Monday, October 23, 2017

History Beckons The Macho Man: Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - WWF, 1985-87

History Beckons The Macho Man:Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat
WWF 1985-1987

Incredible chemistry between two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. My one complaint is that we don't have their steel cage matches from after Mania III because seeing how bloody and hate-filled their Toronto matches are I can imagine they would be classics. Don't just settle for Mania III, take the time to watch all the house show matches from this series. Not only did they never have a bad match, they never had a well that was good match, they were all great. I would say more, but I both tired and I wrote a lot below so check out the reviews!
Everyone must watch the larynx crushing angle on the November 22, 1986 edition of Superstars. If you are reading this blog, you know of the angle and you have read about it. But you may have been like me and didn't seek it out. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It is a ***** angle and an all-time great selljob by Ricky Steamboat and Vince McMahon on commentary. Terrific pro wrestling theatre.
Ranking the Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat Singles Matches:
1. WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Wrestlemania III
2. WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - WWF, Toronto 2/15/87
3. WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Toronto 7/27/86
4. WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Boston 11/1/86
5. Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Boston 12/7/85

Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Boston 12/7/85
I gotta say WrestleMania III overshadows a great series of matches (I know hardcores know about Toronto 2/15/87), but I think overall this is an underexplored series even though the main match is so famous. They had amazing chemistry together. I am not going to say this was on par with Savage's selling in the Bret Hart SNME match, but this was damn close. Macho Man takes us to school on how to sell as he does a great job with his arm throughout the match. Just amazing. I loved Macho Man shoving Steamboat at the bell, putting Liz in front of him, Steamboat backs off and he jumps him. It is such a great dick move. Steamboat overwhelms him and throws him shoulder first into the post. It is just textbook arm work here from Steamboat and the selling from Savage is magnificent. They way they work in and out of the armbars is just great. Savage taking those powders to nurse the injury. Steamboat following him out there. All great stuff. I loved Savage using the skin the cat to attack Steamboat and then nail the double axehandle to the floor. The little things Macho Man does like doing the sneak up and then high knee to Steamboat sending him flying over the railing is just great. Savage uses the arm as a way to give Steamboat life, but The Dragon does a great job selling all these sneak attacks. Savage missing the elbow drop really should have been an opening for some that Dragon breathing fire like we would see against the Nature Boy, but don't quite get to those fever pitch levels. They foreshadow the Savage/Tito title switch finish which would be executed two months later in the Boston Garden as Savage pulls something out of his tights and nails Steamboat with it as he brings back into the ring for the win. All in all, just great classic wrestling with the Savage selling arm showing why he is one of the all-time great sellers. ****


WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Toronto 7/27/86

There is something about these two and Toronto that just creates magic. You take two of the best wrestlers of all time and then add all the fixins' you get one helluva match. I could watch Savage and Steamboat run around the ring and have Savage end up in an armdrag everytime and never get tired of it. These two work with such energy in AND out of holds. Everything goes back to that armdrag-armbar, but Savage sells so well and outside that hold they come up with some great criss cross routines. I loved Savage's reverse crossbody with Steamboat rolling through for a nearfall. Savage is so selfless everything is about Steamboat looking better than him. Even when it looks like he might get control, Steamboat sends him packing and he has to hide behind Elizabeth. Savage is milking this for all its worth both to let his arm heal and to get under the skin of the Dragon. It is working. The stall tactics work here most effectively because of how well, Steamboat sells them. At first Savage looks like a fool because when he does get back in, Steamboat spits on him and gets under his skin! Two can play at mind games and Steamboat gets back in the driver's seat. It is only when Savage used Steamboat own momentum to send him crashing into the buckles the complexion of the match changed. He rams Steamboat into the railing and then double axehandle off the top for two. He goes again, but Steamboat catches him and then sends the Macho Man flying over the railing. I am loving how heated this has become. The ref is actively trying to get Steamboat to stay in the ring, holding his leg. It looks like this will give Savage the advantage, but Steamboat sends the Macho Man into the post and he taps a gusher. He is bleeding profusely. Steamboat is chopping that cut. When he comes off the top with the overhand karate chop on the cut, everyone in Toronto thought there would be a new champion. Savage in an excellent move pulls the ref in front of him and Steamboat chops him. Then we get all the Steamboat nearfalls with the dramatic slow counts. I am eating this up with a spoon. You can tell how influential Savage is on wrestling not just from character and work, but layout, this would be the normal for the next twenty years. Savage has a foreign object and jabs it in Steamboat's eye. What makes this work so well is Steamboat commitment to selling for the rest of the match (2-3 minutes), taking swings at the ref, blindly back dropping Savage over the rope and then wandering too close and being pulled to the outside. The ending outside brawl is fantastic and Steamboat beats the count for the win! Incredible match! One of the best in the WWF during this timeframe from opening matwork where Steamboat both injures and frustrates Savage. Savage after trying to wrestle straight tries stalling tactics and finally gets his opening. Of course, Steamboat makes a big comeback but they throw in a bladejob, ref bump and a foreign object to put the icing on a delicious cake. Excellent wrestling and excellent theatre. ****1/2


WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Boston 11/1/86

Tremendous match this pre-dates the larynx crushing angle on TV by a couple weeks so this wrestled more straight. Savage is the consummate heel. I have said this time and time again. In that ring he is utterly despicable. Here it is the stalling, the hair pulling, and foreign object. He is such a product of Memphis, but this is what the WWF needed as variety from your Studds & Bundys. Steamboat is a great white meat babyface here. He does a great job not losing his concentration during Savage's stalling tactics. He is committed to working the left arm. Some really nice, deep armdrags by the Dragon. Savage is making him earn these holds by creating movement through hair pulls. I love that. Savage is achieving three things at once: hair pull - heel, movement - interest, Steamboat overcoming the cheating - struggle. Awesome stuff! Like I said it is not the psychology but the execution from these two is completely on point. Loved Steamboat wrenching the arm against the ropes. Savage realizing his arm is in a bad way and hair pulling is not working; reaches down into his tights and finds an foreign object to jab in the Steamer's eyes. Savage is perpetual motion now with the double axehandles and bodyslams on the outside. He makes sure to sell the arm. The arm prevents him from suplexing and piledriving Steamboat. Great stuff! Steamboat looks ready to mount the comeback backdropping out of the aforementioned piledriver, but Savage goes fishing for the foreign object again. This time he misses the straddle on the ropes. Now the Dragon is breathing fire! Great series of hot nearfalls for Steamboat here reminiscent of Mania III. Savage sends The Dragon flying over the top rope when he sidesteps an overzealous Steamboat. He gets greedy and goes for a double axehandle to the outside misses and loses by countout.

Terrific psychology and execution throughout. Loved Savage's selling of the arm and his commitment to cheating. This is workrate meets great heel psychology. ****


WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - WWF, Toronto 2/15/87

I could have sworn I had seen this match before, but I don't think I have. What a tremendous match! Perhaps even better than the Mania match, which I need to rewatch now. Steamboat made his return at the January Saturday's Night Main Event during Savage and Steele's match. I really enjoyed the Savage vs Steele feud and SNME matches. The turnbuckle stuffing spot is pretty funny. It was the perfect feud to put even more heat on Savage, but it was all to really get that heat on Savage for the Steamer.

After crushing having larynx crushed and needing to re-learn how to talk, many have criticized the Mania for the lack of violence and hatred from Steamboat. Around the horn in the Northeast loop (Boston, Philly, NYC and Toronto) for two shows in each city they saw Steamboat win or lose by DQ and not win the title. This explains the cleaness and neatness of the Mania match as Steamboat had gotten his licks in and now was coming from the title. Besides a single pinfall cover by Ricky which I think was out of force of habit. Steamboat focused on using his energy and technique to set up his chops and this maybe the most violent Steamboat ever looked. Savage was great at selling the discombobulation and tries to head for the hills, but Steamboat chucks him back in. Again, Macho Man powders and this time with some cat and mouse game Savage nails The Dragon and throws him over the top. Savage sells well, but once recuperated he sends Steamboat into the railing. Big bodyslam by Macho man on the floor. I like how this match has more selling and more drama. Savage is matching violence with Steamboat. The big spots on the floor is allowing more time to breathe. Finally, Savage lays Steamboat across the top rope and drills that throat with an elbow. I think if we got some choking and coughing from Steamboat that would have sealed the deal as this being a tippy top great match. Still Savage is coming off the top with the double axe handle and now a kneedrop to throat. Camera is not letting us see if he is choking or coughing. Classic Savage clothesline stymies a Steamboat rally. Savage is here to preserve his title reign so it makes more sense for him to go for all these covers. Steamboat is draped throat first across the middle rope and Savage looks to really hurt him by crushing with all his weight, but Steamboat moves! Love that spot! There was so much drama if he would or would not move. Somehow, Savage has a minor cut on his forehead, but dont know how.Steamboat does the skin the cat spot, but Savage dont play that and he just clobbers him with a clothesine. Savage looks to hit the double axehandle on the railing, but gets a punch in the stomach.  Steamboat uses speed and armdrags and then chokes the hell out of Savage. I love how Steamboat is using his normal offense to create opportunities for violence. Now, it is a larynx for a larynx as he snaps Savage's throat against the top rope. Steamboat mocks Savage's throat selling. he drops Savage on the top rope. How does a taste of your own medicine feel! Savage powders and tries to send him in teh railing, but it is the Macho Man that tastes the steel. Savage with that awesome tippsy selling right into a Steamboat big karate shot from the top. Catapult and now Savage is busted wide open. The way Savage's body conforms to the turnbuckles on that spot was awesome. Savage is straight money in this match. He is selling so well! he always trying to escape, but he is so disoriented that he cant escape the Dragon. Savage has enough wherewithal to grab the tights to send him out. Savage drills from behind on the ramp with a high knee. Great use of the ramp! Steamboat chants and he is pissed! He goes for the sunset flip and only gets two and now they do the Mania match finish with a ton of nearfalls for Steamboat. It is the O'Connor Roll that does him as Savage is able to reverse and pull tights.

