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Richard Henry Blood (born February 28, 1953), better known by his ring name Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, is an Americanmarker professional wrestler who became one of the most well-known professional wrestlers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment working as a road agent. He was well-known among wrestling fans as being one of the few wrestlers who stayed a babyface throughout his lengthy career . He is best known for his work with the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

In the WWF/E, Steamboat was a one-time Intercontinental Champion and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009. In the NWA and WCW, he was a one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a four-time United States Heavyweight Champion, a four-time World Television Champion, a twelve-time World Tag Team Champion (eight-time under the WCW banner, one-time under the NWA banner, and three-time under the Mid-Atlantic banner) and a two-time Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion.

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1976–1977)

Blood debuted in 1976 as a babyface in the American Wrestling Association (AWA). He took the name Sam Steamboat, Jr. from older Hawaiianmarker wrestler Sam Steamboat, to whom he is not actually related, and he also wrestled for a time under his real given name before settling on the name Ricky Steamboat (or, alternatively, Rick Steamboat), by which he would be known for the remainder of his career. He went from the AWA to Championship Wrestling from Florida and from there to Georgia Championship Wrestling.

National Wresting Alliance / Jim Crockett Promotions (1977–1985)

In 1977, Blood, now renaming himself to Ricky Steamboat, entered the National Wrestling Alliance-sanctioned Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) (which ran under the concurrent brand names "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" and "Wide World Wrestling"--later "World Wide Wrestling"--as well as airing syndicated TV programs under those respective names), where he would remain for the next eight years of his career. Steamboat, who had been brought in by JCP booker George Scott on the recommendation of Wahoo McDaniel, was initially billed as a babyface protege of Wahoo, and barely spoke above whispers in interviews. Matching him with his brash young counterpart, Ric Flair, was a natural fit. Steamboat stepped up to the plate during an interview on the syndicated Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling when Flair, the then-Mid-Atlantic television champion, began goading the youngster. Steamboat knocked Flair out with a backhand chop to set up a match between the two. Steamboat's star making performance came when he pinned Flair after a double thrust off the top rope to win the NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Championship at WRAL studios in Raleigh, North Carolinamarker.

Over the next eight years in JCP, Steamboat captured the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship three times and the NWA World Tag Team Championship six times (once with Paul Jones and five times with Jay Youngblood). He also held the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship singles crown twice and wore the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship straps four times (three times with Paul Jones, once with Jay Youngblood). He also won the NWA World Television Championship title a second time (which by that point had changed to the NWA World Television title).

Fans in the Mid-Atlantic territory to this day talk about classic Steamboat moments: The day Flair dragged his face around the television studio, causing facial scarring, and Steamboat retaliating the following week by ripping Flair's expensive suit to shreds; when longtime tag team partner Paul Jones turned heel on Steamboat at the end of a two-ring battle royal; Steamboat and Youngblood painting yellow streaks down the backs of Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke in order to embarrass them into defending the World Tag Team titles against the two; Steamboat and Youngblood's top drawing feud with Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle; Steamboat and Youngblood being turned on by their friends Jack and Jerry Brisco; Steamboat in a shocking (and surprisingly emotional) feud against former mentor Wahoo McDaniel; and his last great series in the territory, feuding with Tully Blanchard over the NWA TV title. After having creative differences with JCP booker Dusty Rhodes, Steamboat, who had been the top babyface of the Crockett-owned promotion, along with Flair, for nearly a decade left NWA.

World Wrestling Federation (1985–1988)

Birth of "The Dragon" (1985–1986)

Ricky as "The Dragon"


In 1985, Steamboat was offered a contract by Vince McMahon and he joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Shortly after his debut, Steamboat was given the gimmick of a babyface nicknamed "The Dragon"; Steamboat's jacket-and-trunks attire was replaced by a keikogi and long tights. His father was white, and Steamboat's mother is Japanese American, hence his Asian features which were crucial for his "Dragon" gimmick. Steamboat kept the nickname and gimmick for the remainder of his career.

