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Superstar Sleeze

Tito Santana vs Rick Martel vs Ricky Steamboat

Every Good Guy Has His Breaking Point  

60 members have voted

  1. 1. Mexico vs Quebec vs Hawaii

    • Tito Santana
      9
    • Rick Martel
      9
    • Ricky Steamboat
      42


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I have heard this threesome get lumped together for months on end here at PWO and it is time we settle in a good 'ol fashioned triple threat match (stop groaning, Stone Cold!). You have Will and Dylan every chance they get hyping the hell out of Santana vs Valentine, every chance they get. Also, Santana has the hot series of the IC title with the beloved Randy Savage in '86. The AWA set has propelled Martel to the point where he not only in this discussion, but may take the victory. On top of that, they both have the great Islanders feud and their work against each other. What is terra incognita for me and what could push either man over the top would be Martel's Portland & '81 WWF run and Tito Santana's Georgia run. Then you have that pesky Ricky Steamboat with his damn classics against Savage and Flair among others.

 

Selling - I'd give the nod to Steamboat for being able to evoke sympathy better than the other three. He was always the one that if the heel offense sucked or was tedious that would keep me in the match. I think his matches with Don Muraco are a good example as the Tito match bored me, but Steamboat kept me more engrossed. Steamboat's selling during the Savage matches was always among the best work during a feud for me.

 

Hope spots - Rick Martel. Martel was always one to make the heel earn it during the heat segment. That is how he kept me engaged during the heat segment is you knew he was going to keep everything moving and constantly pepper the heel with strikes and a couple nearfalls.

 

Bumping - None of the three's bumping stood out for me and it is something that heels are usually better at.

 

Blood Feuds - Tito Santana. I don't think it is really that close.

 

Comeback - Slight edge to Tito. Steamboat has lacked fire one too many times on comebacks for me to give it to him. Martel is a better pure babyface comeback. It is exciting without feeling violent. Tito's always feels like someone stole something from him or fucked his girlfriend and he was out for blood.

 

All-time classics - Ricky Steamboat. I would obviously listen to arguments, but Steamboat/Flair is hard to argue you against.

 

Tag Work - Rick Martel. All three guys are obviously singles wrestlers. I have found the Steamboat/Youngblood tags (Final Conflict and Starrcade '83) to be a bit overrated. I think Martel was slightly better than Tito in Strike Force

 

Draw - I would love for someone to do draw analysis for me. My gut says Tito would win this given his Valentine feud being on top of the popular B-show loop, but Martel's AWA run could have be better than I realize.

 

Versatility - Rick Martel. I have made this comment before but Tito works a vast majority of his matches like blood feud whether or not he is in a blood feud thus a lot of his matches while violent and intense come off feeling the same. Steamboat's classic cannon is worked in the sort of 80s workrate style with lots of spots and movement. I am not bemoaning this style as I think his matches with Flair and Savage deserve their reputation. I think Martel is one who works well in different styles against the heat-seeking Jimmy Garvin, the wily veteran Nick Bockwinkel, the nasty Islanders, the bomb-throwing Japanese Jumbo Tsuruta.

 

Guy I find most entertaining - Rick Martel. Steamboat does not resonate with me as much as he used to. I do not see that energy in his eyes like I do with the others.Tito does have his occasional clunker. Martel from bell-to-bell always does everything with energy and urgency.

 

Promo ability - No one wins. Martel at least had an excuse.

 

"Better" is an ambiguous term. If I was a booker, I would want Tito in my blood feud, Steamboat in my world title feud and Martel as my lead babyface tag wrestler (I cant believe people did not exploit this). So which one is better? I don't know, you need someone to fill each role and each role is crucial to crafting a complete card. Steamboat is hurt by a lackluster '87-'88 and a lack of footage pre-1983. I would place him third as I don't think he has as much meat on his resume even though he had the most high-profile matches and what I believe are the most high-end matches.

 

Between the two members of Strike Force, I would give Tito the nod over Martel because of his feuds. I think the Valentine and Savage feuds are better feuds than anything Martel has ever has in terms of feuds. Yes, Martel's AWA Title run couple with his run in Japan just had so much more breadth in his work. Martel is hurt in my eyes by not having that one definitive match or feud.

