The greatest faces in WWE history – No. 9
When you talk about performers being ahead of their time, a few names pop into mind. Rick Rude, Jake Roberts and Mr. Perfect are just some of the names that people think of.
There was one other performer who was considered revolutionary, his skills setting him apart from the rest of the crop. His match with Randy Savage at WrestleMania 3 is considered to be the greatest wrestling match in WrestleMania history.
He is also considered to be one of the biggest babyfaces of all time, being one of the most beloved superstars of his generation, while also generating a similar response even today.
Continuing with our series of the greatest faces in WWE history, today we take a look at our number 9 pick. He is none other than the legendary ‘Dragon’, Ricky Steamboat.
Starting his career in the AWA, Ricky Steamboat soon found himself in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) feuding with ‘The Nature Boy’ and the soon-to-be face of NWA, Ric Flair. These two had some legendary battles, with Steamboat finding his initial success after the feud.
Steamboat then achieved his greatest success when he signed with the global juggernaut, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) headed by Vince McMahon Jr. It was here that Steamboat took on the monicker of ‘The Dragon’, going back to his roots.
Steamboat found great success as ‘The Dragon’, and to this day is considered as one of the most underrated performers who deserved a run as the WWF champion.
Ricky Steamboat’s first big feud was against Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, which was considered to be revolutionary at that time. Their segments were so innovative that both the performers were lauded, and were considered ahead for their time.
Their rivalry culminated when Roberts placed his pet snake ‘Damien’ on Steamboat, only for Steamboat to reveal his own pet, a Komodo Dragon, scaring Jake Roberts away. This led to the management giving Steamboat a chance to see if he could hang around the bigger names, and was then placed into a feud against the then WWF Intercontinental champion, ‘The Macho Man’ Randy Savage.
Steamboat’s feud with Savage kicked off when Savage kayfabe injured Steamboat, attacking him after their match and driving the ring bell into his larynx. This resulted in their much anticipated match at WrestleMania 3 for the prestigious WWF Intercontinental championship.
This match was WWF’s way of testing the waters to see if Savage and Steamboat were ready for the big leagues, and to see if they could become the WWF champion.
Although the headline of the PPV was Hogan-Andre, these two stole the show by putting on one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time, receiving rave reviews from all the critics and their peers alike. Their match was awarded the ‘Match of the Year’ honor by Wrestling Observer.
Steamboat’s immediate future wasn’t as bright as people expected. Due to differences with the management, Steamboat was punished, and was stripped off the title. He was then placed into meaningless feuds until Steamboat quit the WWF and went back to NWA.
It was here that he once again feuded with his former foe, Ric Flair and in the process, put on multiple five-star calibre matches, receiving praises from all the fans and critics.
Steamboat then made a return to the WWF, only to win squash matches before he quit the company once again. Although he won Tag titles and the United States Heavyweight championship in WCW, it was evident that his run was coming to an end.
Steamboat retired from professional wrestling in ’94, but reconciled with Vince McMahon and the WWE, and started making appearances from ’05 in the now WWE.
He was then inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in ’09, and worked a match that year at WrestleMania against Chris Jericho.
Ricky Steamboat could’ve achieved a lot more had the WWF management treated him right. Steamboat was one of the very few who was meant to become a professional wrestler.
Although Ricky never won the WWF championship, he made a place in the fans’ hearts. This earns him the number 9 spot in our list of the greatest faces in WWE history.
Find the complete list here – Greatest Faces in WWE history