Bald head, hairy back, and turnbuckle stuffing: The hallmarks of George “The Animal” Steele

By any standards, George “The Animal” Steele was a bizarre character. I remember as a kid seeing this big, bald guy with an impossibly hairy back and green tongue mowing through jobbers using, as announcer Vince McMahon would say, “an unorthodox style.”

Steele’s big spot in most of his matches was tearing open a turnbuckle (done with a blade usually hidden in the buckle, but made to look like he bit it open). He’d then throw the stuffing out of the turnbuckle at his opponent and the referee. His finishing move was the flying hammerlock, which was a dangerous looking hold. I’ve written in a past post about how Steele seemingly dislocated a guy’s shoulder with the maneuver.

Steele was not a good worker, but he didn’t need to be. His matches with the bigger stars were more about seeing his opponents try to deal with Steele’s flapping arms and hidden foreign objects.

He had a more menacing persona in the 1970s when challenging Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Title. Instead of just uttering “Yoooo!” and “Ayyyy!” during promos like he did in the 1980s, he actually spoke.

Then in 1985 he turned babyface, and eventually began fawning over Miss Elizbaeth to start a feud with Randy “Macho Man” Savage.  Steele aided Ricky Steamboat en route to Steamboat beating Savage at WrestleMania III. And God, I also remember that dumb doll Steele ran around with at the time, which he called “Mine.”

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