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A Conversation with Rick Steamboat: Part 6

Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver

Volume 4, Issue 491 - August 6, 1999

A Conversation with Rick Steamboat

Conducted by Jeremy Hartley for TWC Online
Transcribed by Earl Oliver

Part 6

Jeremy Hartley: We were talking about making things believable and so forth, and I can recall one time when - even with this little episode you'd give it some crediblilty - I can remember you were involved with Jake the Snake Roberts in a nice little heated program there. He had his snake and you had know what's coming next...

Ricky Steamboat: Oh yeah, it was a monitor lizard. I had my "dragon"...

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Ricky Steamboat: Yeah, at one time I had South American Kamen which is a crocodile, and at other times I had a monitor lizard. The damn things weighed about 50 pounds, they had their mouths taped shut and the tape was painted the same color as the skin so you couldn't really pick it up on TV...

Jeremy Hartley: Uh huh...

Ricky Steamboat: But I had nothing to do with it they had handlers and trainers that know, Jake would carry the snake everywhere he went.

Jeremy Hartley: Right (laughs)

Ricky Steamboat: We were the main event on a show on the USA network where it was Roberts and his snake, and the snake was in his corner and I had my dragon in my corner and the winner of the match would be, you know like - Roberts...every time he'd beat somebody he'd put that snake on them...

Jeremy Hartley: Right (laughs)

Ricky Steamboat: ...and the twist of this whole thing was that I beat Roberts I'm putting the dragon on him. Well, just because of that little mystique there we drew some hellacious ratings on that particular show.

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) Now you brought it back, I mremember, in a match against Lex Luger, I believe at one of these shows. Now, how did that come about? Was it just some sort of a thing that was just dropped in at the last minute..?

Ricky Steamboat: Yeah, well that was when I was working for the NWA in 1989 and they just thought...actually, I was a pay-per-view show...that it would just add a little bit more too Ricky Steamboat, because the fans had just finished seeing me doing it with the WWF and you know actually, I think that was my last match with them at that time, when I did the match with Luger...

Jeremy Hartley: You know you mentioned your son, talk about your son for a little bit.

Ricky Steamboat: You know, I've been coaching him, he has finished five years, he started out when he was about five-and-a-half, he's starting his sixth season now...

Jeremy Hartley: Wow!

Ricky Steamboat: He has been North Carolina State Champion four out of five years, last year he got runner-up. We have been to Columbus, Ohio for the Tournament of Champions, a National tournament, he has won that one. He has also taken a fourth and an eighth at the tournament. Actually, when he goes there are about 62 kids in his bracket, and he has wrestled as much as ten times in one day - ten matches. So I'm real proud of him. We just started back to practices this week. We have a full matroom here at my health club - this is my fifth year...actually starting my sixth year of coaching. We have about 16 kids in our little wrestling club and a lot of them have been with me for...oh - four or five...three, four, five years. Two years ago we had nine of my kids qualify to go to the State...this has been the best year I've had. But two years ago we had nine of my kids qualify to go to the State Championships and out of the nine kids we had six came home as State Champions and the other three took a second or a third - took a silver or bronze.

Jeremy Hartley: Wow!

Ricky Steamboat: So the wrestling club here is well known around the State of North Carolina. Whenever we walk into a tournament we are Lake Norman Youth Wrestling, everybody goes, "Oh my God! Here comes Lake Norman." And you hear some fans...they'll announce, you know, Bobby Smith from the Rhinos wrestling Richie Blood from Lake Norman..." and the parents of the Rhino's going, "Oh my God! We've got one of those Lake Norman kids..." We teach the kids...I mean it's a different kind of sport, and you have to be a tough kid to do it. But you know, Jeremy, you wrestled amateur a little bit, you know - a lot of the coaches when I go around the State, they ask, "Well, how many kids do you have?" and I say, "Well, we have 15. How many do you guys have..?" "Well, we have a squad of forty-five." "Well, how many coaches do you have?" "We've got three coaches..." Well we have fifteen kids right now, and including me, we have six coaches. We give real good one-on-one individual attention you know, and that's why our kids are good.

Jeremy Hartley: Uh huh...

