Ric Flair went to Jim Crockett and asked to work a program with him. At the time, Flair was the Television Champion.
In regards to Flair, Steamboat says that he doesnt keep in touch with him as much but that he can still go in the ring. He also talks about Flair’s partying for a bit but does not go into details. He then says that he owes his career to Flair as that was when he started to get popular.
Steamboat is asked about his work ethic, especially the 45-60 minute long matches. Steamboat said that he wanted to go at least 30 minutes a night as being in the ring was his time. He says that he cannot tell a story in just 20 minutes. He then talks about guys would get into shape before they worked a program with him.
He is asked about Roddy Piper. Steamboat said that he was crazy and wouldnt back down from anything. He also said that Piper was an incredibly loyal friend.
Steamboat says that Jim Crockett tried to project that he knew about the business but did not have a foothold on the business the way that Vince McMahon does. He said that Crockett was easily persuaded by others.
When asked about Harley Race, Steamboat said that he was loved going to Japan. Steamboat said that he did 12 tours of Japan and most of them were with Race. Steamboat said that if Race respected you, he would take care of you in the ring. Steamboat also puts over his strength and said he never went to the gym and recalls a time that Race picked him up from the apron with one hand and pulled him back into the ring.
Next, Steamboat is asked how he got teamed up with Jay Youngblood. They were paired up in 1978 when they used to ride together then came up with the idea to become a team then pitched the idea to Crockett. At the time, Crockett wanted Steamboat to say as a singles wrestler to work with the heels. He puts over their matches against Flair & Greg Valentine, Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle, and the Brisco Brothers. Steamboat then says while the general public will probably state that their favorite Steamboat match was his WrestleMania III match with Randy Savage or his matches against Ric Flair in 1989, his were his tag matches agaisnt the teams mentioned above.
Steamboat is asked about his retirement match against Sgt. Slaughter in 1982. He said that it was a build-up for a cage match with him and Youngblood against Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle and that had the stipulation if Steamboat lost, the team would have to split up and he would have to retire. Steamboat and Youngblood won that match. He then said that they were ahead of their time with the stipulations and puts over George Scott as a booker.
When asked about Ole Anderson, he calls him a “real hardnose” and that there was no gray area with him. He says that he was an okay guy.
Back to Japan, Steamboat says that his mother was Japanese and that the fans there took to him as a fae. He said that all of the Japanese were faces and that the Americans were heels but he was a face. He also said that the heels were happy to work against him as he was nowhere near as stiff as the Japanese guys. He talks about the brutal travel schedule in Japan and tells a story of how he took several different forms of transportation totaling sixteen hours in order to work a spot show.
He is asked about any road stories while in the Carolinas. He laughs for a bit then tells a story about the Brisco Brothers. He said that they loved to drink but that Gerald always drove and one several occasions, he would drive well past their destination and would keep driving until he ran out of gas. When that happened, Gerald would go walk to get gas and Jack would end up locking the car and go back to sleep. One time, Gerald came back to the car and had to get in so he could open up the gas cap but the car was locked and Jack was sound asleep. Gerald then banged on the window a dozen or so times, with Jack’s head bouncing off of it as he was asleep, before Jack awoke.
Steamboat is asked about Tully Blanchard. He called him a hard worker but said that he had an attitude problem back then and said that Tully himself would probably agree (Tully confirmed this on his shoot interview). He joked that sometimes you felt like slapping the shit out of him due to how he acted.
Now, Steamboat is asked about working a few shows up in the Northern cities. This had Steamboat talk about different styles then said how all of the mechanics (moves) were the same but that the differences are how people sell, get heat, and timing of comebacks.
Steamboat is asked how the territory changed when Dusty Rhodes became the booker. He said that he left as he saw the writing on the wall as Rhodes was a babyface and had the pencil. He was working a program with Tully and that he would have a time limit on which he could win the Television Title off of him and that he would beat him in 25 minutes but he could only win the title if he beat him in 20 minutes. They kept extending the time limits but he would never get the title and it did not get over with the fans. After a match in which Steamboat went 47 minutes with Tully, Dusty proceeded to beat Tully in 12 and Steamboat started to work with Nikita Koloff, who was fairly new to the business. Steamboat knew that they were building up to Dusty vs. Nikita and that George Scott was booking in the WWF at the time and decided to make the jump.
Now, Steamboat is talked about the differences between WWF and NWA. He said at first, everyone thought that flying instead of driving would be great but after a while, they got sick of the planes as they had a lot less freedom.
