Retro Wednesday: Ricky Steamboat Wins The NWA World Heavyweight Championship


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Ever since he stepped foot in a ring back in 1976, Ricky Steamboat was once of the most polished wrestlers in the business. He had the ability to make any match look like gold, and seamlessly exhibited his awesome talent in the ring.

It didn't take long for Steamboat to get noticed. Just a year after his debut, he was involved in a heated rivalry over the Mid-Atlantic Television Championship—which later became the WCW Television Championship—with another rising star, Ric Flair.

Flair and Steamboat continued their rivalry the same year, only this time for the NWA United States Championship (when the design was really cool, with the entire United States as the main plate). During this intense feud, both Flair and Steamboat traded wins and title reigns, with one of the most memorable moments being when Flair dragged Steamboat's face across the floor during a match in 1978.

Steamboat stayed in the NWA until 1985, where he achieved mild success in the WWE, most notably being a part of one of the best WrestleMania matches ever against Randy Savage at WM 3.

In the beginning of 1989, Steamboat picked back up the rivalry of ten years prior between him and Flair. Their first rivalry was for the TV title, second was for the US title. It was only fitting for this one to be for the World Heavyweight Championship—and indeed it was.

Just one month after his return, Steamboat competed against Flair at the Chi-Town Rumble. In a fantastic match that lasted over twenty minutes, Steamboat defeated Flair to capture his first—and only—world title.

The Flair/Steamboat rivalry has to go down as one of the best pro wrestling feuds of all time. Not only did it progress from different levels of championships, but it showcased two of the best wrestlers that ever stepped foot in the ring.

Both wrestlers credit the other for being their best opponent, and rightfully so. Seeing their many, many matches gave a depiction of what wrestling truly should look like.

Sheerly—classic.

Follow Chris Featherstone on Twitter @cravewrestling. Got a news tip or correction? Send it to us by clicking here.

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