Special thanks to The History of WWE for dates and places.
(Image courtesy of Solie's Vintage Wrestling.)
(Images courtesy of Kayfabe Memories.)
"Trying to referee a George Steele match is like being trapped in a steel cage with a rabid St. Bernard"- legendary referee Al Vass, as quoted in The Pictorial History of Wrestling: The Good The Bad and The Ugly by Bert Randolph Sugar and George Napolitano.
George "The Animal" Steele was born William James Meyers in Madison Heights, MI in 1937. Before he became a wrestler, he was a teacher. Steele was trained by Detroit promoter and former two-time Wolverine Wrestling Michigan Junior Heavyweight Champion Bert Ruby, who also helped train Mighty Igor and the Sheik. He began his career in Detroit in the 1960's. At first, he wore a mask and wrestled as the Student as the first wrestler ever managed by "Playboy" Gary Hart. As the Student, he battled Dick Garza/Mighty Igor Vodik, The Great Mephisto, and "Leaping" Larry Chene, among others. He later dropped the mask. The name Steele originated from the fact that he was headed to the Pittsburgh territory, since Pittsburgh is nicknamed the Steel City. The name Jim Steele was suggested but he didn't like it so he became George. It was the fans who came up with the name the Animal. From the beginning, he was known as a wildman who could not be controlled. He would often use foreign objects in the ring. He had a brutal feud with the legendary Detroit madman the Sheik. It was in Detroit that he won his only title, the Detroit version of the NWA World Tag Team Title. Steele and Frankie Laine beat John Bonelllo and Randy Scott for the belts on May 3, 1980, and held them until Bonelllo and Scott reclaimed them on May 24, 1980.
Here are two pictures of Steele as the Student.
(Images courtesy of Online World of Wrestling)
Here is a picture of Bert Ruby.
Here is a picture of the Detroit NWA World Tag Team Title belt circa 1975.
(Image courtesy of Kayfabe Memories)
Steele coached high school football at Madison Heights High School in Detroit during the school year and would wrestle during the summer. In 2006, he was inducted, under his real name William Myers, into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. This makes him a two-sport Hall of Famer, since he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995.
Steele is more well known for his heel run in WWE, then called the WWWF, in the late 1960s and 1970s. He feuded with "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino over the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Steele usually lost by disqualification due to his wild antics. He also became known for his punishing Flying Hammerlock finisher. In the late 1960s, Steele teamed often with Gorilla Monsoon and Killer Kowalski against Bruno and various tag team partners. He was initally billed as George "The Bruiser" Steele. Steele first main evented at Madison Square Garden on May 20, 1968 in a time-limit draw against Sammartino. In an interesting twist, Steele defeated Bruno by DQ on July 20, 1968 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Along with Bruno, Steele had several matches with Victor Rivera, Tony Altimore, Antonio Pugliese, John L. Sullivan (Johnny Valiant) and even Kowalski. Steele later feuded in the 1970s with Monsoon following Monsoon's face turn. Steele also feuded with Pedro Morales, Chief Jay Strongbow, Tony Garea, Bob Backlund, "Mr. USA" Tony Atlas, "Polish Power" Ivan Putski and other top faces of the era. In fact, Steele and Mr. Fuji are the only wrestlers who ever challenged Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund AND Hulk Hogan for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. As this clip of "Mean" Gene Okerlund attempting to interview Steele and manager Mr. Fuji shows, he was doing the grunted one or two-word answers "interviews" well before he officially turned face. Steele also competed in the Pittsburgh region of the National Wrestling Federation territory, which was owned by Bruno Sammartino and was affiliated with WWE. While there, Steele teamed with Dr. Bill Miller and also with Baron Mikel Scicluna. In his forum, Steele said that his favorite non-Bruno Pittsburgh opponents were Battman (Tony Marino), Johnny DeFazio, Dr. Bill Miller and Dominic DeNucci. I once asked Steele on his forum who his least favorite opponents were. He suggested Mexican legend Mil Mascaras and "anyone who did not know how to work." (This seems to be a recurring theme, as everyone from Blassie to Mick Foley to Chris Jericho has written about having bad experiences with Mascaras.) While Steele was never known for scientific wrestling, he did defeat Bill White at an All-Star Wrestling TV taping in Hamburg, PA, in June 1979 with a suplex at 5:23. After the match, White was put on a stretcher but Steele knocked him off of it and later bit the turnbuckle pad. On The History of WWE, this is listed as Steele's only WWWF match that year. Steele also had a short four-month run in St. Louis. Interestingly, Steele also did a three-week cameo run in Georgia as a face allied with "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes in 1979, predating his big face turn in WWE. Steele also wrestled in Japan and Australia. Steele was known as an articulate, intelligent and brutal heel.
