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George "The Animal" Steele

George "The Animal" SteeleGeorge "The Animal" Steele

He was the school teacher turned pro wrestler. His green tongue and his appetite for the ring turnbuckle were trademarks. He was a road agent for the WWF for many years and his knowledge of the industry is so vast for him to have stayed on top for so long. He is being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year and he will share his stories with us this week.

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4 Hall of Fame

9/11/01

Killer Kawalski

 



Wrestler: George "The Animal" Steel
Real Name: James Meyers
Birthday: April 16, 1937
Detroit, MI
Hometown: Cocoa Beach, FL
Marital Status:
Height & Weight: 6'1" - 245 lbs.
Trained by:
Debut: 1960s in Detroit
Previous Gimmicks: The Student (Detroit)
Finishing Move: Flying Hammerlock
Favorite Moves:
Notable Feuds: The Sheik
Bruno Samartino
Gorilla Monsoon
Pedro Morales
Bob Backland
Hulk Hogan
Macho Man Randy Savage
Andre The Giant
Jake Roberts
Bobo Brazil
Roddy Piper
Official Website: http://www.georgesteele.com


NWA (Detroit) World Tag Team titles w/Frankie Lane defeating John Bonello & Randy Scott (May 3, 1980);


In the Beginning:

George "The Animal" Steele was born James Meyers in Detroit, MI in 1937..
George Steele initially had a career in teaching and coaching in the Madison school system..

Getting into the Business - The Student:

James Meyers debuted under a mask, in , wrestling as "The Student" to keep his identity a secret from his real students..
~~~The Student was a member of the long-running old-school heel stable Gary Hart's Army..
~~~Eventually, he dropped the mask and became George "the Animal" Steel, a very unorthadox 'wildman' wrestler..

Big Time Wrestling / Detroit - George "The Animal" Steele:

George Steele (still wrestling as a heel) had a brutal feud with The Sheik, another legendary Detroit madman..
May 3, 1980: Geroge Steele & Frankie Lane beat John Bonello & Randy Scott to win Detroit's version of the World Tag Team titles..
~~~This would be the only title George Steele would hold during his entire career..
~~~May 24, 1980: John Bonello & Randy Scott recaptured the World Tag Team titles from George Steele & Frankie Lane..
1981: George Steele also worked the Georgia territory as a tag team partner of Dusty Rhodes for a limited period..

World Wide Wrestling Federation - George "The Animal" Steele:

1970s: George Steele moved onto the as a monster heel managed by Mr. Fuji..
George Steele feuded with the legendary Bruno Sammartino over the WWWF World title, usually losing by DQ..
George Steele also engaged in an extensive feud with Gorilla Monsoon..
George Steele was later managed by "Classy" Freddy Blassie, and then the late Grand Wizard, and Johnny Valiant..
1984: George Steel was turned face by Captain Lou Albano ending a long heel run..

World Wrestling Federation - George "The Animal" Steele:

George Steele's character went from being brutal & wild to somewhat goofy, his trademark "green tongue" & eating the corner pads..
George Steele also had a brief run as the masked "Animal Machine" (part of The Machines..)
1986: George Steele developed a crush on Miss Elizabeth and began a feud with Randy "Macho Man" Savage..
Wrestlemania III: George Steele helped Ricky Steamboat defeat Randy Savage for the Intercontinental title..
Wrestlemania IV: George Steele was scheduled to compete in a battle royal, but "screwed up his knee" on the way to the ring..
~~~At this event, held at Trump Plaza, they had some horrible steps on the entrance way which George got tripped up on..
During the late 80s, George began bringing a raggedy puppet mascot to the ring with him.. he called it "Mine".
Late 80s: George left the WWF and worked for numerous independent promotions around the US..

Retirement - George "The Animal" Steele:

George Steele had a leading role in the movie "Ed Wood", which won two Oscars.
October 3, 1996: During an episode of Seinfeld called "The Bizarro Jerry", where Jerry dates a woman with 'man hands'..
~~~Jerry says "Those meaty paws. I feel like I'm dating George 'The Animal' Steele!"

