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 Welcome To The Vault! In This Edition, Harry Simon Goes Back To Yesteryear To Bring Us George "The Animal" Steele!

Approx running time: 90 min
Approx time period covered: Mid-80s
Released: 1987
Host: Gorilla Monsoon

1) World champion Bruno Sammartino (w/ Arnold Skaaland) b George Steele in a cage match to retain the title [70s, clipped]. This was Steele at the height of his career, when he was a heel with so much heat he was walked to the ring by riot cops. Steele pounded on the champ until he Bruno’ed up, threw Steele into the cage several times, and walked out the door to win. What aired had great heat, but it wasn’t anything special as a wrestling match. (Mike) [Note: This match was also on “Wrestling’s Living Legend: Bruno Sammartino.”]

2) Gorilla Monsoon b Steele via CO [8/27/73, JIP]. An inset interview with host Monsoon aired. Gorilla gave a first-person testimony to the viciousness of Steele, saying George was the master of concealing a foreign object. Sure enough, during this flashback match, Steele kept using a foreign object and tucking it into his tights when the ref would check, right out of Heel Wrestling 101. This all led up to a huge pop when Monsoon recovered the object and gave Steele a taste of his own medicine. Monsoon knocked Steele out of the ring, and Steele took off for the countout. Again, not a great match, but fine for its purpose of showing Steele as a relentless madman against one of the biggest babyface stars of the day.

3) Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) b Steele (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) [1/4/86 Saturday Night’s Main Event]. I miss good old-fashioned 80s values. Savage was doing the Ike Turner bit with Liz, and he was portrayed as a contemptible villain in the role. This was the beginning of the year-long program where Steele had a crush on Elizabeth. Steele did the turnbuckle gimmick and was perennially mesmerized by the lovely Liz. That allowed Savage to hit a sledge off the top rope for the pin. Savage was in his prime, and he carried this to a watchable bout. (Mike)

WrestleCrap alert! Special feature: George Steele Goes To Therapy, Part 1. Albano took Steele to Dr. Ziff, a therapist with a cheesy German accent. The good doctor hypnotized Steele and delved into George’s traumatic childhood. Ironically, this angle contributed to my own traumatic childhood. Steele explained that he almost bit his tongue off while playing football, but he couldn’t talk in class, so the teacher called him a “dummy.” When Ziff brought Steele out of hypnosis, Steele immediately tried to attack his shrink. Hey, just like James Gandolfini and Lorraine Bracco on The Sopranos! By the way, Vince wore a lavender suit during this nonsense. I mention this for no reason whatsoever.

Next up was Savage and Liz on TNT. Savage got heat from the in-studio audience like no other wrestler I’ve ever seen on good ol’ Tuesday Night Titans. Savage wore his famous “Hulk Who?” t-shirt, which was actually the best thing on this tape. Some poncey guy delivered a box full of flowers to Liz, and Savage hit the roof. There was no card with the flowers, but Sherlock McMahon (now wearing a peach blazer) realized that the packing material was turnbuckle stuffing, and thus, Liz’s secret admirer could only be George Steele. Naturally, Savage went berserk. Clever segment.

WrestleCrap alert! Special feature: George Steele Goes To Therapy, Part 2. Um, why didn’t they just show both parts back to back? For that matter, why did they show either part at all? Come to think of it, why does this tape exist in the first place? The answers to these questions would drive you insane. Speaking of which, Ziff plugged Steele into a goofy Captain Galaxy helmet. Steele smiled and calmly said “How now, brown cow.” Maybe he was talking to Albano. Ziff and Albano were ecstatic, so Ziff cranked up the wattage and fried Steele’s brain, leaving him more retarded than before. Great, now Vince is adapting Flowers For Algernon. Albano yelled at Ziff and called him a quack as the segment came to a painful end.

4) IC champion Savage (w/ Liz) b Steele by DQ to retain the title [10/4/86]. Here, in order, is a complete list of every actual wrestling maneuver in this match: Hanging chokehold, headlock, running sledge, top-rope sledge, high knee to the back. Savage did what he could. This stinker had the guys doing their Tom & Jerry chase with periodic “restholds” consisting of Steele biting Savage’s arm. Savage took over briefly by jabbing Steele with a foreign object, but Steele no-sold. Savage’s knee knocked Steele out of the ring, so Steele threw some chairs in the ring. While Savage was doing a tug-of-war with the ref, Steele whacked Savage in the back with a chair for the immediate DQ. Total screwjob, which the fans hated. This was easily the worst Savage IC title match I’ve ever seen, and that oughtta tell you something. If you couldn’t have a decent bout with “Macho Man” in the 80s, you were an abortion. And just in case this wasn’t bad enough, the world’s most annoying child was brought into the ring to eat turnbuckles with George. The damn kid actually tried his best to upstage Steele by posing and mugging for the camera like nobody’s business. My sources tell me that this little boy grew up to become Stephanie McMahon. (kevin)

5) Demolition b Steele & Junkyard Dog by DQ [8/22/87, MSG]. Hey, here’s something you don’t see every day; A tag team comprised of the two wrestlers who challenged for the IC title at the first two Wrestlemanias (JYD & Steele). Disturbing visual as Steele did the biting bit, and Ax’s makeup smudged off on Steele’s face. You’d think guys would have learned by now that they shouldn’t try to clothesline Steele. It’s like grabbing Owen Hart’s foot when he tries to kick you. You just don’t do it. Anyway, this pile of steph ended with the Demos doubling on JYD, prompting Steele to smash Smash with a chair for the DQ. Not a good way to get the Demos over as your next big tag team, Vince. (Chris)
WrestleCrap alert! Special feature: George and Gene at the zoo. Gene wore a stupid safari outfit as he took George on a tour of the Detroit Zoological Park. This was actually the best skit of Steele’s career, as Gene would show him a hippopotamus and George would yell “BUN-DY!” When George saw a camel, he shouted “SHEEEEEIK!” And so on. Very hokey, very one-note, very 80s WWF. But I gotta admit, I laughed very hard.