Here's a heel vs. heel match against Johnny Valentine from an episode of St. Louis Wrestling at the Chase from September 7, 1974.
Here's a picture of Steele fighting Bruno Sammartino.
(Image courtesy of Online World of Wrestling)
Here's a poster for a Bruno-Steele match from September 7, 1968. The poster referred to Steele as a "Detroit Dandy."
(Image courtesy of Ring Memorabilia.com)
Here's a match between Steele and Thunder Sugiyama at an All Japan Pro Wrestling show held on July 25, 1974.
Here is an advertisement for a tag team match in Ontario, Canada.
Here is a photo from The London Tribune in March 1981.
The text reads:
George "the Animal" Steel reacts to a blow from London's Cowboy Frankie Laine during a dispute at the wrestling matches here last week. The Animal hates cameras and our photographer barely escaped after taking this shot. When's he's not stompin' and grapplin', Steel is a high school teacher in Cincinnati.
(Images courtesy of Maple Leaf Wrestling- Pictorial)
Steele has had many managers over the years. As a heel, he was managed at different times by the late great "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Mr. Fuji, the late, great Grand Wizard (Ernie Roth, who, as Abdullah Farouk, managed Steele's old nemesis the Sheik), and "Luscious" Johnny Valiant. In Blassie's excellent autobiography Listen, You Pencil-Neck Geeks, Blassie said that he admired Steele because Steele had "everything I didn't: Education." Although he is more known for his face run with Captain Lou Albano, here is a match from 1977 with the heel Albano in Steele's corner. Steele's time with Fuji in 1984 saw him get some countout wins against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan after Fuji threw salt in Hogan's eyes. Steele spent some time in 1985 teaming with then-WWE World Tag Team Champions Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik against legendary manager Captain Lou Albano's team the U.S. Express, Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo. The U.S. Express and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat defeated Steele, Sheik and Volkoff on the May 11, 1985 Saturday Night's Main Event at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY. Sheik and Volkoff abandoned Steele after the match and Albano embraced Steele, turning him face. As a result of the face turn, Steele's character changed from brutal and violent to goofy. Steele became very popular in the 1980's, thanks to his green tongue, which came from eating Clorets mints, and habit of eating turnbuckle stuffing. Steele even teamed with former hated enemy Bruno Sammartino in a victory over Volkoff and the Iron Sheik at a house show in Rochester, NY on July 25, 1985. Steele also had a brief run as the masked Animal Machine, a member of Albano's notorious masked tag team the Machines. The others were Giant Machine (the late, great Andre the Giant), Big Machine (Robert "Blackjack Mulligan" Windham), Super Machine (Bill "Masked Superstar"/"Demolition Ax" Eadie), Piper Machine ("Rowdy" Roddy Piper), Hulk Machine (Hulk Hogan) and Crusher Machine (the late, great Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski). (As a side note, Eadie also went from teaching and coaching to pro wrestling.) The Machines (Big/Super/Animal, subbing for Albano) d. Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy and manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan at the then-Oakland Coliseum, on September 10, 1986. Studd, Bundy and Heenan d. the Machines at the then-Arco Arena,, in Sacramento, CA on September 23, 1986. Steele also teamed with the Junkyard Dog, Hulk Hogan, and even Hillbilly Cousin Luke (Gene Lewis, aka the Monk, El Mongol, Kharma and Molokai, real name Gene Petit) against the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, "Adorable" Adrian Adonis and other heels of the day. For a few years, Steele teamed heavily with JYD. At the beginning of 1986, Steele became involved in a feud with the newly arrived heel Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Interestingly, according to Pro Wrestling History.com, Steele and Savage had met almost 10 years earlier at a show at the Memorial Auditorium in Canton, OH, on July 9, 1976 when Savage was still wrestling under his real name of Randy Poffo. In the storyline, Steele became enamored with Savage's manager, Elizabeth. Although this did not necessarily help his win-loss record, which really doesn't matter in pro wrestling anyway, it did endear him to the crowds.
