Arnold Furious: While it’s widely accepted that Steele wasn’t much of a wrestler, relying on theatrics and a kick/punch heavy offence, he was quite the attraction for WWF fans, and popular enough to merit his own tape release in 1987. His trademark antics included eating turnbuckle pads and garbled nonsense promos. The latter was Vince McMahon’s responsibility. Apparently, as legend tells it, Steele’s promos were too coherent for Vince’s tastes and Steele did a piss-take mess of a promo. Vince loved it and the rest is history. Which goes to show, you should never try to take the piss out of Vince McMahon or you’ll end up with a career history where everyone thinks you’re an imbecile. This is one of the rare early WWF tapes where they actually managed to do a career showcase properly, as Steele retired about a year after it was released, as opposed to the Steamboat tape, which features about a year of his career. WWE would make huge improvements in their wrestler profile tapes over the years. Host for this is Gorilla Monsoon.
Steel Cage Match
Bruno Sammartino (c) vs. George Steele
This is the same clip that appeared on the Bruno Sammartino – Living Legend tape. A cage match from way back in 1970 and it’s at the Spectrum in Philly. Bruno bleeds all over the place and it’s like the tape is stuck, because Steele just kicks away at him in the corner in the same place. Over and over again. Steele gets rammed into the steel, if you’ll forgive the pun, and Sammartino walks out of the door to retain.
George Steele vs. Gorilla Monsoon
This is the obligatory oldies match from 1973. Steele has a foreign object, and much of the psychology comes from him concealing it from the ref. Monsoon introduces the match himself by saying that Steele wasn’t as dumb as he seemed, as he could hide weapons. Monsoon grabs it off him, hits Steele until he bails and the Animal gets counted out. That’s remarkably similar to the Lou Albano matches from the 70s that have featured on other tapes.
Final Rating: ½*.
Randy Savage vs. George Steele
This is the same match that’s on the Macho Man Randy Savage & Elizabeth tape. It’s all about the storyline of Steele becoming obsessed with Liz and kicking off their feud.
Final Rating: ¼*
Vince hosts with Steele seeing a psychiatrist, a doctor Sigmund Ziff, who Albano calls a gynaecologist. Under hypnosis Steele reveals he bit through his tongue while playing football, which effected his speech and made a young Animal think he was stupid. This was fairly clever as it gave a legitimate reason for Steele’s behaviour throughout his whole career. But it was still very silly.
Another Vince McMahon hosted segment. This time featuring Randy Savage, which also appeared on the Macho Man Randy Savage & Elizabeth tape. It’s the one where Liz gets flowers from Steele and Savage gets all pissy about it.
Back to Sigmund Ziff, this time using shock treatment. Ziff’s overacting and thick German accent made the first segment work and he’s even more ridiculous here, perhaps hoping for further bookings. The shock treatment makes Steele speak normally, but Ziff overdoes it and fries Animal’s brain. More entertaining than it sounds.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Randy Savage (c) vs. George Steele
This is from September 1985 and Boston Garden. Savage was like a whirling dervish at the time, taking on anyone and everyone. He had good matches with everybody along the way, except Steele. They could never really find a way of combining their best attributes into a match, but the crowd loved the angle so they just kept going. Steele combines his theatrics with choking, so Savage lifts the hidden object gimmick from Steele’s earlier match with Monsoon. Savage remains a ball of energy and throws in as much trademark stuff as he can. Steele gets pissed off with Savage’s bullshit and throws chairs in the ring until the ref calls for the DQ. That was a decent match. Lots of effort and everything made sense. They continue brawling long after the bell, with Savage twice leaving only to come back and continue the fight. It’s the best Steele-Savage match I’ve seen.