Ricky Steamboat: I've got a heavyweight, Brian Laver, he played a dual scholarship - he got a scholarship in football and also in wrestling and he wrestled for Klemson. Ephram Hawkings who wrestled for Kentucky - three times All American - he wrestled under Fletcher Carr, I don't know if you remember the Carr brothers - two of them wrestled for us in the Olympics. There were nine brothers in the family and they all wrestled - they're all National Champions and then All Americans. And Ephram Hawkins wrestled for Fletcher Carr - now how do I know Fletcher Carr, who coached at Kentucky? Well Fletcher Carr was wrestling at Tampa University when I was going to High School in St. Pete, and I used to drive across the bridge - drive across the Howard Franklin - to the University and work out with Fletcher - and he was the one who got me ready for the State when I won the State in 1971. That's one of my coaches, Ephram Hawkins, three time All American. Danny Hoy who wrestled for Virginia. Chris Wuff, three times NCAA National Wrestling Champion out of New York - he's one of my coaches. Joe Labotta, who wrestled in High School and College, a heck of a wrestler - every summer I take a half-dozen of my kids to West Virginia - we go to a wrestling camp there - It's called Kenny Churtow - Chertow wrestled for us I think in the '88 Olympics - and he's got the best little kid's wrestling camp in the country. They come from as far as California and Minnesotta to West Virginia. Joe, who is one of our coaches, is an instructor at Churtow's camp. He goes up there in the summer and coaches.

Jeremy Hartley: Wow!

Ricky Steamboat: He's a take down artist, and I talk to a lot of the other coaches throughout the State, they have these wrestling clubs, and I say, "Well, what's you amateur background?" and they say, "Well, I wrestled in High School. I wrestled two years." And then they start listening to my coaching staff. Now, I may be the head coach but these guys have amateur backgrounds, or an amateur status that beats me hands down...but we all get together collectively and we say, "Okay, what are we going to work on tonight?" You know, top and bottoms, take downs, this and that...that's why these kid that belong to this club do well. We just...we got a great coaching staff. It's all volunteer, we don't charge anything and we do have tryouts. But you've got to be a special breed of a kid because this is a very elite club. The coaches can pick out if a kid is going to be good or not. Even if he's never wrestled before but he gets out there and he fights to stay off his back. He's fighing, you know, with his teeth kids are very very aggresssive.

Jeremy Hartley: (laughs)

Ricky Steamboat: Very aggressive. They'll establish from the first thirty secons of each match that they are the agreesive ones while the other kid is mostly doing back pedaling. And I say, "Look guys, your standing out in the middle of the mat. The match is over. The referee's in the middle of the circle, he's got one hand on you and the other hand on the other kid across from you - they make the announcement, 'The winner of the match...', you've got 600 parents in the stands, their all looking down at you. Now you tell me - how much fun is it when they raise the other guy's hand and you look across over there and you see they raised the other hand? How much fun is that?" And all the kids say, "Oh that's no fun..." I mean I've seen kids break down, you know, just lose it...and I say, "Well, if you want your hand raised, this is what we gotta do..." But I get a real joy out of it, and it's the way that I give back to the community. And we've furnished a room, we've built a room with heating and air conditioning and lights. The parents help a lot. We do car washes out in front of my health club, we raise money. We buy all the shoes, the wrestling shoes, the singlets, the warm-ups. The wrestling club does a banquet at the end of the year which is paid for with fund raising that we have here and sponsorship. And I tell the parents, "If your not going to get involved then you might as well not have your kid enrolled." It's not the kind of thing where they just drop the kid off. We do carpools but it's not the kind of thing where, when we go out to Raleigh or around the State, you can't just decide that , "...well, it's Saturday" ahnd turns around and go home and watch football.

Jeremy Hartley: Well, and that's something I noticed in researching your career, that although you had the lights and the big cities, the big belts and all that stuff that goes on with wrestling. You were able to really keep stuff in the family. I remember you taking your son to the ring, your young son - and that was just something...I mean, how did you do it? I mean you here stories of guys that just weren't able to do it, but you were always able to do it. Even obviously to this day...

