Thursday, December 8, 2016
The Dragon Scorches The Cover
During his career, Steamboat's image graced the cover of many publications. The grappler who would later call North Caroline his home actually first began setting the world on fire in the late '70s as part of Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. With longer hair than he would later be known for, Steamboat was played up as a Hawaiian high-flyer who did things that many other stars of the time did not. Though he had many top-level feuds at the time, his bouts with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair would be a prelude to their storied NWA World Championship rivalry a decade later. Many have said that these Mid-Atlantic matches, mostly confined to the memories of fans in the arena live, were even better than those later seen on a national level.
The treasured Mid-Atlantic Championship Magazines saw a few Steamboat covers, but none are cooler than the "beach" cover of Issue No. 3 Vol. 8. These magazines are quite collectible and always fetch a high price when they appear for sale these days. Many of the early covers feature beautiful artistic renderings of the promotions stars. Steamboat in his "native" lands of Hawaii is definitely unique and almost too peaceful for a wrestling magazine.
By the middle of the decade, Ricky Steamboat had transformed into a
master of the martial arts somewhat reminiscent of Bruce Lee. "The Dragon" was born in the WWF and would be a moniker that followed Steamboat through the rest of his career. Steamboat saw his sole WWF Magazine cover appearance on the October/November 1985 issue. A striking and dramatic cover, the issue seems to show up much less than other issues of the time and, thus, commands a higher price when it does appear for sale.
Although he just misses my own "Five All-Time Favorite Wrestlers" list, he's definitely in the next five. When a Steamboat match is on, you watch. You can't help but watch. Meeting him many times over the years, Steamboat's greatness in the ring is only matched by his real-life attitude towards his many fans. If anyone ever came away from a meeting with "The Dragon" with any less than a smile on their face, I'd be truly shocked. The phrase "Never meet you heroes" does not apply here.
A true champion of life, cover-to-cover.