He made his pay-per-view debut at the inaugural WrestleMania where he defeated Matt Borne. On the September 14, 1985 edition of Championship Wrestling, Steamboat defeated Mr. Fuji but after his victory, he was attacked by Don "The Magnificient" Muraco pitting Steamboat in a feud against fellow Hawaiiansmarker Muraco and Fuji. On the November 2 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he defeated Fuji in a Kung Fu Challenge. On the January 4, 1986 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, his intense feud with Muraco ended after he and Junkyard Dog beat Muraco and Fuji in a tag team match.

After a victory over Hercules at WrestleMania 2, Steamboat began his next feud with then-heel, Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Their feud began when Roberts attacked him before their match on the May 3 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, which did not occur due to Roberts assaulting Steamboat. They battled each other in a Snake Pit match at The Big Event, which Steamboat won. Their feud finally ended on the October 4 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, when Steamboat defeated Roberts in their Snake Pit rematch. Following the match, Roberts continued to attack Steamboat and was about to place his snake Damien on him, but Steamboat took his komodo dragon out of his bag and scared Roberts from the ring.

Intercontinental Champion and departure (1987–1988)

On the November 22, 1986 edition of Superstars, Steamboat got a shot at the Intercontinental Championship against then-heel, Randy Savage. Steamboat lost the match by count-out but after the match, Savage continued to assault him and injured Steamboat's larynx with the ring bell, beginning an angle between the two. On the January 3, 1987 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, Steamboat returned from his injury and prevented Savage from attacking George Steele like he had done to Steamboat two months prior. At WrestleMania III, Steamboat was booked to defeat Savage for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. The highly influential match was considered an instant classic by both fans and critics and was named 1987's Match of the Year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer. The match was also unusual due to the fact that Savage and Steamboat previously rehearsed the match, rather than simply improvising as is the case in nearly all Pro Wrestling matches.

Several weeks after winning the Intercontinental Championship, Steamboat asked WWF owner Vince McMahon for some time off to be with his wife Bonnie, who was expecting the birth of their first son, Richard, Jr. This did not sit well with WWF management as he had been molded to become a long-term Intercontinental Champion. The decision was made by WWF management to punish Steamboat by stripping him of the title. After a successful title defense against Hercules on the May 2 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he dropped the belt to The Honky Tonk Man on the June 13 edition of Superstars; his son was born later that month. Ricky came back in time for the first-ever Survivor Series in November 1987. WWF Management was still bitter over his impromptu sabbatical from his first WWF run, however, and he was not pushed or given any meaningful feuds (Steamboat himself has implied in interviews that he was being punished for 'one-upping' the Hogan-Andre main event at WrestleMania III). After defeating Rick Rude by disqualification at the first-ever Royal Rumble, Steamboat lost to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine in the first round of a tournament for the vacant WWF Championship at WrestleMania IV in March 1988. Shortly thereafter, he announced his retirement.

Return to the NWA / World Championship Wrestling (1989)

Steamboat made his comeback to wrestling in January 1989 and returned to the NWA (specifically, NWA affiliate World Championship Wrestling) on the January 21, 1989 edition of World Championship Wrestling (it would later become the name of the promotion) as a surprise tag team partner of "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert against NWA World Champion, then-heel, Ric Flair and Barry Windham in a tag team match that saw Steamboat pin Flair. This earned him a shot at the title at Chi-Town Rumble where Steamboat was booked to defeat Flair in the main event for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He was also the last NWA World Champion to defend the belt in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) in a match against Tiger Mask II. After Steamboat retained the NWA title against Flair in a controversial ending on the April 2 edition of Clash of the Champions, Flair and Steamboat would then face each other in their final rematch, until 1994, at the first-ever WrestleWar in May, where Steamboat dropped the title back to Flair. All three of Steamboat's matches with Flair were given 5-star ratings from Wrestling Observer Newsletter member Dave Meltzer.

After losing the title and with Flair now turned into a babyface after being attacked by then-heel, Terry Funk, Steamboat would remain the #1 contender to the NWA World Title, a fact that irked fellow babyface U.S. Champion Lex Luger. This dispute culminated in Luger attacking Steamboat on the June 14 edition of Clash of the Champions, thus turning heel. Luger stood over the fallen Steamboat and arrogantly said, "There's your #1 contender!" Steamboat then demanded a no disqualification match against Luger at The Great American Bash for the title, but just before the bell Luger demanded the clause be dropped or there would not be a match. Steamboat lost the match by disqualification after hitting Luger with a chair. However, due to a contract dispute, this would be Steamboat's last match of note in WCW in 1989.

