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Tito Santana vs Rick Martel vs Ricky Steamboat


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Poll: Every Good Guy Has His Breaking Point (59 member(s) have cast votes)

Mexico vs Quebec vs Hawaii

  1. Tito Santana (9 votes [15.25%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.25%

  2. Rick Martel (9 votes [15.25%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.25%

  3. Ricky Steamboat (41 votes [69.49%])

    Percentage of vote: 69.49%

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#21 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 02:00 PM

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.

#22 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 05:40 PM

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.

#23 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 05:52 PM

Yeah, I have a hard time buying that Steamboat is a better babyface in the Flair series then Santana is in the Valentine series even if the latter are better matches.

#24 khawk20

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:55 PM

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.

#25 Matt D

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:58 PM

How much 77-83 Santana exists?

#26 khawk20

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:03 PM

How much 77-83 Santana exists?


I have a disc worth of Tito in the AWA from 1981-82, and there is a decent amount of his 79-80 WWF run out there. Only maybe a match or two from before 1979 that I can think of, from Texas.

I'm blanking on where he was in 1983 at the moment.

#27 BrickHithouse

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:07 PM

He was in WWF at the tail end of '83. Shit, I was going to say Mid South prior to that in '83 but don't think that's accurate. Was it Georgia?

#28 khawk20

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:43 PM

I think it was Georgia, actually.

#29 Bix

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:30 PM

He was in Mid-South a little in '83 too. Used the Gibson Leglock as his finish. The match with DiBiase from Houston where Watts did a new voiceover for Power Pro was from that run.

#30 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 08:20 AM

There's a decent Santana vs. Buzz Sawyer match from Georgia. It's kind of structured a bit weirdly as Santana beats the crap out of Sawyer for most of the bout, but it's an example of good Tito.

#31 cheapshot

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 08:24 AM

To me, when I think Tito, I think boring side headlock spots, where the heel always gets a few two counts on him. I think Martel and Steamboat trounce him on the whole.

#32 Dylan Waco

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 09:50 AM

You need to watch Tito v. Valentine series

#33 cheapshot

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 09:58 AM

You need to watch Tito v. Valentine series


You may be right. I have no issues about getting my conceptions of someone changed. What is the date of the first match in the feud?

#34 Dylan Waco

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 10:01 AM

I am horrible about keeping up with that sort of thing. shoe? KrisZ?

#35 shoe

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 11:21 AM

This is the 1st one I have. I also want to say Kris Z is much better than I at this sort of thing. Actually Tito does uses the headlock, but in a save me from this beating sort of way. 03/31/84 Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana It's from Philly. This is pre Greg messing up Tito's leg. They get better after the injury angle in my opinion.

#36 goodhelmet

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 10:23 PM

Thanks for the subtle shout out shoe even though Von Kramer no sold it. Having said that, as someone who has seen the best all three have had to offer in the 1980s, I went with Steamboat. I think the exception may be Martel in Montreal if that even happened in the 1980s. I am sure purpotsy could set the record straight. Martel - Had the great AWA tag matches and really good title run. In the WWF, he suffered from WWF 80s disease as guys who lost some mojo when they went to New York after a high end run. I like his tag with Tito as Strike Force and the heel turn but I don't know if any of the matches I have seen are super high end enough to trump the classic Steamboat tag feuds from early in the decade. Tito - I was tempted to vote for Tito for the Valentine feud alone. One of the best feuds from any decade. As much as I love the feud, Steamboat has more high end feuds. His AWA tag stuff is super high end but not that much exists on tape. Again, after the Valentine feud, I am having trouble finding much high end Tito. You can probably name a match or two but an entire series? Steamboat - Early on, he has the Youngblood tag team with the Kernodle-Slaughter and Briscoes feuds. Mix in some solid high-end matches against Flair and Tully in this time and he is closing in on Tito early on. Moving to WWF, the Muraco feud was a dud but the Jake feud was classic with at least one great match. He moves into the Savage feud which produced at least 2 or 3 great matches. He disappears for most of 1988 and has a super high end 1989 with Flair, Luger, etc. In terms of volume, I don't think it is even close. As far as doing the things that babyfaces do, they were all pretty great babyfaces. The thing that bothers me about Steamboat is his comical over-selling but Steamboat always defended it as playing to the cheap seats which doesn't really translate well on TV. It can hurt his matches on tape but at least I get the reasoning. In interviews, Steamboat is by far the worst interview of the bunch but none of the guys are ever mentioned in best interviews of all time discussions. I know we had a great AWA bloody Martel interview but I don't think he did anything else memorable on the mic until the heel turn. At this point, I am going purely on volume of high-end matches, and at least on tape, Steamboat wins by a mile.

