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
As we watch the NFL squirm on the heels of allegations against players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened to wrestlers back during the heydays of the WWE had the Internet been more prominent and TMZ had been on the prowl.
When I saw the video of Ray Rice cold-cocking this then fiance in an elevator, my mind went back to the story of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and his on-the-road-girlfriend, Nancy Argentino. Argentino died in May 1983 under mysterious circumstances, and whether you believe Snuka was involved, there seems to be little doubt that the WWF did its best to keep that incident quiet from the public for a long time.Embed from Getty Images
Let’s suppose Internet news organizations had existed 30 years ago. When Argentino died while traveling with Snuka, it would have made national news, and it’s likely Continue reading
This post is a long time coming, but luckily nostalgia knows no boundaries, ha, ha.
A while back, I heard a Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast during which he interviewed Bret “Hitman” Hart. It was a great discussion between two of the biggest WWE stars ever. A surprise came, however, when Austin brought up a match Hart fought against Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in the old Boston Garden.
The match took place on March 8, 1986, just a few weeks before WrestleMania 2. A huge crowd of 16,000-plus fans was in attendance in Boston that night.
Hart had been in the WWF for about a year and was hitting his stride with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart as the Hart Foundation tag team. Steamboat was already one of the top performers in wrestling in the midst of his first WWF run after making his mark in the NWA.
Austin told Hart 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
I recently posted a podcast interview with Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer about the legacy of WrestleMania III. For those of you who were unable to hear the podcast or didn’t have time, below is the complete transcript of the interview, during which Meltzer discusess why so many people remember the Savage/Steamboat match, how Rock vs. Austin compares with Hogan vs. Andre, and why the often touted 93,173 attendance figure is wrong. Continue reading
I want to thank Eric Gargiulo over at the Camel Clutch Blog for posting my rant about how ridiculous it was to see Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin hanging out like two old chums during Monday Night Raw this week. Didn’t these guys have one of the biggest WWE feuds of all time? I guess that doesn’t matter to the writers.
In my Camel Clutch post, I also mention other big WWF feuds from the past that were summarily dismissed later on, involving names such as Sgt. Slaughter and the Iron Sheik. Camel Clutch Blog is a good spot for commentary about current WWE and TNA Impact angles, MMA, and other sports.
There seems to be some confusion — based on web searches that end up at this blog — over what exactly the main sports arena in Boston is called and how it relates to the WWE. At the risk of boring my friends from New England, here’s a quick rundown.
The old Boston Garden was built in 1928 and hosted its last event in 1995 before being torn down two years later. It held monthly WWWF and WWF wrestling cards in the heydays of Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, and Hulk Hogan. The most famous match from that arena Continue reading
It was 29 years ago this month that I attended my first pro wrestling card, a WWF show at the old Boston Garden. As the program image at the top of my blog shows, the main event for that afternoon was WWF Champion Bob Backlund against the Magnificent Muraco, who blew off their house show feud in the
15-foot-high 8-foot-high steel cage.
At one point Muraco missed a dive off the top rope as he tried to jam his taped spike thumb into Backlund’s throat. Backlund eventually escaped the cage (no pinfalls in WWF cages in those days), and I remember fans throwing trash at Muraco as he left the ring after the match.
One of the undercard bouts also still sticks with me Continue reading
Madison Square Garden had the great Howard Finkel as ring announcer for most, if not all, of the house shows in New York City in the 1980s.
And the Boston Garden got … well, no one quite at the Fink’s level.
Two men primarily took ring announcing duties at the Garden in the 1980s. One of them was, I hate to say it Continue reading