February 17, 2017

Farewell to an 'Animal'

My earliest memory of watching professional wrestling was somehow convincing my parents to rent me a VHS copy of WrestleMania III. I recall having to wait until my parents weren't watching anything on the only TV we had in the house that had a VCR connected to it. From the moment I pressed 'play' until the end of the show, I was enthralled. That's it, one show and I was hooked! Subsequently, my parents allowed me to rent WM and WM II along with several of the old Coliseum Video compilation tapes. Here we are approximately 30 years later and I'm still at least a casual fan. I don't feel the same connection to many of today's stars as I did many of the ones from my early fandom. That being said, I was saddened earlier this year when Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka passed away. I didn't write about him here because of the controversial nature of his legal issues. Instead, I quietly remembered his career as an entertainer and mourned his loss.

Today, however, I heard some news that moved me to write my first tribute post of 2017. George ' The Animal' Steele has passed away at the age of 79. I never had the opportunity to watch him during his time as one of the most feared heels in the business. Rather, my memories will always be of the 'slightly off' character that sported a green tongue, ripped open turnbuckles, and pined for Miss Elizabeth.

Here is a 1985 Topps card showcasing his more violent nature(and that green tongue).

There he is ripping into one of those turnbuckle pads! While I'll remember him in his way, this last piece of cardboard shows off an image that will likely be the first to come to mind anytime I think of this HOF talent.

It all comes back to WrestleMania III. The Intercontinental Title match was definitely one of the reasons I was hooked after watching the show. It entrenched all of the participants as favorites of mine. Sadly, there is only one of those original favorites left. Rest in peace Animal. Say hello to the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth. Thanks for reading.

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