The Chrononaut Chronicles – WWE 24/7: WWF Coliseum Home Video – George “The Animal” Steele (1987)
– February’s theme on WWE 24/7 is “Beauties And The Beasts” so in addition to WWE Divas Desert Heat (don’t hold your breath for that recap), we get this old Coliseum Video release that begins with the awesome Star Wars-like intro linking the wrestling of 5,000 years ago to the WWF of the mid-1980s.
– Gorilla Monsoon is our host and runs down the lineup for this video.
– WWF Title – Cage Match: Bruno Sammartino [champion] vs. George “The Animal” Steele
This is from Philadelphia sometime in the ’70s (obviously) during a hot heel run for the crazed Animal, as he is escorted to the ring by an actual riot squad. Monsoon & Johnny V overdub commentary as we clip ahead to Steele stomping Sammartino, but Bruno hulks-up and unloads on the Animal. After throwing the Animal against the cage, Sammartino rams Steele’s head against the ringpost and walks out the door to win the match and retain the WW(W?)F World Heavyweight Championship.
– George “The Animal” Steele vs. Gorilla Monsoon
Joined in progress at Madison Square Garden with the Animal stomping the Gorilla’s arm as the Monsoon of 1987 appears in the upper-right corner of the screen to testify first-hand that despite his wild exterior, George is cunning enough to conceal foreign objects in the ring. Vince McMahon is on commentary as Steele scores a two-count on Monsoon and slugs away, but Monsoon breaks a choke and catches Steele in a bearhug. The Animal escapes by jabbing Gorilla in the face with his foreign object and controls the 400-pounder as Steele chokes him and pounds him with the hidden object, but once again Monsoon catches him in the bearhug and Steele breaks it with another shot with the object. The camera misses something important as Monsoon ends up with the foreign object and Steele runs away before being counted out in a cheap ending. Cool to see Monsoon in action but that’s about it.
– George “The Animal” Steele vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage
From Saturday Night’s Main Event of January 1986 with McMahon & Jesse Ventura on commentary, Steele is now managed by Captain Lou Albano in the “loveable babyface” era of his career as Miss Elizabeth holds the ropes for the Macho Man and George takes a liking to her, but Albano pulls the Animal back to his corner and Savage puts Elizabeth in her place. Anybody else remember the old urban legend about Elizabeth being Steele’s daughter in “real life”? Hearing that as a kid made this storyline a bit creepier. Savage runs away from Steele’s monkeyman routine and gets tossed over the top rope as Steele chases him on the floor, but stops to admire Elizabeth and Savage pounces on him back inside. Steele fights back and chases Savage around ringside again until Savage uses Elizabeth as a shield to distract him, but the Animal bodyslams the Macho Man in the ring and eats the turnbuckle. Literally. Savage tries to interrupt his meal, but the Animal swats him away and gazes out at Elizabeth as Savage lands the flying double-axhandle off the top turnbuckle for the three-count on Steele. Afterwards, Savage carries Elizabeth out over his shoulder while the Captain tries to soothe the Animal. Awful “match” but this was all about establishing the storyline for WrestleMania 2.
– In a classic ’80s skit, McMahon is on the scene as Captain Lou brings George to a psychiatrist, who puts George under hypnosis so we can find out how he became the Animal. Apparently, when George was 13 he was playing football and suffered a swollen tongue, so when the teacher called on him in class he spoke like a retard and the teacher told him to “sit down, dummy”. After that, George never spoke again and became a wrestler so he could “do good”, but everybody hated him when he wrestled Bruno Sammartino. The doctor tries to regress Steele back to prior to the accident and snaps him out of the hypnosis, but Steele is still wild and needs more consultation as Albano suggests that everybody help by cheering George so he doesn’t get depressed. I believe this was the first time Steele spoke “in character” and despite the cheesiness, it’s an interesting backstory for the Animal.
– From Tuesday Night Titans, Savage & Elizabeth are McMahon’s guests as a deliveryman brings Liz some flowers and McMahon points out that it looks like turnbuckle stuffing in the box, so they must be from George.
