George the Animal Steele comes from a time period where wrestling as we understand it today, didn’t exist. The majority of an average late 60s/70s match, especially in the WWWF, was brawling and rest holds…for a really long time. Take this match below, Steele showcases his ability to walk around and cheat in a twelve minute match that just calls for fast forwarding.
Now it is clear that George the Animal Steele, even for his time, couldn’t actually wrestle. He had almost no athleticism and no moves. That’s why he is the first gimmick induction. (our theme for the next few months!) George in the 1980s ( the gimmick ) became the thing he was known for. Before the 1980s, he really wasn’t anything spectacular.
George Steele ostensibly was a a part time wrestler. He had a regular job which was his main career. He only performed during the summer months as a part time job. There is no such thing of that today and this a product of the territory system. This is anomoly. Can you imagine if Jesse Ventura was a chef full time?
I make chicken gizzards stew!
This goes against the heart of everything we hear about professional wrestling even in the territory times. You hear stories of wrestler after wrestler playing the role of journeyman and traveling around where ever the could get booked. The interview below details the life of Jim Myers, gym teacher and football coach. This is the man we know as George the Animal Steele.
Steele instead went to work, maintained a normal life and when other teachers would vacation or staycation….
Vacations in Detroit
…he would go to another more absurd work. A work which while a “work” was considered to be a legitmate sport in the up until the mid 1980s, so to cover his tracks he would flat out lie to his co-workers. He would tell students that George Steele wasn’t him, but sure looked a lot like them and everyone believed him. Oh the 70s.
It has 5 MB!
From his debut in 1960s to the early 1980s, George Steele barely appeared. He was living the life of an attraction player, without the attraction element. He would come in, wrestle one feud ( Bruno or Chief Jay Strongbow) and then leave. Also due to his limited availability, he never ventured outside of the Detroit area except to once and a while go to the WWWF for a feud. He went whereever would pay him for a short time. Something RVD does today…Perhaps he is following the Animal’s footsteps or autobiography….
This all changed in the early 1980s. George Steele by 1983 had become a fairly regular performer in the ring. While there is no record of exactly why that is, it is possible that Vince JR. was unwilling to work with someone in such a limited way as his father was during the 70s.
Full time George Steele jumped from manager to manager (Blassie, Wizard, Johnny V, Hart, Albano) during his short feuds mostly due to the character he portrayed. He was a madman, a person who not only needed a mouth piece but also a handler. He was a wild samoan but from Detroit.
This place makes you crazy!!!!!!
In 1984, George Steele did something which he had never done before. He got over. With a quick face turn, Steele began the what was both the end of his career and the beginning of what he will always be known for and why he is in the Hall of Fame.
He became the cartoon character version of George The Animal Steele. Steele played the face and the butt of the joke through 85-86, feuding for the IC championship while being “made smart” again on Tuesday Night Titans (which should be on the WWE Network! C’mon!)
Cartoon character George Steele ate turnbuckles and caried a MINE doll with him. These two elements are what he is known the best. It is why he is memorable. He was unique ( and beloved for a very short period of time, but it was an important period of time. He was lucky, very lucky.
Is the Doll a Hall Of Famer too?
Because of this short period of time, George Steele is not just a barely remembered part time wrestler (of which I am sure there are others, but I can’t come up with an active example- anyone who does, please leave in comments below), he is a gimmick of a man. And quite well spoken in real life. I’d suggest watching his shoot interviews to hear a man who just might be one of the most down to earth functional former wrestlers (probably that double life thing)
The class of 1995 was the second class in the history of the WWE Hall of Fame and it was hurt by its limitations. In 1995, the WWF was just one of two main wrestling organizations and had a limited pool they could draw from. Only important WWE stars who were A. not angry at them (Sammartino, Graham) or B. not working for the competition, were eligible. This is also the time period when the WWF ignored all of wrestling history that wasn’t the WWF’s. WCW in its own Hall of Fame (yes they had a Hall of Fame) did not suffer from that limitation. (WWE.com has all the WCW inductions on their site- here’s the Crusher- http://www.wwe.com/videos/wcw-hall-of-fame-the-crusher-26117580)
So, while 1995 was filled with some big names (Pedro Morales- who didn’t attend- the only living inductee in history to do so) With big names like Bruno Sammartino or Billy Graham not wanting induction, we are instead given Ivan Putski or George Steele, both of whom could have waited.
Steele’s inclusion in 1995 can be simplified down to one simple factor:
George Steele was in a movie as Tor Johnson… who he looked just like…
What great luck!
