The doors are open at the Rotten Ink Arena, and the fans are pouring in as this “R.I.W Wrestling Legend” update is one that will please the young and old. Our main event is the missing link wild man known as George “The Animal” Steele who in the 80’s was a major star for the WWF, and as you can see at the merchandise table, his shirts and Mine Dolls are selling like crazy. And it looks like in George Steele’s honor they are serving green drinks and food at the snack bar, so let’s grab some green hotdogs and a Mountain Dew and find our seats as this update event is going to be a crazy one. The lights are dimming and the matches are about to start, so let’s get ready to cheer on the one and only George “The Animal” Steele. Oh and we should keep an eye out as who knows if we will see Mine or even if George himself will go wild and run crazy in the crowd!
George “The Animal” Steele started his pro wrestling career in 1960 and was trained by Bert Rubi and started working the indies around Detroit, Michigan under the name The Student that was a masked wrestler as he wanted to hide who he really was as he was also a high school teacher at the time. During his run as The Student, he would be managed by Gary Hart who also acted as his mouthpiece and would hype of his brute strength. Around 1967 The Student would be no more and he would be called up to wrestle for the WWWF (that later would be WWF/WWE) and would also work a few other NWA territories and would be called George Steele and would be booked as a solid heel who would even challenge Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Heavyweight title. He would feud with Bruno and many other of the federations’ top baby faces and would headline matches in Madison Squared Garden and would have a small run against Chief Jay Strongbow before taking a small time away to work more on his crazy wild man persona. And once back George “The Animal” Steele was fully wild and would rip up and eat the turnbuckles, had a green tongue and would have a strange wrestling style that had his arms wiggling around, which confused and worried his opponents. And his heel persona continued and allowed him to feud with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Bob Backlund, Ivan Putski and Jimmy Snuka to name a few. And while he would never win a title, he did get many chances at them as a heel. During this time his interviews would be him loudly speaking a string of words, or yelling much like a young child would who is learning to speak. And I should also note during this time as a heel, he would also capture a few title from smaller NWA companies before he went to the WWF.
On May 11, 1985 on NBC was the first every Saturday Night’s Main Event, and in the opening match George Steele teamed with Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff in a losing effort against The U.S. Express and Ricky Steamboat. But after the match, George is blamed for the loss and is attacked and this makes baby face manager Lou Albano save him and in this moment Steele went from heel to face. And very quickly George became one of the company’s top faces as fans loved this wild man who would put on silly cartoonish matches. In 1986 George Steele would start to get a crush on Miss Elizabeth, the manager of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and the two would have a feud and this would last well into 1987 with Steele even managing Ricky Steamboat as he went for Savage’s intercontinental title at WrestleMania III, but in the end Steele would be on the losing end of the feud and would never get the affection of Elizabeth. And keep in mind, Elizabeth was so nice to George and it was Savage, who was one of the company’s top heels, who hated the attention George was trying to get. During this time as well Steele would be getting big wins against such names as Hercules Hernandez, Iron Mike Sharpe, Iron Sheik and Bob Orton Jr. to name a few. In 1988 George Steele would introduce the fans to his stuff doll friend named Mine and he would bring him to the ring to watch his matches as well as would have the doll in his promos. He would be involved at WrestleMania IV and would be in the Battle Royal, but due to a real life knee injury he would just stay outside the ring and annoy the heels in the match. It was also starting to be clear that George was falling down the card and also his health was starting to be an issue and by late 1988 he would retire from the ring for the first time and would become a road agent for the WWF working backstage. He would be let go in 1990 and a short time later hired back, and he would hold that job until around 1997 when he left the company.
