Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat had just won the Intercontinental Championship, beating Macho Man Randy Savage in an epic match at Wrestlemania 3. This had ended the second longest title reign at 414 days. No one expected The Dragon to lose the title anytime soon.
So it began. To most people, June 2, 1987 was a normal day in Buffalo, New York. However, for some, there was great excitement in the air. The WWF was in town that night at the Memorial Auditorium. A video of the full match is included below.
The Fink was in the ring, set to announce the upcoming battle. The crowd became very loud when the next match was announced as the Intercontinental Title match. Everyone knew they were about to see a great match involving The Dragon.
The Honky Tonk Man was introduced first (as is custom to introduce the champion last). He walked to the ring to a chorus of boos.
For most people, this match was seen on June 13th, 1987 on WWF Superstars of Wrestling. On commentary was Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Vince McMahon.
As Honky Tonk was waiting for his opponent to come to the ring. Vince declared that this was an undeserved title shot. Stating that Honky Tonk didn’t deserve the title shot.
As The Fink proceeded to announce the champion, Ricky Steamboat came out to a loud cheer. It was clear who the fans wanted to see win.
The match begins with Honky Tonk Man attacking The Dragon before he was ready, gaining an early edge. From there, the match was very back-and-forth with no wrestler gaining a clear edge.
Nearing the climax of the match, Jimmy Hart got involved; distracting the referee. After the referee regained control, Steamboat went for a small package. Honky was able to reverse it by grabbing on the ropes for extra leverage and landing on top. The referee had his end down, counting, 1-2-3, and never say The Honky Tonk Man cheating his way to victory.
The crowd in Buffalo was stunned. At first they thought Steamboat won; quickly realizing he did not, the crowd erupted with boos.
And thus began the longest reign of The Intercontinental Championship.
An interesting side note that fans did not know at the time was shortly after winning the championship at Wrestlemania 3, Steamboat had requested unexpected time off as his wife was expecting a child. This placed WWF in an awkward situation. They were in preparations to give The Dragon a big push with the belt. However, because of the unexpected time off, a new champion had to be crowned, and quickly. At a loss, Hogan and McMahon were chatting backstage when The Honky Tonk man walked by and Hogan suggested him. Who knows what would have happened if someone else walked by…
Here is the full match.