Opens Door For?
Junkyard Dog and Ko Ko B. Ware, Comedy cartoon character who the fans like but really never amounted to much for than that.
There were a lot of bad gimmicks in the 1990s and even more bad wrestlers. In the WWF, 1993-1997 were mostly periods of characters who will never…..
….join the Hall of Fame. Its not that the wrestlers were even necessarily worse than those in the 1980s, many of whom were nothing to shake a stick at. Instead, the mid nineties had an identity crisis. They did not know what they were or what they wanted to be. In most cases, the same tropes and tried and true storylines of the 80s were continued, to lesser success
And that brings us to our man of the hour, Marc Mero aka Johnny B. Badd. WWF wasn’t the only organization throwing shit at a barn’s wall to see what stuck. WCW, the former NWA, struggled through the late 80s, trying to be the alternative of the WWF juggernaut, before finally becoming a much worse version of the WWF around 1991-1993. This was the time that gave us the wonderful GAY? superstar Johnny B. Badd. Badd was a mixture of all the things that are wrong with professional wrestling. First, it was accidentally racist, as wrestling still is today.
You see, Marc Mero is a white man with olive skin tone. His character is an obvious lifting of Little Richard transposed in all its glory in the wrestling ring. Just like we always asking for.
This will be in your dreams….
On top of his oddly never mentioned blackness, Badd was also extremely flamboyant and over the top, a gimmick which worked for Adrian Steele and killed Adrian Adonis. (not literally) And it kinda worked for Johnny B. Badd. He shot confetti, smiled and danced down the ring. For early 90s WCW, this gimmick at least had some shot of getting over….
And while Johnny was eventually toned down and did find some success as WCW Television Champion aka the title literally anyone can have, his tenure in WCW was mostly forgettable. His feuds read like a who’s who of who is that. Remember the glorious feud between Johnny and Maxx Payne?
Near the end of his WCW tenure, Badd’s toned down character had his greatest success with a series of matches with Diamond Dallas Page. Badd claimed Kimberly, the first of many wrestlers to steal DDP’s wife and get cheered for it.
Seriously a worse choice than Johnny B. Badd
He even had a feud with Arn Anderson and the Four Horsemen, which is really a judgement on where the Horsemen were in 1996 than anything else. But all this prepared him for the big leagues (not really in 1996), when Mero debuted for the WWF.
WWF Mero was different. Firstly WWF realized very quickly that a gay blackman was a terrible character (this from the organization that gave us TL Hopper) for a white man and instead tried to make Johnny cool by calling him Wild Man Marc Mero. He even had pretty decent music…later stolen by his wife.
This promptly led to Mero winning his first and only intercontinental championship defeating the then punished HHH. His win was due in no short part to the injury which Ahmed Johnson sustained by being terrible.
Ahmed Likes That.
Mero was the fill in.
What WWE didn’t realize at first and subsequently scrambled to fix is that Wild Man Marc Mero was neither interesting, nor a good wrestler. His spots were mostly average and his promos were wildly average. (see what I did there)
So, Mero did what any mediocre male wrestler who is kinda attractive does, he gets some eye candy. Enter Sable.
Sable is both the best and the worst thing to happen to Marc Mero. Mero, without Sable, probably would have faded into obscurity within a year of entering the federation. With Sable, it only took two years for him to fade into obscurity and he got to lose a match to her. Hot DANG! He literally spent more time being jealous of Sable of screen (also known as all about Sable) than he did being his own character. Oh and he lost to her…
Mero transitioned into the Marvelous Marc Mero persona, which if it existed today would be looked as an obvious punishment.( See Damien Sandow) Heel Mero was even less dynamic than face Mero. He complained, danced around the ring like Muhammed Ali and still couldn’t wrestler. He had a “boxer” gimmick, due completely to Mero’s previous history as an amateur boxer and led no where fast and Mero faded out of the organization by 1999.
And that’s it. That is the career of Marc Mero. His career last less than 10 years professionally. And in it, his best work was as this character:
Some men are just better as characters, although its sad to say when this is someone’s best work
Now that’s a BADD Video.
Only Way it Happens
Mero, since his retirement has appeared on many news organizations talking about the dangers of steroids and giving his unwanted two cents about Chris Benoit.
However, he is also a supposed super positive guy and perhaps when WWE runs out of alive people, Mero could step in and cheer everyone up! He is after all, the Happiest Person on Earth. Huzzah!
Is WWE Stupid enough to actually do it?