#37 rvd356

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 12:35 AM

Thanks for the subtle shout out shoe even though Von Kramer no sold it.

Having said that, as someone who has seen the best all three have had to offer in the 1980s, I went with Steamboat. I think the exception may be Martel in Montreal if that even happened in the 1980s. I am sure purpotsy could set the record straight.

Martel - Had the great AWA tag matches and really good title run. In the WWF, he suffered from WWF 80s disease as guys who lost some mojo when they went to New York after a high end run. I like his tag with Tito as Strike Force and the heel turn but I don't know if any of the matches I have seen are super high end enough to trump the classic Steamboat tag feuds from early in the decade.

Tito - I was tempted to vote for Tito for the Valentine feud alone. One of the best feuds from any decade. As much as I love the feud, Steamboat has more high end feuds. His AWA tag stuff is super high end but not that much exists on tape. Again, after the Valentine feud, I am having trouble finding much high end Tito. You can probably name a match or two but an entire series?

Steamboat - Early on, he has the Youngblood tag team with the Kernodle-Slaughter and Briscoes feuds. Mix in some solid high-end matches against Flair and Tully in this time and he is closing in on Tito early on. Moving to WWF, the Muraco feud was a dud but the Jake feud was classic with at least one great match. He moves into the Savage feud which produced at least 2 or 3 great matches. He disappears for most of 1988 and has a super high end 1989 with Flair, Luger, etc. In terms of volume, I don't think it is even close.

As far as doing the things that babyfaces do, they were all pretty great babyfaces. The thing that bothers me about Steamboat is his comical over-selling but Steamboat always defended it as playing to the cheap seats which doesn't really translate well on TV. It can hurt his matches on tape but at least I get the reasoning. In interviews, Steamboat is by far the worst interview of the bunch but none of the guys are ever mentioned in best interviews of all time discussions. I know we had a great AWA bloody Martel interview but I don't think he did anything else memorable on the mic until the heel turn. At this point, I am going purely on volume of high-end matches, and at least on tape, Steamboat wins by a mile.


I agree so much with this. Honestly I don't think this is even a fair comparison. It's almost like Misawa vs. Marafuji vs. Hase. Where the 1st guys(Misawa/Steamboat) is such a legend, a top 5 babyface of ALL time in their country and the other 2 guys are great, awesome workers but are on a whole 'nother level below the 1st guy.

#38 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 12:49 AM

Tito - I was tempted to vote for Tito for the Valentine feud alone. One of the best feuds from any decade. As much as I love the feud, Steamboat has more high end feuds. His AWA tag stuff is super high end but not that much exists on tape. Again, after the Valentine feud, I am having trouble finding much high end Tito. You can probably name a match or two but an entire series?


The Savage/Tito feud is the bridge between Tito/Valentine and Savage/Steamboat.

Santana and Martel were pretty awful interviews. Are you sure Steamboat was the worst of the three?

#39 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 07:15 AM

Watching the reels of Steamboat and Flair's 70s stuff I as pleasantly surprised by how aggressive Steamboat was. He was even biting the cut on Flair's forehead. Man, the girls in those 70s crowds were hot for Flair vs. Steamboat. In more ways than one, I guess.

#40 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 07:18 AM

OJ - are you watching that on the Cornette Garbage tapes?




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