(Images courtesy of Miss Elizabeth- A Lifetime of Memories)
"Looks kind of like King Kong and Jessica Lange"-Vince McMahon, WWE Saturday Night's Main Event, January 4, 1986 (taped from the University of South Florida Sun Dome, Tampa, FL, December 19, 1985. I was there.)
From before a Savage-Steele match, unknown date.
(Image courtesy of Wrestling Archived.tumblr.com)
Steele competed on six Saturday Night's Main Event specials. He won one match against evil referee "Dangerous" Danny Davis by DQ and lost the other five matches, usually to Randy Savage.
Here's an image of Steele holding Davis up in the Flying Hammerlock.
Steele also had a couple of matches with Kamala the Ugandan Giant in late 1986. Kamala defeated Steele in 3:16 with a top rope splash on the December 2, 1986 episode of WWF Prime Time Wrestling. Kamala's manager the Wizard (King Curtis Iaukea, aka the Chairman of the Board of Kevin Sullivan's Army of Darkness in Florida and the Master of the Dungeon of Doom in WCW, which originally included Kamala) hit Steele with his horn, setting up Kamala hitting his regular big splash in the ring. Kamala tried for another splash before the Wizard and Kim Chee (Steve "Brooklyn Brawler" Lombardi under a mask) restrained Kamala. Steele was taken away on a stretcher. On his message board, Steele explained that this was done to set up the Hulk Hogan-Kamala feud that followed. Kamala also beat Steele several times in 1987 on the house show circuit by disqualification. At the July 20, 1987 house show at the then-Hershey Park Arena in Hershey, PA, there was a tag team tournament where the winners would go on to face the WWE World Tag Team Champions the Hart Foundation (Bret "The Hitman" Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, w/manager "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart.) Rick Martel and Steele d. Kamala and Sika when Steele pinned Sika after using a foreign object at the 7-minute mark. They actually did this at a few house shows, with Steele and Martel beating Kamala and Sika and losing to "Luscious" Johnny Valiant's New Dream Team, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and "Canada's Strongest Man" Dino Bravo. Steele also spent much of 1987 feuding with evil referee "Dangerous" Danny Davis and doing jobs for the newly arrived One Man Gang and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. At a house show in Landover, MD, on September 26, 1987, the Gang beat Steele in under a minute. The next night, in Cleveland, Steele lost to the Gang again and was stretchered out. As Steele got older, he was used for squashing enhancement talent guys with the flying hammerlock but inevitably lost to the higher-ranked talent. Steele's last match during his run saw him defeat Larry Stevens with the Flying Hammerlock in 1:01 on the September 11, 1988 episode of WWF Wrestling Challenge.
Here's a picture of Steele's original action figure from the 1980s.
(Image courtesy of Online World of Wrestling.)
Here's a picture of the Animal with his favorite snack.
Although Steele never beat Randy Savage for the WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Title, he was able to play a part in Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat winning the belt from Savage in their classic match at Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, MI, March 29, 1987. Steele seconded Steamboat for the classic match. Near the end of the match, Savage was about to dive off the top with the ring bell onto Steamboat, which was the injury that launched the feud in the first place. Steele tripped Savage, sending him crashing to the mat. Savage tried to lift Steamboat for a bodyslam, but Steamboat turned it into a cradle for the pin and the IC title.
Here's a pic of Steele and Steamboat celebrating the win.
(Image courtesy of Online World of Wrestling)
Steele competed on two WWE PPVs. WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion Randy "Macho Man" Savage d. Steele at WMII. Steele was a participant in the battle royal at WMIV, but never actually entered the ring, although he did eliminate Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Steele eliminated himself by walking away from the ring. Bad News Brown won the battle royal.
I'm not sure when this picture is from, but I wanted to include it.
Here are some Steele squash matches from the 1980s.