World Wrestling Federation - The Oddities:

December 29, 1997 - RAW: George Steele made an appearance as Taka Michinoku's partner vs Brian Christopher & Jerry Lawler..
December 21, 1998 - Heat: George Steele returned as a member of The Human Oddities, along with Kurrgan, Golga & Giant Silva..

George Steele:

James Meyers is inducted into both the Michigan Coaches Hall of Fame and the World Wrestling Federation Hall of Fame.
George Steele begins working on a book that covers his 40 year career in the wrestling business..

Semi-Retirement - George Steele:

January 10, 2000 - Nitro: George Steele defeated Jeff Jarrett in a "bunkhouse brawl" with help from Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit..
February 29, 2000 - Shakedown: George Steele defeated "Illustrious" Johnnie Stewart for the "presidency" of AWA Superstars..
August 6, 2001: Sports Illustrated prints an article about St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Steve Kline..
~~~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..
George "The Animal" Steele is going to appear in a new wrestling video game called "Legends of Wrestling" for Sony Playstation 2..
Mighty Ions have an album called 'Face Rakin' Rock' that has George Steele on the cover and includes a song called "George The Animal Steele."


Testimony
I was brought up as a Baptist. I was sprinkled in Baptism at seven. As an eight year old, I was told that God built the earth and everything on it in six days and rested on the seventh day. I was also told that I was just like God. I looked around and knew that I could not repeat God¹s miracle. Next I was told that if I sinned that I would burn in hell. I had probably already stolen some bubble gum. I figured that I was damaged goods. I never understood salvation.

I walked on the edge most of my life. I never broke any of man's laws. I never served time. I was in many fight situations as a teenager. I had a learning disability in the forties, fifties and sixties before dyslexia was understood.

Athletics kept me in school and close to the right road. I have had many blessings and I now truly believe that our God had a plan for me. Negatives have seemed to always turn into positives for me.

Athletics opened the doors of opportunity at Michigan State University for us. I was married to Pat and the father of Felicia as I entered M.S.U. in the spring of 1956. Between Roy Niemeyer, my enrollment officer, and my wife, Pat, I was able to earn my Bachelor of Science degree.

Teaching and coaching was a great opportunity to reach out to so many people. Not just students but parents and others in the coaching profession. I was not yet prepared to give the real message.

Wrestling put me in front of millions. Again I took to the fast track and did not understand how good God had been to me and my family. I was so self centered that it is now embarrassing.

It took ten years of a life-threatening disease to get my attention. The support of my wife, family and so many others was critical, but I still did not really get it. I did a 911 and shut down in the hospital. I truly believe that God had bigger plans for me. That is why I have been cured from Crohn's (which Modern medicine says there is no cure for) and now have great health.

I received an e-mail from a wrestling fan, Todd Curcio. To this day I can not believe how simple it was. Todd simply asked me if I had excepted THE LORD JESUS CHRIST as my savior. I said no and Todd asked me if I would mind if he sent me a couple of books to read. About the the same time out of the blue, John Randolph, a minister in our family sent me a book to read. I finally started to get what I had missed as an eight year old.

I said to Pat "let's go church shopping". We decided to start at a Baptist Church to eliminate it and move on. God was there to show me that the church was not the problem but that I was.

The day that we visited the First Baptist Church Merritt Island we were surprised to see so many young people. That was good; we both like to be around young people. We also really liked the minister. There just happened to be a young gospel singer from Australia giving her testimony that morning and a concert in the evening.

The following Tuesday was 9/11/01. After crying with the rest of the nation, it was back to the First Baptist Church Merritt Island. What happened there just blew our mind. We live in Cocoa Beach, Florida, commonly referred to as the Space Coast. The First Baptist Church Merritt Island was filled and many were in the military. What a powerful day in my life.


We continued to go to the First Baptist Church Merritt Island for about nine month. and finally decided to join First Baptist Church Merritt Island and were baptized on Pat's birthday, June 16th, 2002. We joined a Sunday school class that has been a real blessing for us. I am sure that God has a plan for us. I am not sure what it is. When the timing is right God will lead us in the right direction and we will be prepared.

My life has been up lifted by simply accepting THE LORD JESUS CHRIST as my savior. I am working on living with faith. I have a motto "let go; let God handle it". I am learning and I love it.

GOD BLESS

 


Trying to referee a George Steele match is like being trapped in a steel cage with a rabid St. Bernard"- legendary referee Al Vass.

