In August 1994, During a Clash of the Champions bout against "Stunning" Steve Austin, Steamboat falls from the top rope awkwardly and injures his back. An injury he decided was debilitating enough from him to retire.
From there, Steamboat wasn't heard or mentioned much until 2002. He became the on-air authority figure for NWA-TNA in it's inaugural pay per view offering. Steamboat is apart of TNA history because he refereed the first ever X Division Title Match and can be seen in many TNA video packages handing the Title to AJ Styles.
After leaving TNA, he next appeared in Ring of Honor, feuding with CM Punk which saw them reenact the throat injury angle Steamboat did in 1986 with Randy Savage
In 2005, the internet fans like myself were enjoyed that the Dragon had signed on to become a road agent for World Wrestling Entertainment, the great knowledge he could pass on to the next generation of WWE superstars. We also wondered when we would see the Dragon back on WWE TV in some fashion. His first appearance as the Dragon character came during the Legends dancing segment at WrestleMania 23. While his role was minor, it did enjoy fans. Steamboat faded into the backstage for another few years until 2009. In March 2009, he was announced as a member of that year's Hall of Fame and began the storyline with Chris Jericho.
This is when the true potential of Steamboat's WWE career began and in my opinion, may have overshadowed WrestleMania 3 as Steamboat's WWE career highlight. The match was Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Steamboat vs Jericho in a handicap match. Fans wondered how much gas these legends had left, and how bad their match would be at WrestleMania. What we did get was a WrestleMania moment that will stand the test of time.
Sure, Snuka had lost a few steps. Piper went into this match full of piss and vinegar that made up for his lost steps. But then, Steamboat got the tag. With every arm drag, "skin the cat", and cross body block, we were amazed. In wrestling, we have seen many superstars go past their prime and tarnish their legacy. But on this one night, he might have been slower than he was in 1994. He might have lost some spring in his jump. But the psychology that Ricky Steamboat possessed was unmatched. In terms of WrestleMania 25, it's in the shadow of the first Undertaker - HBK match but Steamboat truly stole the show. We expected the Undertaker and HBK to go out and deliver. What we doubted was if a guy retired for 15 years could perform? ... and he did. He delivered a WrestleMania classic! He shocked the world and even though he had gone into the Hall of Fame the night before this match, he "poured the cement" on his career at WrestleMania 25.
Steamboat done something rarely seen in professional wrestling. He left in his prime, to save himself from permanent injury but when called upon, even at an older age, he delivered the career match of a lifetime and showed a new audience why Old School is so beloved, for their ability to make fans believe ONE MORE TIME