Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. the Magnificent Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji)
As we are coming to the end of 1985, there have been a lot of hot feuds that have come through the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden and have whipped the crowds into a frenzy. As we head into the final months of the year, one of the hotter feuds that was going was between Ricky Steamboat and Don Muraco. It was pretty clear by this point that Steamboat was a future star in the making as he was looking pretty strong on TV and had a good showing back at the Wrestling Classic, and on the flip side Muraco was still being booked somewhat strong though he was starting to taper off a bit. Both men were very over with the crowd as Steamboat was becoming one of the most popular stars in the WWF while Muraco was still one of the most hated. By this time, it seemed like the feud was almost more Steamboat vs. Fuji as opposed to Steamboat vs. Muraco, but you knew anytime these two got in the ring together they would put on some hot and fun matches.
Since the last time they faced off at MSG back in September where Steamboat won by DQ thanks to Fuji, they would face off against each other on the house circuit in singles matches as well as tag matches. On the 3rd Saturday Night’s Main Event earlier in the month, Steamboat would defeat Fuji in a kung fu challenge only to have mist blown in his face by Muraco and then Muraco would be Steamboat down. The two men would not have any interaction at the Wrestling Classic which seemed a bit strange, and they would continue to feud on the house shows in singles and tag matches. It would be interesting to see how much longer this feud would continue as we are about to enter a new year and begin building towards a possible second Wrestlemania.
Needless to say, Steamboat gets a big pop from the crowd while Muraco was still red hot as a heel and the crowd has been pretty hot all night even with the controversy that surrounded the Women’s Championship match earlier in the night. It was interesting that they were in this spot as given what was after them it seemed that this could’ve been the main event, but perhaps we might get that later should the feud continue. Muraco backs off as Steamboat teases the chops to start and Muraco stalls in the corner, and they lock up with Muraco hooking a headlock until Steamboat whips him off and leaps over him twice before hitting a jumping enzurgiri on Muraco. Muraco rolls outside to regroup only for Steamboat to chase him back into the ring and Muraco begs off in the corner, and they lock up again with Muraco backing Steamboat into the corner and he gets a knee in before hitting a back elbow. Muraco hits a snapmare and drops a knee on Steamboat who tries to battle back and he hits a snapmare and a neck snap on Muraco, and he pounds on Muraco who backs into the corner and rolls outside to regroup before returning to the ring. Muraco again begs off in the corner and he teases a test of strength only for Steamboat to get a kick in, and he pounds on Muraco before hitting a snapmare and hooking a submission on. Muraco fights to his feet and breaks the hold before pounding on Steamboat and he knocks him down, but Steamboat leaps over Muraco and gets a back elbow in before knocking him down. Muraco again rolls outside to regroup before returning to the ring and they lock up with Muraco backing Steamboat into the corner and getting a knee in, and he pounds on Steamboat only for Steamboat to reverse a whip into the corner and he hits a backdrop on Muraco. Steamboat hits a pair of armdrags and a drop toehold on Muraco before hooking an STF on, and then he slams Muraco’s head into the mat before hooking a camel clutch on while driving the knee into Muraco’s back. Steamboat tears at Muraco’s face and pounds on him before hooking a front facelock on and he grinds down on Muraco, and he takes Muraco to the mat and continues to grind down on him as Muraco fights to his feet and he escapes the hold by hitting an atomic drop on Steamboat. Muraco hits a pair of clotheslines on Steamboat and he pounds on him before ramming him into the buckle, and then he throws Steamboat face first into the post which busts him open and Muraco pounds on the cut before dropping a knee on Steamboat’s head. Muraco bites Steamboat on the open wound and he digs his taped thumb into the wound before pounding on him, and he tosses Steamboat through the ropes to the outside and stomps on him before hitting a short clothesline. Muraco takes Steamboat down to the floor and slingshots him into the post before rolling back into the ring, and he again bites Steamboat on the wound before ramming him into the post again and the visual of Steamboat’s blood all over Muraco’s mouth was quite a sight to see. Steamboat regroups on the floor and gets on the apron only for Muraco to slingshot him back into the ring, and Muraco goes up to the middle rope and drives the thumb into Steamboat’s head before tearing at his face. Muraco pounds on Steamboat who tries to battle back with chops and he pounds on Muraco in the corner, and he continues to fire up on Muraco as the crowd rallies him only for Muraco to reverse a whip into the corner and he hits a clothesline on Steamboat. He rakes his boot across Steamboat’s face and stomps on him before pounding on him and he tosses Steamboat to the outside again, and Fuji tries to take a swing at Steamboat with the cane only for Steamboat to block it and he knocks Fuji to the floor. Muraco grabs the cane and pulls Steamboat back into the ring before stomping on him and raking his boot across the face, but Steamboat kicks him back only for the ref to get knocked down as well. Muraco grabs the cane and tries to jab it into Steamboat who avoids it twice and then he ducks a shot before hitting a standing enzurgiri on Muraco, and Steamboat picks up the cane as the ref comes to and he nails Muraco with it repeatedly which causes the ref to call for the bell and Muraco gets the win by DQ.
After the match, Steamboat continues to nail Muraco with the cane and even breaks it in two as the ref tries to stop him, but Steamboat tosses the ref to the mat and he digs the broken shard of cane into Muraco’s head which busts him open. The ref finally pulls Steamboat off and takes the cane away as Muraco rolls outside and Steamboat challenges him to get back in the ring, and Muraco returns to the ring and they continue to brawl around the ring only for both men to roll outside though they continue to brawl. Steamboat pounds on Muraco and rams him into the post while continuing to pound on him, and he rams Muraco into the guardrail and returns to the ring before challenging Fuji to come in as Muraco gets back on the apron. Steamboat tries to snap Muraco back into the ring before hitting a slingshot that sends him back into the ring, and he hits a snapmare on Muraco and pounds on him before hitting a jumping chop to the head. Steamboat gets fired up as Muraco rolls outside and he heads to the back with Fuji as Steamboat stands tall in the ring.
The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard and put on a solid match that looking back was probably a good thing it wasn’t the main event. Given how hot the feud has been since September and especially coming off of Muraco hanging Steamboat with his belt, the fact the match started as slow as it did was a bit perplexing as you expected it to be a bit hotter. In addition to the fact that they were given a lot of time to work with in that the match lasted well over 16 minutes made it even more bizarre that it started as slow as it did. However once Steamboat got busted open the action picked up big time and the finish was really hot and helped the match out after the slow start. The ending may seem a bit weak, but it made sense in that Steamboat had gotten so flustered that he would end up costing himself the match and he cared more about hurting Muraco as opposed to beating him. Plus with their last match ending in a DQ loss for Muraco, they were essentially now tied at 1 match apiece and you knew there would be another match to potentially blow this feud off. The crowd was pretty hot for the match and for Steamboat, and they didn’t care about Steamboat losing since he was left standing in the ring while Muraco retreated to the back. Muraco manages to escape with a win over Steamboat by DQ, but you knew that this issue is far from over and these two would face off again.
Final Grade: ***1/2