He is asked is initial thoughts about Vince McMahon. Steamboat talks about how Vince ended the old handshake deals of the past about not running TV in another territory’s market. He said that he liked him too.
Steamboat now talks about his feud against Don Muraco. He said when he saw him in Florida, he was 228 lbs and looked like a Polynesian God but when he faced him in the WWF, he was up to 280lbs and sometimes hit the 300lbs mark. He said that Muraco would blow up in the ring and looked on the verge of dying but would take every bump and be in the right spot at all times. Muraco would be hungover from the night before and would sometimes have vomit hanging off of his mouth.
At this time, Steamboat addresses his matches against Randy Savage. Steamboat said that Savage was a detailed guy and would spend a lot of time with you before the match and then give you some offense if he liked you but if he did not, he would go out there and take everything he could. He then said that Savage was detailed to the point that he would write down each step and for step one would actually go ahead and write “lockup,” which Steamboat thought was ridiculous as every wrestler would start out by doing that. Steamboat said that he had a spiral bound notebook with each step written out, with as much as 285 steps. They would meet in their hotel rooms and go over the matches the night before. He said that while Andre and Hogan sold the show, he told Savage that they should go out and steal the show. He mentioned that they had 22 nearfalls in a sixteen minute match that the fans were going nuts for the whole time.
Steamboat now compares his matches against Ric Flair to the ones he had with Savage. He said that they went into a 57 minute two-out-of-three falls match just knowing the three finishes and that they would call the rest in the ring. For that reason, he said that he liked his matches against Flair the best.
When asked about his relationship with Hogan, Steamboat said that it wasnt much and cannot recall a single time in which they ran into each other outside of an arena. He said that while Hogan stayed at the finest hotels, he was staying at the Red Roof Inn type of places in order to save money.
He is asked why his team with Jimmy Snuka did not get pushed. Steamboat said that he did not even know why they were teamed to begin with. He didnt say much other than that but for what it’s worth, multiple wrestlers who were in the WWF at this time stated that Snuka’s drug use was really out of control at the time.
Steamboat said that he realized WrestleMania was a huge deal during WrestleMania III. He said that the first one was more localized and that he didnt like WM2 as they had to fly to Australia that same night. He said that he wrestled Hercules Hernandez, who really wanted to try hard and have a good match that night but ended up having an anxiety attack and froze up in the ring. Steamboat said it was like wrestling a pole.
When asked about the drug use in the locker room, Steamboat said that it was used and that he would be lying if he said that he never dabbled in drug use himself, stating he took a “little bit” of speed a few times when he was run down due to their brutal schedule so he could work a match.
In regards to the Honky Tonk Man, Steamboat said that he was an okay guy but was sad that he had to drop the Intercontinental Title to him. Steamboat then reveals that he was originally promised that he was going to have the belt for the year but that Vince had to have the belt defended at house shows. Steamboat said that he just wanted a few weeks off for the birth of his son and that he defensively told Vince that they only wrestled in major cities once a month so why couldnt the belt be off the road for a few weeks? Steamboat then goes on to say how he never had a problem doing a job and that having a good match was the most important thing. He thought the Honky Tonk Man character was hokey but he worked his ass off. He also said that they had several others heels that had been with the company for a while who also worked their asses off who were upset that they were passed over for the belt.
Steamboat said that his realtionship with Vince was damaged after that. He also said that he was really down after coming off of his match with Savage at WrestleMania, he dropped the belt. He said that his feelings were hurt after that too and his outlook on Vince changed.
He loved working with Jake Roberts and calls him a great worker with excellent timing.
He is then asked how he wound up going back to WCW. Steamboat says that he came back after a six-month break in December of 1987. At WrestleMania IV, he was part of the tournament to crown the new WWF Champion. He first saw the brackets and saw that he was facing Valentine in the first round then figured that he would win and face Savage in the second round and return the favor by jobbing to him as everyone knew that Savage was winning the belt. Steamboat said that Chief Jay Strongbow came up to him and told him that he was going to be eliminated in the first round. He also said that his wife went out to the concession stands and found that he did not have any merchandise out at all then thought that Vince was making an example out of him for taking time off and that was when he decided to leave for WCW.
Steamboat is asked if had something to prove during the Chi-Town Rumble and he said that he might have wanted to show the fans that he still had it but that was about all.