– Back to Dr. Sigmund Ziff’s office as the doctor performs a unique style of shock treatment by placing a helmet on George and cranking up the “electricity” to make him more intelligent. After uttering “WHOM?” and “How now brown cow”, Steele freaks out and runs off while Albano berates the doctor for ruining his man. I was hoping they’d have Steele break into a dissertation on nuclear physics or something before reverting back to the Animal, that would have been hilarious.
– WWF Intercontinental Title: Randy “Macho Man” Savage [champion] vs. George “The Animal” Steele
From the Boston Garden with Monsoon & Lord Alfred Hayes on commentary, Savage tries to strike with the Intercontinental belt right off the hop, but Steele avoids it and tosses the Macho Man over the top rope before posing with the gold over his shoulder. Much like the SNME match, Savage runs away from the monkeyman routine and tries to psyche Steele out, but Steele chases him out again and blindsides Savage while he’s yelling at Elizabeth. Steele dominates Savage back inside until Savage produces a foreign object and jabs it into Steele’s throat to take control as he cuts off a comeback and drops a double-axhandle off the top turnbuckle for a two-count, but when Steele kicks out Savage ends up on the floor and crawls under the ring. While the Animal is enamored with Elizabeth, Savage emerges from the other side of the ring and attacks Steele from behind. Steele counters a sleeperhold attempt by biting the Macho Man’s arm, but Savage clubs him over the top rope and Steele retrieves a fan’s wooden chair. Steele wins the struggle over the chair and Savage rams him into the ringside barrier, but George throws in a pair of padded steel chairs. Savage and the referee engage in a tug-of-war over them as Steele smacks Savage across the back with the wooden chair to earn a disqualification, allowing the Macho Man to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Afterwards, Savage returns to the ring and attacks Steele, but the Animal drives him off and eats a turnbuckle to celebrate. Savage runs out again to attack from behind, but Steele smothers him with turnbuckle stuffing and tosses him to the floor as the Animal abuses the Macho Man through the crowd. In a heartwarming moment, George brings some kids into the ring to help him rip apart another turnbuckle.
– George “The Animal” Steele & Junkyard Dog vs. Demolition
This is an interesting choice, but a good one since I’m a Demolition mark. From MSG with Monsoon & Hayes on commentary as Demolition remove their studded masks and George sticks his green tongue out at them. JYD starts with Ax and punches him toward Steele, who bites Ax’s face and is left with black and red paint smeared on his face in a funny visual. The Dog tags Steele and Ax tags Smash as the Animal sticks his tongue out some more, but gets distracted by Ax on the apron and Smash blindsides him. Steele counters a clothesline by biting Smash’s arm and tags JYD, who works over the arm until Smash backs him into the corner and tags Ax. Demolition pound JYD in their corner until JYD & Smash collide and the Dog makes the tag, but the referee didn’t see it and Demolition dump Steele over the top rope. Demolition hammer JYD, but Steele pokes Smash with a chair and the ref disqualifies him to give the victory to the Demos. Afterwards, George yells “BAD!” at Monsoon because Demolition cheated. Horrible match as usual, but an intriguing pairing.
– Mean Gene Okerlund finds George at the Detroit Zoo and they compare various animals to WWF heels before George runs back into the bushes. Funny stuff.
– Sika vs. George “The Animal” Steele
From MSG with Monsoon & Hayes on commentary, Sika is accompanied by Mr. Fuji & Kimchee and attacks Steele from behind while he’s going after Kimchee. The Wild Samoan dominates the Animal as Fuji interferes behind the referee’s back, but Steele produces the infamous foreign object and levels Sika with it. Kimchee trips Steele and he chases the masked handler around ringside before throwing a chair into the ring and Sika whacks Steele with the chair as the ref calls for the bell and awards the disqualification victory to George. Afterwards, Steele drives Sika up the aisle with chairshots and tries to unmask Kimchee in the ring, but Kimchee escapes and George puts the pith helmet on the ref. Again, not much of a match but it was a natural pairing. I think if George were younger at the time, he would have had the Undertaker role of fighting every giant, wildman, and oddity the WWF could throw at him. I still think the Animal vs. The Missing Link would have been a natural dream match.