 

Originally, I was set to place Martel over the other two, but I talked myself out of it because of Tito's feud work. I bet if I watched the Steamboat/Flair series right now you have me singing a different tune. I think you have to split hairs to rank these three and there is no clear-cut winner. So let's have at it!

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I think you're selling Steamboat a little short here Martin, primarily because you're overlooking his early 90s WCW run, which you don't mention. He had some good tag matches in that run, some good moments on the mic, another handful of great matches to add to his CV.

 

All-in-all, I went with Steamboat with Martel a close second. I still need to revisit Tito in more detail, but honestly don't see him going higher than either guy.

 

My feeling with Martel on the AWA set is that he was a great worker, tremendous fire, great at selling, exciting babyface BUT ... always seems to stop short of delivering that knockout 5-star classic you're looking for. Plenty of very good matches in the B+ / A- range, but nothing going over the top.

 

Steamboat simply has a bigger collection of knock-out classics. And that's without digging deeper. Have we gone back to watch the '78 Flair matches? The '82 stuff? James hopefully will bring some of this Mid-Atlantic stuff to light at some point, but I get the sense that there is a deeper pool of quality Steamboat that is still relatively under-the-radar. That said, I've still not seen the touted Martel Portland stuff -- and Martel was meant to be better in 1980 than he was in 1985. So in terms of footage I've not seen, it could go either way.

 

All that said, instinctually -- and feel free to disagree -- but at the very top end, I think Steamboat has another gear to go to that Martel doesn't and that's why I've given him my vote.

 

EDIT: coming out of the post and going back to board, I noticed the "Babyface of the 80s" subtitle. In which case, it's only really the touted stuff from 80-84 missing. If it's ONLY 1980s, I'm tempted to want to switch to Martel. It's close but I'll stick with Steamer. His match with Luger in 89 is not talked about enough. He has a good match with Tully for the TV title.

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http://www.wrestletapes.net/bestofrickysteamboat.html

 

Disc 2 – Mid-Atlantic, AJPW

Ricky Steamboat vs. Greg Valentine (1980)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Greg Valentine (1980)

 

Hard to imagine that these matches aren't good

 

Ricky Steamboat vs. Big John Studd (1980)

 

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ken Patera (1980)

Ricky Steamboat vs. The Iron Sheik (1980)

 

Anyone seen these? Potential to be great.

 

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. Jimmy Snuka & Ray Stevens (06/29/80)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (12/1/80)

Ricky Steamboat & Dick Slater vs. Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta (12/5/80)

 

Disc 3 – Mid-Atlantic, AJPW

Ricky Steamboat vs. The Sheik (12/9/80)

 

A particular favourite of mine.

 

Ricky Steamboat vs. Jimmy Snuka (6/3/81)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Jimmy Snuka (6/10/81)

 

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (6/4/82)

 

Seen this talked about on occasion

 

Ricky Steamboat & Atsushi Onita vs. Greg Gagne & Jim Brunzell (6/8/82)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Joe LeDuc (1982)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Bad Leroy Brown (1982)

 

Disc 4 – Mid-Atlantic, AJPW

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. Bruiser Brody & Stan Hansen. (11/26/82)

 

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. Dory & Terry Funk. (12/2/82)

 

Could be good.

 

Ricky Steamboat vs. Harley Race. (12/7/82)

 

Ditto

 

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle.

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle.

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle.

The Road to Greensboro contract signing.

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle in a “Steel Cage Match.” (The Final Conflict, 3/12/83)

 

Disc 5 – Mid-Atlantic, AJPW

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. The Brisco Brothers. (1983)

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. The Brisco Brothers. (1983)

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood, The Brisco Brothers confrontation. (1983)

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. The Brisco Brothers. (8/83)

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood training video.

Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. The Brisco Brothers. (Starrcade 11/24/83)

Ricky Steamboat “retires.” (1/84)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Genichiro Tenryu. (2/23/84)

Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair. (The Night of the Champions, 5/29/84)

 

Another touted match.

 

Ricky Steamboat vs. Dick Slater. (6/84)

 

This also looks good.

 

I don't mind watching these soon. I'd love to see the Sleeze breakdown on them though.