After he dropped the belt to Flair, he thought that he was going to have some re-matches with Flair and had no idea that Funk was coming in to challenge for the belt. Steamboat then said that he had no ego in regards to his stance in the company about being the number one babyface. He said that he was happy that he would usually have the best match on the card that night.
He liked the Great Muta but said that he wanted to go 90mph all the time, which Steamboat did not want to do all the time as he wanted to save stuff for the end of the match. Steamboat then goes back to his WWF days and tells a story how he wrestled the second to last match on the card against Randy Savage in Chicago, with Paul Orndorff and Hogan as the main event. Well, Orndorff and Hogan were late and on a jet as they worked at the Nassau Coliseum that day. Blackjack Lanza was the agent and told them that they did not know when Orndorff and Hogan were arriving and said that when he came out and put his pencil in his mouth, they had to wrap up the match. He said that the referee saw him standing there and that they ended up going 52 minutes that night. He said after the match, he collasped on the floor, as was Savage. He said they were blue due to a lack of oxygen.
When asked about Terry Funk, Steamboat said that he would stiff you but when it was your turn on offense, he would let you unload on him. He is asked about Lex Luger and grabs a lamp post and says that working with that is what it’s like working with Lex. He said that he would help him and basically tell him what do during their matches as it happened. He said that Luger had no clue how to work as a heel but that Luger himself actually thanked him for helping him out. Steamboat said that he didnt know Sting much at all as he kept to himself but that he was cordial towards him in the locker room.
Steamboat is now asked about his WWF return and if he was against the fire blowing gimmick. He said at that time, Vince had an art lady who would draw up costumes as that was what Vince wanted at the time. Steamboat said that the costume looked cool on paper but the tail weighed a lot. He said orignally, he was only supposed to do the fire blowing gimmick at the big shows but that Vince loved it and convinced him to do it every night. Vince actually sent him to a guy in Florida to did fire-swallowing for the Carnival to learn and the guy turned out to be a huge fan of his. Steamboat tells a story of the guy showing him the trick on a windy day and that the wind shifted and blew the fire into his face and he was running around trying to put it out. Steamboat, who was with Bruce Prichard at the time, turned to Prichard and said that he was not going to do this but he eventually learned and did it safely each time.
He is asked if he felt insulted working opening matches and Steamboat said that he was. Steamboat said that he met with Vince at his house and they shook hands and buried the hatchet. Vince also promised Steamboat a main-event spot but told him he wanted to start him off slow and build him back up and that it would take three months. Steamboat said that after three months, he asked Vince about a program and he was told it would happen at the next TV but it never did and lasted for ten months until Steamboat landed in a town somewhere in the midwest and called up the office and gave his two weeks notice.
On the subject of Shawn Michaels, Steamboat said that he was surprised that he became the top guy in the company but thought that he ended up pulling it off. He called Rick Rude a hard worker but was very opinionated and that he was usually only looking out for himself.
Steamboat is asked about the rumor that he quit the WWF after refusing to job for the Undertaker. He said that his last show, a TV taping, they wanted him to do a stretcher job for both the Irwin R. Schyster and the Undertaker and he said no. Steamboat said that he would job in the ring but if he did a stretcher job in the first hour then later on in the taping did another one, what would the fans think. Vince told him that if he did not do a stretcher job, he would be fired on the spot.
He wound up back in WCW after he called them up. He teamed with Dustin Rhodes and Steamboat puts him over as a hard worker and thinks that he wanted to prove himself because of his dad.
Steamboat said that Bill Watts respected him and wanted the heels and faces to be separate at all times, even during flights or at the gym. When traveling to cities that had multiple flights, he would try to have the heels go on one plane and the faces on the other.
He is asked about several other workers. Steamboat loves Arn Anderson, saying that he would help you out in a minute. He also calls Arn a great finish guy and said he was a great worker. He also puts over Cactus Jack as a great guy, both outside and inside of the ring. He loved working with Brian Pillman and Steve Austin. Steamboat recalls a story while wrestling at a small house show in Northern Georgia against Pillman & Austin while teaming with Douglas, an announcement was made that if you want to make it home, leave now because a blizzard is coming. They did not know about the announcement as the locker room was in a dark basement and when they came out to the ring, only twelve people were left in the crowd that was sold out and they were all from the same family. Their house was across the street from the building so they stayed. They ended up wrestling for 40 minutes and had a blast. He said that they mixed in comedy spots in their too and had a blast.
