WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat recently had an interview with the Sporting News where he talked about several different topics, including what elements make a great pro wrestling match, the importance of a live crowd, his match against Steve Austin at Clash of Champions, who today he would have liked to wrestler, and much more.
Check out the highlights below.
Ricky Steamboat on the the elements of a great pro wrestling match:
“It’s the chemistry between the two wrestlers. Do they gel together and do their styles complement each other? Do they have the same basic psychology format to the direction of where they think the match should go? That’s really important because some guys may think this way and some guys think that way and it can be a bit of a tug of war. But being able to be on the same page with the guys that you’re in a program with is a major, major deal.”
Ricky Steamboat on the importance of a live crowd:
“A lot of times we would feed off of the crowd. A lot of things that we were doing in the match was called on the fly. For example, Ric Flair and I would go into a match and have a couple of spots and moments set up. And then, of course, we would line up the finish. But the rest was called on the fly. And then after each spot and a moment you get a crowd reaction. I’ll give you an example: I was working with Barry Windham and we were working in different cities. I remember the first time we were in the ring and I was being a very aggressive babyface, and we were working an arm drag series and the fans were just sitting on their hands. I looked down at Barry and I said, “Barry, they’re not buying this stuff!” So we went right to the heat where he was kicking my ass and the fans got excited and booed the crap out of him. That’s where a crowd reaction sort of dictated what we needed to do to get the match over. I think it plays a big influence on how you would react to your opponent. The crowd actually helps you and to be out there without a crowd … it must be very hard.”
Ricky Steamboat on his match with Steve Austin at Clash of Champions:
“He was awesome. When I wrestled him, he was still a young buck. But I knew right then and there that he had it. His light bulb was on all the time, he understood psychology and how to pace himself. We just had it working together. I told the higher-ups at WCW that we needed to do more with him but it didn’t pan out. The rest was history: He became Stone Cold and look at what happened.”
Ricky Steamboat on the difference between working with Randy Savage and Ric Flair:
“Randy was the type of guy that would have everything lined up for a match from top to bottom. But with Flair, we wrestled maybe 30 matches to a one-hour draw and only had a few spots lined up. When we wrestled in the Carolinas and the Mid Atlantic region with Jim Crockett promotions, we would wrestle in places that were maybe 90 miles apart in the same week. We were forced to try and have a different match every night and that made us better performers. It made you understand how to make changes on the fly. We didn’t want fans from Greenville seeing the same match we did in Columbia. Even though the matches would often go to a time limit draw, we had to make sure it was different. Flair was a guy who 90 percent of your match was called on the fly while Savage was a guy who had 90 percent of it set in stone before the match began.”
Ricky Steamboat on which wrestler today he would have liked to work with:
“Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns and AJ Styles. Seth Rollins was a guy who came to WWE with years of time in the indies but he listened and he just got it. Styles is a great mix of old and new school. Bray Wyatt has always been able to step up when asked to do something different. He’s very athletic for his size but it’s all about his creativity.”
Ricky Steamboat on guys he didn’t get to work with from his time:
“I would have loved to work with Shawn Michaels. I was in the twilight of my career when he came to WWE. Bret Hart as well. We only got a chance to work together a few times but one of my best matches was against him at Boston Garden. He’s a guy I wished I could have worked many, many times with.”
Ricky Steamboat on staying babyface throughout his career:
“Truth be told, in my last run with WWE I told Pat Patterson that I’d like to work as a heel. At that time I had 17 years as a babyface. I told him before I bow out of the business I wanted a run as a heel to say that I had done it. He told me that I was the ultimate babyface. He said that Hulk Hogan — who was the top babyface — could have been working with a top heel and I could have had a chainsaw in an effort to save him. I could have swerved the fans and used the chainsaw to cut off one of his 24-inch pythons. There would be a hush and then 20,000 fans would stand up to tell Hogan “You deserve it.” So that didn’t work. I tried again when I went to WCW and I was told it would ruin my career. I’m one of the few guys in this business that started out one way and stayed that way for my entire career. I would have liked to see what it felt like to work heel. But, in some ways, I’m thankful I never turned heel because there just aren’t too many guys who can say they did what I did.”