WWE Hall Of Famer Ricky Steamboat spoke with Wrestling Inc. President Raj Giri just ahead of 'The Dragon's scheduled appearance at PCW ULTRA's "May The 4th Be With You" show this Friday in Wilmington, CA. Among many other things, Steamboat talked about his classic match at WrestleMania 3 versus WWE Hall Of Famer 'Macho Man' Randy Savage and training young talent.
Although Steamboat knew well in advance of WrestleMania 3 that he would be winning the Intercontinental title at 'The Showcase Of The Immortals', he had no idea of the match would have such a strong influence on the future of pro wrestling.
"I did know [about winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 3], yes. I was told by Vince [McMahon]." Steamboat said, "of course, it's very rewarding, but truth be told, Randy and I never knew that it was going to escalate the way it has over the years and still be talked about 31 years later. We wanted to actually just steal the show that night."
Notably, WrestleMania 3 was the first time Steamboat and Savage faced off in the squared circle, as part of the build for the match involved Steamboat being injured at the hands of, or ring bell of, Savage.
"Randy and I never really got to work [prior to WrestleMania 3]." Steamboat recalled, "the first time was when we hooked up at WrestleMania, so we didn't have a chance to have a bunch of matches under our belt to get ready for the big show and try some stuff. Everything that was put together for the match was strictly based on our gut feeling on the story we were trying to tell. We tried to make it a championship match and that's the bottom line."
With that said, the bout was meticulously planned and memorized with Steamboat and Savage quizzing each other on the sequences of the match on the days leading up to WrestleMania. According to Steamboat, the false finishes in the match changed the genre.
"I didn't realize it then, it was only later, that with the number of guys coming up and talking about the match, and I'm going back years later, and how we kind of changed the blueprint of how you put together a match because of all the false finishes in that match. And the false finishes to me is what made it a championship match. He's trying to hold onto the belt and I'm trying to win it from him. I think if my memory serves me, we had 21 false finishes in a match that went about 17 minutes. The hard part is when you're caught up in all the action, all the drama, and the story that you're trying to tell, is trying to remember 21 false finishes in the sequence that it was laid out. I was really stressed out before that match. I kept going through the match and all of the false finishes over and over and over in my mind, but, God, that was hard to do because customarily you would understand back then, a lot of the matches, we called it in the ring. Nothing was really set up from A to Z like this one." Steamboat continued, "We took notes on a legal pad, a yellow legal pad, and, God, I can't remember how many steps we had, but once we got the match down, I'll give you an example, at night, I would get with Randy and say, 'okay, number 32 is this, this, and this. Tell me the rest of the match.' And he would go, 'number 33 is this, this, and this. 34 is…' and we would quiz each other back and forth, back and forth, just so we would have it."
If Steamboat could have added one thing to the match, it would have been yet another false finish, as he would have had Savage kick to the former NWA World Heavyweight Champion's finish.
"If I was to add something to that match, it would have been this one moment to which I would have come off the top rope with my dive, which was my finish and I would have had a 1-2 count and Randy kick out just so the fans could have a little curve ball thrown in there." Steamboat explained, "back then, you never really prostituted your finish, but I think it would have fit. It would've worked. You see it sometimes in the main events today, a guy's finish, especially with two top guys, and the other guy kick out only later on in the match to be caught in the finish again and for it to work."
In addition to appearing as the special guest referee in the much anticipated PCW ULTRA World Light Heavyweight Championship match between Shane Strickland and Douglas James at PCW ULTRA's May The 4th Be With You, Steamboat will be participating in a pro wrestling training seminar with PCW ULTRA the following day on May 5th in Pasadena. On the subject of advice to young talent, Steamboat professed that he sees an inability in many younger performers to tell a story. In the learned view of 'The Dragon', performers merely 'trying to get their stuff in' hurts bigger picture of the match.
"What I see lacking is two guys hooking up in the locker room and going over their match and lining things up, but what's missing is being able to tell a story." Steamboat added, "every match should have a story in it and I see a lot of that lacking. I see a lot of guys doing a lot of good stuff, and I call it stuff, filling in the blanks in their match, but the stuff doesn't tie in. It's not related. The phrase that I use a lot is you've got to connect the dots and keep connecting them up to the finish. And a lot of guys out there are doing stuff just for the sake of doing stuff. And I say, 'a lot of you guys are throwing away moments.' I see a guy crashing through two tables and 15 seconds later they're running around chasing each other and I said, 'oh my God, you just crashed through two tables! What are the fans thinking when 15 seconds later, you're in the ring chasing each other?'"
Steamboat went on to explain that many younger performers are not learning because they only work with other inexperienced professional wrestlers.
"These guys today, most of the time, when they're in the ring, they look across the ring and that guy [has] got six months of experience and the other guy [has] got eight months." Steamboat reflected, "it might be a couple of years under their belt, but they're not really getting taught. And they're going through everything they went over in the locker room, whether it worked or not, they just keep going to the next spot."
Tickets for PCW Ultra's "May The 4th Be With You" event are available at PCWUltra.com.
Source: Wrestling Inc.