Friday, February 17, 2017

Remembering George "The Animal" Steele

George "The Animal" Steele
Courtesy: WWE
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Another wrestling legend has died. WWE confirmed the news earlier that Hall of Famer, George "The Animal" Steele died Friday at the age of 79. Steele had in poor health recently. 

By the time I started watching wrestling, Steele was nearing the end of his in-ring career. I've blogged before about the night I was flipping channels with some friends and came across Jimmy Snuka (RIP) and Don Muraco battling it out. That same night "The Animal" cut a promo that consisted of him just shouting "YES" a lot. I can't remember who the interviewer was, but George just gave one-word answers. His loud voice boomed, but his hairy torso and bald head also stood out to me. We began mimicking his style long after the wrestling action had come to an end.

Steele vs. Hogan
Courtesy: WWE
Steele would team up with Mr. Fuji and battle Hulk Hogan and "Mean" Gene Okerlund not long after I discovered wrestling. The match was featured on a Coliseum Home video we had rented and watched one summer afternoon. Steele eventually went from the unpredictable monster to a more lovable good guy. He and Capt. Lou Albano worked well together and Steele even managed to work his way to an Intercontinental Title match against "Macho Man" Randy Savage at WrestleMania II.

The Animal & Mine
Courtesy: WWE
He worked a few more years on screen with WWF before retiring and doing some work as an agent. The Animal became one of the first Hall of Fame inductees and I think during his speech it was the first time I hadn't heard his non-sensical way of talking. When I was younger, I really bought into the character, which was memorable due to the hairy body, green tongue, turnbuckle munching and "Mine" doll.

Just a few of years ago Steele commented on a couple of blogs I had posted on a WWE site on LinkedIn. I was honored to know that someone of his stature was reading my work. Rest in Peace "Animal", you will be missed by many.


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