No, Happy or not, Mero is too small of a bit player and has burned all his bridges. He doesn’t exist as far as WWE is concerned. And thank god, as do we really need this image etched in the WWE Hall of Fame?
Well…its that time again. Its Rumors Time!. Coming earlier this year than previous, we actually have a full class of rumored superstars 10 months out. This year’s rumors cover a wide berth of the great, the good and the meh. Exactly what one would except from the WWE Hall of Fame…..
The Rock is an obvious future WWE Hall of Famer. His career, importance and gravitas speak for them-self . His original run, while shorter than most top superstars,
See John Cena
his affect on the business cannot be understated. While Steve Austin may have been the originator of the modern catch phrase, Rock perfected it. Look at WWF cerca 1998 and the amount of chants from the audience were maybe one or two. Today, every superstar has a chant. Without the chant, no one cares. The modern audience wants to participate in the show, and the Rock started that.
Now technically, the Rock was the “face of the WWE” for only the year 2000. 2000 was his peak, mostly due to Steve Austin being out on injury that year but afterwords, Rock began his path towards actual stardom. There is no denying that Rock is the only case of a professional wrestler taking his stardom from the business and transitioning to become an actual movie star. This is transcendence. Its also why Dwayne didn’t appear for the organization from 2004-2008 (Hall of Fame induction of his father) and wasn’t in the ring again until 2011. He needed to seperate to legitimize himself as an actual movie star, instead of a wrestler playing an actor.
See Steve Austin
Upon his return for Wrestlemania 27, and subsequent matches, the Rock showcased what about him what so unique. It was his acting skills. Dwayne Johnson was good at playing the role of the Rock. He came back and successfully conquered John Cena (YAY), won the WWE title and dropped it to John Cena the following year (BOO) and that was that. All told, Rock’s return consisted of 5 matches: 2 against Cena, 2 against Punk and that weird tag match again R-Truth and the Miz. His return was both good for business and also an example of “doing the right thing”; passing the torch everyone’s favorite, John Cena.
So as I mentioned it is obvious that the Rock has had a Hall of Fame career and will eventually be in. But is 2015 his year?. His inclusion always depends upon what he is doing in his real action star life.
Rumors recently circulated that the Rock would be unavailable for Wrestlemania 31 due to the release of Fast&Furious 7
Other big question, is does it need to be his time. Rock is 42 years old, young in comparison to other qualified headliners. This means anytime in the next 10 years, he can headline a class. WWE doesn’t need him this year and its likely it will not occur.
Is 2015 his year?
No. Rock is a movie star at his prime of success. Better to save him for a future year where there are no other possible headliners. My suggestion is 2017 or 2018.
Older headliners. Sting (deal with below), Goldberg, (not gonna happen) or for god’s sake Randy Savage!
\Sting is the only example of a main event WCW/NWA talent who didn’t try his hand at wrestling for Vince. And he had his reasons.
He worried how he’d be used. Where could he have possibly gotten that idea from? Perhaps if we take a look at former WCW talent who came to the WWF…..
Harley Race became a King
Dusty Rhodes got polka dots
DDP stalked Undertaker’s ugly wife
Booker T was made a fool, sucka
And on and on and on.
Sting is in the twilight of his career. When he didn’t re-sign with TNA, it was obvious that he was ready to hang the boots up. So is he WWE bound? Rumors have been wild and speculative that Sting signed, he didn’t sign, he’s in the video game, he will wrestle Undertaker at Wrestlemania 31, he won’t wreslte again, etc etc.
Well, I highly doubt we will see Sting in a WWE ring as a competitor. That time has passed years ago, and with Sting announced as the pre-order bonus for WWE 2k15 (AWESOME promo below), then he could follow the pattern of Ultimate Warrior (RIP) and be the headliner talent for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Is 2015 his year?
Probably. Sting makes sense. If its true that the Undertaker is done, there is no one left for Sting to face. (or that he wants to face) Its time to embrace Sting for what he is, a great legend in the business, who despite his lack of tenure with the WWE is the biggest living name they can get right now.
Plus Sting appearing on WWE programming, even in this limited fashion is guaranteed to get some old school fan love, and is exactly what the Hall of Fame is all about.
If the Rock is out, only Goldberg or possibly the NWO are big enough (or alive enough) to headline 2015. Its too early for Taker, HHH, Cena and Vince McMahon. This one makes sense.
Why is Macho Man Randy Savage NOT in the WWE Hall of Fame. Why can’t they get this done?