After leaving WWF in the late 90’s as a road agent George Steele would start working the indies taking bookings and appearances. He even returned to WWF for an episode of Monday Night Raw in order to team with Taka Michinoku against Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher. And again in 1998 he would work for WWF as apart of The Oddities and would leave again in 1999. He would make a big mistake and be a part of the disaster wrestling PPV called “Heroes Of Wrestling” and was managed by Sensational Sherri and would face Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and this was in late 1999. At the start of 2000, he would have a match against Jeff Jarrett on an episode of WCW Monday Night Nitro. His last match took place in late 2000 at an ACW event against Sgt. Medallion. And even late in his career, he was very loved by fans and he helped many indies draw when his name was on the card. But while George Steele’s in ring work came to an end in 2000, he still made appearances for federations in including Impact in 2008 and WWF in 2010. And even all through his time working the indies, he was also working wrestling themed conventions. Sadly George “The Animal” Steele would pass away from kidney failure on February 16, 2017 at the age of 74. As some of you might know, George battled Crohn’s Disease starting around the late 80’s and battled it for much of the rest of his life. He also was an actor in such films as Ruthless People (1986), Ed Wood (1994) and Small Town Conspiracy (2003) to name a few. And he also was inducted into the WWF Hall Of Fame in 1995 and has appeared in a small amount of wrestling video games.
Growing up through the 80’s and 90’s was a great time to be a wrestling fan as Hulk Hogan was the biggest star in the sport and business was great and so many icons stepped foot into the ring as we also still had stars from the 60’s and 70’s competing. And one older star that I was a fan of was George “The Animal” Steele, the crazy man who would yell, chase around his opponent and would eat the turnbuckles all the while showing his green tongue. And yeah I know what you are thinking and you would be right, George Steele might not have been the world’s greatest wrestler and by all accounts he was just a gimmick wrestler who put on comedy matches, but man when I was a kid it worked. I had the George Steele LJN figure as well as his Bendy toy, and I always wanted a Mine doll and still do want one to this day. The best part of George Steele is that he was a heel that people believed could rip a person apart with his brute strength, and when he turned baby face, he was loved as people thought he was simple and misunderstood and fun loving. And let’s be honest, everyone in the stands and watching at home would mark out when George would eat and rip apart the turnbuckle having the stuffing go all over the ring. Also his cartoonish nature when wrestling, as a face would cause fans to laugh at his odd style of waving his hands around and silly faces that he would make at his opponents. When booked as a heel I have to say that George Steele really did come off as a threat as he would be totally wild and his hairy missing link look seemed to scare the fans as well as would through his baby face opponent off their game as he would wiggle his arms around and come off as a total crazy man. George “Steele” is also a wrestler I would pop for even way after he was winding down his in ring career but when he would show up on WWF or WCW I would cheer as seeing him in the ring brought back memories of my youth. Plus on a side note, Tim Burton and his team did a fantastic job of hiring George Steele to play Tor Johnson in the 1994 cult classic film Ed Wood based on the filmmaker’s life. Also the first ever WWF Ice Cream bar I ever got had George Steele on it and inside had a trading card of George as well! With that said George might not have been the most skilled in ring worker but he sure as hell was a very entertaining one.
We are now at the point of this review where we will be taking a look at the DVD set and review some of the matches on the discs like always between 4 to 8. I want to thank Coliseum Of Wrestling & Boxing for having this set in stock and also want to thank George Steele for his hard work in the world of wrestling. I also want to remind you that I will only be breaking down randomly selected matches from this set and will be breaking down the match and will be rating the matches on a 5 Star rating system. I also only choose from single matches, as I want to break down the matches that showcase his style. Here is what the stars mean ½ Means a really terrible match, * Means a bad match, ** Means a below average match, **1/2 Means a good average entertaining match, *** Means a good match, **** Means a great match, ***** Means an epic match. So if you are ready, let’s step into the ring with George Steele.
