"Those meaty paws, I feel like I'm dating George 'The Animal' Steele!"
"Looks kind of like King Kong and Jessica Lange"William James Myers (April 16, 1937 – February 16, 2017) was an American professional wrestler and actor from Madison Heights, MI best known for his work in WWE from the 1960s through the 1980s as George "The Animal" Steele. He started his career in Detroit in the 1960s under a mask as The Student and was the first wrestler managed by Gary Hart, who would go on to be better known for his work in Texas. As he was a teacher and football coach in Real Life, he would wrestle during the summer and school vacations for extra money. He dropped the mask and became George Steele, taking the last name from how he would be working in Pittsburgh, which is known as the Steel City. He worked on and off for WWE for years as a Heel, until he finally retired from teaching in 1985-1986. He retired from full-time competition in 1988 due to contracting Crohn's Disease and worked as a talent scout. He returned in late 1998 as a member of the Oddities, just in time for the group to get jobbed out on their way out the door. He has also competed for various independent promotions. He was a 1x NWA (Detroit) World Tag Team Champion with Frankie Laine. He was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 1995. You may have also seen him as wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson in Ed Wood.As usual, "YOU!" can find the basics at The Other Wiki.
—Vince McMahon, WWF Saturday Night's Main Event, January 4, 1986
"YOU! READ MY TROPES!":
- Abhorrent Admirer: For Elizabeth.
- Arch-Enemy: (in Detroit): The Sheik; (as a heel in WWE): Bruno Sammartino; (as a face): Randy Savage
- Autobiography: Animal
- Bald of Evil/Bald of Awesome
- Bash Brothers: Gorilla Monsoon (until Monsoon's face turn), Mr. Fuji, Junkyard Dog, Ricky Steamboat
- The Cameo: The January 10, 2000 episode of WCW Monday Nitro saw Commissioner Terry Funk and the Old Age Outlaws (Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko and Paul Orndorff) announce that they were going to be bringing some friends in to deal with NWO member and WCW United States Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett. Steele was revealed as the first opponent, in a "Bunkhouse Match". Steele hit Jarrett with weapons, but got sidetracked, of course, by eating a turnbuckle. Jarrett nailed Steele with his guitar, but Arn hit him with a spinebuster. Special referee Chris Benoit dragged Steele over on top of Jarrett and counted the pin.
- Carpet of Virility: Was incredibly hairy on his back and chest, which naturally made him even more beast-like.
- Cool Mask: As The Student.
- Cool Old Guy: Many out-of-character interviews appear online, thanks to Steele's rich knowledge of the sport and the dozens of superstars he's worked with through the years.
- Companion Cube: A doll he carried around that he called "Mine."
- Confusion Fu: He was "The Animal," after all.
- Cool Shades: As a member of the Oddities
- Crazy Consumption/Chewing The Set: He would eat turnbuckle stuffing, sometimes multiple times in one match. He even provides the page photo for the first trope.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Although he behaved and wrestled mostly like a caveman, he could be surprisingly smart and efficient at times. His finishing move, for instance, was a modified version of the hammerlock, whose usage is very associated to technical wrestlers.
- Distracted by the Sexy: His whole feud with Savage started because Steele was fixated on Miss Elizabeth, who, in decided contrast to the Divas who would follow, wasn't actually doing anything to provoke this reaction. She was just there.
- Finishing Move: The flying hammerlock, also called Animal Clutch, a move in which he locked a hammerlock and then lifted the unlucky opponent by his twisted arm. He also used a running powerslam later on his career.
- Genius Bruiser: He was a teacher in real life.
- He's Back: The November 15, 2010 Raw was billed as "Old School Raw" and featured appearances by various legends/Hall of Famers and references to WWE's past. During the Kofi Kingston vs. David Otunga match, with Kofi down on the mat, Steele made a surprise appearance. He entered the ring and shouted "EAT! EAT!" until the referee got in his way. So, Steele simply walked down to another corner and ate that turnbuckle. The referee told him, "That's enough, George," as Steele left to the cheers of the crowd. Otunga looked utterly confused, and Kofi got up, rammed Otunga's head into the exposed turnbuckle and hit him with Trouble in Paradise for the pin.
- Heel–Face Turn: In 1985 and never looked back.
- He had worked face in Georgia with Dusty Rhodes some years prior to his turn in WWE.
- Informed Deformity: During his mid- to late-1980s run in the WWF.
- Midseason Replacement: Was introduced as a new member of the Oddities to replace Insane Clown Posse, who had betrayed the stable some time before.
- Missing Link: Prior to about 1982, Steele was able to speak and think coherently, and cut some pretty good promos. The younger Vince McMahon wanted a neanderthal-type character who was barely capable of uttering more than one or two words at a time … and persuaded Steele to become that person. Steele didn't even have to change his core in-ring style much, just his interview style to that of a mentally retarded individual. "Duh" … it worked! He went from being that scary, crazed individual who knew what he was doing to carrying around a hand puppet and visiting an ice cream factory.
- Named by Democracy: It was the fans who first named him "The Animal." He had actually had his first match against Sammartino at Madison Square Garden as George "The Bruiser" Steele.
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Would often sneak foreign objects into the ring and could use them in such a way that referees would seemingly not notice. Steele even defeated Headbanger Mosh this way on the January 3, 1999 episode of WWF Sunday Night Heat.
- Oh, Crap!: What Steele appeared to be thinking when Bruno started making his comeback during their match on May 16 (aired May 19), 1977. Justified, since Bruno unleashed a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that left Steele bloody and unable to continue.
- Packed Hero: The Oddities introduced him in a giant Hollywood Giftwrap before one their matches against The Headbangers. While Mosh and Thrasher were Genre Savvy enough not to open it, it burst when they were near and George came out to beat them.
- Popularity Power: Has claimed since that his feud with Savage wasn't intended to last as long as it did, but it got so over that they ran with it.
- Power Stable: The Oddities, with Golga, Kurrgan, Giant Silva and Luna Vachon, until she turned heel.
- Primal Stance: Had a stooped posture.
- Ring Oldies: Was 61 when he had his last match in WWE in 1999.
- Stout Strength: While not obese, he certainly wasn't built like a bodybuilder, and he had to be very strong to perform the flying hHammerlock, since he was lifting 200+ lbs. men in the air by one arm.
- Tag Team: The Machines as Animal Machine, with The Giant Machine (Andre, of course), Big Machine (Robert "Blackjack Mulligan" Windham), Super Machine (Bill "Masked Superstar"/"Demolition Ax" Eadie), Hulk Machine, Piper Machine and Crusher Machine (AWA legend Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski).
- Verbal Tic: "YOU!"
- The Voiceless/Hulk Speak: Most of the time, especially as a face. However, he could be articulate when he wanted to, though mainly as a heel in the 1970s.
- Wild Man
- The Worf Effect: Lost several matches to Kamala in 1987 in order to build Kamala up for his feud with Hogan.