Big Time Wrestling Steamboat Hot Take
When it comes to the pinnacle of professional wrestling, the hallowed ground of respect in combat sports, there are only a select few who become and remain infinitely loved in perpetuity for their championship glories, their renowned exploits inside the squared circle and the level of class in which they exhibited themselves across the entire timeline and spectrum of their pursuits within the ring.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat is certainly at the apex of that list, one of the most beloved heroes who ever competed in the professional wrestling world. From his classic trinity of matches for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship again Ric Flair to his storied rivalry against "Macho Man' Randy Savage that climaxed with a WWF Intercontinental Championship clash at Wrestlemania III to legendary battles with Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Brian Pillman, Tully Blanchard and countless more, there have been two constants - Steamboat's never-ending work ethic and the pure outpouring of love and respect for his wrestling from the stand and from within the locker room.
On Sunday, November 27th, the unthinkable happens as Big Time Wrestling presents RETURN OF THE DRAGON, live on FITE as one of the all-time greatest professional wrestlers of any generation returns to the ring. The fire within the Dragon will explode in an amazing six man tag team encounter that will see Ricky Steamboat gift the fans with one more performance inside the legendary Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC, a regular haunt for "The Dragon" during his Mid-Atlantic Wrestling era, for what can only be described as a Dream Match.
For the first time since 2010, Ricky Steamboat will enter the squared circle, but he won't be doing it alone. The reigning Ring of Honor, AAA and IWGP Tag Team Champions FTR, Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler, have instilled within themselves the spirit of Carolinas professional wrestling, the spit and fire work ethic of what made professional wrestling great in the 1980s. FTR, in both their exploits in WWE and AEW alike, have brought a throwback, nose to the grindstone, smash mouth tag team psychology to everything they do inside the squared circle. It has blessed them with countless championships and victories alike, but has also brought them into the orbit of stars that think and wrestle with that same passion - and on this night, FTR become the partners Steamboat has chosen for his return encounter.
Their opposition that night rises from the darkness of Ricky Steamboat's past, led by "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson, a long-time foe from the WCW era, into battle. Jay Lethal, "Black Machismo" makes it no secret that he absolutely idolizes the late Randy Savage and has instilled Savage's spirit into everything he brings into the squared circle. By facing off with Steamboat, Lethal brings his own career and life full circle, by seeking to do what his idol could not, defeat "The Dragon."
Brock Anderson, Arn's son, enters the ring that night seeking to avenge his father's past losses to Steamboat, knowing all too well what the loss of championships and big masses meant to his own family when his father came home vanquished at the hands of Steamboat.
Of course, Arn Anderson is nothing if he is not a master strategist. He refuses to name the final partner of his Dangerous Alliance, choosing to leave it as a mystery partner to be named at bell time. Could it be a former member of the Four Horsemen? An AEW star? Another WWE Hall of Famer? Arn himself? The world will know, live on FITE, the very second FTR and Steamboat learn themselves.
This combustible, historic, madcap six man tag team dream match may top Big Time Wrestling's Return of the Dragon, but a slavish collection of intriguing matches fill out the card live on FITE this Sunday!
The Dorton Arena has been the site of some of the greatest matches in the careers of former NWA World Tag Team Champions Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, The Rock N' Roll Express, but like every great band performing in concert for the masses, there comes a time when even the encores must end. Morton and Gibson have deemed Return of the Dragon as their final time to ever team inside this historic Mid-Atlantic Wrestling temple, but true to their word as fighting champions, they won't make it easy on themselves.
Indeed, Morton and Gibson will either have to fight to victory or go down swinging as they take on the most decorated tag team in Ring of Honor history, Mark and Jay Briscoe. The forefathers of ROH have been one of the hardest hitting, innovative tag teams of the last several decades but when they step into North Carolina, they will be a long way from Delaware. Indeed, this generational tag team classic will be hard to predict. What The Briscoes hold in youth and stamina and exuberance, they still cannot match the pure magic of what it means to be The Rock N' Roll Express in the Carolinas. Morton and Gibson remain the masters of the Double Dropkick and some of the most beautiful synchronized professional wrestling tactics ever devised. This unique attraction will not just be a farewell for a team, but an end to an era, and if The Briscoes can become successful, they get those bragging rights forever. Is Sunday the day the music dies, or is it the day the band plays themselves offstage, triumphant? We will all learn together.
Of course, one can't celebrate the Carolinas without the unique might and pizzazz of The Boogie Woogie Man, Jimmy Valiant, who will present his Boogie Woogie Jam Invitational Battle Royale, with stars from across the spectrum of professional wrestling in the United States all seeking victory to prove themselves and add a big notch of victory to their career!
The Return of the Dragon will also feature another unique, exceptional singles encounter as Crowbar takes on Matt Hardy. From the moment he burst into professional wrestling in the 1990s, the unorthodox and innovative Crowbar has grown ever more sinister, a dark evolution that continues to this day. There is no weapon, chain, pipe, table or chair he won't bring into the equation seeking to dominate his opponents and using them alongside his own aerial assault madness, attempting to drive his foes into submission and defeat. However, when Crowbar enters Raleigh, North Carolina, he finds himself tasked with trying to defeat Matt Hardy, one of the most vigilant and legendary professional wrestlers to ever come from The Tar Heel State. No stranger to Tables, Ladders and Chairs himself, Hardy has been one of the most inspiring, awe-inspiring competitors from the Attitude Era until his All Elite run today. If there is anyone prepared to match Crowbar inside and outside the ring, madness for mayhem, it's Matt Hardy.
There will be more incredible matches plus Big Time Wrestling has announced The Steiner Brothers, Teddy Long, Kane and Lex Luger will all be in the house at the Dorton Arena, perhaps foreshadowing even more old school tributes and mayhem to come when The Dragon Returns.
This Sunday, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, 69 years young, returns to the ring to once again make the impossible believable. You will believe a hero can once again, save the day and triumph over evil. You will believe in the sanctity of man. You will cheer one of the greatest men who have ever stepped into the professional wrestling world, one more time, because it's Ricky Steamboat, who has always stood for what's great and right about professional wrestling and after the last few years we've all endured, who doesn't want to see their superhero rise to the greatest of heights one more time?
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.