George "The Animal" Steele vs. Brian Madden
George "The Animal" Steele vs. Steve King
Steele retired from active competition around 1989 and worked as a talent scout for WWE. (Albano had already called it quits in 1986.) The real motivation for Steele getting off the road was that he had come down with Crohn's Disease, an inflammatory bowel condition. I emailed Steele about his work as a talent scout and he gave me a list of wrestlers he worked with in that capacity. He said he helped the Nasty Boys (Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs), fellow Michiganders the Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) and Prince Albert (Matt "A-Train"/"Giant Bernard"/"Lord Tensai" Bloom) get started. He said he helped develop HHH, the Rock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and Mick Foley. Originally, WWE was going to give Matt Bloom a "George 'The Animal' Steele Jr." gimmick because of his bald head and hairy back, but thankfully this did not happen. (What they did give him wasn't great either, but that's another story for another website.) It should be noted that HHH and Matt Bloom were both trained by Steele's old tag partner Killer Kowalski, and that Bloom, like Steele, went from teaching to wrestling. In the book The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams, Steele says about the Nasty Boys, "They used to wake me up every time we went to Allentown [Pennsylvania] to do TV. They'd knock on my door- 'I wanna be a wrestler.' I said, 'Get out, you fat pukes. Everybody wants to be a wrestler and you guys aren't it.'" Eventually, Steele gave them information about Brad Rheingans' AWA-affiliated training camp. In the Steiners' profile, it says that Steele directed Rick Steiner to AWA promoter and WWE Hall of Famer Verne Gagne and Rheingans for training.
Here's a pic of Steele as Tor Johnson and Lisa Marie as Vampira recreating a scene from Plan 9 from Outer Space in Ed Wood.
According to the Internet Movie Database trivia section about Ed Wood, Steele had to submit two audition tapes to get the role of the late Tor Johnson. He worked with a dialog coach for three weeks to recreate Tor's Swedish accent. Steele used special heavy shoes to recreate Tor's lumbering walk.
Steele was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in on June 24, 1995 at the Marriott in Philadelphia, PA. Legendary WWE Women's Champion the Fabulous Moolah, WWE's first Triple Crown winner (World, Intercontinental and World Tag Team Champion) Pedro Morales, former Tag Team Champion "Polish Power" Ivan Putski, the late great World (New York/Washington D.C.) Tag Team Champion Antonino "Argentina" Rocca, the Grand Wizard and five-time North American (Mid-South) Heavyweight Champion "The Big Cat" Ernie Ladd were also inducted that night. Actor Bill Murray, Steele's co-star in Ed Wood, introduced the highlights video and Steele's wife Pat inducted Steele.
Here's a pic from Steele's acceptance speech.
Steele has made some unusual appearances at WWE shows over the years since his original retirement. Steele seconded Bret "The Hitman" Hart twice in 1995. The first time was at WWE's debut at the Fleet Center in Boston, MA on October 5, 1995 against Dr. Isaac Yankem DDS (Glen "Kane" Jacobs, another teacher-turned-wrestler), w/manager Jerry "The King" Lawler, which Bret won with the Sharpshooter. The second time was at a Madison Square Garden benefit show for the handicapped and underprivileged on October 6, 1995 for another match against Yankem, which Bret won the same way. Steele seconded Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Yokozuna in their winning effort against Owen Hart and the British Bulldog at MSG on March 17, 1996. Steele was handcuffed to Owen and Bulldog's manager James E. Cornette. Steele seconded Vader at a November 14, 1997, house show at the Civic Arena (later renamed the Mellon Arena)in Pittsburgh, PA, in a losing effort against HHH, w/Chyna. Animal kissed Chyna, who was disgusted, but the crowd roared. Post-match, Animal ate a turnbuckle. At an MSG show on November 15, 1997, Steele seconded Dude Love (Mick Foley) in a successful effort against Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, in what would be one of Neidhart's last-ever WWE appearances before jumping to WCW and the independents. In late 1997, TAKA Michinoku was feuding with "Too Sexy" Brian Christopher and Jerry "The King" Lawler (Brian's real-life father, though their relationship was denied by both as part of the storyline) over the WWF Light Heavyweight Title. On the December 29, 