Tony Atlas probably summed up Sunday night’s A&E Biography on Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat best when he said that his friend is so humble that “He’d rather brag about you than brag about himself.”

It’s not that Steamboat didn’t talk about his accomplishments, because he did, but others did it better.

Ric Flair called him the “greatest babyface of all time” for one. We also heard from Nikita Koloff, Hulk Hogan, Shane Douglas, Steve Austin, Natalya, Jake Roberts, Bruce Prichard, and, moving the storyline along, writer Keith Elliot Greenberg and, as always, WWE loyalist Sam Roberts.

But what I found, as I watched — and listened — was how much I wished there would have been some new voices. Jim Ross talking about calling those WCW classics against Flair would have added something special. Where was Honky Tonk Man? Steamboat’s whole return to the ring in 2009, after his WWE Hall of Fame induction, was built around Chris Jericho … but, of course, we didn’t hear from Jericho. There were many examples of that.

Also missing was his son, Richie, and his first two wives (Bonnie and Claudia) — but that would have meant going down a different route, right? Maybe one where we learn that Steamboat isn’t in fact the super nice guy that we have all been told he was; he always treated me well, for the record.

But if he is promoted as a family man, one who loses his top spot as Intercontinental champion, choosing to be home with his newborn, shouldn’t we hear from more family?

The family we did hear from, his brothers Arthur and Victor Blood, were a lovely addition, though, as the story of their parents was told. Their father, serving in the US Army, met their mother in Japan. They married, and then went first to the US, but lived abroad too, in Turkey and Italy. Racism is, alas, pretty universal, especially not long after the end of the Second World War. Steamboat talking about growing up a little faster as a minority, and the abuse he took from other kids, was not an attempt for sympathy like he’d solicit in the ring from fans; sadly, it was reality.

Jumping ahead, with Steamboat an established star in Japan, he asked for Giant Baba’s help in locating his mother’s estranged family. The call-out on the All-Japan Pro Wrestling TV show resulted in a flood of phone-ins, but the first one they made was to her oldest brother. On a subsequent trip, Ricky brought his mother to reunite with her family, a story which brought tears to his eyes.

Those tears came back a few times, all part of what made Steamboat such a great, genuine good guy.

The rest of the story, the meat of it, has been done to death by this point. Through chance, the champion amateur wrestler gets invited to Verne Gagne’s camp in Minnesota and trains to be a pro. Under his real name, Richard Blood works for a few months in the AWA before heading to Florida, where Eddie Graham rebrands him Ricky Steamboat, after the great Sam Steamboat. Ric Flair sees this youngster, puts in a word to Charlotte promoter Jim Crockett Jr., and, boom, we’re off to the races.

The jump to the WWF comes next, his build into a star, and then the feud with Randy “Macho Man” Savage and their incredible WrestleMania III bout. Steamboat asked for time off, loses the title to The Honky Tonk Man unexpectedly, and takes six months off instead of the planned two. The time off leaves him rusty upon his return and he leaves WWF.

He ends up in WCW, has the epic trilogy against Flair in 1989 … and is gone within a year.

Back to WWF, as a fire breathing dragon. Then back to WCW, where he helps youngsters like Shane Douglas and Steve Austin, and gets hurt — and doesn’t wrestle for 15 years.

Again, with so much of this story so familiar, I find myself wanting new questions asked.

  • What was it like telling Jim Crockett Jr. you were leaving for WWF? How did the locker room take it?
  • Tell us more about scripting the match with Randy Savage; it set the template for everyone working out their matches in the back for hours as they do today.
  • Who were the executives that said you were only worth half the money in your next deal after being NWA World champion in WCW?
  • You told us about learning to breathe fire, but not about what it was actually like to do it; what about carrying all that gear and dragon outfit stuff around?
  • We’d heard so much about how controlling his first wife, Bonnie, was, and we knew her from her appearances on TV, but her name is never even mentioned; was she really that much of a pain? (Maybe that’s a Dark Side of the Ring episode?) Steamboat said she asked for the divorce while he was reading the Sunday newspaper.
  • What did you do with all that time off? There was no mention of the gym he owned, for example. Was money ever tight?

Steamboat returns to WWE in 2005 as a producer — but any of his other stuff, like Ring of Honor work, is ignored. We hear from a few people that he had a good mind to tap for ideas. Then more tears as he goes into the WWE Hall of Fame.

The return to the ring against Jericho is given a good amount of time, but the following year, 2010, when NEXUS attacks and David Otunga slams him, resulting in a brain bleed and three weeks in intensive care, while harrowing, leaves me with another question — did he hold a grudge against Otunga for screwing up? They were careful earlier to mention how it was NOT Austin’s fault when Steamboat’s career seemingly ended in 1994.

Bookending the start and finish is Steamboat’s love of cars and drag racing, and meeting current wife, Sandy. This was the spot to add a word from his son, as he raced competitively for years, a time where Ricky said they were the closest they had ever been. The car stuff lost me, but his brother, Victor made me chuckle with the line: “he’s a very quiet man until he gets into his hot rods.”

And really, that’s the thing about Ricky Steamboat. He was always quiet, at least in comparison to some of the loudmouth braggarts that he shared the ring with. He exuded class, hard work, dedication to craft, and, beyond all, that he was just a really decent, good guy.

That came through big time in the Biography episode.