WWE legend Ricky Steamboat's recent appearance on Raw has sparked interest in The Dragon returning to WWE TV and the best usage of that return, of his name and charisma would be to elevate his son's career.
As hard as it is for his fans to come to terms with, Steamboat's career in the ring is done.
The former NWA World Heavyweight champ will be 60 in February. He amazed with how agile and skilled he still was when he faced Chris Jericho at Backlash 2009 and WrestleMania 25. That was four years ago, though, and Steamboat is four years older, four years further from his prime.
His son, Richie currently wrestles for NXT and could use a boost from his father.
Of course, Richie could have tried to separate himself from his father's legacy—to make his own name, carve his own destiny. Michael McGillicutty has taken that approach, stripping his father's name from his own.
There is no escaping that McGillicutty is Curt Hennig's son or that Larry "The Ax" Hennig is his grandfather. There are simply some shadows you can't outrun.
Richie looks too much like his father to have fans forget for even a moment about his famous lineage. WWE would be wise to embrace that link between father and son and use it to propel Richie on his own path.
Ricky Steamboat can serve as a bridge from the past to the future.
His son, Richie is an above-average in-ring performer right now. He's quick, moves well in the ring and clearly inherited the nimble gene from his father.
That describes a ton of guys on the NXT roster and guys working the independent promotions right now.
What WWE has on its hands is a unique story to tell.
Putting Ricky Steamboat as Richie's manager not only gives the up-and-comer a connection with the fans, but also creates a number of narrative options.
What if Richie is battling with a WWE villain and Ricky gets hurt in the process?
In a match against Antonio Cesaro, maybe Cesaro knocks Ricky over and (kayfabe) injures him. Ricky's presence then serves as a catalyst for a rivalry, as a way for Richie to make a name for himself.
Another direction is for Ricky to press too hard on his son.
He could expect too much of him and criticize him too loudly and too often. A father's disappointment is a heavy burden to bear. Eventually a struggling Richie gets fed up and blows up at his father.
Imagine a promo where Richie talks about how hard it has been to be the son of a legend. Richie spills his guts for the WWE audience about how much pressure there is to live up to him. There would need to be no script for that; it's essentially Richie's life.
Richie can turn heel by attacking his own dad. Or Richie can have it out with his dad but stay on good terms, having that moment of rebellion be what sparks a more aggressive side of himself.
There are a number of stories with various tributaries ready to be written.
Ricky Steamboat has the charm and good lucks to earn the right to be in front of the camera. He can be a manager or an authority figure, but the most compelling way to showcase him is to tap into the father-son story.
The Dragon can be so much more than a nostalgia act. He can appear again on WWE TV as a victim, as a mentor or as a key character in a personal family drama that plays out in front of the whole world.
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