We are saddened to announce that WWE Hall Of Famer George ‘The Animal’ Steele has passed away at the age of 79.
Steele, born in Detroit, was admitted into a hospice on February 16, 2017 and a Facebook update from Eric Simms, longtime wrestling agent and friend of Steele, today confirmed that he had passed away.
Fellow Hall of Famer Bob Backlund also posted that he’d tried to contact Steele recently in the below post, only to be told he may not return back home, from Steele’s wife.
Hulk Hogan also tweeted in memory of Steele;
George”the Animal”Steel,RIP my brother,only love,only grateful. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) February 17, 2017
William James “Jim” Myers began wrestling around 1967, and was scouted by World Wide Wrestling Federation champion Bruno Sammartino and began working in Pittsburgh on the popular ‘Studio Wrestling TV’ show broadcast on WIIC-TV (later WPXI-TV) Channel 11. Sammartino had liked the character Myer’s developed of a wild man with incredible strength and began working with Sammartino, he was invited for a full run in the WWF. He wrestled Sammartino to an hour-long draw at Madison Square Garden but lost the rematch. In Boston, being set up to face Sammartino for a long series in that city, he got one of the few clean wins over Victor Rivera, a top babyface, with the flying hammerlock submission, at a huge Fenway Park outdoor show. He was then relegated to a feud with Chief Jay Strongbow, and lost to Edouard Carpentier at the Garden before taking a brief hiatus to reinvent his wildman character.
On his return, his “wildman” gimmick was fully established. A true crazy heel, he acted like a wild man in the ring, tearing up the turnbuckle with his teeth and using the stuffing as a weapon as well as sticking out his green tongue (an effect accomplished by eating green Clorets breath mints). ‘The Animal’ had a stooped posture and a hairless head, but a thick mat of fur on his back; wrestling broadcasters often speculated that The Animal was indeed “the missing link.” At best, The Animal could occasionally manage to utter a word or two during interviews with one of them usually being “Duh-da-dahh” or “YOU! YOU go!”.
Steele eventually became one of the most recognised wrestlers during the 1980s wrestling boom. He turned face during the first episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event when his partners in a six-man match, Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik, abandoned him to their opponents, Ricky Steamboat and the U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda), leading to Steele being taken under the wing of the Express’ manager, Capt. Lou Albano, who consoled him following the loss. His most famous feud was in 1986 against “Macho Man” Randy Savage, after Steele developed a crush on Savage’s valet, Miss Elizabeth. The feud was meant to last only a couple of months (and end with Steele being disappointed), but it proved so popular with fans that it continued well into 1987. Late in 1988 Steele retired due to Crohn’s disease, and became a road agent for the WWF until being released on good terms in October 1990.
Steele last appeared on Monday Night Raw on November 15, 2010, during a match between Kofi Kingston vs. David Otunga.