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I went with Tito. His fired up performances in the Savage and Valentine feuds are better than anything the other two did and he has other good stuff like the Bass match. If it was purely about matches then I think he has the weakest output of the three, but as a babyface I enjoyed him more than the other two. Martel was the most reliable and Steamboat was probably the best worker of the three.

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OJ nailed it for me as far as Santana being the best babyface. Loved his feuds with Valentine and Savage. Steamboat is great but Santana just seemed like the natural babyface for that era. Martel turned in 89 which has a big effect in me treating him as a baby face for the 80's.

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The actual creator of this comp that JVK lists might want the credit. I know his version is much cheaper and he's a good guy to boot.

:lol:

 

Nicely said (I didn't make that comp, FWIW).

 

***

 

I voted for Martel, although any of the three could win the poll and I would have no argument. They are all in my top tier of all-time favourite workers.

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I voted on instinct, which strangely is now Martel. I think he was more sympathetic and dynamic than Tito and showed more fire than Steamboat, though you could argue that Steamboat was more sympathetic and dynamic than Martel and that Tito showed fire better than either of them.

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I voted Steamboat in this poll, but their really isn't a wrong answer. For me Steamer has the classics. I mean 3 decades of awesome matches with Flair. He had great matches with Randy Savage. I loved the Boston match with Jake the Snake. He was able to pull better matches out of Muraco than most. Bret Hart had his 1st great singles match against Steamer. Bret learned it's about the match that night. He had gems with the likes of Steve Austin and Rick Rude. Don't forget his lost classic against Regal at Fall Brawl 93. I'm also a huge fan of the Windham match from Sat. Night 93 He also has a killer war Games to his credit.. The man was the king of having a good match and made his opponent look great in the process. He had great ones with Luger, Funk and a host of others. His tag team work shouldn't be no sold either. One of the all time greats. He had great matches with a variety of partners. He had Youngblood. Dustin, and Shane as partners and had great matches with each of them.

 

He had so many subtle little things he did. to watching his fingers sell, selling a big blow etc. Just the king of babyface selling. I don't always put stock in what wrestlers say, but as Dylan said on a recent podcast if they agree with me it's ok. Bret, Austin, Luger, Flair and even Dusty says if you want to see what a babyface is supposed to work like watch Steamboat matches. Those guys drew big money.

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Think Steamboat is suffering with some people because he was the guy with the pre-existing big rep. Let's pretend Martel's top stuff was the known quantity and Steamboat's best stuff had been seen in the context of something like the AWA set. In those circumstances, I can't help but believe that this would be a landslide.

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The more I see of Steamboat, the more I think he's overrated. Plus he's a terrible draw from at least his WWF run on. His rematches with Savage drew lousy and his vaunted Flair series did worse. He's a great guy but honestly at this point I'd rather watch AWA-Strike Force breakup Tito over him.

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I'm with some others here in that I'm currently more excited to watch Martel (and probably Santana) than Steamer. But Steamboat's best matches were so damn good, and he was incredibly consistent in that last WCW run. Honestly, I don't see much of an argument for Santana over him. Martel, you could probably at least convince me that he did more things well than Steamboat.

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Think Steamboat is suffering with some people because he was the guy with the pre-existing big rep. Let's pretend Martel's top stuff was the known quantity and Steamboat's best stuff had been seen in the context of something like the AWA set. In those circumstances, I can't help but believe that this would be a landslide.

Pre-existing how? As someone that watched all three closely during the 80's, I found each had their own dynamic that I enjoyed immensely regardless of the stage they were conducting their matches on.

 

This is a group beyong most others in the sense that they are able to look past the "big stuff" and dig deeper. With each having merit in the context of the question, there is no obvious answer, and nobody is suffering in their vote total because of it.

 

EDIT: With Steamboat winning the poll by a decent margin, I don't see how you think he is suffering in that same poll. Is it because he isn't the unanimous choice?

 

I voted for Martel but Steamboat winning is as right an answer as Martel or Santana. IMO.

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Think Steamboat is suffering with some people because he was the guy with the pre-existing big rep. Let's pretend Martel's top stuff was the known quantity and Steamboat's best stuff had been seen in the context of something like the AWA set. In those circumstances, I can't help but believe that this would be a landslide.