1997 episode of RAW, Steele made a special guest appearance as TAKA's tag team partner against Christopher and Lawler at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY. Unfortunately, Christopher and Lawler won by DQ. On the December 21, 1998 episode of Sunday Night Heat, taped at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA, Steele returned as a member of the Oddities, joining forces with Kurrgan, Golga (the late, great John "Earthquake"/"Avalanche"/"Shark" Tenta under a mask), the Giant Silva and Luna Vachon in their feud with the Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher). At the time, the announcers referred to Steele as "the original Oddity." Steele defeated Headbanger Mosh on the January 3, 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat. The Oddities feuded with the Disciples of Apocalypse (8-Ball and Skull, better known as Ron and Don Harris) and Too Much ("Too Sexy" Brian Christopher and Scott "Too Hot" Taylor, later known as Too Cool, Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty, until Sexay was fired for drug possession.) That the Oddities were thrown into this feud made little sense, since they had been feuding with the Headbangers when Steele returned. The Oddities lost all of these matches and WWE dropped the team. Steele's last televised tag match was on the February 16, 1999 episode of Heat, at the then-UTC Arena in Chattanooga, TN. DOA and Too Much defeated the Oddities in an 8-man tag team match. Steele's last match as a single saw him lose to Droz on the January 25, 1999 Raw at the then-America West Arena, in Phoenix, AZ.
Here's a picture of Steele arranging a "meeting of the minds" between Yankem and Lawler.
Here's a picture of Steele with the Oddities.
Here's a pic of the Oddities. (From left to right: Silva, Kurrgan, Golga and Luna.)
(Both images courtesy of Online World of Wrestling.)
Animal with Kurrgan, unknown date
(Image courtesy of Fishbulb Suplex.tumblr.com)
Steele has been influential in an unusual way over the last few years. On the June 18, 1988 episode of WWF Superstars, he introduced a doll he named "Mine", which he carried with him to the ring. "Mine" could be seen as the precursor to Al Snow's Head, Chavo Guerrero Jr.'s wooden horse Pepe, Mankind's Mr. Socko and Perry Saturn's Moppy.
Here are two pictures of Steele with "Mine."
(Images courtesy of Weird World of Wrestling)
Here are three more pictures of Steele with "Mine."
(Images courtesy of Estragand's Rasslin' Stuff.)
Steele continues to compete in independents and fight for better treatment of wrestling's veterans. His last PPV appearance was the disastrous Heroes of Wrestling PPV from 1999, but let's not get into that.
I'm not sure when these appearances happened, but here are pictures of Steele competing for the since-defunct World Wrestling Alliance in New England.
Steele has appeared in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 twice. In 1998, Steele was ranked #301, in between Super Nova (Mike "Simon Dean" Bucci) and Frank "The Tank" Parker. In 2000, Steele was ranked #389, in between the Persian Prince and Shawn Christopher. PWI ranked Steele at #267 on their list of the Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years, in between Fuerza Guerrera (Juventud Guerrera's father) and High Chief Peter Maivia (the Rock's grandfather.)
On the January 10, 2000 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, which was held at the Marine Midlands Arena in Buffalo, NY, The Old Age Outlaws, Commissioner Terry Funk, "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff and "The Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko, said they were going to bring back some old friends to beat NWO member and then-WCW United States Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett. The first match, a "bunkhouse brawl," had Jarrett versus George "The Animal" Steele. Steele hit Jarrett with weapons, but Jarrett clocked the legend with a guitar. Arn Anderson ran in and spinebustered Jarrett. Special referee "The Crippler" Chris Benoit dragged Steele over and put him on top of Jarrett for the pin!
GEORGE STEELE WINS! GEORGE STEELE WINS! GEORGE STEELE WINS!
Here is a picture from that match.
(Image courtesy of DDT Digest.)
Steele's appearance turned out to have been a one-time-only event. Kevin Nash defeated Funk for the "commissionership" at WCW/NWO Souled Out 2000 on January 16, 2000. The "Commissioner" position was later filled by "Above Average" Mike Sanders, Ernest "The Cat" Miller and Lance Storm before WCW's demise on March 26, 2001.
