Richard Blood (Ricky Steamboat) was once a talented young wrestler but that all changed once he was bartered for in a trade arranged by famed wrestling promoters Jim Crockett and Jim Barnett.
Once Ric Flair met Steamboat in the Mid-Atlantic wrestling territory he had a ingenious plan, he knew exactly what to do to make Steamboat and himself a pair of wrestling headliners, this was in 1977, before Flair’s numerous title reigns and the classic World title match between Flair and Steamboat, that some fans have called” The Greatest Wrestling Match Of All Time”.
Steamboat’s first appearance on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling TV established the fued that Flair and Steamboat continued on for, basically, their entire active wrestling careers. Flair was cleanly pinned by Steamboat for Flair’s coveted Mid-Atlantic TV title in the middle of the ring.
Flair recognized Steamboat’s potential as a headlining wrestling attraction and World Champion, so with consent from George Scott, Flair and Steamboat began fueding and exchanging the U.S. title in some headlining matches in the Mid-Atlantic area.
Wanting to elevate their fued to a new level and further advance their wrestling careers, Flair offered up his newly won, from Steamboat of course, coveted U.S. title belt in a match against Steamboat live on TV in 1978. Flair reacted violently to Steamboat’s positive reply to his challenge, rubbing Steamboat’s face on the ring mat and upon throwing Steamboat out of the ring, proceeded to rub little Ricky’s face on the concrete studio floor.
Calling Ricky a ” pretty boy” Flair then scraped the gold plate of his title belt into Steamboat’s face and eye.
Steamboat got a genuine dose of wrestling reality after the match. World Champion Harley Race proceeded to rub some hardware store bought sandpaper on Ricky’s face to make it appear bruised and battered. After cutting Ricky’s face with the sandpaper Race poured iodine into the wounds and further rubbed sandpaper across the scars. All this came about after a brief discussion with Race, Wahoo McDaniel and Flair in which Race wanted to actually punch Steamboat in the face to cause an actual cut, the proposal was turned down and the “variety pack” sandpaper was used instead. Steamboat’s face was still discolored 6 months after the cuts healed.
Even after all that a final creative angle by Flair put the fued over with the fans and established a “Flair vs. Steamboat” wrestling match as a must have match if you wanted to sell out your arena on any given night on any wrestling card around the world.
Flair pulled up in a limo to the Mid-Atlantic wrestling TV studios for a scheduled interview in 1978. Dressed to the nine’s, toting a beautiful girl on each arm, Flair purposely berated Steamboat on live TV. Steamboat angrily appeared on set and proceded to slap Flair in the face and drag him into the ring by his suit and tie. After continually beating on Flair the fans shouted in disbelief as Steamboat proceeded to tear Flair’s entire suit off piece by piece.
Flair and Steamboat went back out on the road to continue their hot fued.
Wanting to give the fans the best possible wrestling match they could, the 2 combatants often wrestled 60 minute matches, to sold out, standing room only, young, rabid Mid-Atlantic wrestling fans. These matches established and solidfied Steamboat and Flair as World Champion caliber wrestlers.
This is exactly what Flair had in mind when he first laid eyes on a young, talented Richard Blood way back in 1977. Check out the “WrestleWar 1989” NWA World title match to witness the magic Flair and Steamboat had in the ring, live and in color on the WWE’s “The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection”.
Source: YouTube, “The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection” and “Nature Boy Ric Flair The Definitive Collection” DVD Sets