Big Time Wrestling recently announced that wrestling legend, Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat will be returning to have a match for the first time in over 12 years on November 27th, in North Carolina, in what has to be assumed will be his last ever match. At 69 years old there can be no doubt that Steamboat will be incredibly limited in the ring, and as such will need someone quite competent in order to see him through. That being said, after Ric Flair’s performance in his “last match ever” in July, the bar for Steamboat’s performance isn’t very high.
The opponent should be someone of a certain caliber, and be considered worthy enough to be Steamboat’s last opponent. At the same time, Steamboat will overshadow his opponent no matter what happens, considering the event will likely be built around him, and they will be in his home state of North Carolina. It would be smartest then for his opponent to be a heel, or at least someone talented and aggressive enough to display heelish tendencies. Here are some options that would suit the job well, in no particular order.
Ricky Steamboat’s Last Match: Possible Opponents
— Big Time Wrestling (@BTWwrestling) September 15, 2022
“Cool Hand” Angelo Parker OR “Daddy Magic” Matt Menard
The last the wrestling world saw of Steamboat was at the “House of the Dragon” Dynamite special, where he served as special guest timekeeper for a 2 Out of 3 Falls match between Daniel Garcia and Bryan Danielson. After the match though, he was accosted by Matt Menard and Angelo Parker, Garcia’s fellow stablemates in the Jericho Appreciation Society. Steamboat got physical with them, nailing Parker with one of his trademark chops. This could be used as a logical excuse for either one of them to have a gripe with Steamboat, and challenge him in his last match in his hometown. Both are great old school heels, whose style is built around making babyfaces look good, and either one of them is good enough in the ring to get Steamboat through the match.
In a perfect world, it could be Steamboat and his son, Richie, taking both on in a tag team match, as that would work best to hide Ricky’s weaknesses. The chances of this, however, are unlikely.
Speaking of old-school heels who excel at making opponents shine, QT Marshall is probably the perfect man for the job in a lot of ways. As a longtime veteran himself, Marshall works a style that is basically ripped straight out of the 70s and 80s, so it would suit Steamboat very well for obvious reasons. It’s also a style that, while entertaining, isn’t overly athletic and won’t ask a lot of a 69-year-old man. Marshall is also one of the great minds in the wrestling business today, and could probably tackle the task of structuring the match in a way that makes things easier for Steamboat. And of course, being a cowardly heel who is great at working crowds and cutting promos, he would be the perfect man to march into Steamboat’s home to a chorus of boos.
Like I said, in a lot of ways he’s the perfect man for the job. But he’s not the only one.
(A Long Shot But) Keiji Mutoh/The Great Muta
You know how I said it should definitely be a heel since there’s no way for anyone to outshine Steamboat in his last match in his hometown? Well, prepare for the loophole to that rule. Keiji Mutoh, A.K.A The Great Muta, has been on a retirement tour as of late that is set to end in late February, when he will retire from professional wrestling, ending a 38-year career. Recently he showed up on AEW Rampage Grand Slam to help longtime rival Sting defeat the House of Black’s Buddy Matthews and Brody King, and while nothing is known yet, it would be cool to see him do one last tour in the U.S, even if it was only a couple of dates.
What if one of those dates was November 27? Think about it. Steamboat would be having his last match, only a few months before Mutoh retires. The story could be that both men know this is the last chance they’ll get to wrestle each other, and want to do it one more time on their way(s) out. Both men are old and not in great shape, but that can be used to advantage in a way. If the match is kept short, preferably 10 minutes or under, then it reduces the risk of anything going wrong. Plus, when Steamboat wins, which he inevitably will of course, it doesn’t hurt a young opponent to be beaten by an old man. A 60-year-old man getting beat by a 70-year-old man isn’t so embarrassing.
Whether he wrestled under his real name, or the legendary Great Muta alias, the match would certainly sell tickets and PPV buys.
Back to the logical choices that make the most sense, Jeff Jarrett is a great candidate for this job. Much like Mutoh he’s old enough and established enough that being beaten by a 69-year-old man won’t really hurt him, but he’s also a much more likely, and admittedly better opponent for Steamboat. Jarrett is still in great shape for his age, and can go in the ring, as we saw in his performance in Ric Flair’s Last match, which brings up the second point. A large part of Jarrett’s identity is the Nature Boy-esque character he’s portrayed over the decades, one that he claims was inspired by Jackie Fargo and not Ric Flair. Be that as it may, there are a lot of similarities between Jeff Jarrett and Ric Flair. And Flair was arguably Steamboat’s greatest rival and best opponent throughout his career.
Jarrett could have an easy payday by basically just being Ric Flair for a night; that is, play the role of Flair in a Flair/Steamboat match. In his shape, it would probably be a cakewalk for him, and there’s no doubt he’d be willing to work with Ricky Steamboat, whom he’s never had a match with.
Plus he was one of the few to come out of the Ric Flair’s Last Match debacle looking good and impressive, so he’s got the resume for it. If he can work with a 73-year-old Flair, he can work with 69-year-old Steamboat easily.
It’s already confirmed that Sting will be taking part in Keiji Mutoh’s retirement match, but it’s not the only one his participation in could help. Sting and Ricky Steamboat, despite being in the same company multiple times over several years, have never had a one-on-one match together, this likely being due to the fact that they were both perennial babyfaces at a time when babyface wrestlers didn’t normally face each other or feud. That being said, there is absolutely no way that a Sting vs. Ricky Steamboat match does not sell a ridiculous amount of tickets in North Carolina, especially if billed as Steamboat’s last match and the first time he and Sting have ever faced off.
Like the Mutoh idea, it would be best suited to a shorter match, but that’s okay. If people are expecting a 20-minute performance from an old man that’s more on them than anyone else.
In Conclusion – Ricky Steamboat’s Last Match
In the end, Steamboat’s opponent could be anybody, even someone who’s not even on this list. This is just a list of the people that would be best suited to do the job, and to sell the show, but that doesn’t mean they’ll pick any of them. It’s going to be interesting finding the right person for the job. While there’s no way the Flair match can be topped as far as a sad performance, the wrong opponent here could really effect the match, and not in a good. Likewise, the right opponent might just make all the difference in the world, and give the show the extra little boost (if it even needs one) to make money, be successful, and be enjoyable.
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