Thursday, October 19, 2017

How To Train A Beach Bum: Ricky Steamboat vs Don Muraco - WWF 1985-86

How To Train A Beach Bum:
Story of the Ricky Steamboat vs Don Muraco Feud
WWF 1985-86
Must See Angle: Don Muraco & Mr. Fuji Hang Ricky Steamboat on TV to jumpstart their feud.
I'll be honest this is the least of the three main Ricky Steamboat feuds of WWF (Magnificent Muraco, Jake The Snake and the Macho Man). I think based on that list no would be surprised that I would think that. Muraco was fresh off doing the three match series with Hogan at MSG and being a top flight heel. This is probably the height of Muraco since the Snuka feud in 1983. This basically cements Steamboat as the number three babyface behind Hogan and Tito. This was a great way to establish Steamboat as someone to watch before his breakout year in '86 against Jake The Snake and the Macho Man. It is a great use of Magnificent Muraco as a heel gatekeeper. Steamboat used this as a stepping stone to go onto bigger and better things.
Don Muraco vs Ricky Steamboat 9/22/85 - Lumberjack Match

2013 Review: Another good contest and I believe even better than the Martial Arts match because there was even less downtime, which is a feat for a Muraco match. Steamboat came out with guns blazing and Muraco did a pretty good job bumping around for him. They do the usual stuff to establish the nature of lumberjack match. Muraco is surprisingly game for doing some offense. He does the Mr. Perfect necksnap, atomic drop and a shoulderbreaker, which sets up his nerve hold on the shoulder. I am not a big fan of the nerve hold, but up until that point he was actually moving around and actually hitting stuff with a bit of panache. Steamboat is really working hard on the defensive to put over Muraco's offense. Even Muraco's Irish Whip at the end of the match looked vicious. Vicious is not a word I would use to describe pretty much anything Muraco has done. I would be remiss not to mention that ref is counting noticeably slow for Muraco's covers. Gorilla and Jess are besides themselves.

Bob Orton is on the outside and plays the role of heel running buddy. Fuji runs distraction and Muraco is going to Irish whip Steamboat into Orton's cast, but nothing doing. Steamboat drives Muraco into Orton and rolls him up. Muraco tries to get his heat back, but the babyfaces run him off.

It was an action-packed match where Muraco actually looked good on offense. Steamboat has been looking good in this feud. There is just something about him besides the fact that he missed huge chunks of time that has me ruling him out as GOATC. He lacks a big bomb. He relies too much on quick roll-ups and flash pins. There is nothing he has in his arsenal that screams put away. I actually he is plenty good at showing fire, but really his big weapon is just the chop. I like people to have a little bit more variety in their attack and outside of his chop to the chest, he works really light.           

Ricky Steamboat vs Magnificent Muraco - WWF, MLG 9/22/85 Lumberjack Match

2015 Review: Ricky Steamboat was fucking over in Toronto! Holy shit! Huge Steamboat chant during the heat segment. Every offensive move was met with a pop. When he won, you would have thought the Leafs had one the Stanley Cup! I don't  know if this match took place before or after the hanging angle (highly recommend watching that before any Steamer/Muraco match to get some context). The Steamer came out cooking and a really hot start. Muraco was bumping and stooging. They did well establishing Lumberjack match stip. Besides a long nerve hold, I thought we got good Muraco tonight as he seemed very energetic possibly vibing off the hot Toronto crowd. I really liked the Asiatic Spike from the top and his shoulderbreaker. The finish was fun with Steamboat popping Ace Orton on the apron and then running Muraco into him for the win. Looking forward to more matches in this feud. ***


Don Muraco vs Ricky Steamboat 11/9/85

On the Don Muraco sliding scale, this is a very good match, but I would say it is just average. Even at the beginning, which is supposed to be a hot start, Muraco just isnt throwing himself into the match in a way that feels violent. Coming off watching Valentine/Tito, Muraco barley seems to be grazing Steamboat, but that doesn't stop Steamboat from selling like a pro. I liked the work with the sash (for lack of a better term) it was a good way to incorporate the earlier angle. I dont why Steamboat decided (not his decision perhaps) to ground the match with a chinlock when he should be out for blood. In his defense, he did show some serious fire, which is a usual criticism of his. His chops looked very much on point. The transition to the heat segment with a Fuji cane shot was good. Muraco's heat segment, save for the shoulderbreaker (that moves needs to make a comeback) was a bore.

The comeback matched the beginning in terms of energy and brought the match back to life. I feel that Muraco could have probably waited until Steamboat got the cane to blade to really sell the fury, but hey he was trying to add drama, I guess can't fault him.

As John said, you definitely get the feeling of hate and heat in this match, but Muraco is still working at half-speed, but still the best Muraco match I have ever seen.

 Don Muraco vs Ricky Steamboat - Boston 2/6/86 - Martial Arts Match

There is no sliding scale needed for this match. This is a very good match built around Steamboat's acumen in the ring and Muraco's charisma. Muraco undoubtedly possesses a lot of charisma, it is just we dont get to see when he is laying on the mat in a headlock. The beginning of the match establishes that this Ricky's domain and Muraco can mock it all he wants, but at the end of the say Steamboat is going to kick his ass. I dont understand why Muraco didnt rely more on gimmicks, schtick and general tomfoolery if he didnt feel like working. It would have been way more entertaining and just as untaxing as lying in a headlock.

Eventually we do get a Steamboat headlock/facelock, but it doesnt last that long until Muraco takes over with a Samona drop and out on the floor he catapults Steamboat into a chair in a great spot. He then busts Steamboat wide open off a ring post shot. Muraco's heat segment is totally centered around him choking out Steamboat with his own sash and this builds to the piledriver, which he dedicated to The Body. He plays a bit too much with his food before Steamboat is able to break out of the piledriver.

The Steamer is cookin and now seems way more comfortable in the martial arts gimmick as a series of chops punctuated by one of the top rope send Muraco to the mat. Muraco dumps him over, but Steamboat hangs on and kicks Fuji before coming back in reversing a suplex into a roll-up for the win.

This is the best I have seen Steamboat look in the WWF since I have been rewatching his stuff (I presume the Savage stuff, which I love will soon top this). I liked the Bob Orton match, but it didnt really seem to go anywhere. This match is the type of match the WWF excels in. It is built around a handful of big spots and relies on the wrestler's ability to connect with the crowd to get the match over. Steamboat is one of the best babyfaces of all-time and Muraco seemed more game than ever to stooge to get the gimmick over. Steamboat seemed more comfortable on offense than previously in the WWF. All in all, this made for a very good match.

My major quibble is the post-match beatdown by Muraco on Steamboat. What the hell was the point of Muraco getting his heat back. He had already had his series with Hogan. So he was on his way down, while ostensibly Steamboat was on his way up ready to feud with Jake The Snake and Macho Man.

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