Name: William James Myers
Year Inducted: 2005
Induction Category: Modern Era

George "the Animal" Steele

George "The Animal" Steele was born William James Myers in Detroit on April 16, 1937. Before he became a wrestler, he was a high school teacher and football coach. He was trained by Detroit promoter Bert Rubi and began his career in the 1960's. Initially, he wore a mask and wrestled as The Student.

From the beginning, he was known as a wildman who could not be controlled and he would often use foreign objects. He had a brutal feud with The Sheik. Steele and Frankie Laine beat John Bonello and Randy Scott for the Detroit version of the NWA World Tag Team Title on May 3, 1980. Steele was well known for his heel run in the WWWF in the 1970's where he feuded with Gorilla Monsoon and "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino for the World Heavyweight Title. Steele never won the title, usually losing by DQ due to his wild antics. He also became known for his punishing Flying Hammerlock finisher. Steele also competed in the Pittsburgh region of the National Wrestling Federation territory. While there, Steele teamed with Dr. Bill Miller and also with Baron Mikel Scicluna.

Steele was known as an articulate, intelligent and brutal heel. Steele had many managers over the years including Freddie Blassie, Mr. Fuji, the Grand Wizard, and "Luscious" Johnny Valiant. In the mid-1980's, legendary manager Captain Lou Albano began managing Steele, turning him babyface after a long heel run. Steele became very popular in the 1980's, thanks to his green tongue and habit of eating turnbuckle stuffing. Steele also had a brief run as the masked Animal Machine, a member of Albano's notorious masked tag team The Machines. In 1986, Steele became involved in a feud with the newly arrived heel Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Steele became enamored with Savage's manager, Elizabeth. Although this did not necessarily help his win-loss record, it did endear him to the crowds. Steele made some unusual appearances at WWF shows over the years. On the December 21, 1998 episode of Heat, Steele returned as a member of The Oddities, along with Kurrgan, Golga and The Giant Silva. His last PPV appearance was the Heroes of Wrestling PPV from 1999. Steele was inducted into The WWF Hall of Fame in 1995. On the January 10, 2000 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, Steele pinned Jeff Jarrett in a Bunkhouse Brawl match.

Approximately four decades ago, Steele appeared in a short film advertising Chevrolet's Corvette automobile. More recently, "The Animal" appeared with Johnny Depp and Martin Landau in the critically acclaimed movie, "Ed Wood."

- Brian Westcott



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