Tuesday, January 31, 2012
GEORGE "THE ANIMAL" STEELE ON SWERVING SAVAGE, SCREWING SANTANA, AND SELLING OUT
Around 1986, Bruno Sammartino cornered George "The Animal" Steele in the locker room and began a conversation about the "cartoony" direction in which the WWE was headed. Bruno was turning to a man he naturally assumed would be a partner in mutual disgust about the federation they both served for many years becoming a living toy catalogue. Steele replied, "Talk to me after my match." That match featured Steele joining The Junkyard Dog in the center of the ring and doing wild dances with young fans who were invited into the ring. The minute Steele hit the lockers, Bruno was waiting. "You're one of them!" he exclaimed.
This story is one of many in the new edition of the ongoing historic chronicle "Timeline: The History of WWE" which was released today by Kayfabe Commentaries. The year featured in this particular episode is 1986, and George "The Animal" Steele talks at length about the changes the business was undergoing, and the changes that the old-world stalwart was undergoing as well. Steele was warming to the new direction, and when told by McMahon and agents to push the envelope as far as he could, Steele did that. He says McMahon wanted to see how far the tongue-in-cheek ring comedy could bend before breaking. And while it challenged the beliefs he held of the business, the money and the change in fan attitude made Steele commit to diving right in to the new world.
Part of the reason for Steele's acceptance was that he was being put into a major feud in 1986. He would square off against the late Randy Savage in marquee matches that would headline arenas and national TV broadcasts, including NBC's Saturday Night's Main Event. Savage was warring with I.C. Champ Tito Santana and was being groomed for long term plans. But the fans absolutely fell in love with the 'beauty and the beast' angle involving Elizabeth. The roar of the fans ultimately cost Santana a long-term run against Savage, as Vince elected to drop those plans and run in the direction of Steele vs Savage. Steele recognized the opportunity to secure his retirement from wrestling, rather than teaching, as was his plan prior to this.
His time with Savage involved enduring Randy's legendary jealousy, which Steele fed with endless jabs suggesting Steele's love for 'young broads.' Though Steele did this half-jokingly, the comedy came from Savage's heated reactions, as Vince, Steele, and Savage would plan angles and spots involving Elizabeth. Savage was often irate, and Steele admits part of his reasons for the comments toward Elizabeth were to get a genuine reaction.
Ah. Old school wasn't dead yet.
Steele's edition of "Timeline: The History of WWE" is chock full of these stories and insight, as George spends more than two hours taking us back in the time machine Kayfabe Commentaries has created. The DVD is on sale at www.kayfabecommentaries.com.