For a young wrestler there is often nothing more valuable than ‘sitting under the learning tree’ with a couple of bona-fide legends. Or if you’re Drew McIntyre, actually wrestling WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat and The Undertaker.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, famed for his rivalry with Ric Flair and legendary clash with Randy Savage at WrestleMania III, is widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots.
The former World Heavyweight Champion initially called time on his career in 2004 before joining WWE as a producer in 2005. However, Steamboat later dipped his toes back into competition four years later. It was during this time that McIntyre got the opportunity share the ring with the legend at a run of house shows.
Speaking with Ryan Satin on Out of Character, The Scot reflected fondly on his nights spent learning from the former Intercontinental Champion.
“It was absolute insanity. He only had a few matches [when he came back],” McIntyre said. “It was basically myself and Jericho that had a couple of matches each with him. That’s just insane to think of. One of them, I remember being in the ring, and it was one of the ten shows we used to do in the New York area. It was a sold out crowd but a limited crowd, maybe like a thousand people or whatever there. It was so cool, calm, collected. I don’t take arm drags also, like I’ve never been one to take a good arm drag. I always go over awkwardly. It never looks good, so I always tell people that I do not take arm drags. When I was wrestling Ricky Steamboat, I was taking freakin’ arm drags. The best arm drags in my life.”
McIntyre later recalled joking with Steamboat’s son in FCW about wrestling his dad, ‘back in the day’ when it had only been a year or two previously. The two-time WWE Champion went on to reveal the biggest lesson that he took from the legend.
“Like I just mentioned, relax,” McIntyre said. “He was just so, so relaxed. It really took me a back just like being in certain situations where you probably shouldn’t be relaxed with this young kid trying to turn you into a pretzel and being overly stiff. He was just so relaxed in his demeanor and the way he was when he out there, and the crowd were still with him because he so in the moment, so present with them, and I was thinking so much about not messing up and like, in my own little bubble that that’s why they weren’t responding to me. It took me again a long time to figure that out.”
Drew McIntyre, himself a former Intercontinental Champion, likened the advice to something he was later told by The Undertaker. “Stop playing the wrestler, be the wrestler.”
“This is a lesson the Undertaker told me: stop playing the wrestler and be the wrestler,” McIntyre said. “I was out there so concerned about the things I might do and not messing up. If you looked at my eyes you can see I’m just not in the moment. I’m not present. I’m not part of this match. It’s very obvious. It was very obvious to the crowd that Ricky was relaxed, he was part of [the match], he believed in himself so they believed in him.”
The Scottish Warrior is currently preparing to take on long-time rival Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship at Hell In A Cell. However, the match will be far from straightforward. Not only will the clash take place inside the ‘Devil’s Playground,’ but if McIntyre loses, he’ll be unable to challenge Lashley again.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.