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
Yes, you could argue about the historical veracity of the WWE’s Hall of Fame. No Lou Thesz. No Jim Londos. No Ed “Strangler” Lewis.
But Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Vince McMahon, Sr.’s driver, James Dudley, have gotten the nod.
Those arguments aside, within the WWE’s own history book, until recently no names were bigger omissions in the hall than Bruno Sammartino and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Sammartino finally got his due in 2013 after Triple H personally interceded to break the deadlock between Bruno and Vince McMahon, Jr.
And now, nearly four years after his death, the WWE will induct Savage.
Sammartino long resisted overtures into the Hall of Fame, and Savage also indicated he was against going in unless Continue reading
When the Rock returned to pro wrestling a few years back and challenged John Cena a year ahead of schedule for the WrestleMania XXVII, it was the first time in years that you saw long-term planning on the part of the WWE.
One of the greatest examples of the long, slow build came in 1988 and 1989, when the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Hulk Hogan planted the seeds for their main event confrontation at WrestleMania V at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, NJ.
One year prior, Savage won the WWF Heavyweight Title in a one-night tournament at WrestleMania IV. At the time, Savage was a babyface, but there was still tension between him and Hogan due to their prior battles when Hulk wore the belt. These guys spent a year walking on a knife edge, and you knew where the story was going.Embed from Getty Images
That’s the thing a lot of non-fans don’t get about wrestling. Sure, we know it’s entertainment and we often can correctly guess who will win in the end. But it’s how you get there that is the most intriguing part.
The WrestleMania V match had hints dropped Continue reading
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was named the No. 1 manager in WWE history on the federation’s website last week.
Strangely enough, while I think you could easily rank Heenan as the greatest manager ever in wrestling, I might take umbrage with him being called the top WWE manager.
Don’t get me wrong – Heenan was menacing, funny, and effective as a mouthpiece for his various wrestlers. But his performances from the AWA may be even better than his WWF material.
Plus, being nostalgic as I am, I view the “holy trinity” of WWF managers as Captain Lou Albano (No. 5 on the list), the Grand Wizard (No. 7 on the list), and Classy Freddie Blassie (No. 4).
When I first started watching wrestling in 1981, these three Continue reading
A certain segment of the pro wrestling community was up in arms after Monday Night Raw featured an angle that played off the real-life heart attack and near death of Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Some said the angle was in poor taste, particularly when Paul Heyman feigned his own heart attack and WWE Heavyweight Champion CM Punk pretended to administer CPR.
But such garish actions on wrestling aren’t exclusive to 2012. Unfortunately for all of us, the McMahon family has set a low bar at least since the early 1980s about what types of angles and heat are appropriate.
Here are some less-than-stellar moments that I can recall growing up Continue reading
With the Boston Celtics battling it out with the Miami Heat in the NBA East Finals, I wondered about what nostalgic reinforcement the WWF could have provided the Celts from decades past: Continue reading
If you ask someone who was the greatest manager in the WWF, you’ll likely hear names like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Lou Albano, Fred Blassie, or the Grand Wizard.
But another person you shouldn’t leave off that list is Sensational Sherri Martel.
Martel was a former WWF Women’s Champion who transitioned to the heel manager role when ladies wrestling was phased out for a while. And she was an awesome manager who always played a character who was volatile and generated heat for whomever she accompanied.
She stayed ahead of the game by reinventing herself along the way: She initially got involved managing by briefly seconding the Honky Tonk Man during his feud with Randy “Macho Man” Savage in 1987, when she played Continue reading
Congrats to the Boston Bruins for winning the NHL Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Canucks.
If the Bruins had any bit of the WWE in their blood, the following incidents would be guaranteed to occur following the Stanley Cup victory: Continue reading
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 Continue reading
All of us who grew up as WWF fans have grown accustomed to hearing about wrestlers dying. But the death of Randy “Macho Man” Savage on May 20 was different and took the wind out of us.
Behind Hulk Hogan, Savage was among the the most well-known pro wrestlers to come out the 1980s WWF expansion (along with Roddy Piper, Jesse Ventura, and Andre the Giant). Thanks to Savage’s in-ring abilties, his matches with Hogan elevated Hogan’s status as WWF Champion.
But he also transcended wrestling. His Slim Jim commercials, appearance in the 2002 Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire, and being named the Harvard Lampoon’s spoof Real Man of the Year in 1998 all point to his pop culture grip on people. The fact that his death briefly garnered front page news on most of the major news and sports websites was testament to how well people remembered him.