Ricky Steamboat has recalled the startling episode when he came face to face with someone who had managed to set their own face on fire.
Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat is one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time in a career where he never resorted to villainous ways. Steamboat captured the WWF Intercontinental Championship in one of the most revered matches of all time at WrestleMania 3 against Randy Savage before going on to have an incredible trilogy of matches with Ric Flair in 1989.
The Dragon’s character took on new life when he began breathing fire as part of his on-screen presentation. To do this Steamboat had to learn from a real-life fire-breather but things went awry when the teacher set their own face alight.
Steamboat was talking to fellow WWE Hall Of Famers on Stories With Brisco and Bradshaw when he discussed the unfortunate incident:
“Vince [McMahon] wanted me to learn how to blow fire and Bruce [Prichard] was being sent down just being from the office to oversee it. I found out earlier that they went to Barnum and Bailey and their fire-breather rejected it because he didn’t wanna give away his secrets.”
“So they got a hold of a guy named Brian LaPalm and he had one of those little parking lot carnivals. We’re standing in the parking lot and the big tent was not fully put up yet but Brian LaPalm – and he was a fan, he was a wrestling fan. He was so excited to show me, and he used kerosene, filled his mouth up with it.”
The advice the fire-breather gave Steamboat had to do with the direction of the wind but he’d have been well served to pay attention to it himself:
“But he told me ‘Ricky if you ever do it outside hold your torch up and you look at the flames and make sure the wind is blowing the flames away from you so that the wind is always at your back.’ So he fills his mouth up with kerosene and just as he gets the torch up the wind shifted and the wind was blowing in his face.”
“So he blew, the kerosene went into his face and now I see this guy running around the parking lot with his face on fire. I looked at Prichard and said ‘now Brian La Palm told me he’s been doing this circus act for 10 years, you see that 10-year veteran running around with his face on fire?! You call Vince up right now and tell him I ain’t doing it, I’m not doing this.'”
“So Brian came back and his face was rosy red and he said ‘no, no, no, it’s ok, it’s just like a real bad sunburn. I wanna teach you.’ […] His eyebrows were gone, his scalp was burnt halfway back to the middle of his head. The next day we showed up for round number 2 and he had huge water bubble blisters on his face.”
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