Friday, April 10, 2009

Why We Watch, Exhibit Q

Dearest Facebuster readers, due to some time constraints this afternoon, I want to apologize in advance for the dearth of substantive, fully formed, acerbic and cantankerous content in this post. However, I feel a sense of duty to act as the proverbial two Advils washed down with a bloody mary, chased by a schooner of lager, capped off by a growler of subtly potent Town Hall Brewery IPA (the Fritzer knows and soon the Rev. Von. Fury will too of where and what I am speaking) cure for this site's post-WrestleMania hangover by putting up some fresh content ...even as I am in the midst of grappling and coming to grips with a particularly unsettling recent development.

Folks, we're talking sprawled out on the couch, too kicked to lift the remote and flip the channel off of (or in my case "to") The Jenny Jones Show, particularly an episode wantonly exploiting compassionately profiling corpulent young ladies that love to talk street and adorn skimpy and/or tight fitting garments (preferably constructed out of an acid washed denim or leopard print spandex fabric), that accentuate their stomach rolls, gunts and muffin tops.

But I digress.

Based upon Ricky Steamboat's totally solid work against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV and in convoluted eight man tag team action on Monday Night RAW after a FIFTEEN year absence from any in-ring competition that hopefully has encouraged over-compensated, under-talented lumbering stiffs at least twenty years the Dragon's younger like *cue up Undertaker voice* Batista, Mark Henry, Kane, The Great Khali, The Big Shew, Snitsky, Dolph Ziger, Cryme Time members Shad and JTG, Mike Knox, Kozlov, Ezekiel Jackson, Mr. Kennedy, The Miz, Santina/o Morella, Golddust, Paul Burchill, "The Innovator of flimsy Trash Can Lid and Cookie Sheet Related Violence" Tommy Dreamer, Jesse, Festus, Hawkins, Ryder and about sixteen of the nineteen divas currently on the active roster to think long and hard before climbing into the ring again and inevitability humiliating themselves and by association the company that frustratingly continues to keep him/her in the ranks of the gainfully employed, I think it is only fitting to further lay out the attributes that made/make Ricky Steamboat one of the greatest performers in the history of the business, as well as some intriguing minutiae.

Off the top of my head, these include:
  • The deepest and most seamlessly executed arm drag.
  • Egoless wrestling. Or if you prefer, a mastery of the art of giving and the art of taking punishment.
  • Versatility: The ability to work both a technical/counter/mat-based style and a more of fast paced, high flying style.
  • A body of work that includes some of the greatest rasslin' contests of all time with Ric Flair throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s culminating with their near flawless 1989 trilogy/wrestling clinic fought over the NWA World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship, not to mention epic battles with Randy Savage in 1987 and at WrestleMania III, The Dangerous Alliance (Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, and Larry Zbyszko) in WCW circa 1991/1992, Tully Blanchard at Starrcade 1984, and even Lex Luger at The Great American Bash 1989.
  • Slightly less memorable and compelling but still totally solid feuds and matches with the likes of Jake Roberts, Don Muraco, and Jack and Jerry Brisco (along with tag team partner Jay Youngblood)
  • An entire career spent as a babyface. That's right, not one heel turn/run in his 25+ year career. And an enduringly sympathetic one at that.
  • He was a mainstay in the Mid Atlantic territory, one of the cornerstones responsible for the revitalization of that promotion in the late 1970s and thus instrumental in putting promoter Jim Crockett in the position to move for national expansion of his territory and consolidation of the National Wrestling Alliance (Steamboat would defect to the WWF before this plan could be fully actualized).
Alright, enough of my homage paying jibber jabber. Let's get to some rasslin': the ending portion of Steamboat vs. Terry Funk from June of 1989 (NWA Clash of the Champions). The back story: Flair won the NWA Title (his sixth) back from Steamboat a month earlier. At the end of the 30+ minute contest, Terry Funk, who was at ringside acting as a guest judge in case the match went to a draw in order to determine a winner, promptly approached Flair to congratulate him and challenge him. Flair told him that he would need to "get in line" and beat some of the finest competition the NWA has to offer in order to earn a shot. Not too enamored with this sage advice, Funk attacked Flair and pile drove him on a ringside table, fracturing his neck. Steamboat was subsequently booked to take on Funk and, in an unspoken way, avenge his long-time but still respected adversary's injury.

Oh, and while this clip features *yawn* yet another late 1980s/early 1990s "Total Package" Lex Luger heel turn (if my memory and count are accurate, I count at least seven face/heel turns between Luger's debut in 1986 through 1991), it also includes quite possibly the most violent clotheslines you'll ever witness.



The Rev. von Fury said...

Malibu: the Town Hall Beer, it doesn't taste like Iron City, does it?

Oh, please don't think this incredible post absolves you of the fact you lost WM25...

Yet, perhaps by not seeing it with your own eyes, it was you who truly won...

the rev.

Pencil Neck Geek said...

Outstanding post and history lesson, Mr. Sands!

Malibu Sands said...

Von Fury - I don't expect any absolution for my piss poor WM picks...nor do I deserve it. I am prepared to *gulp* get to know Hulk Hogan on a far more kayfabed personal level than I ever thought possible.

Geek - Thanks for the compliment. It is really quite a testament to Steamboat that he was able to do what he did in the ring at WM after a 15 year sabbatical (granted having Chris Jericho as his opponent as opposed to say The Great Khali undoubtedly helped his cause). To think that Steamboat retired in November, 1994. He wasn't even around for the Monday Night Wars era nor did he come out of retirement to take advantage of the ridiculous paydays that period presented!