Final Rating: **
George Steele & The Junkyard Dog vs. Demolition
We move ahead to August 1987. Given the stars that are in the ring, it’s perhaps a surprise that Steele dominates proceedings. I guess the WWF hadn’t gotten fully behind the Demolition push as this is early in their WWF careers. Steele’s biting is actually a highlight, because without it the match is dull and sloppy, which is a rare combination. Usually its just one or the other. JYD absolutely half-asses the half an ass he brought into this. Demolition keep double teaming JYD, only for Steele to save with a chair and the heels win on DQ. A really bad match that could have been even worse without Steele’s larking about.
Final Rating: DUD
Mean Gene on Safari
Gene Okerlund goes to the wilds of Detroit to track down George Steele. He’s at the zoo. George makes wrestling gags like shouting “Bundy” at a hippo before running back into his natural habitat.
George Steele vs. Sika
Sika used to team with Kamala so he’s gained Kamala’s handler Kim Chee, as well as the managerial services of Mr. Fuji. So they do a lot of referee positioning for Fuji to hit George with his cane. Steele retorts with his own International Object. They run a TERRIBLE spot where Kim Chee trips Steele up but Steele doesn’t even turn around to hit the ropes. He just runs right up to Kim Chee and lets the handler trip him. It’s business exposing stuff. Steele throws a chair in, Sika uses it and thankfully that’s a DQ.
Final Rating: -*
George Steele vs. Harley Race
Bruce Pritchard and Mike McGuirk provide commentary for this Coliseum Video exclusive. The boys in Video Control are really spoiling us. The WWF run for Race was a mixture of him proving himself to be an all-time great, but he also had matches where he realised the WWF machine would occasionally stop in goofy places. Harley tended to save his best efforts for the big matches. Race is content to put himself in stupid spots like hooking his own feet and hanging upside down to the floor. Yet more business exposing stuff. The wrestling is nothing short of abysmal. Slow motion spots, biting, chair shots that miss by three feet. Hercules runs in for the DQ. Out of respect for Harley I’ll stay out of negative stars. The Young Stallions run in for the save but King Kong Bundy runs down to kill them. Bam Bam Bigelow makes the real save. The run ins felt very Russoesque. Although its was just a bunch of people who hate the Heenan Family. An eight man tag would have been a logical follow up.
Final Rating: DUD
Vince McMahon has Adrian Adonis on to discuss fashion. He looks like a tranny hooker. George Steele runs in and attacks him. That’s the segment.
George Steele vs. The Honky Tonk Man
HTM is four months into his IC title run, but this isn’t for the title. Honky always seemed more motivated when the belt was on the line. Steele inserts that same horrid ‘manager trip’ spot into this match, which is just awful. HTM gets the megaphone but Steele no sells it and blasts HTM for the DQ. It was literally two minutes long. That megaphone varied in effect. Sometimes it was death, but here it was barely a danger.
Final Rating: ½*
Ice Cream Factory
Because if you’re going to send a wrestler to check out how the WWF makes its ice cream bars, it’s George Steele. Not sure why he’s wearing a hair net. He’d be better off bagging up his hairy arms. I wouldn’t want him anywhere near the production of food. He just looks unsanitary.
George Steele vs. Danny Davis
This is from June 1987 at Boston Garden and is the finale of this tape. Davis is about 6 months into his in-ring career, under the Davis name. You know the drill by now. Heel stalls, Steele goofs around, biting, choking, etc. Davis spends most of the match on the floor while Steele stares at him looking confused. Davis runs the hidden object scheme, a favourite of Steele’s, so Steele picks him off with a single leg. Hey, a wrestling hold. That might actually be the first one on the tape. Steele slams Davis NINE TIMES and the former ref decides to call a day and gets himself counted out.
Final Rating: ½*
Summary: You don’t watch a George Steele tape to study technical prowess. Some of his TNT segments were goofy fun and it’s nice to see a decent match against Savage making an appearance. The rest of the tape is pretty bad. Mainly because Steele’s matches were very samey and when you’re dealing with a guy who has limited skill, that can be hard to sit through.