– WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat spoke with ESPN.com this week to promote WWE’s All Stars video game. Here are some highlights:
When you’re in the middle of a classic match like the one against Savage or the series of matches you had against Ric Flair, do you know while it’s happening how good it is, or does it take time to reflect on a match’s greatness?
I like to listen to the crowd, I really do. The crowd helps give me that extra boost of adrenaline. When I take a moment and listen to the wrestling fans and they’re shouting, “C’mon Ricky, you can do it!” It helps me in my heart to know that there are people out there who paid good money to watch guys like us go out there and perform. The fans have always played a major role for me and have helped me do what I need to do in the ring. Ultimately, when you dig down deep, if you did it to a silent movie, I know I wouldn’t have the same response as when I have thousands of people cheering. The fans can bring a better match by getting more involved. So when a match is over, they might be talking about how good the match was, but little do they know, that great match was elevated because of them. They’re helping me out. Look at Wrestlemania III. You had 93,000 fans screaming. That’s probably a major reason why that match turned out so good.
You were out of the spotlight for a while, then you came back a few years ago and wrestled an incredible match against Chris Jericho on pay-per-view. How surprised were you that you could still perform at that high of a level?
I’ll be 58-years-old next month, approaching that big 6-0. We’ve had a lot of guys who wrestled when I wrestled and made appearances — Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper — and you watch them in the ring and remember how they were. I would watch and go, “Oh man, that’s not the same kind of guy.” I didn’t want that to come across with me so I really trained hard. I had been out of the ring for about 14 years at that point, hitting the ropes so to speak, but never having a match. Then we had the match at Wrestlemania and everyone was so surprised to see me, but the fans were singing, “You still got it! You still got it!” Next thing you know, Vince McMahon came up to me and told me he was going to put me in a match against Jericho one-on-one. That’s when I really picked up my training. I was happy just being able to pull it off at my age. The bones still hung together. It was a great moment and it really felt good.
When you look back, do you regret never getting a shot at Hogan and the championship? Why do you think you were never given that opportunity?
Timing. A lot of times when you find out you’re going to get a shot at the World Championship, it has to do with the situation of the company and you need to be there at the right time for it. I think my time would have come up, but then I went to the other company that we don’t want to mention. Then I came back, but it was just wrong place, wrong time. I’ve had fans ask me that a lot, “How come you were never WWE Champion?” It was just bad timing.