 

This is probably true to an extent, but in my case Steamer has been slowly losing some luster for the last ten years.

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Think Steamboat is suffering with some people because he was the guy with the pre-existing big rep. Let's pretend Martel's top stuff was the known quantity and Steamboat's best stuff had been seen in the context of something like the AWA set. In those circumstances, I can't help but believe that this would be a landslide.

 

This is probably true to an extent, but in my case Steamer has been slowly losing some luster for the last ten years.

 

So going back to my answer above, are we talking about people that didn't see each man in their "prime", which IMO is the 80's, as it happened?

 

If so....damn, I'm getting old. :(

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I can't not pick Steamboat. The first wrestling I remember turning on was Jake DDTing Ricky on the floor. The first feud I ever followed was Steamboat/Savage. Family man Steamboat vs Playboy Flair. For work, maybe there's a lost Martel/Bockwinkel series out there I haven't seen, but Steamboat's output exceeds anything Martel or Tito have shown me.

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Think Steamboat is suffering with some people because he was the guy with the pre-existing big rep. Let's pretend Martel's top stuff was the known quantity and Steamboat's best stuff had been seen in the context of something like the AWA set. In those circumstances, I can't help but believe that this would be a landslide.

 

This is probably true to an extent, but in my case Steamer has been slowly losing some luster for the last ten years.

 

So going back to my answer above, are we talking about people that didn't see each man in their "prime", which IMO is the 80's, as it happened?

 

If so....damn, I'm getting old. :(

 

khawk, when I posted it was closer. He now seems to be landsliding it.

 

My sense is that *most* "internet fans" didn't see Martel in his prime in AWA nor do they think of Tito being a great worker, whereas Flair-Steamboat trilogy is often one of the first matches you'd see touted, ditto the Savage WMIII match. I could be wrong on this, however, and have virtually no desire to debate the point.

 

My main point is that Steamer comes in always already touted as a GOAT type guy and it hurts him because he can only ever "lose luster" or disappoint expectations, Martel has only been talked up here in the past couple of years. Maybe in some circles he was before, but I wasn't part of them -- so Martel's stock can only really go up.

 

I just wanted to highlight the fact that it might lead to an uneven playing ground. If we all had seen Flair-Steamboat for the first time on the AWA set (for example), maybe the mood on Steamer would be different.

 

Seems like all this is redundant now anyway, since he's ... steamer-rollering it.

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There probably is some truth to that, but then don't you think it is just as likely to be true that Steamer is picking up some extra votes precisely because people have that long-term connection to him as a worker?

 

Anyway, I like all three guys but I voted for Martel. Last time I watched footage of these guys Martel was someone that impressed me a hell of a lot, whereas I found Steamer a tad disappointing. I haven't seen as much Tito as I have of the others, so he maybe suffers a bit from that. I kinda wanna say that Steamer is the most sympathetic seller of the three, Tito has the best fired-up comebacks, and Martel has the best combination of the two. I don't know if that's fair or not, but it's what I'm feeling.

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One thing we might talk about is metrics. Are we judging it on "number of great matches" or are we judging it on who does what better, even in average matches? I've always been an advocate of the latter, but on this board, debates often seem to come down to the former. It's quite interesting to see some people shifting a little bit to make this call.

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One thing we might talk about is metrics. Are we judging it on "number of great matches" or are we judging it on who does what better, even in average matches? I've always been an advocate of the latter, but on this board, debates often seem to come down to the former. It's quite interesting to see some people shifting a little bit to make this call.

Why must we treat this as a binary issue? It's what they do well plus what they actually produce with it. Very few people here have advocated rating workers solely by counting great matches. I know you know that, having participated in a number of these methodology conversations.

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One thing we might talk about is metrics. Are we judging it on "number of great matches" or are we judging it on who does what better, even in average matches? I've always been an advocate of the latter, but on this board, debates often seem to come down to the former. It's quite interesting to see some people shifting a little bit to make this call.

Why must we treat this as a binary issue? It's what they do well plus what they actually produce with it. Very few people here have advocated rating workers solely by counting great matches. I know you know that, having participated in a number of these methodology conversations.

