Ricky Steamboat Details Where His Name Came From
The Dragon was told to change his ring name in the 1970s
Ricky Steamboat is one of the most celebrated wrestlers of the 1980s. From his classic Intercontinental Championship victory against Randy Savage at WrestleMania III, through his iconic feud with Ric Flair in the NWA, Steamboat’s name will live forever.
But his name wasn’t always Steamboat.
Going under his birth name of Rick Blood, the future ‘Dragon’ was going nowhere fast, until promoter Eddie Graham suggested a new moniker, with Steamboat saying on Stories with Brisco & Bradshaw:
“When I came down to Florida in 1976, I walked in the office and Eddie Graham says, ‘I remember you kid, you know when you’re in high school you wrestled Mike’. He says, ‘Rick Blood’s a great wrestling name’, but he said that’s for heels, Blood, that’s for heels. He said, ‘I’d like to call you Ricky Steamboat, we had a guy here in the late 60s and through the early 70s that campaigned here. His name was Sammy Steamboat. He was from Hawaii and I’m going to start putting your name out there, but I’m not going to call you his son, I’m going to start listing you as a nephew. You’re the nephew of Sammy Steamboat.'”
The name change instantly paid dividends:
“I’ll never forget the first night I went to the office, on Tuesday or Wednesday night we’re in West Palm Beach. I’m the first match, I’m in the ring, I’m in the corner, they’re doing old school announcing,” continued Steamboat. “The announcer’s in the middle of the ring with the mic and he announces, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have a substitute this evening. Taking the place of 'Dick Blood', give it up for the nephew of the great Sammy Steamboat, Ricky Steamboat!’ and the crowd jumped out of the seats. I went, ‘Holy moly!’
“Prior to that, whenever they announced Rick Blood when I worked for Vern [Gagne] up in Minneapolis, I get beat in two or three minutes and I get a couple of claps out of the house. Then when I went to Florida, and just because of the name change, the fans, they must have loved Sammy dearly because they jumped out of their seats.”
The success of the name change was noted by Graham, who pushed Steamboat going forward:
“So about a month later, Eddie pulled me back in the office and he said, ‘son you’re getting a great response’, and I said, ‘well, it’s not because of my work, I’m just getting a rub off of Sammy Steamboat! The name, that’s the reason,’” continued Steamboat. “Eddie goes, ‘Do you remember when Sam and I were wrestling tag teams?’ I said, ‘Yes, sir, I do, you guys were the Florida Tag Team Champions.’ He said, ‘I’m going to team you and Mike and it’s going to be Steamboat and Graham all over again, second-generation.'
“The following week on TV, we were in the ring with the Hollywood Blonds with Sir Oliver Humperdink as their manager and we wrestled to a ten-minute draw. The next thing you know, we got Mike Graham and Steamboat wrestling against the Hollywood Blonds for the Florida Tag Team Championships, and all of a sudden I’m in the main events and I’ve been in the business three months!”
H/T: Inside the Ropes