Return to the WWF (1991)

After losing the NWA title, Ricky again ventured into semi-retirement in late 1989.

In 1991, Steamboat, now billed simply as The Dragon, began making a return to the WWF he was soon promoted with a series of vignettes on various editions of Superstars which saw The Dragon was breathing fire. Despite his previous success in the WWF as a one time Intercontinental Champion, Steamboat was treated as a brand-new wrestler.

Steamboat made his WWF in-ring redebut on the March 30 edition of Superstars, defeating The Brooklyn Brawler with his signature diving crossbody. On subsequent episodes of Superstars and Wrestling Challenge, Steamboat would go on to win numerous squash matches. He would also be victorious on televised Madison Square Garden events, defeating the likes of Haku, Demolition Smash, Paul Roma, Col. Mustafa, Pat Tanaka, and The Warlord.

The Dragon was undefeated on television during his 1991 run and lost only one match at all, a house show bout against Skinner. The day after his dark match loss, Steamboat gave his notice to WWF management and then quit the company shortly thereafter.

Return to WCW (1991–1994)

World Tag Team Champion (1991)

On the November 19 edition of Clash of the Champions, Steamboat returned to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as the surprise tag team partner of Dustin Rhodes, substituting for an injured Barry Windham. Steamboat and Rhodes defeated the Enforcers (then-heel, Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko) to win the World Tag Team Championship, Steamboat's first World Tag Team Title under the WCW banner. They lost the titles to Arn Anderson and his new partner Bobby Eaton at a live event in January 1992. Steamboat began feud with the Dangerous Alliance at this point, facing them in a critically acclaimed WarGames match at WrestleWar, which received a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer. He unsuccessfully challenged Dangerous Alliance member and United States Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude for the title at SuperBrawl II. Their rivalry culminated in a non-title Iron Man Challenge at Beach Blast, which Steamboat won.

World Television Champion (1992–1993)

On the September 2, 1992 edition of Clash of the Champions, Steamboat defeated "Stunning" Steve Austin to win his first Television Championship under the WCW banner. He lost the title to Scott Steiner at a television taping on September 29. He however, won both his first NWA World Tag Team Championship (unrecognized by NWA) and his second WCW World Tag Team Title with Shane Douglas (NWA and WCW titles were unified) on the November 18 edition of Clash of the Champions by defeating Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes. On the March 27, 1993 edition of Power Hour, they lost the NWA and WCW titles to the Hollywood Blonds (Brian Pillman and Steve Austin). On the August 18 edition of Clash of the Champions, he defeated Paul Orndorff to win his second and final WCW World Television Championship. A month later, at Fall Brawl, Steamboat's TV title reign was ended when he lost to Lord Steven Regal. At Starrcade, the two faced in a rematch for the title which resulted in a time-limit draw.

United States Champion, retirement and departure (1994)

Heading into 1994, Steamboat engaged in one last feud over the World Heavyweight Championship with longtime rival then-heel, Ric Flair, which culminated in a match at Spring Stampede where the title was briefly held up due to both men's shoulders being pinned at the same time. On the April 24 edition of Saturday Night, Flair defeated Steamboat to reclaim possession of the title. Their final singles match was on Main Event in July which ended on a disqualification when Steve Austin interfered. Steamboat and Flair's last encounter was in a tag team match on the July 31 edition of Saturday Night where Steamboat teamed with Sting against Ric Flair and Steve Austin.

He then feuded with US Champion "Stunning" Steve Austin at the moment and earned a US title shot at Bash at the Beach but lost. On the August 28 edition of Clash of the Champions, he got a rematch against Austin where Steamboat hurt his back, but managed to pin Austin for the United States Heavyweight Championship. However, he had to give up the belt due to the injury at Fall Brawl, he was replaced by "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. In September 1994, Steamboat was fired by WCW President Eric Bischoff via Federal Express package (while injured), thus ending a nearly two decade relationship with the Crockett/Turner wrestling organization. Following his departure, Steamboat was retired from wrestling for good.

