The second episode of season two of Table For 3 features WWE legends Pat Patterson, Ricky Steamboat and Hillbilly Jim. The episode is titled “WWE Family” because all three have been involved in the WWE family for multiple decades and played a part in WWE’s success and growth. The three WWE Legends sat and talked over a meal in a brisk 19 minutes.
Let’s begin with a recap of their conversation:
-Right out of the gate the ribbing starts between Patterson and Jim. Patterson says once Hillbilly Jim starts talking no one else will be able to talk. Hillbilly Jim says he always gives Pat the same greeting, that he looks like a million dollars, all green and wrinkly, much to the delight of Steamboat. Patterson says Jim is only so happy because he’s never taken a bump.
-Steamboat tells a story about how, in 1991, he approached Patterson about being a bad guy before he retires. Patterson told him it would hurt his career more than help it. He says Patterson told him, “You could walk down to the ring and cut off one of Hogan’s 22 inch pythons and the crowd would say Hogan deserved it, that’s how much of a babyface you are Steamboat.” Naturally Patterson had no recollection of this story, but Steamboat is very thankful. He thinks remaining a babyface for his entire career has set him apart from many of his peers.
-They briefly discuss how long they’ve known each other and when they each started. Steamboat says he started in 1975, Hillbilly Jim in 1983 and Patterson in 1958, which drew gasps from all three men.
-Patterson says about 10 years ago he was in a bar and suffering from intense pain in his upper back. Thinking it was from playing golf, he went to the hospital. They told him he had an aneurysm in his aorta and needed immediate surgery. He called his doctor to ask if he should get the surgery and the doctor told him if he dies on the table it’s the best way to go, which cracked up Steamboat and Hillbilly. He says they told him there was only a 10% chance of surviving the surgery and obviously he did. When he woke up he was running through the halls of the hospital naked saying he needed to play golf.
-Hillbilly Jim turned this into the story of Patterson escaping the Legends House with Gene Okerlund. Patterson says they found a karaoke bar and Mean Gene drunkenly got up and sang. He says it was a blast and they had to stagger to a taxi stand. They decided to walk across the street and have one more been at another bar while they waited for the taxi. Mean Gene noticed there weren’t many women in there, and Patterson informed him it was a gay bar, which they all loved. Hillbilly says when they came dragging in, they were supposed to be locked out, but Hacksaw Jim Duggan locked every door but the front door.
-Steamboat recalls in 1982, when he was teaming with Jay Youngblood, Patterson invited him out for drinks. They get to the bar, it’s dark and the music is loud. When the music stops and the lights go on, Patterson is looking at Steamboat and Youngblood as they notice the men on the dance floor are wearing chaps with their “backsides” out as Steamboat put it. Steamboat says it was a great rib and this seems like a running joke for Patterson.
-At this point the conversation turns to Andre The Giant stories. Hillbilly Jim says on a tour of France in 1987, he and Andre went out for dinner. Andre ordered a bottle of pear liqueur. The bill ended up being $2000 and Andre took care of it. Apparently he wouldn’t let anyone pay for anything if they were out with him. Patterson says on a trip from Boston to Portland, Maine he was driving with Andre in the back of the van. There was a car with some of the boys ahead of them and Patterson says they should moon them. Andre pulls his pants down to moon them only it wasn’t the boys, it was an old couple. Steamboat shares another mooning story from Richmond, Virginia. They would all eat at a small Chinese restaurant when they were in down. Andre walked in, got everyone’s attention and mooned the whole restaurant before walking out to a standing ovation. So it seems this was Andre The Giant’s schtick.
-Steamboat points out that there was a time in WWE that the locker room was like a zoo with his monitor lizard, Jake Roberts’ snake, Matilda the British Bulldog and Koko B. Ware’s parrot. Patterson says he used to feed hot dogs to Matilda to make her puke in the car. Steamboat says they lost his monitor once and that the British Bulldogs would rile up the snake. He remembers one time they pissed off the python prior to his own match against Roberts. After hitting Steamboat with the DDT, Jake pulled the python out of the bag and it was so would up and angry it wrapped it’s tail around Jake’s neck, choking him. Jake begged Ricky for help, but he told Jake if he gets up now he’ll expose his finisher. Jake said he didn’t care, and ultimately the once proud DDT was eventually ruined anyway. Ricky helped get Jake’s neck free, and the snake took off out into the crowd. The entire locker room was tasked to come out and get the snake back. Once they retrieved him, the show was stopped.
-In the final exchange, Hillbilly says how much he loves them both and says they’ve all had a pretty good life together. He says the business has changed so much and he’s happy that on the chain of the wrestling business he has a small piece. Steamboat says they each have a link on that chain connected to each other. Patterson says they are brothers and they are family. With that they join hands and thank each other.
It was always going to be tough for WWE Network to match last week’s premiere with The Horsemen, but this was a fun episode in it’s own way. It wasn’t so much about how they owned the business or dominated the business, it was mostly about how much fun they had together and how much they loved each other.
First, Ricky Steamboat looks incredible and really all three of them are in good shape for their respective ages. They genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and just told fun stories from their days in the business. They had a lot of laughs and it was just nice to see pro wrestlers at an advanced age looking and sounding like these guys do who seem as happy as they do.
I have to add that Pat Patterson is hilarious. Something about the French Canadian accent makes everything even funnier. I would have liked to have heard him say “banana” just once though. Aside from being funny, it’s incredible that 25 years ago Pat Patterson was already in a position to help a guy like Steamboat that late in his own career. It just shows you how long he’s been doing it. It also shows how wrestling really is a tradition that gets passed down from generation to generation. It seems to be that way for both wrestlers and fans.
I never saw Pat Patterson wrestle, but I will always have fond memories of him and Brisco as Vince’s stooges. Ricky Steamboat was the first babyface I ever felt sympathy for and it a huge part of why I love wrestling the way I do. Hillbilly Jim I really only remember as a character but I enjoyed the way he came across on this episode.
The main thing I’ll take away from this episode is the idea that these three men have a reverence for the business and a true appreciation for the part they played in it and for the direction in which it’s going.