Monday, April 20, 2009

Steamboat Vs. Savage Wrestlemania III

So with Ricky Steamboat kicking ass at Wrestlemania 25 and again on the following RAW, I decided to go back and watch what many folks consider to be one of the best Wrestlemania matches EVER. I haven't watched the match in years, but when I was a young lad I loved it. Savage was my favorite wrestler in the world and I used to dress up like Ricky Steamboat. Head band, gui, black pants. All that. There's a picture somewhere.

Anyway, my wife and I decided to pop it in instead of watching Heroes, because Ricky Steamboat kills Heroes everytime. Honestly, George "The Animal" Steele at ringside kills Heroes every time. The story leading up to the match is Savage, the Intercontinental Champion, tried to end Ricky Steamboats career via a crushed larynx. Steamboat of course is known for resilliance, and makes his way back to challenege for the title on the Grandest Stage of Them All. There's a sub-story that revolves around George Steele's love for Miss Elizabeth, Randy Savage's oft abused valet, and Ricky brings George to ringside in order to have a psychological effect on his nemisis.

The match holds up in certain areas. In terms of match structure this has been copied and duplicated hundreds of times over. Nearfalls, ref bumps, interference, it's all there. So if you've watched the WWE or really any wrestling for an extended amount of time, this match won't seem very fresh, because the idea has been worn out since 1987. The upside is seeing two fantastic showmen perform the formula.

Savage is spry and athletic. If you're only familiar with WCW Savage, this could be a great wake up call. He's a creative brawler, and his moves look slick, especially his elbows to the face.

Steamboat is made to get beat up and make big comebacks. He's truly one of the best people at that and its why he was always face. The Steamer was so good at making everything big enough so the folks in the back row knew what was up. And when fires it up, he makes sure the entire crowd is with him. This is where Steele also comes into play. At one point Ricky is laid out in the front row and Steele has to lift him to his feet and carry him to the ring in order to beat a ten count. Steele is an extension of the thousands in attendance. They want to help the good guy. They want to save the girl. They want to make sure the bad guy gets his comeupunce.

And it is Steele who turns the tides. After a ref bump, Savage hits a beautiful elbow drop and has The Dragon beat. Seeing that the ref is done, Savage decides to do a repeat, and drop the ringbell across Steamboats throat from the top. Steele comes to the rescue and pushes the villian from the top. The ref recovers, and Steamboat flashes a cradle on Savage for the three count.

Looking back on the structure of the match, it becomes obvious that this match is not about Ricky Steamboat becoming champion. It's about Savage being the next big thing. Jesse Ventura puts Randy Savage over big time, saying "He's the best athelete in the sport of wrestling." And the structure of the match keeps the fans happy by seeing Savage get beaten, but it saves Savages face. He had Steamboat beat. And if it weren't for some interference, he would have still had him beat. And after everyone basks in the glory of the new good guy champion, they'll go back and realize, Savage is a threat to everyone. Including the top title.

Which is where he went: one year later at Wrestlemania IV, Savage won his first World Title.

So if you haven't in a while, or never have, go back and check out this classic. It's still worth it.

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