What a sad weekend for fans of 1980s WWF wrestling, as we mourn both the “Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff and George “The Animal” Steele, both of whom died after lengthy illnesses.
These guys played strong heel characters in the WWF in the early ’80s. Koloff went on to feud with the Road Warriors in the NWA in the mid-1980s, while Steele turned babyface and had a long TV feud with Randy “Macho Man” Savage over the affections of Miss Elizabeth.Embed from Getty Images
George "The Animal" Steele
Steele, whose real name was Jim Myers, was 79 when he died on Feb. 16, 2017, while Koloff’s birth monicker was Oreal Perras and he was 74 at his death on Feb. 18, 2017.
Both wrestlers were outright mean during the 1970s for the WWWF. Steele actually did menacing Continue reading
Here are some things you might not know about the “Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff:
- He has an active Twitter account @IKoloff
- His regular speaking voice is quite normal, and it’s hard to believe how long he performed the gutteral growl of the Koloff character
- He was on cocaine during some of his matches
All of this more came up during Koloff’s recent podcast with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who said over and over how big of a fan he was of Koloff.
First, the drug issues: Koloff said like many wrestlers, he enjoyed drinking socially, which then led to too much booze, pain pills, and eventually coke.
“It just got so bad that after a while I was even wrestling under situations like that,” he told Austin. It was routine for him to wake up in the morning, smoke marijuana, and then run for three miles.
That sounds nuts, but I first saw Koloff Continue reading
I recently posted a podcast with John Cena, Sr. — the father of WWE superstar John Cena, who headlines WrestleMania 29 against the Rock — who talked to me about the first WrestleMania in 1985, Bruno Sammartino going into the WWE Hall of Fame, and his memories of the wrestling cards at the old Boston Garden. For those of you who were unable to hear the podcast or didn’t have time, below is the complete transcript of the interview. Continue reading
Back in the days of WWF Championship Wrestling and All-Star Wrestling, the layout of the shows was fairly cookie-cutter. Vince McMahon and his color commentator, Pat Patterson, would say hello, they’d have some matches, and Vince would conduct the localized interviews to build up the upcoming Boston Garden cards.
But one day in 1981, Championship Wrestling started with Vince alone, holding a dented metal pitcher. Continue reading
The Slam! Sports wrestling column is always a good read with many interviews with current stars, but I had an even better time checking out a photo page on the column’s website this week that had shots of many WWF stars from the 1980s. Continue reading
You may occasionally read in the Wrestling Observer about Pat Patterson and his ability to throw a punch or sell a move better than the wrestlers of today.
I never had a lot of opportunities to see Patterson wrestle in the 1980s because his in-ring career had wound down and he instead served as color commentator on the WWF’s Championship Wrestling. But any time he was involved in a TV angle, it worked, largely because of the qualities described in the Observer.
Patterson was believable in his reactions and his performances. Here’s just one example of that skill, when Patterson and Ivan Koloff had a skirmish during an interview in 1983.
Patterson makes you believe Continue reading