Name: Richard Blood
Year Inducted: 2002
Induction Category: Modern Era

Ricky Steamboat

A technically sound athlete with a martial arts background, Ricky Steamboat emerged as a prominent figure in the high flying wrestling style for the better part of three decades. Born Richard Blood on February 28, 1953 in West Point, New York, he and his family moved to Florida in the late 1950's. While there, Blood watched Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) hosted by Gordon Solie and these television shows helped to inspire his dream.

After a successful amateur career, Blood made his way to Minneapolis, Minnesota to study wrestling and train under Verne Gagne in the early 1970's. Shortly thereafter, Blood turned pro on February 15, 1976 and went to FCW territory and quickly earned several decisive victories. While in FCW, Blood assumed the name Ricky Steamboat via promoter Eddie Graham's idea. The purpose was to become a baby face personality as Ricky was touted as being the nephew of legendary Sam Steamboat. He was immediately cheered from this name recognition.

Steamboat won the NWA United States Title in 1977 and then earned the NWA Tag Team Championship in April 1978 with partner Paul Jones. Steamboat captured the NWA United States Title for a second time after defeating Ric Flair in December 1978, thus beginning one of professional wrestling's greatest rivalries. After losing the title back to Flair, Steamboat formed a new tag team with Jay Youngblood. Together they won the NWA Tag Team Championship belts on five different occasions throughout the late 1970's and early 1980's. They beat such teams such as the Brisco Brothers and Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka.

After beating Dick Slater for his third NWA United States Title reign, Steamboat entered the World Wrestling Federation in 1985 where he accepted the name "The Dragon". Steamboat's biggest WWF victory came at Wrestlemania III where he beat Randy Savage for the WWF Intercontinental Championship before a record crowd of 93,173 in Detroit's Pontiac Silverdome.

Steamboat came to World Championship Wrestling in 1989 and won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from rival Ric Flair. Steamboat and Flair would battle each other to sixty-minute draws for the Championship in matches that may never be duplicated. Steamboat lost the title to Flair and he then ventured to the newly formed North American Wrestling Association in 1990. Following the NAWA, Steamboat returned for a short period in the WWF before resurfacing in WCW where he teamed with Dustin Rhodes to win the Tag Team Championship in November 1991.

Steamboat challenged and beat one of the future's biggest stars, Steve Austin, for the WCW TV Title on September 2, 1992. Steamboat again captured WCW Tag Team gold with new partner Shane Douglas in November 1992. Ricky "The Dragon" would then score another pin over Steve Austin for the WCW U.S. Title in August 1994 for his last major championship reign.

After retiring from the ring in 1994, Steamboat has served as a catalyst for the NWA- TNA promotion and has officiated several of the promotion's matches. In 2005, Steamboat accepted a role as a road agent with World Wrestling Entertainment. Steamboat resides with his family in Charlotte, North Carolina.

-Andrew Malnoske

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