Ricky Steamboat: Well, maybe this is one thing that the other guys never realized that is that when it's all said and done, the famous line, "...when the smoke's cleared..." and (at this point someone comes into the room where Steamboat is and he excuses himself for a moment to talk to one of his coaches) all you have to fall back on is your family. All the hoopla's gone. You know, every year that I'm away from the business is a nother year of being away from being on television - and I'm going on my fourth year now - maybe because of my physical look, you know, I look Hawaiin, oriental, and people can still point me out in a crowd but slowly it's diminishing. I get a lot of, if I'm with somebody and I'm introduced to somebody else, it's, "Oh yeah, I remember the name..." you know. But the bottom line is that when it's all said and done, and ten years from now, you know, when I'm 55. What is left but your family?

Jeremy Hartley: Well, That's good advice...

Jeremy Hartley is a longtime friend of Solie's and a regular contributer to the newsletter. His "EYE on Wrestling" columns can be found in the "Articles" section of the web site. His previous interviews with Bob Blackburn, Lou Thesz, Bob Ryder and Buddy Landel are currently to be found in the "Interviews" section. You can also hear any of these interviews in RealAudio by visiting Jeremy's web site, Up Close Wrestling

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Thunder Report

Scenes from the main event on Nitro show Hollywood Hogan interefering for the good guys and then getting powerbombed through the announcers' table. Scenes shot after the program ended show security personnel checking out his lifeless body. Thunder is live from LaCross, WI. Mike Tenay and Legendary Larry are the hosts.

Gentleman Chris Adams vs. Prince Iukea - the Prince wears his heel face for this match-up, razzing Adams before the contest begins. That riles Adams up and he dominates the first few exchanges. Iukea bails out. He returns and tries a cheapshot to gain the advantage but Adams isn't fazed - so the Prince takes the direct approach and turns the tables. He is gaining ground as the "Millenium Man" (Sid) stalks out and enters the ring. He powerbombs Adams then chokeslams the Prince and follows up with another powerbomb. He grabs a mic and chastises the crowd for chanting "Goldberg" - then adds Hogan's and Sting's names as an after thought. He vows to beat Goldberg's win streak record. Someone should tell him that it only counts if you are actually in a match...

Scotty (don't call me Narsissis) Riggs vs. Buff Bagwell - here's an interesting match if only for the fact that these two were once World Tag Team champs together as the American Males. Bagwell grabs Riggs' mirror to view his own visage just to get his opponent's goat. Riggs gets riled and careless at first but then bails out to regain his composure. Back inside he has better luck but then stops to ape his opponent's signature strut while Bagwell revives behind his back. He has to struggle back to the dominant position and gets one of his famous drop-kicks to regain the advantage. He grabs a reverse chinlock and plants his knee in Bagwell's back. Bagwell fights to his feet and Riggs goes for the drop-kick again but Buff puts on the brakes and Riggs goes down. A moment later they clothesline each other and both are down. Riggs seems to recover first but Bagwell is playing possum. He downs his opponent but Riggs kicks out then applies a jaw breaker. They struggle for position and Riggs sits Bagwell on the corner then goes for a superplex - but Bagwell shoves him off then catches the Block Buster as Riggs regains his feet. That's all folks... Cut to commercial.

The next segment consists of a tribute video to the newly reformed Harlam Heat, then cuts to another commercial.

Footage of Diamond Dalls Page on the Late Late Show with Craig Killbourn. The sound is atrocious.

Kidman vs. Eddie Guerrero - this can't help but be an excellent match unless Sid decides to come down and gum it up. Kidman wants to shake hands after the first exchange, but Eddie refuses. Kidman dominates the early going until Eddie starts working on a leg. We then go into see-saw mode - Eddie the dominant wrestler while Kidman controls the air. They fall out the floor just before we cut to commercial.

They are back in the ring as we return and Kidman seems to be in control. He goes for his finisher but Guerrero runs into the ropes and dumps him on the mat. Eddie pulls his opponent up on the corner and gets a superplex. He has a succession of pin attempts but fails each time to get the pin. Moments later they crash to the floor again and are both down. Eddie regains his feet and enters the ring but doesn't notice that Vampiro has come down and is waiting for him. Vamp nails him then spikes him into the mat. He leaves the ring and invites Kidman to take Eddie out. Kidman mounts the corner for a Shooting Star but is suspicious of the circumstances. He changes his plan and splashes Vamp on the outside then rolls him into the ring. He starts pounding on the interloper and is joined by the recovered Guerrero. They double team Vampiro and are then joined by Rey Misterio who also lends a hand. Kidman holds Vampiro down while Eddie hits him with a frog splash. Cut to commercial.