George "The Animal" Steele defeated "Illustrious" Johnnie Stewart for the "presidency" of AWA Superstars, later renamed Wrestling Superstars Live!, on February 29, 2000 at their Shakedown: Never Surrender card.
George "The Animal" Steele is one of the major figures involved in the establishment of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. You can find out more about it here.
On page 73 of the August 6, 2001, issue of Sports Illustrated, there is an article about then-St.Louis Cardinals pitcher Steve Kline, who last played for the San Francisco Giants and later signed a Minor League deal with the Philadelphia Phillies on April 10, 2008, only to be released on June 11. Kline worked as a pitching coach for the Augusta GreenJackets from December 17, 2008 until last month. On January 26, 2012, he was announced as the new pitching coach for the San Jose Giants. As of the 2013 season, he is back with the GreenJackets. In the article, titled "Animal on the Mound," Kline explains that his athletic inspiration was George "The Animal" Steele. Kline discusses Steele's heel days, saying "I want to be the guy that fans throw drinks and popcorn at...To be booed and hated, that's the ultimate." The Cardinals' then-manager and longtime baseball great Tony La Russa, who retired in 2010, described Kline as being focused more on "competition" than on "stats and money and attention."
Steele made one appearance for Detroit's own the Insane Clown Posse's Juggalo Championship Wrestling promotion at a show in Cleveland, OH. ICP wrote and performed the Oddities' theme song,"Oddities", which can be found on the CD WWF The Music Volume 3. He can be seen in the JCW music video on the JCW Volume 2 DVD, which is set to Twiztid's song "I Don't Care" from their album Cryptic Collection 2. I asked Steele about it in the forum on his website and he basically disassociated himself from it, though he called ICP "good old Detroit boys" who were "better at making music than at making wrestling." The same footage appears in the ICP music video "Real Underground Baby", from their album The Wraith: Hell's Pit, which is an easter egg on the Psychopathic: The Videos DVD.
I was on the original Old School Hodge Podge section of the Kayfabe Memories board on ezboard, and I saw that one of the names of recent visitors to the board was GeorgeSteele. I checked and it was "The Animal" himself. I sent him an email telling him how much of a fan I was of him and about the site. Here's the great part: HE WROTE BACK!! He said that his site has a link to this site. I consider this an honor.
Some time back, Wrestlecrap.com inducted WWE's WrestleMania VCR Game from the mid-1980s. Among the images were one of Steele fighting Rick Gantner. Gantner was enhancement talent at the time. He later became known as Killer of the Texas Hangmen in the AWA, with Mike "Psycho" Moran, who later became Mean Mike of Disorderly Conduct in WCW with Gantner's replacement, Tough Tom (Tom Beninghaus, who took the Killer role as well.) Since then, Gantner has found success in Tennesse and the Midwest as Bull Pain.
George "The Animal" Steele was included in WWE's special magazine The Greatest, about their picks for the 50 Greatest WWE Superstars off all time. The feature says that Steele's name inspires "terror, on one hand, and sympathy on the other."
Steele is among the PWHF's Class of 2005, along with legendary AWA [Indiana/Ohio] World Women's Champion and World Women's Tag Team Champion Penny Banner, former 1-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion and 3-time WWA (Los Angeles) World Heavyweight Champion Dick "The Destroyer"/"Dr. X" Beyer (another teacher-turned-wrestler), Houston promoter Paul Boesch, two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco, the original NWA World Heavyweight Champion Orville Brown, the five-time AWA World Tag Team Champions and 6-time WWA (Indianapolis) World Tag Team Champions the Crusher and Dick the Bruiser, midget wrestler Fuzzy Cupid, NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk Jr. and MWA (Ohio) World Heavyweight Champion John Pesek.
WWE has released a Championship Edition DVD of WrestleMania III. It is a two-disc set with a Steele-Savage match from Saturday Night's Main Event included in the extras.
The April 27, 2007 episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown! opened with a tag team match pitting Kane and the Boogeyman against William Regal and Dave Taylor. During the match, commentator John "Bradshaw" Layfield said, "The Boogeyman makes George 'The Animal' Steele look normal."
Steele refused to sign a WWE Legends contract because he objects to the current product.