Retirement

After eight year retirement, Steamboat played an important role in the genesis of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where he was the referee of the first Gauntlet for the Gold for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He was also the referee for the four-way double-elimination match to crown the first holder of the TNA X Division Championship. He has also made appearances for Ring of Honor where he refereed the first defense of the ROH Pure Wrestling Championship. In 2004, he engaged in a series of confrontations with then-heel, CM Punk over Punk's arrogance in matches Steamboat refereed and then became CM Punk's inspiration to become the better person Steamboat knew he could be. The latter part of 2004 saw Steamboat feud with then-heel, Mick Foley over which style of wrestling was superior, pure wrestling or hardcore wrestling. The two of them had many confrontations and managed teams to face one another, but never had a match against each other. Steamboat's last ROH appearance was at Final Battle 2004 where he and Foley finally made peace.

Return to WWE (2005–present)

In early 2005, Steamboat returned to World Wrestling Entertainment as a road agent and was introduced as a WWE Legend at WWE Homecoming in October 2005. In early 2006, Ricky Steamboat told WWE management that he would like to come out of retirement at WrestleMania 22 and work a match with Ric Flair, but the idea was nixed. Ricky Steamboat has been the special referee in main event matches between John Cena, Triple H, and/or Edge at WWE house shows. In 2006 at the Raw SummerSlam Tour in Sydney Australia, he was a referee for a match between Cena and Edge for the WWE Championship. He also refereed another title match in July 2007 between John Cena and Randy Orton in Anaheim, California. On April 1, 2007, he made an appearance at WrestleMania 23 while various other legends were having a small dance party in the background. He also briefly appeared at the Vengeance: Night of Champions pay-per-view, being recognized as a former Intercontinental Champion. He had another appearance on WWE television at Ric Flair's farewell on the March 31, 2008 edition of Raw.

Hall of Fame and return to the ring

He appeared on the February 23 edition of Monday Night Raw, after being named one of the members of 2009 WWE Hall of Fame class. However, Steamboat was attacked by Chris Jericho, who entered in a feud with the Hall of Famers.

On March 16, 2009 Raw, he united with fellow Hall of Famers, now-babyface, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka and attacked Jericho. In his first match in nearly 15 year retirement, Steamboat returned to the ring alongside Piper and Snuka to take on Jericho at WrestleMania XXV on April 5, 2009. While both Snuka and Piper were swiftly eliminated, Steamboat held his own against Jericho, performing his legendary diving crossbody and even a plancha, although Jericho would eventually go onto win the match.

On the April 6 episode of Raw, Steamboat competed in a 10-man tag team match with John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Jeff Hardy, CM Punk defeating then-heel, Edge, Big Show, Matt Hardy, Kane and his WrestleMania XXV opponent, Chris Jericho. Steamboat's in-ring performance was so exceptional that the crowd began chanting "You've still got it!". Following the match, Cena, Hardy, Mysterio and Punk left the ring and enabled Steamboat to take one final bow to the crowd.

On April 20 episode of Raw, Steamboat made a surprise appearance to thank Jericho. Jericho said Steamboat came only because he could not leave the spotlight, then challenged Steamboat to a match at Backlash, which Steamboat accepted. At Backlash, Steamboat lost after submitting to the Walls of Jericho.Steamboat still wrestles occasionally for WWE during house shows. In June, he refereed a match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship between Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio.

On August 15, 2009 Steamboat wrestled for the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico where he teamed with his son Ricky Steamboat Jr. to defeat Hiram Túa and Orlando Colón (nephew of Carlos Colón and cousin of Carlito and Primo Colón).

Personal life

Steamboat has a son Richie, who competes under the ring name Ricky Steamboat, Jr., made his pro wrestling debut in 2008. He trained a short while with George South, but was soon relocated for more advanced training with Harley Race.

In wrestling







Championships and accomplishments

Steamboat at the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony














1During this time, the title was almost exclusively defended in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. However, on occasion, the title was defended in other promotions through arrangements made with Mid-Atlantic.

2Steamboat wins the title after Ted Turner purchases Mid-Atlantic Championship wrestling from Jim Crockett and renames it World Championship Wrestling.

References

  1. http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/02232009/
  2. http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/03162009/


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