 

It's not, but I thought I'd raise it, since it seems to me that Steamboat smokes the other two on matches. And in so many other discussions, it's usually brought out as a the smoking gun, but in this thread it seems to be counting the same as categories that I've never seen privileged in this way before.

 

If we take "great matches" out of it, I think both Martel and Tito have better "fire" than Steamboat in their comebacks. I think they are arguably both more charismatic as in-ring personalities as well. Selling is between Steamboat and Martel for me; Steamer was a big OTT bumper, Martel better at showing struggle on the mat and getting the crowd into comebacks when he inevitably breaks the hold. I also think that Martel is possibly better at building a match from a slow start to a crescendo. A lot of Steamboat's best matches are worked at high pace and intensity with a lot of back and forth. Steamboat's matwork in other matches can be boring and I'd probably take Martel working an arm or whatever.

 

If I'm quieter on Tito it's because I need to re-visit his high end stuff.

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I went with Tito. His fired up performances in the Savage and Valentine feuds are better than anything the other two did and he has other good stuff like the Bass match. If it was purely about matches then I think he has the weakest output of the three, but as a babyface I enjoyed him more than the other two. Martel was the most reliable and Steamboat was probably the best worker of the three.

This a million times. This was the more succinct version I was getting at. Steamboat is the better big match worker. Martel is the most consistent. Santana is the best blood feud worker. I love a good blood feud and I think playing a babyface is a really delicate balancing act in a blood feud and Tito did it perfectly. He fucking learned the figure-4 so he could break Valentine's leg the same way Valentine broke his. How badass is that!

 

Steamboat has way higher peaks, but out of three, I think he is the guy who will phone it in from time to time. Honestly, I did not know we had that much pre-83 Steamboat so maybe that will bolster his case. I will say for the most part I am ranking these guys between '83-'89 in my head and why I thought Tito was the better babyface, but more data can only help.

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khawk, when I posted it was closer. He now seems to be landsliding it.

 

My sense is that *most* "internet fans" didn't see Martel in his prime in AWA nor do they think of Tito being a great worker, whereas Flair-Steamboat trilogy is often one of the first matches you'd see touted, ditto the Savage WMIII match. I could be wrong on this, however, and have virtually no desire to debate the point.

 

My main point is that Steamer comes in always already touted as a GOAT type guy and it hurts him because he can only ever "lose luster" or disappoint expectations, Martel has only been talked up here in the past couple of years. Maybe in some circles he was before, but I wasn't part of them -- so Martel's stock can only really go up.

 

I just wanted to highlight the fact that it might lead to an uneven playing ground. If we all had seen Flair-Steamboat for the first time on the AWA set (for example), maybe the mood on Steamer would be different.

 

Seems like all this is redundant now anyway, since he's ... steamer-rollering it.

I see what you mean now and I can agree with that. My perspective, unfortunately, is probably different than most simply because of my age when I was watching them in the 80's, and seeing them all first-run, so to speak. My stock in each was set a long time ago, so it doesn't apply to your idea...but your idea does probably apply to more of the board.

 

The Steamboat-Flair series in 89 was magic but the clincher for me on how much I appreciated Steamboat was both his 86 bout vs. Bret Hart in Boston and his GAB match vs. Lex Luger. He helped reveal Bret to me as a real potential singles star down the road, and what he got out of Luger in their match was a huge WOW for me. Martel I watched chase Bockwinkel in 82-83 through his 1984 title win and I followed him closely after that in the WWF. He was more of a whole picture type of wrestler to me, one I followed career-wise and always enjoying the matches he was having (Bock bouts in 83 and 84, Tsuruta, Garvin and Hansen in 85, singles bouts vs. The Islanders in 87 plus his tag work with Zenk and Santana, his heel turn and Model days afterwards...enjoyed all of it). Santana was fun in his feud with Kaissie in the AWA (brief but intense) and his singles challenges of Bockwinkel, plus his initial teaming with Martel, his awesome stint as the IC Champ vs. Valentine, Orton, and Savage, and then being the perfect partner and spurned friend-type for Martel after the Strike Force run.

 

The three of them are almost interchangeable to me based on my viewing experience of them during the time I was most into pro wrestling. There is no wrong choice.

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