Steele was one of the "groomsmen" for the "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal-So Cal Val "wedding" ceremony at the TNA Slammiversary PPV, June 8, 2008 at the Desoto Civic Center, since renamed the Landers Center, in Southhaven, MS. The other "groomsmen" were American Idol contestant Ace Young, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Kamala, "The Birdman" Koko B. Ware with Frankie Jr. and Lethal's tag-team partner "The Guru" Sonjay Dutt. (So Cal Val's maid of honor was played by the assistant of TNA President Dixie Carter.) The backstory for Lethal's "Black Machismo" name is that he did a great Randy Savage impression backstage and was turned into a Savage clone, complete with the raspy voice, colorful outfit, Flying Elbow finisher and 1980s wrestling references in his interviews (e.g., calling Dutt "Bollea" [Hulk Hogan's real last name] or calling TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim "Wendi Richter" in a bumper as an episode of TNA Impact went into a commercial break). Dutt turned heel on Lethal (as I had expected) and beat him down with a piece of the wedding set. The legends beat up Dutt. Jake threw Damien on top of Dutt, and Steele ate the turnbuckles. Val even wore Elizabeth-style gloves as part of the gimmick until she inevitably turned heel on Lethal as well. The segment bombed, with the crowd sitting on their hands the whole time.
Tom and Eddie Farhat Jr. (aka Captain Ed George), the sons of the Sheik, have brought back Detroit wrestling. The new AWWL show will air on WHPR TV 33 in Detroit and the show will combine both new action and classic footage.
The November 15, 2010 Raw was billed as "Raw Old School" and featured appearances by various legends and references to WWE's past. During the match between Kofi Kingston and Nexus member David "A-List" Otunga (the husband of Academy Award® and Grammy®-winning singer-actress Jennifer Hudson), GEORGE "THE ANIMAL" STEELE made an unnanounced appearance. He entered the ring and bit into a turnbuckle and threw the stuffing around. Steele left to the cheers of the crowd. Kingston won with his Trouble in Paradise spinkick after whipping Otunga into the exposed steel.
Nick of Doom used to have a site called Pixelmania where he would create 8-bit-style renderings of wrestlers. Here is his rendering of George "The Animal" Steele.
On the December 28, 2011 edition of CHIKARA's YouTube series "The Barber Shop," Jonathan Barber asked various CHIKARA wrestlers who, when they were growing up, their favorite wrestler was. "The Queen of Wrestling" Sara Del Rey said, "George 'The Animal' Steele." (In order of appearance: announcer/commentator Gavin Loudspeaker, Sara, Dasher Hatfield, Archibald Peck, Chuck Taylor, UltraMantis Black, Sugar Dunkerton, "Lightning" Mike Quackenbush, Grizzly Redwood, Johnny Gargano, Icarus and Ophidian.)
Pop Culture References
On the 10/3/96 episode of Seinfeld called "The Bizarro Jerry," Jerry was dating a woman with "man hands." In his words,
"Those meaty paws. I feel like I'm dating George 'The Animal' Steele."
The band Days of the New released a single in 1998 called "Touch Peel and Stand" and the CD single's cover art featured a battered and damaged George "The Animal" Steele action figure.
On the 7/27/00 episode of Late Show with David Letterman, one of the alternate categories for "Know Your Current Events" was "Know Your Old-Time Wrestlers' Submission Holds." The second question asked, "What kind of hammerlock was George 'The Animal' Steele's Flying Hammerlock?" The answer: A belly-to-back elevated hammerlock. For the record, the other question was about Killer Kowalski's Stomach Claw.
The band Mighty Ions have an album called Face Rakin' Rock that has George "The Animal" Steele on the cover and includes a song called "George The Animal Steele." You can find out more information at the band's label's website here.
In the "Sports" chapter of Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists, published by the defunct Ego Trip Magazine, rapper Inspectah Deck of the Wu-Tang Clan listed his favorite professional wrestlers of all time. George "The Animal" Steele was Number 4. The rest of the list: Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was Number 5, The Junkyard Dog was Number 3, "Iron" Mike Sharpe was Number 2 and the Ultimate Warrior was Number 1.
George Steele links:
Links to other independent promotions where George Steele has appeared.
Some more Animal videos on YouTube
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