Best Of George Steele
Match 1: George Steele vs. Hulk Hogan
As the match starts, George starts by wiggling your hands around and Hogan stops his antics by flexing and stopping George in his tracks and as George gets out of the ring Hogan goes out after him and beats him up as the fans go crazy. Once back in the ring Hogan and George size each other up and neither wants to make a mistake and its George who makes the first move and with a wrack to Hogan’s eyes he takes the lead of the match by working over his eyes and even biting him. George takes the padding off of a turnbuckle and tries to ram Hogan’s head into it before he reverses it and rams Georges into it and then Hogan takes the match momentum and even bites the head of George! The two exchange hits and punches and with the help of brass knuckles George hurts Hogan and keeps using it to keep the Hulkster down. But after a while Hogan has had enough and after Hulking Up and some punches and a big boot to the face of George and when going for the legdrop, Mr. Fuji cheats and trips Hogan and as George distracts the referee he throws powder into the eyes of Hogan blinding him and causing him to fall out of the ring and is counted out and the fans are very mad by this. This is a match that on paper should not work well as both Hogan and Steele are wrestlers who work their own styles with Steele’s really being more of a gimmick and yet the two made it work as they blended both together and really got the crowd into it. No big moves are thrown and nothing really fancy is delivered, but the way Steele cheats and gets the heat from the crowd and the way the fans pop for Hogan at every move really does make the match feel big. I was also really surprised when Steele is the one who gets the win via pinfall. Over all a good match that had a big fight feel and showed that George Steele could have been a big heel even in the 80’s if booked right.
Match 2: George Steele vs. Pete Mitchell
George Steele is managed by Freddie Blassie in this match and as soon as the bell rings, the weird movements of George throws of Pete and George moves in and attacks the face and head of Pete even biting him. George then destroys the turnbuckle and keeps his attack on Pete going who is helpless at this point and is just being destroyed. George even tosses Pete out of the ring and Blassie even delivers a kick to him, and George will not let him back in the ring. Once back in the ring George starts working on both arms of Pete stomping on them, and at this point Pete has not even landed one punch or move in the match. George continues beating up and tossing Pete around and in the end with a lifting hammerlock George gets the win when Pete is forced to give up. And after the bell George still beats up on Pete and Blassie loves it. This match is a total squash match and has George Steele destroying Pete Mitchell by just biting, knocking him out of the ring and stomping on him. George looks great as a heel in this match as he is vicious and does not allow his opponent to even fight back and his lifting hammerlock is fantastic looking. Poor Pete Mitchell looks like a total jobber and does nothing in the match besides sell like crazy for Steele. Not much more to say besides this is a very one sided match that while entertaining of seeing George be mean heel, is not much of a match.
Match 3: George Steele vs. Adrian Adonis
George starts the match by chasing Adonis around the ring and causes him to escape by getting out of the ring. Once back in the ring George charges at Adonis who is able to land a punch first and even chokes him with his scarf, and even uses the ropes to try and take the breath away from George. But with a quick punch to the face George makes his comeback that allows him to unleash a series of stomps and punches. George even slams Adonis on the entry ramp as the fans cheer with joy. But while hurt Adonis is able to land a few punches to the gut of George and then gives a few stomps, but George as well brawls his way back to being the one on top of the match momentum for a moment until Adonis takes back over for a brief moment with some punches. Adonis climbs the top rope and George crotches him and Adonis then elbows the referee knocking him out for a moment, George gets Adonis into the hammerlock and causes him to tap out but there is no referee to see it. George goes to check on the referee and when doing so Adonis rolls him up and gets the pin and the win. This is a brawling match that is kind of bland as Adrian Adonis is very lazy in the match and spends most of its short time resting on the mat or ramp and throwing very sloppy moves. This clearly was during a time when Adonis just stopped caring about the quality of his matches and he and George’s style just did not mix well at all. I do feel that he did sell really well for George throughout the match. George as well does his basic punches and stomps with his lifting hammerlock to Adonis being the most impressive move in the whole match. Over all it’s a very sloppy match that George Steele did his best to try and make it look good and entertaining and while he tried it just was not a good match.
