Big Time Wrestling recently announced that Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat will be coming out of retirement for his first match in 12 years later this year. The news came as a surprise given that Steamboat was originally offered to be in the main event of the Ric Flair's Last Match event during SummerSlam weekend and team with the Rock 'n' Roll Express to face "The Nature Boy" in his final match alongside FTR. But even though Steamboat turned down Flair's offer, Flair had nothing but kind things to say about Steamboat on his latest To Be The Man Podcast.
"He's going to be in a match soon. I'm happy for him. It's great. Steve Perkins is a great promoter. I wish them all well, whoever is involved. I don't know the situation, but it's great. It's one of those deals where nobody is ever going to be Ricky Steamboat so they might as well watch them while they can and enjoy the opportunity. There will never be another Ricky Steamboat. At any level, he's better than 50% of the guys in the business today. He wouldn't get in the ring if he wasn't. He holds himself to a very high standard. I imagine he'll probably look better than the guys he is in the ring with. He's always in great shape," Flair said.
Steamboat explained his decision to turn down Flair's offer earlier this year during a virtual signing back in May — "Well, I was approached and given it really some serious thought. 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," he added.