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Legends of Wrestling: Rick “The Dragon” Steamboat

By : WrestlingDotCom News Posted on

Written by Jerome Wilen

Richard Henry Blood, known as one of the most charismatic in ring performers, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat became one of the most popular professional wrestlers of 1980’s and early 1990’s. Hawaiian born, son of an English father and Japanese mother, Ricky attended Vern Gagne’s School of Wrestling in Minneapolis.

Ricky Steamboat – American Wrestling Association 1976 – 1977

Steamboat, born February 28, 1953 debuted in 1976 as a babyface in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) as Sam Steamboat, Jr. Blood took the name from older Hawaiian wrestler Sam Steamboat. In 1977, Blood left the AWA for Championship Wrestling Florida and then Georgia Championship Wrestling.

Ricky Steamboat – National Wrestling Alliance 1977 – 1985

In 1977, Blood renamed himself Ricky Steamboat signed a contract with Jim Crockett Promotions. He was brought in as a part of a talent exchange that sent him to Mid-Atlantic for the One Man Gang to Georgia. Steamboat first made waves in the promotion after pinning Ric Flair to win the NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Championship in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over course of the next eight years, Steamboat would win the NWA United States Championship on three different occasions, the NWA World Tag Team Titles six different times, once with Paul Jones and the other five times with Jay Youngblood. Steamboat also held two different times, the NAW Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship, the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles four different times, three with Paul Jones and one time with Jay Youngblood. Steamboat also for a second time, won the NWA World Television Championship, which was renamed the NWA World Television Title.

Ricky Steamboat – World Wrestling Federation and the Birth of “The Dragon” 1985 – 1988

In 1985, Blood was offered a contract by Vince McMahon to wrestle in his World Wrestling Federation. Just shortly after his debut, he was given a new babyface gimmick of “The Dragon” His jacket and in ring attire was changed to keikogi with long tights and made his pay-per view debut at the very first WrestleMania defeating Matt Borne.

On the November 26, 1986 episode of WWF Superstars, Steamboat wrestled Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship Belt. Steamboat lost the match by count-out. Following the match, Savage continued to attack Steamboat and injure him by smashing the ring bell into Steamboat’s larynx, which was the beginning of a bitter rivalry between the two. At WrestleMania III, Steamboat was scripted to win the Intercontinental Title from Savage. This match was named 1987’s Match of the Year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Champion and Departure 1987-1988

Following his historic win, Steamboat asked Vince McMahon for some time off to be with his wife Bonnie, who was expecting the birth of their first son. WWF Management was not excited about this request and decided to punish Steamboat by stripping him of the title. The May 2, 1987, at Saturday Night’s Main Event, Steamboat agreed to drop the title to the Honky Tonk Man. Steamboat returned at the November 1987 Survivor Series, and after losing to Greg Valentine at WrestleMania IV in March 1998, he announced his retirement.

Rick Steamboat returns to the NWA/World Championship Wrestling – 1989

Steamboat returned to the ring January 21, 1989 to the NWA/WCW as the surprise tag team partner for “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert as they faced off against Ric Flair and Barry Windham. Steamboat pinned Flair and earned him a title shot at the NWA/WCW title at the Chi-Town Rumble, in which Steamboat defeated Flair to win title in what was a very historic match, which earned a 5-star rating from the Wrestling Observer.

Due to a contract dispute, June 14, 1989 Clash of the Champions would be the last appearance by Steamboat in the NWA/WCW.

Ricky Steamboat returns to the World Wrestling Federation – 1991

In 1991, Steamboat returned to the WWF as The Dragon. On the March 30, 1991 episode of Superstars, Steamboat defeated The Brooklyn Brawler. On Various episodes of Superstars and Wrestling Challenge, Steamboat would defeat all his opponents as he was undefeated on television. However, the day his dark match loss, he gave notice to Vince McMahon and again left the company.

Rick Steamboat returns to World Championship Wrestling 1991 – 1994

November 19, 1991 at the Clash of the Champions, Steamboat made a surprise return to WCW as the tag team partner of Dustin Rhodes. Steamboat and Rhodes defeated the Enforces (Arn Anderson and Larry Zbysko) to win the World Tag Team Titles. They held the belts until January 1992, when they lost the belts to Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton.

At the September 2, 1992 episode of the Clash of the Champions, Steamboat won his first World Television Title by defeated “Stunning” Steve Austin. However, on September 29, Steamboat would lose the title to Scott Steiner. Steamboat would re-win the Television Title at the August 18, 1993 episode of the Clash of the Champions. One month later, he would lose the title to Lord Steven Regal.

Rick Steamboat – WCW United States Championship and Departure – 1994

As 1994 came around, Steamboat began one last feud for the World Title with long time rival Ric Flair. Following an unsuccessful run at trying to win the title, Steamboat won the WCW U.S. Title against Steve Austin at the August 28, 1994 episode of the Clash of Champion. Steamboat injured his back during the match. Like Steve Austin, WCW President Eric Bischoff fired Steamboat by sending his pink slip through Federal Express, thus ending a two decade relationship with Jim Crockett Promotions and Ted Turner. Steamboat permanently retired in September 1994.

Ricky Steamboat – Returning to World Wrestling Entertainment (Federation) 2005 – Present

In early 2005, Steamboat returned to the WWE as a road agent. In 2006 and 2007, Steamboat refereed matches at WrestleMania and Summer Slam. On the February 23, 2009 episode of Monday Night Raw, Steamboat made an appearance after being named one of the members of the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame. During the show he was attacked by Chris Jericho, thus beginning a feud of the young talent vs. the veterans. Steamboat was also joined by Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka.

In what was his first match in fifteen years, Steamboat returned to the ring alongside Piper and Snuka on April 5, 2009 at WrestleMania XXV. On the April 6, 2009 edition of RAW, Steamboat competed in a 10-man tag team match, which generated a huge positive crowd reaction. Just a few weeks later, Steamboat was challenged by Jericho at Backlash in a one on one match and lost by submission.

Ricky Steamboat notes and personal life

Steamboat played a part of as the referee in the first ever Gauntlet for the Gold in Total Non-Stop Action, referee for the four-way double elimination match for the first ever TNA X-Division Title match.

Steamboat refereed the first title defense for the Ring of Honor Pure Wrestling Championship

Steamboat is the only professional wrestler to have ever held every major championship wrestling belt in the United States, with exception of the WWE World Championship belt.

Aside from wrestling fame, Ricky held the 1982 Mr. North Carolina Bodybuilding Championship. Eager to share his knowledge, Ricky and his wife, Bonnie, opened Steamboat’s Mid-Atlantic Gym in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1984.

Ricky and Bonnie have one son, Ricky Jr., born 7/7/87. After 20 years of marriage, Ricky and Bonnie are now divorced but remain great friends and support Ricky Jr. in his choice to follow in his father’s footsteps in professional wrestling.

Ricky, a versatile performer, was a cast member on the “A-Team” and a special guest star on “Sidekicks” (Walt Disney Studios). He has also starred in over 20 wrestling videos. In addition, he is involved in numerous top selling product endorsements.

Sensitive, empathic, and selfless, Ricky visits hospitals, children’s centers and other rehabilitative settings. He also participates in annual fund raising events for Muscular Dystrophy and United Cereberal Palsy.

Ricky’s popularity as a performer and entertainer helped draw a world record crowd of 93,173 to the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan on March 27th 1987 for Wrestlemania III.

Today, Ricky travels the country as a road agent with the WWE, while exploring opportunities focusing on television, commercials, films and product endorsements. He has natural talent, coupled with genuine enjoyment for the entertainment profession.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and

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