When asked how he became teamed up with Shane Douglas, he didnt know but said that Shane always tried to learn from him and that he was an intelligent guy. They still keep in touch today and occasionaly have dinner.
Steamboat then says that he has few guys in wrestling who will always be there for him including Shane, Arn, Nikita, and Flair.
He liked Vader and thought he had a big heart but said that he was stiff in the ring. Steamboat also said that he cant blame him for being a little stiff as he played in the NFL and to play at that level, you needed to have that edge and he would get wrapped up in his matches and start to really lay into you.
About his last match in WCW against Steve Austin, he said that he hurt his back and had two months left on his contract yet WCW decided to terminate him anyway. He said that guys came up to him and couldnt believe that he was fired as he gave his all and was a decent guy yet there were others who were hurt for several months and nasty in general that still got paid to sit home.
Steamboat is then asked if he could come back and work a match today. He said that he could but not the same way he used to wrestle and could only take a limited amount of bumps. He would love to work with Flair and thinks after a few weeks of training, could work an hour-long match with Flair although at a much slower pace.
He talks about Teddy Long and how he still keeps in contact with him. He also says that Teddy calls him every Christmas. Steamboat says that Teddy thanks him for telling management that he should be a manager when he was a referee for the NWA. Steamboat says that he is not sure if he even was the reason that Teddy got that into the role.
On the current product, Steamboat says that he feels for the new guys in the business today when it is all geared towards TV and PPV and all of the matches are short. Without working long house show matches, you cannot get a feel for psychology and without territories, there is nowhere to practice and learn. He brings up a seminar that he is conducting and said that he asked a lot of guys what to do in certain situations and they are lost as what do to. Steamboat really shows off how much he knows about psychology and stresses once again that all of the moves are the same but it is the body language and movement that makes it special. From that, he said that a card is varied and that they all portray different characters and sell moves in different ways.
When asked about the Rock, he said that he doesnt know him personally but is doing a great job. He calls Steve Austin a hard worker.
He is asked about his son being a fan of wrestling and he said no but loves watching NASCAR. Steamboat also adds that his son’s friends all watch and cannot believe that he doesnt because he is a wrestler.
Steamboat says that he doesnt really watch much today but will stop and watch when he sees Rock, HHH, and Austin on TV.
Now, he is asked about guys who we thought should have made it bigger. He brings up the Guerrero’s, specifically Chavo Sr. and Eddie.
About working as a heel, Steamboat said that he wanted to work heel during his second WWF run as for once, he wanted to tell someone in the crowd to shut up and sit down. He said that Pat Patterson told him that he could cut off Bret Hart’s head with a chainsaw and that wouldn’t work as a heel. He also told Steamboat to never work heel as it would hurt his career.
He says that he has no regrets about the business.
When asked about good rib stories, he says that Mr. Fuji would put super glue on door handles and one time in the 70’s in the Carolinas, Fuji wrapped a chain all around a car and put an M80 on the distributor so when the car started, it would blow up. He then tells a story of how Johnny Valentine did a really bad rib when crapped in someones bag then put lighter fluid in Harley Race’s inhaler. After that, Race came back with a gun and shot holes into Valentine’s bag.
He closes by stating he will never forget his fans and the support that they gave him and will never, ever turn down an autograph or photo from them. He thanks them for evverything that he has then tells a story of a fan named George Silva. He wrote a letter and sent a picture of how when he was 15 years old and at an autograph session, he was at the back of the line and after the time was up, Steamboat said that he was going to stay and sign for everyone. In the letter, he said that he was going to try to make the seminar and that he showed up and went they met, Steamboat pulled out the picure and gave him an autograph.
Final Thoughts: After a really slow start, the first 20-25 were dreadfully boring, it ended up turning out to be a decent shoot. I felt like shutting it off at the beginning to tell you the truth. Steamboat also speaks slowly and relaxed so that ould also turn people off. Steamboat did not have an agenda here and seems to appreciate everything wrestling has gotten him. However, you could tell that he was still bitter about losing the Intercontinental Title and the way he was booked in his last WWF run, despite saying at one point in the interview that he did not have a problem jobbing to someone clean in the ring. The part about the stretcher job I can see it from his perspective about the fans at the building not buying him coming out after being stretchered out only to have it happen again but at the same time, they were television tapings and the fans are seeing them a week apart. In closing, I give this a mild recommendation but would not blame you if you tuned out early.
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