Getting over in the mid-card
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Re: Classic Wrestling General Discussion: Review & Recommend Wrestlers/Matches/Shows
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude
30-Minute Iron Man Challenge
WCW Beach Blast 1992
Rick Rude is the United States Champion but this match is a non-title contest which undoubtedly is set to prove who is the better wrestler, but also who is the toughest man - The Iron Man. I’ve always appreciated Iron Man matches because they can make this circus that is professional wrestling look more like a competition through the athleticism and spirited fire we see lit in the performers; especially in Ricky Steamboat matches.
Am I the only one that feels Rude’s “Fat, out of shape … take a look at a real man” promo that he did before every match never gets old? I chuckle a little every time I hear him say it. I mean a lot of those WCW fans actually do look like “sweat hogs” and Rude is really awesome.
This match pits a contrast not only in styles but also in personalities. While Rude verbally destroys the fans on the mic, the ultimate good guy, the man whose family escorts him to the ring - Ricky Steamboat - has always been and will always be an enduring babyface in wrestling lore.
Steamboat brought the fight with extra aggression in the opening moments of the match. It was almost like Steamboat was punishing Rude for even thinking about attacking him from behind while Ricky assisted his family out of the ring. The pace is pretty fast in the opening moments of the match due to the fire The Dragon brings and the ride has taken off!
I think it is excellent how they incorporated injuries for both men to work with in telling their story of ‘who will be the most durable for the duration?’ Rude suffered a rib injury from one of Steamboat’s gut-busters and Ricky completely dominated until Rude got a lucky break with a knee to the Steamboat’s head which leads to an injury to him. These moments are extremely important because the rest of the match, including the foundation for the finish is set here. I’ll explain further on.
The storytelling couldn’t be any better than it is here: Rude is the one who had an early injury and was dominated yet at one quick turn he has the advantage at 2-0.
Rude smartly works on Steamboat’s head and neck with “The Rude Awaking” and an illegal diving knee drop from the top rope to Steamboat’s neck. Again, we have more storytelling with Rude taking a DQ only to injure Steamboat more and further his own advantage with 3-1. The “no flying off the top rope rule” did have valid reasoning behind it no matter how much we don’t like it because what Rude did was malicious!
Both men are in the best of the best category as far as I’m concerned, and their psychology used here to tell a simple yet fantastic story is just right. Rude never forgets to sell the rib injury. Even though he dominated a large portion of the match, he would always go back to holding his left arm towards his ribs. This is something that seems to be lost with the majority of workers today, some who are in the main event.
And as far as getting behind a face that is in peril, Ricky Steamboat is at the very top as one of the best. I’d put him in the top class with Rey Mysterio, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit. When you see Ricky’s hand cramped and shaking with his fingers twitching, there’s no why I can’t sympathize with this man.
Steamboat showed his desire to win as he kicked out of a Piledriver and seconds later performed one of the best Tombstone reversals I’ve ever seen. When Steamboat was climbing, fighting out of the Tombstone position you can clearly see him “gutting it out” to pull off the reversal and hit a homerun and spike Rude’s head into the canvas. That moment for me really had that athletic-sports type feel to it.
Steamboat picked up another win there and then ANOTHER with the grueling backslide pin to make a tie at 3-3, and that is when the fire reignited in “The Dragon”.
I cannot say enough how great the psychology is here in this match. First of all, this burst of running and quickly hitting clotheslines while scrambling for pin-falls comes at a great period in the match to keep the crowd enthralled with the ups & downs of the match.
The pace is steady throughout with 100 percent selling which I say again is phenomenal. What I want to point out is how Rude shut Steamboat down again during Ricky’s electric onslaught. Rude gained the advantage due to Steamboat being overzealous in the beginning of the match but the end of the match is coming up and we saw how long it took for Steamboat to make a comeback the first time he got shut down. So what does Rude do with only three minutes left? He puts Ricky in a sleeper hold – GENIUS.
It’s genius because this isn’t just a mere rest-hold but an essential and fine piece of storytelling that led to a remarkable finish. The sleeper hold will eat up the remaining time but if Steamboat passes out there is no more comebacks. I loved how Rude would kick Steamboat’s arms down so he couldn’t reach the ropes. Man, I miss how intense it used to feel seeing someone locked in the sleeper! Steamboat continued to sell the fight in him denying to passing out, denying losing.
Steamboat finally fought up courageously and used the corner ropes to turn the sleeper-hold into a pin-fall! The snake gets his own poison spit back into his face! With only 30 seconds left in the match it was Rude that found himself scrambling to get a win with a flurry of clotheslines into pin-covers, shoulder blocks into pin-covers, ANYTHING to get a pin-fall! But the time ran out and the match was over with the final score at 4-3 . Steamboat turned a move that would have finished the match for him into a situation that not only finished, but embarrassed the narcissistic Rick Rude which is flawless storytelling for the match and their combating characters.
This is truly a superb technical wrestling match. This is how you build and build the drama of a contest as a compelling race to the finish line. This is the type of match that should be viewed by all wrestling fans. I think anyone can and should appreciate the work performed here. It is the type of match that takes what we call sports-entertainment and makes it feel more like, as Jim Cornette once said, “an entertaining-sport.”
I can't really disagree with this review. I think on last watch I had this at ****3/4. Beach Blast '92 was actually a really good event with;
Rude/Steamboat - ****3/4
Steiner Brothers/Miracle Violence Connection at ****.
I'd probably need to watch everything again just to be sure on these ratings, though.