BA/Swoll (w/4X4) vs. Lenny & Lodi - bring back the Mulkey Brothers...pulease! Anything but these guys! Brad faces Lenny to start. This is no contest...but then any combination in this match is not likely to be... Both guys tag out and Swoll faces Lodi who goes for a top wrist lock and has to call his "brother" in to make it work...but still it doesn't. Lenny is in with BA again when Lodi trips Armstrong from the outside to give his team their first offensive flurry. They isolate BA and use Swoll's inexperience against himself as he continually distracts the referee. Then the brothers crash together and Brad gets away to tag in his partner. Swoll splashes them both in the corner then BA is back in. They eject Lodi then dispatch Lenny. Cut to commercial.

Bam Bam Bigalow vs. Booker T - I'm glad to see that Booker is still going to wrestle singles. He and Stevie Ray are a great team but Booker on his own is a phenom. Bigalow throws his weight around to dominate the first few exchanges until Booker gets his fabulous feet into play. Bigalow is knocked to the floor and lays there for a while writhing in pain. We go to commercial as he is trying to shake it off and return to the ring.

Bigalow has turned things around as we come back. Booker is on the receiving end of a reverse chinlock but then escapes and gets his feet flying again. Bigalow has to go to his power advantage again to turn the tables. But it is only for a moment. Booker is firing on all eight and has Bigalow poised to go down when DDP runs in and upsets his balance. He and Bigalow beat up on Booker as David Flair comes to the ring. They spray paint the Triad symbol on Booker's back then Stevie Ray runs down to help his brother. Flair distracts Stevie so that the goons can take him out, then paints the symbol on Stevie while his companions hold the big guy down. Cut to commercial.

Mean Gene is in the ring as we return. He invites Randy Savage and Gorgeous George out for an interview. Again GG fails to appear. The crowd chants "We want George!" as Okerlund starts to question the Macho Man (who encourages them). When asked about Dennis Rodman, Hogan and Kevin nash he brushes off various parts of his clothing to demostrate how he feels about their individual challenges. Savage reveals that he will tell us who drove the infamous Hummer on Nitro from Boise, Idaho next week. Cut to commercial.

Diamond Dallas Page comes down to the ring with Bam Bam Bigalow. As he rants, a fan holds a sign over his shoulder that reads "Shut Up and Wrestle". Page gets back into his "insult Chris Benoit's mother" bit again which brings Benoit to clean out the ring. He dominates both members of the Triad for several minutes but eventually is overwhelmed by the superior numbers. Now there is a referee in the ring - apparently this has become a match. Page grabs an abdominal stretch and uses the ropes for leverage until the referee notices and kicks his arms away. Benoit is all over Page and only pauses a moment to knock the returning David Flair off the ring apron. He slams Page onto the Tag Title belt then goes up for his flying head butt. Page grabs the title belt and places it where it will make contact with Benoit's forehead as swan dives in. Page takes the pin and now they are one and one. Cut to commercial.

Rocco Rock (w/Johnny Grunge) vs. Goldberg - PE bring their "plunder" down to ringside then Goldberg makes his entrance sans pyro. This promises to be short - and not just because it's 6:59... The monster locks up with Rock then tosses him bodily across the ring. He follows up with a military press (two reps!) and a gorilla slam. Rocko bails to consult with his partner. Rocco returns and gets a couple of punches but then is tossed around like a rag doll once more. He goes for a flying cross body block but is caught and slammed again. Johnny tosses in a chair then distracts Goldberg so that Rocco can use the weapon. Goldberg is down and the PE are stacking a table in the corner. But when they turn around, Goldberg is waiting for them and spears them both into the table, breaking it in half. He gets the Jack Hammer on Rock and takes the pin.

That's all for tonight. I'll be back on Monday. Until then...

At least that's the way I see it...

Earl Oliver
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