On today’s episode of The Taz Show, Taz will discuss the iconic matchup between Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat from WrestleMania 3.
Taz mentions that most of the buildup for WrestleMania 3 revolved around the huge matchup between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. This match made up most of WWE’s promotional effort for this event, and the moment when Hogan slammed Andre has gone down as one of the greatest moments in wrestling history.
What was lost in the shuffle of the Hogan/Andre madness, was one of the greatest in-ring performances by two men that the world had ever seen at this point. Savage and Steamboat put on a technical clinic and paved the way for a generation of in-ring technicians who would be inspired by this bout, and who’d go on to pursue a career in the business because of it.
Over the years Taz has heard some people say that they feel that this match was overrated. He mentions that he watched it live in 1987 and remembers it being heads above everything else on the card, so he’s interested in re-watching it now 31 years later to see if he feels the same way today.
Taz points out that Randy Savage was a great heel early on in his career, but he was so good on the mic and in the ring that he gradually turned babyface simply due to the fans refusing to hate him. This is one of the first instances of a heel becoming a “cool heel” in Taz’s opinion, and we’d later see this from the nWo and other heels during the attitude era.
Taz says that Ricky Steamboat is one of the greatest in-ring workers of all time, and we saw several reasons why during this match. The match opens with a series of arm-drags, and Taz says that Steamboat’s arm-drag is one of the best he’s ever seen. He admits that it takes two people to make these types of moves look good, but Steamboat’s technique was picture perfect.
Savage and Steamboat trade offence early on, and Taz likes this concept because it keeps the fans guessing early on and allows both competitors to get into the match.
Taz mentions that Savage and Steamboat were both built like athletes during this time. They weren’t quite as large and bulky as most other professional wrestlers were during this time, and this allowed them to do a lot of innovative things in the ring such as top rope elbow drops.
Another example of why Steamboat is one of the greatest in-ring workers of all time is his amazing ability to sell. Taz points out that Savage was working as a straight heel during this match, and Steamboat’s ability to sell made Savage’s heelish antics even more impressive.
As the match progresses, Taz mentions that Savage dropped an elbow from the top turnbuckle to the outside of the ring, and both competitors took turns back-body dropping each other over the guardrail. He points out that this type of match was a rarity in 1987, and he believes it was risky by McMahon to allow these two men to work this style of match at this point in time.
As the match neared the finish Savage continued his cheating ways, grabbing Steamboat by his trunks on several occasions. Eventually Steamboat picked up the victory and Taz informs that this match followed the age-old recipe for booking matches. The babyface out-wrestles the heel but is put in a precarious position due to the heel’s cheating. Eventually the babyface finds a way to overcome the odds and picks up the win.
After re-watching the match all these years later, Taz says that this match certainly was not overrated. Savage and Steamboat both displayed athleticism and innovation that changed the wrestling business.
Taz says he wasn’t lucky enough to know Savage but he has met Steamboat in the past. He informs that Steamboat is still giving back to the business through working for WWE behind the scenes, and meeting with fans at conventions.
That sums up today’s episode of The Taz Show. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya next week for another recap!