6) Steele b Sika (w/ Mr. Fuji & Kim Chee) by DQ [9/21/87, MSG]. You know the routine by now. Heel attacks Steele, Steele no-sells and counterattacks Heel. Harsh words are exchanged, someone gets hit with a chair for the DQ, I call it “crap in a hat” or something similar, and give it a deservedly low rating. Next! (Chris)

7) Steele b Harley Race by DQ [9/16/87]. Bruce Prichard and Mike McGurk may have been the broadcast team with the least chemistry and enthusiasm of any duo in WWF history. Rather than bore you with another Steele match write-up, I think I’ll bore you with an exchange from the future Brother Love and the future um, ah, who the hell cares what McGurk did with her life?

MM: Good grief. That guy is strong, to be picking up that man. …As the Animal is trying to regroup, he’s got (pause) headache (another pause) number one.

BP: …And “The Animal” looks like he’s having some dinner on the (pause), on the Harley (yet another damn pause) Race’s head.

That’s more than enough. Hercules ran-in and attacked Steele for the DQ finish. Lanny Poffo and Scott Casey tried to make the save, but Herc and Harley disposed of them easily enough. The Young Stallions were next, but King Kong Bundy ran-in to put the heels back on offense. Finally, Bam Bam Bigelow ran-in and the Heenan Family did the scalded dogs bit. Another Steele stinkbomb.

Meanwhile, back on TNT, Adrian Adonis is dressing like a flamer, so Steele runs in from out of nowhere and attacks him for no apparent reason. This didn’t lead into a Steele-Adonis match on the tape, but you know what? I’m not really that upset about it.

8) IC champion The Honky Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart) b Steele by DQ in a non-title match [10/6/87]. This was the easiest match to sit through on the tape because a) It was less than two minutes long, and b) HTM was at his bumping best. Finish saw Steele yank Jimmy Hart’s jacket off his back and throw it on the referee’s head. HTM then hit Steele with the megaphone, but Steele no-sold and hit HTM back with said megaphone. The ref only saw Steele with the megaphone and called for the bell. On commentary, Ventura rightly laughed about Steele’s stupidity. How was this supposed to get Steele over? I remember watching this thing when it aired and saying “Jesus Christ, that George Steele sure is a dumb son of a whore.” That’s right, George Steele matches were so bad, they drove 11-year-olds to curse.

WrestleCrap alert! Special feature: Steele learns where WWF ice cream bars come from. Craig DeGeorge tells a horrified Steele that when a mommy ice cream bar and a daddy ice cream bar love each other very much, they are married before God and all of God’s little angels, after which they go home and exchange a special mommy and daddy “hug.” Steele begins to cry. Nah, not really. But I almost cried after all of DeGeorge’s awful puns like “the cookie is bodyslammed onto the ice cream, then the ice cream executes a stepover-toehold into the chocolate,” and so on. That said, goddamn, those ice cream bars ruled. Trivbit: The same recipe was later marketed as Rugrats ice cream bars. (Dammit, I was determined to get one useful trivbit out of this bomb of a tape.)

9) Steele b Danny Davis (w/ Jimmy Hart) by CO [6/6/87]. You remember “Dangerous” Danny Davis. He was the heel referee with an unfortunate skin condition turned heel wrestler with an unfortunate skin condition. Credit where it’s due, Davis really was one of the most hated wrestlers in 1987 (the pop when Jake DDT’ed him at the first Survivor Series was ball-shakingly loud). But man alive, was DDD the Hershey squirts in the ring. Steele actually got off a couple wrestling moves in this match, namely a primitive leghold and six bodyslams. Davis was unprepared for this wrestling clinic, so he bailed and took the 10-count. Steele can’t even get a decisive win over Danny f’n Davis?! (Chris)

It was at this point that the four most beautiful words in the English language appeared on my screen: “Executive Producer: Arthur Morowitz.” I said a quiet prayer as I lowered the revolver from my temple.

Final WLD record for The Animal on his own video = 3-6-0

Overall over-analysis: Out of all the Coliseum tapes I’ve reviewed, this one was the hardest to watch, bar none. Seriously, the measly write-up you just read took three days to finish. I just couldn’t endure that much Steele in one sitting. In his heyday, Steele was a super heel, and I would have enjoyed seeing more classic Steele, when the guy was a legit title threat to the Brunos and Pedros of the world. But as I feared, this tape was 90% of the green-tongued simpleton with a turnbuckle fetish. At the very least, shouldn’t this video have shown an instance of Steele beating someone with his damn finisher (the flying hammerlock)? Just once? Even Jake The Jobbing Snake won the opener on his video clean in the middle of the ring with his finisher. The Steele-Savage stuff was easily the highlight of the tape, yet they never showed Steele finally getting revenge on Savage when he helped Rick Steamboat beat Savage for the IC strap at Wrestlemania 3 (Steele pushed Savage off the top rope in the climax of the match). The bottom line is that Steele did have his moments, and he always had good psychology and ring presence, but he was handcuffed by the “retard” gimmick. His matches were more by-the-numbers than Hogan’s as you can see from the overwhelming number of screwy DQ/CO finishes on this tape alone (seven out of nine, which is a Coliseum record). In keeping with the DQ spirit, you should disqualify this video from your “ah, what the hell” list, because it might just be the worst tape Coliseum ever crapped out.

This Observer’s Thumb……….is WAY down.


(All match dates courtesy of

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November 2006


by Sean Carless

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