Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat pumped the brakes on his rumored return to the ring.
On May 16, Ric Flair announced that he will wrestle for the first time since 2011. He’s set to compete at the Nashville Fairgrounds in a match that will reportedly see him team up with FTR to face The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton) and “someone else.” Fightful Select subsequently reported that the tentative plans called for Steamboat to be the sixth man in this contest. In doing so, the WWE Hall of Famer would come out of retirement and wrestle for the first time since 2010.
But on May 17, Steamboat appeared at a Highspots Superstore signing and stated that while he was approached with the opportunity to wrestle again, he decided, after much consideration, to turn it down. Steamboat described how he wants the fans to remember him for his last major match, when he faced Chris Jericho at WWE Backlash 2009. He made it clear that he didn’t want to tarnish the fans’ memory of him.
“Well, I was approached and given it really some serious thought,” Steamboat said. “A lot of respect to the guy in the ring. You know, both of us are night and day when it comes to stuff out of the ring. Flair wouldn’t be Flair without it. I thought about it for a week and just recently just declined on it. I know when I wrestled Jericho at WrestleMania 25, then we had the return match at Backlash in a singles, but at 69, and I know it’s a six-man tag and I could get a little this and that in, but with all due respect to our fans, I want them to remember me that last time I was in there with Jericho when they chanted, ‘You still got it.’ I don’t want to scar that phrase. Even that night with Jericho, you know, I was working for the WWE. I was one of the trainers at the school and was pretty active in the ring, so I had a lot of confidence in myself.
“But knowing Ricky now and not being in the ring for a number of years, I don’t want to tarnish the memory that the fans have of me. It’d be a good payday, sure, but I don’t want them thinking, ‘Maybe he should have stayed retired.’ You know, and I could get out there and maybe pull it off and say, ‘Well, you know, for a guy who’s 69 years old, he sure did pretty good,’ but that’s the double-edged sword right? So, you know, The Dragon does have a lot of pride in his work and the way the fans remember me in the ring, and I want that lasting impression. I know my physical capabilities right now. I would love to be able to go out there and perform like I did with Jericho. I was 56 or 57 years old, but I think I want my fans to remember me as that guy and not have a chance of disappointing. That’s how much I love my fans.” (H/t Jeremy of Lambert of Fightful for the transcription.)
As of this writing, it remains unclear who will team up with Rock ‘n’ Roll Express for this six-man tag team bout.