George "The Animal" Steele was born William James Meyers in Detroit, MI in 1937. Before he became a wrestler, he was a teacher. Steele was trained by Detroit promoter Bert Ruby. 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 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 and became George "The Animal" Steele. 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 Sheik, another legendary Detroit madman. 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.

(Image courtesy of Obsessed With Wrestling)

Steele is more well known for his heel run in the WWWF in the late 1960s and 1970s. He feuded with "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino over the WWWF World Heavyweight Title. Steele never won the title, usually losing 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. Steele first main evented at Madison Square Garden on June 22, 1968 in a losing effort against Sammartino. On that night, Steele was called George "The Bruiser" Steele. Steele later feuded in the 1970s with Monsoon following Monsoon's face turn. Steele also feuded with Pedro Morales, Chief Jay Strongbow and other top faces of the era. Steele also competed in the Pittsburgh region of the National Wrestling Federation territory, which was owned by Bruno Sammartino and was affiliated with the WWWF. 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. Steele was known as an articulate, intelligent and brutal heel.

Here's a picture of Steele fighting Bruno Sammartino.

(Image courtesy of Obsessed With Wrestling)

Here's a picture of Steele with legendary manager "Classy" Freddie Blassie.

(Image from my collection)

Here is a pic of Steele fighting Bob Backlund.

(Image from my collection)

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, and "Luscious" Johnny Valiant. Steele spent some time in 1985 teaming with then-WWF 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 and habit of eating turnbuckle stuffing. 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 (Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski). Big, Super and Animal Machines faced Big John Studd and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, CA on September 23, 1986. Steele also teamed with the Junkyard Dog, Hulk Hogan, and even Hillbilly Cousin Luke against the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, "Adorable" Adrian Adonis and other heels of the day. At the beginning of 1986, Steele became involved in a feud with the newly arrived heel Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Steele became enamored with Savage's manager, Elizabeth. Although this did not necessarily help his win-loss record, it did endear him to the crowds.

"It's a little like King Kong and Jessica Lange"-Vince McMahon, WWF Saturday Night's Main Event, 1986.

Although Steele never beat Randy Savage for the WWF Intercontinental Title, he was able to play a part in Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat winning the belt 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 Obsessed With Wrestling)

Here's a pic of Steele applying the Flying Hammerlock on evil ref Dangerous" Danny Davis. Steele defeated Davis by submission on the November 28, 1987 Saturday Night's Main Event at the Seattle Coliseum (now the Seattle Center) in Seattle, WA. Steele won this match by DQ when Davis kicked referee Joey Marella (the late son of Steele's old nemesis Gorilla Monsoon). After the match, Steele threw the turnbuckle stuffing at Davis and chased him backstage.

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. Bad News Brown won the battle royal.

Steele retired from active competition around 1989 and worked as a talent scout for the WWF. I recently 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, The Steiner Brothers and Prince Albert (Matt "A-Train" Bloom) get started. He said he helped develop HHH, The Rock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and Mick Foley.

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 Antonino Rocca, the Grand Wizard and "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.

Steele has made some unusual appearances at WWF shows over the years. Steele seconded Bret "The Hitman" Hart at a Madison Square Garden benefit show for the handicapped and underprivileged on October 6, 1995 for Bret's match against Dr. Isaac Yankem DDS (Glen "Kane" Jacobs). Steele seconded Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Yokozuna (RIP) in their winning effort against Owen Hart (RIP) and the British Bulldog (RIP) 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 (now 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 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 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 Heat, taped at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA, Steele returned as a member of The Oddities, joining forces with Kurrgan, Golga and The Giant Silva. 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 (Brian Christopher and Scott 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 the WWF dropped the team. Steele's last televised match as an Oddity was on the February 16, 1999 episode of Heat, at the 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 America West Arena in Phoenix, AZ.

Here's a picture of Steele with the Oddities. The woman pictured is Luna Vachon.

Steele has been influential in an unusual way over the last few years. Late in his 80's WWF run, he began carrying a doll he named "Mine" 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.