Awesome match! Savage is covered in blood with the championship, but Steamer is so pissed he runs down the ramp and blasts him. I think you can see the change in Steamboat within this match. Up until the end, he wants to get his licks in first with chops then targeting the larynx and finally busting Savage wide open. Eventually after all this payback, he does want to add on top of that taking the championship away from Savage thus why he goes for the pinfall barrage. The pinfall barrage plays right into Steamboat's wheelhouse of quickness. The object of wrestling is put your man down for three the more attempts you make that better chance you have of getting that win. I think this match and the other matches in Northeast showed Ricky he could get his revenge or he could get the championship, but not both. After two months of kicking ass, he set out to win the title at Mania. Savage's performance in this is just tremendous. I think above all his selling was just perfect. He was discombobulated from the being and that just sold how much fire Steamboat had. When he was on top, he slowed it down and really targeted the neck. The cheap win with the tights covered in blood and leaving with the title is just a great heel ending. One of the best matches in 80s WWF and one of the all-time classics. ****3/4


WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat - Wrestlemania III

History beckons the Macho Man! One of the all-time great promos and singular lines in pro wrestling. I had forgotten that during the Steamboat promo that they do mention this is the Dragon's last shot, which is only further proof why the match was worked the way it was and the correct way to go about it. I always loved how they weaved in the George Steel story into this match. I love how Savage moves Liz away from Steele because of what happened at the last SNME where he kidnapped her. Well-played spot. The finish is just awesome with Steel saving Steamboat from the bell. It is too bad that Savage could not get himself to be hit with the bell a little bit more convincingly.

Much like Hogan vs Andre, this match has been talked to death and I don't have a completely revolutionary fresh take, but I did enjoy this match more than I ever have in the past. The first time I watched this was probably about ten years ago and I hate to admit I was pretty underwhelmed. It just seemed like guys moving really fast, but without much substance to it. This match for me at least has gotten better with each subsequent watch and I really enjoyed it this time around. The Toronto match really helps put things into perspective. I highly recommend watching the Toronto match before this one to get the full experience. In fact, I would imagine if you go back and watch 2 or 3 of their 86 matches it would help even more. It is actually surprising how many spots are similar to Toronto but they work them in different fashions, but it is still organic. They even played off the Toronto finish with Savage reversing a O'Connor Roll, but this time Steamboat kicked out.

I think there are times when Steamboat does show aggression that have been brushed over like the choke on Savage at the beginning and the aggression of his chops. Savage is a particularly nasty heel in this and in general that is his style. He takes shortcuts and uses nasty short strikes to keep his opponents at bay. The eye rake when Steamboat was unleashing all that karate popped me. I really loved his use of the high knee in this match. It was a well-delivered attack and it was always to the back. Great dick move. Around this time, he decks Steamboat in the midst of the skin the cat and Jesse delivers my all time favorite line "You have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one up on the Macho Man."

This is a type of feud that I think could benefit wrestling more and that is the one-sided hate feud. Steamboat hates Savage and that's clearly evident. Savage does not actually hate Steamboat. He is lashing out in fear of losing the title. It makes sense for Savage to cheat like a muthafucka and go for a ton of pinfalls. Steamboat does actually work aggressive at times, but this is tempered by the fact that this maybe his last shot for the IC title.

Do they move too fast in this match? Yes and no. I think this match is very influential on the current style used today. Pack in a ton of action and lots of nearfalls at the end = This Is Awesome chants. I think they move way too fast at the beginning. There are way too many momentum shifts and there is very little rhythm. it does not feel like a struggle. I would say around the high knees that match settles into a nice structure with Steamboat fighting underneath due to Savage's cheating. I actually dig the urgency of Steamboat's nearfalls. It is a really heightened sense of drama. I think during the finish the speed at which they were going was warranted and was a boon to the match.

Overall, I thought they moved a bit too quickly early on, last half was wicked hot. It was downright revolutionary for the WWF at the time. Those nearfalls were wicked hot. You always think of the one after the karate chop near the ropes that gets a monster pop because everyone thought Steamboat had won. I also did not think there was one consistent thread through the entire match like a real cool overarching story. I am sticking the Toronto match ahead, but this is a badass match and very, very important in the history of wrestling for how it influenced the fans, wrestlers and the promotion. ****3/4

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