30 Years Later, Steamboat-Savage Is Still the Pinnacle
March 3, 2017 10:52 AM   Subscribe

On March 29, 1987, the then-World Wrestling Federation held WrestleMania III. Everything about it was big, from the venue (the Pontiac Silverdome, which allegedly held more than 93,000 fans for the event) to the literally gigantic main event (Hulk Hogan defending his World Championship against Andre the Giant). But the ninth match on the card stole the show, and some say the decade: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat wrested the Intercontinental Championship from Randy "Macho Man" Savage after nearly 15 minutes and 22 false falls in one of the greatest matches in wrestling history.
posted by Etrigan (16 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 


(I didn't want to link to any illegal copies of the match, which that one certainly is. If the mods are cool with it, feel free to delete this comment.)
posted by Etrigan at 11:22 AM on March 3


[Let's embrace the drama and ambiguity of professional wrestling by having a mod just literally stare at both of those comments and then make a dramatic exit.]
posted by cortex at 11:23 AM on March 3 [23 favorites]


OH MY GOD, THAT'S CORTEX'S MUSIC....and he's gone.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:24 AM on March 3 [6 favorites]


So here's my story about this match; the year after I graduated from university (1997) I was stuck in Kingston, unemployed, waiting for my summer job in another city to start. One Saturday afternoon a few of my friends and I decided to get drunk and watch some wrestling, so we went to Blockbuster to rent a video with this match, which we all remembered fondly. Somehow we rented the wrong one (we'd already started in on the beer), so we drew straws to see who had to go back to the store and I lost. I borrowed someone else's bike (a BMX), pedaled over and exchanged the tape. When I left the store I ran into a girl who had been on the same floor as me in residence and who I'd had a crush on. I basically hadn't seen her in four years, and she was dressed as the young professional she apparently was, while I was in mud-splattered track pants (because I had temporarily given up on life), and visibly drunk to boot. She had a real job and a boyfriend she was living with, while I was unemployed and single. She was returning Sense & Sensibility, and when she asked what I was renting I was forced to show her the copy of Wrestlemania III I'd been attempting to hide behind my back. At this point her facial expression changed from friendly curiosity to embarrassment, and then I had to get back on what she must have assumed was my BMX, which didn't do anything to improve my self-esteem at the moment. That was the last time I ever saw her. Pretty much harshed my buzz to death for the rest of the afternoon.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:25 AM on March 3 [28 favorites]


I recall downloading this back on the days of Morpheus, and was completely amazed by it. I was waaay too much into SFPWPremiumX then, and managed to create a very convincing Steamboat from scratch with a full moveset from this bout alone.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:39 AM on March 3


Yeah, what a goddamn match this was. As a kid, I must have rented and watched the Wrestlemania III tape a hundred times, but I know I never appreciated this match until I learned to really pay attention to how matches function as works of drama. And what a freaking work this one is.

OKERLUND: You have to remember those people were out front doing a little bit of tailgating before the match, and they were "highly tuned up" for this one. Once anything started to happen, the place just exploded. It roared.

Possibly the most "tuned up" I've been at a wrestling event was TLC in 2012, which was a hell of a show, with two of 2012's best WWE matches. I screamed my throat so raw that I could hardly talk the next day.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:50 AM on March 3


I was 11 when this rivalry was happening. I vividly remember the bell to the neck match from a Saturday morning broadcast, and I saw one of the post-match Cage Matches in Winnipeg with two of my friends. Thanks again for taking us, mom!
posted by joelhunt at 12:46 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]


The ol' French exit. The Irish goodbye!

Also my 2 wrestling moves.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:03 PM on March 3


I don't think I've ever seen this one, but I had a similar bout of Intercontinental title match nostalgia last weekend and ended up watching the Bret Hart vs Davey Boy Smith Summerslam 92 fight. If this one is better than that match, it must be epic. Can't wait to see it when I get home.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:55 PM on March 3


Steamboat and Savage were both consummate professionals who took extreme pride in making a match seem like drama. When Savage was able to make flashy but mediocre wrestlers like Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan look good you realize how having two professionals that are that committed to their art can elevate a match to immortality.

There have been other wrestlers as focused on the art as Savage and Steamboat but few had the charisma to equal those two and even fewer have been given the license to steal the show from the Vince approved headliners.
posted by vuron at 4:24 PM on March 3


The angle started when he came off the top rope with the bell on my throat.

One of the positives of obsessive fans on the internet are Gen-X'ers and Millenials who grew up watching these guys. The retired wrestlers almost always love to talk about their time in the ring to any and all fan media outlets - YouTube channels, podcasts, web-interviews, even Ask-Me-Anything style messageboard visits - and their clarity of memory is amazing.

I hope to read one of these Oral Histories about John Tenta and Fred Ottman's Monster-Heel-Face turn, where the storyline found them winning the Tag Team Championship to wildly enthusiastic fan acclaim. I mean, really, the Natural Disasters were there to squash-match anyone short of a superstar and allow the big-time Faces to barely escape with a win, usually unearned - and then they become the good guys, or at least anti-good-guys. This is because fans like Monster Heels as they're sort of scared of them and they like seeing jobbers annihilated and evil-fighting-evil.

John Tenta left a lot of autobiographical material behind when he went on to be the Monster Heel in the biggest ring of all, and Ottman is still with us. (One of my favorite matches is Tugboat vs. a very young and Gen-X, slackline enthusiast Undertaker. The immovable object vs. the unstoppable force, wow.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:55 PM on March 3


You know, the WWE really should do something about their referees. They seem to get knocked out way too often; maybe an assistant referee would be helpful? It would be a shame if somebody lost a big match just because a ref missed something. (/hamburger)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:19 PM on March 3


The Card Cheat: So here's my story about this match; the year after I graduated from university (1997)

Hindsight being 20/20, you could've just waved the video around and said "The guy commenting on here? He's going to govern a US state one day. And just you wait. THIS IS THE FUTURE."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:24 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]


"She was returning Sense & Sensibility, and when she asked what I was renting I was forced to show her the copy of Wrestlemania III I'd been attempting to hide behind my back. At this point her facial expression changed from friendly curiosity to embarrassment"

Dodged a bullet on that one, dude.
posted by dances with hamsters at 6:59 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]


Space Coyote:I don't think I've ever seen this one, but I had a similar bout of Intercontinental title match nostalgia last weekend and ended up watching the Bret Hart vs Davey Boy Smith Summerslam 92 fight. If this one is better than that match, it must be epic. Can't wait to see it when I get home.

It is. When WWE did a prime time special promoting Wrestlemania XX counting down the best Wrestlemania matches of all time (or at least until that point in time), they themselves placed this behind only the Wrestlemania XII Iron Man match.
posted by dances with hamsters at 7:11 PM on March 3


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