An entire generation of wrestlers in WWE never knew what it was like to have serious competition following WCW's closure in 2001. But that has changed with AEW now on the scene and WWE Hall of Famer talked about the back-and-forth between the two promotions when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"Competition has always been good," Steamboat said before adding that back in the day there were territories and promoters that would push each other to do better work. "I think overall, for the wrestling business it's going to be good. Sometimes you get relaxed and you sit on cruise control. I think it's gonna be good for the business and the wrestlers. You can have a good run for several years with one company and then be able to extend it with another.
"I was in the business for 20 years and look at Flair. He was probably approaching 35-40. But today, if a guy has good 8-10 year run, he is either considered that damn good or lucky. If you can branch off and do it somewhere else, and if you're physically abled, it speaks volumes."
Steamboat's last run came in 2009 when he came out of retirement to feud with Chris Jericho. He discussed what led him to competing in the ring again at his advanced age.
"He really took care of me," Steamboat said of Jericho. "I was 56 and was still pretty active in the ring because I was working at the [WWE] training grounds in a hands-on role.
"Vince knew that was my style of training. I worked with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt. Those guys have come along and are doing very well now. With Jericho, I think he went to Vince and said, 'I'd like to try something with Ricky' and they came to me and was like, 'Well, it isn't like I haven't been in the ring for 20 years. I'm still getting in the ring every day.'
"I could see it in [Jericho's] demeanor about making sure that I wasn't going to be out there to embarrass myself and having fans say I should have stayed retired. He was very conscious about making sure I would have a good showing."
That one WrestleMania match with Jericho led to a Backlash match which then led to them working singles matches on two WWE Live tours.
"Just because of that one [WrestleMania] match, it ended up being about 15-16 more singles matches with Jericho. I became like part of the roster again," said Steamboat.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat will be at the Hamilton Comic-Con on October 19th and 20th. Other Superstars scheduled to be in appearance include Mick Foley, Ted DiBiase, Ricky Steamboat, Brutus Beefcake, the Godfather and Terri Runnels. For tickets and info please visit hamiltoncomiccon.com. Ricky's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of today's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. Featuring Steamboat discussing his memories of working Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, working with Randy Savage at WrestleMania 3, Andre The Giant's spirit ahead of WrestleMania 3, which 80s heel he wished he'd have feuded with, how he spit his fireballs, the craziest thing he was ever asked to do, AEW's launch, his 2009 feud with Chris Jericho and more.