Match 4: George Steele vs. Greg Valentine
As the match starts, Greg tries to attack George from behind and it backfires, as George is able to see the attack coming and lands a punch to his gut and then starts beating up Greg more and more even ramming his head into the turnbuckle. But Greg makes a comeback after George botches an attempt at a bulldog headlock and Greg drops chops and elbows onto the down Animal and then unloads many elbows onto him as George tries to get up. After trying to land a top rope axe handle that misses Greg finds himself getting beat up by George who is now worked up with some anger and the fans are clearly behind him. And George then goes after Jimmy Hart the manger of Greg Valentine and starts to chase him to the back as Greg ends up going out after George to try and save his manager. And with that George Steele is counted out by chasing Hart around the ring and Greg wins the match via count out. This is another sloppy brawl that showcases two powerhouse wrestlers from the WWF from the 80’s slugging it out and showing once more that when pitted against the right opponent Georges limited move set can work and Greg was a good opponent for him to be working. Greg also does a great job of selling for George and does a good face flop when hitting the turnbuckles. George pretty much does his normal stomping, punching and acting weird while limited the fans love every second of him in the ring. The end being a count out was a little of a letdown but it did at least make both wrestlers look strong with Greg Valentine getting the win and George Steele still looking like a top baby face in his loss as he was not pinned and even was able to scare Jimmy Hart who was a hated heel manager. Over all super sloppy but entertaining for such a quick throwaway match that was clearly just a way to give Greg a win.
Match 5: George Steele vs. Gorilla Monsoon
We start the match already in progress and Gorilla is down on the mat and is injured as George starts to work over his arm by stomping on it and keeps the pressure on Gorilla and even almost gets a three count on him. George starts working on the shoulders of Gorilla, who then ends up getting out of George’s hold and locks in a big bear hug as the crowd starts cheering for Gorillas comeback, George lands a big punch to his forehead and both men crash to the mat. Once back up George starts using an object to punch Gorilla who is very injured and weak by now, and George almost tosses Gorilla over the top rope and once Gorilla gets back in the beating continues as George uses an object to punch him in the head over and over. And after a sloppy comeback Gorilla locks on a bear hug again and like before George uses an object and the hold is broke and the pair fall to the mat. In the end Gorilla gets ahold of the object and George leaves the ring and gets himself counted out and Gorilla wins the match via count out. This is a very slow paced match and Gorilla Monsoon spends most of the match on the mat sweating like crazy and kind of so-so selling for George who is doing all the work and trying to make this match at least somewhat good. The match has the most basic moves thrown with most of them coming from George who is doing his normal brawling style that is mostly throwing punches. This match is really bad and many spots in the match happen several times making them very uninteresting. Not much more to say then George Steele looks good in the match and does his best to work with a clearly out of shape Gorilla Monsoon and while George has a limited style it was clear Gorilla was even more limited at this time. And really silly that they gave the count out win to Gorilla when they should have given George the win as he was becoming a great heel.
Match 6: George Steele vs. Mike Powers
As the bell rings, George Steele rushes Mike Powers and lands some clubbing blows and tosses him over the rope and goes after him and rams his head into the rails, and George will not even let Mike back into the ring. Once back in the ring Mike is placed in an arm bar and his arm is even bitten by George. And then George gets Mike into his lifting hammerlock and Mike quits and this give George the very quick win. Wow, this was 100% a squash match as George Steele busts out his brawling moves and his finishing move the hammerlock to make Mike Powers look like a jobber as he is unable to even land one move. The only move that stands out in the whole match is once more George Steele’s lifting hammerlock. And I have to say Mike Powers does a good job of selling for Steele throughout this quick match. Nothing special here but did its job of building George Steele.
So as you can see while George “The Animal” Steele was a wrestler who had a brawling gimmick style that could get fans to cheer when a face and boo him like crazy when heel and while not a technical wrestler he was one hell of an entertaining one that was one of my favorites growing up cause he made Pro Wrestling fun. And that brings me to this, in 2023 I feel like doing something very fun and will be a major treat for fans of wrestling like myself as I think every month this year I will have a “R.I.W Wrestling Legends” update! Remember back in 2021 we did this same thing for “Horror Host Icons”, but in April, what our household calls WWE WrestleMania Month, I will deliver two updates showcasing wrestlers! Again I know you fans of the squared circle are looking forward to seeing who we cover, now with that said our next update will take us out of the Rotten Ink Arena and back to the world of Star Comics as we go on adventures with Royal Roy one of the companies most popular original characters. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a wrestling match or two and as always support your local wrestlers. And yes the land that Royal Roy rules over is called Cashelot…just think about that.