The WWE Hall of Fame without Randy Savage is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as a Hall with Bruno Sammartino. Randy Savage was one of three main event talents of the mid-late eighties. It was Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage. This is and will remain the biggest blight and easiest de-legitimizing factor for WWE’s “Hall of Wrestling”, until its fixed.
There is no need to convince anyone of Savage’s credentials. Whether it was his in ring, promo or even commentary skills, Randy Savage is one of the best examples of a successful wrestler. His career can only be seen as inspiration for other smaller and unique talents, like CM Punk or even Steve Austin.
Amazing Talent. Check. Multi-Time Champion. Check. Inspiration. Check. This induction should have occurred in 2010, when the headliner was Ted Dibiase. Nothing against Ted, but he is more of a secondary level as his run on the top was short and he did fall quite far down the card. Politics is the only reason it didn’t happen then and is the only reason it hasn’t happened yet. But now, regardless of when he goes in, something is missing. Why
Randy Savage is dead. We will never get to see his speech. This year, the Ulimate Warrior went in and spoke at the Hall. He spoke his truths and when he died three days later, it was bittersweet, but yet it felt less awful. We saw him for one last time, one of our heroes. Instead, Randy died and was passingly given tribute on RAW…and that’s it.
Instead, we hold with bated breath each year to see if the WWE will grow a pair and rectify this travesty. Randy Savage can’t be there himself, but damn is it time to recognize him.
IS 2015 his time?
Yes. For the love of all that is good and holy, YES!! All that aside, Lanny Poffo has started doing interviews for DVDS, including a rumored upcoming Randy Savage documentary (similar to the amazing Jake Roberts’ Pick your poison or one of the 15 HBK documentaries)
In the end, it is all about the money, and the notoriety. Lanny Poffo must realize that inducting Savage is what’s best for him and best for business.
Let me preface this upcoming tirade with the following statement, I like Rikishi. He was perfectly good at the role that he had….
Which was this
And while, I have very fond memories of Rikishi and Too Cool doing this dance above every week, it was and should only be looked at for what it was; namely comedy. Rikishi didn’t work as a serious character. You may remember, “I did it for the Rock” , the infamous illogical statement made by heel (seriously?) Rikishi as the WWE tried and failed to bring him into legitimacy.
There is something completely unbelievable about how Rikishi delivers that line. I feel like I am watching a really bad understudy….
Anyway, onto the Hall of Fame, is Rikishi going to be a Hall of Famer? Probably. Should he be?
Rikishi falls into two categories of wrestlers which the WWE is famous for inducting. The first are the parents of current superstars. WWE really loves having their current stars induct their fathers. It has happened bundles of times. Sometimes, its great (see Dusty Rhodes or Ted Dibiase) Other times, the person being inducted is more of an after thought (Bob Orton, Rocky Johoson) and Rikishi fits into the second category.
He is fine. Fun, sure, but that alone does not a Hall of Fame career make.
That’s right. You NEED a Bird!
Koko B. Ware aside, let’s look at his career. He was a midcard comedy act from 1999-2000, followed by the aformentioned tragic heel turn and from there stayed with the WWE in a lower card (see no actual feuds) so he could be dumped out of the ring during battle royals and the Royal Rumble up until he was fired in 2004.
Hall of Famers should either be amazing characters, who regardless of their tenure, made a memorable impact on the industry OR an innovator. Rikishi is neither. The only he inspired is this:
Gee thanks Rikishi…..
Is 2015 his time?
Probably. Again, the WWE want the Usos to induct their dad. It gives historical “legitimacy” to characters on TV now. Any easy given to assume on, is if a major pushed star has a father, grandfather or uncle who was in the wrestling business, they will eventually go in. Guaranteed. I guess this year is going to be RIkishi’s.
Some of the great 80s and early 90s mid card acts who are sadly missing. Vader, Rick Rude, or the Honky Tonk Man are just three of the missing from WWE’s greatest generation. (Technically Vader is from the worst generation of 1996-1997, but the idea sounded nice)
If there is one guarantee for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015, it is that Kevin Nash will be an inductee. Since 2013, Triple H has flourished in his role as the master of the Hall of Fame. But, let us not kid ourselves, Triple H, like any former wrestler now in a position of power, has his favorites and has his friends.
2014 gave us the return on the New Age Outlaws to active competition because….uh.
It also gave us Scott Hall’s induction into the Hall of Fame as a character he played for four years, Razor Ramon. While I documented how silly it was for Hall’s career to be simplified down to a gimmick (the theme of the summer here at the WWE Hall of Fame Blog), his inclusion was due to two factors: talent and Triple H. Triple H will now start to induct his friends into the Hall of Fame. And Kevin Nash is next.