– King Harley Race vs. George “The Animal” Steele
This is a Coliseum Video Exclusive from Rockford, IL, featuring the commentary dream team of Bruce Prichard & Mike McGuirk. Wow, they were really scraping the bottom of the barrel for announcers, weren’t they? No Bobby Heenan tonight, so the King is flying solo as he cheapshots the Animal and plants him with a piledriver, but misses a diving headbutt off the middle turnbuckle and McGuirk declares that Harley has “headache…number one” in an inept attempt to steal Gorilla Monsoon’s “Excedrin Headache” line. Race bumps like a madman as Steele completely dominates him until Race manages to throw Steele into the turnbuckle, but the Animal counters a clothesline by biting the arm and King Harley dumps him over the top rope. Steele drags Race out to the floor, but Race rams him into the timekeeper’s table and Steele retrieves a chair. Before George can use the chair in the ring, Hercules runs in and blindsides Steele to draw a disqualification for Race as the two Heenan Family members pound the Animal. Scott Casey & Lanny Poffo run in to make the save, but Race & Hercules quickly dispose of them as the Young Stallions run in next. Roma & Powers fare better until King Kong Bundy comes in to help his fellow Family members, but Bam Bam Bigelow charges out and the heels retreat while Steele eats a turnbuckle.
– George interrupts an “Adorable” Adrian Adonis makeover segment on TNT and they brawl while McMahon manhandles Jimmy Hart.
– Non-Title: Honky Tonk Man vs. George “The Animal” Steele
This must have been from WWF Superstars Of Wrestling since McMahon, Ventura, & Sammartino are on commentary as the Body complains about Honky Tonk wrestling a maniac like George in a non-title bout when he has so many Intercontinental Title defenses coming up. The Animal chases Honky around ringside, but Honky gets back in first and pounces on Steele when he climbs in as Jesse makes fun of George for being dumb. Steele messes up Honky’s hair and battles back, but Jimmy Hart trips him and Steele chases him into the ring as he pulls off the Colonel’s jacket. Steele playfully throws the jacket over the referee’s head, but Honky seizes this perfect opportunity to clobber Steele with the megaphone. However, Steele bites Honky’s hand and cracks him with the megaphone to earn a disqualification as Jesse puts over Honky & Hart for setting George up like that. Afterwards, Honky & Jimmy flee the scene when Steele starts throwing chairs and the ringbell into the ring before feasting on yet another turnbuckle. I remember my first house show featured George vs. Honky and he scared the shit out of me when he started turning over tables and throwing chairs around.
– Craig DeGeorge narrates a How It’s Made-style segment as George takes a tour of the factory that makes the WWF Ice Cream Bars. I always wanted to try one but I don’t think they had them here in Canada.
– “Dangerous” Danny Davis vs. George “The Animal” Steele
From the Boston Garden with Monsoon, DeGeorge, & Bobby Heenan on commentary to make up for the inevitably horrible in-ring content as Jimmy Hart is in the Dangerous One’s corner. Davis keeps running away to start and grabs the ringbell as Monsoon mentions that Davis clocked George with the bell on Saturday Night’s Main Event, but Steele drags Davis into the ring and unloads on him until Davis retreats again. Back inside, Davis offers a handshake but even George is too smart for that and he bites Danny’s hand. Steele offers a handshake of his own and chases Davis around ringside before biting his ankle as Danny was rolling back in. Davis cheapshots Steele with a concealed foreign object to take control as Heenan points out that George has been known to dig into his tights too. Davis pounds away, but Steele takes him down with a single-leg and bites the Dangerous One’s forehead before unleashing a series of nine bodyslams. That’s like the ’80s version of the Rolling Germans. Davis rolls out and accepts a countout loss while George celebrates to end the video.
Afterthoughts: Absolutely nothing to write home about workrate-wise and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many DQ finishes on one video, but it’s an interesting look at one of the most unique characters in WWF history. It’s too bad this was the WWF’s cartoon era and George was played for comedy, because I would have loved to see him in wild bloody brawls with Abdullah The Butcher, Kamala, or the Missing Link. Still, what they did with him in the ’80s obviously worked as George “The Animal” Steele was one of the more well-known household names in wrestling and even made the mainstream when his name was mentioned on an episode of Seinfeld.