Or should I say Diesel. In general WWE has a need to celebrate what they did over any other promotion. They won and the past is always told from the point of view of the victors. Therefore, Nash, who despite having one of the worst title reigns in the history of the WWF, will go in as his character whose greatest highlights include fighting Mabel and winning the championship on a house show.
Nash himself is a polarizing figure. He is the king of the shoot interview (HTM & Raven as well) and says a lot of stupid things.
Is 2015 his year?
His mouth aside, Nash or Diesel cannot be denied as a WWE Hall of Famer (all world champions should be)
This one is happening in 2015.
Triple H is going to continue to induct his friends. New Age Outlaws, XPac will go in during the next 3-5 years. Nash is a world champion. I am okay with this one.
Oh, what a sad state women’s wrestling is in. If you have read my blog at all, my general disdain of women’s wrestling is extremely apparent. It is not to say, that there aren’t many solid pro wrestlers who happen to be women, it’s more that a female’s careers in general are short, mostly unspectacular and of no great importance. The average diva (hate that term) life span in the business is about 5 years; at the most, 7 years, Then they are put out to pasture for being too old (32-35)
Which is Why they never brought in the amazing Sara Del Rey…
That being said, let’s look at our rumored women for the Class of 2015. WWE decided in 2010 that each year must have a women as part of the class. While the idea is nice and certainly commendable for diversity purposes, it is an impossible feat to continue without booking people who have only been retired for very short periods of time.
Cue, Mickie James. Mickie James’ WWE run was from 2005-2010, followed by a TNA run (which will be ignored) While she certainly fits the criteria of a wrestler, is she a Hall of Famer? Of course not.
Mickie had one good story line. The best women’ story line of the 2000s, of the Ruthless Aggression ERa and then because WWE doesn’t actually care about its female wrestlers, did nothing and was released because she was making a country music album. You know out of spite.
This is who belongs in the Hall of Fame?
How about this? Instead of inducting a wrestler who happens to be a woman who hasn’t appeared recently, let’s go back and actually induct worthy wrestlers. Missing female combatants, Mildred Burke, Madusa, Bull Nakano, Jacqueline, or how about Brock Lesnar’s wife, Sable. Even lesser performers like Velvet Mcintyre or Lelani Kai are former Women’s Champions during WWE’s heyday in the 1980s.
Is 2015 her year?
No, I don’t think so. Mostly do to our next rumored women’s wrestler
Apply most of the rant above to this potential inductee. Victoria, out of the two rumored names, is a better choice. She literally is a better wrestler and had a better gimmick, mostly due to the fact that her time with the WWE (2002-2009) was the Ruthless Aggression Era and she had the opportunity to not only wrestle the biggest female wrestlers of the ERA (Mickie James did too) but ended her run before the WWE’s Diva division became a large joke.
Victoria’s biggest moment has to be Wrestlemania 20, where she shaved Molly Holly’s head bald. The feud leading up to their match was a good one and this moment alone was memorable both for its humor (hair vs hair matches are always fun) and for its uniqueness (Only woman in history of mainstream USA wrestling to be shaved completely bald) Now theoretically any woman could have been put into that moment and that inherently is what is wrong with this induction. Victoria was good worker and tough but she had no real key moment with the organization. She was also fired (and appeared in TNA as Tara) due to her age. WWE doesn’t like women who have the best years (in terms of beauty) behind them .
Is she Hall of Fame worthy? Not really, but WWE seems to want to forget the lineage of Women’s wrestling and pretend that it all began with Trish Stratus. If this revision is to be believed, Victoria is fine. Hooray, obligatory woman induction.
Is 2015 her year?
If these rumors are to be believed, then yes. Victoria will go in before Mickie James.
I listed all of them above. For simplification purposes, how about Jacqueline. She is former Women’s Champion and former Cruiserweight Championship. That’s plenty more than Victoria. My choice for the next inductee (will never happen) is Chyna (former IC champion) but with Triple H in charge, it is highly unlikely to see his former girlfriend inducted into the Hall of Fame.
So there you have it. Our rumored class for the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame. If I would wager a guess, Sting, & Kevin Nash will definately go in. Randy Savage has a real good shot (THANK GOD) We are missing our celebrity inductee ( I say Andy Kaufman) and the old timer (Ray Stevens?). Only time will tell.
Come back soon for our look at some of the greatest gimmick wrestler inductions, future gimmick wrestler inductions and some who will never enter.
Up next We got 2004’s Junkyard Dog and future Hall of Famer, Earthquake.