Was There Really a Cannibal in Wrestling?Kevin Sullivan: The original Sheik was a dear friend of mine and he was the Sheik twenty-four hours a day. I mean his credit card said “A. Sheik.” He didn’t speak and that’s why I think he was successful for so long.A professional wrestling match comes down to two, three or four athletes, all competing to win. And athletes, like others from all walks of life, come in different shapes and sizes. However, wrestling throws an interesting factor into the mix, something no other “sport” can offer — the gimmick. While you’ve never seen a baseball player wearing a cape or a hockey player dressed up like a member of kiss, over the years there have been wrestlers who impersonated everything from clowns to Elvis. And some of the characters that these wrestlers portrayed have been so out there that most people are left walking away wondering what these guys
are really like outside of the ring.Bobby “the Brain” Heenan: Hmmm. Well, let me put it this way. I wouldn’t want none of them to do my taxes, or to give me a vasectomy or circumcision. Would you?“The Brain” has a point. But what we’ve discovered is that the further off the beaten path a wrestler appears on tv, the more interested wrestling fans become in learning what they’re like outside of the ring. And the most intriguing of the gimmick wrestlers are the group who portrayed savages, lunatics and cannibals. In researching this book, we spoke with everyone from Kamala to the Missing Link, and the one thing they all agreed upon is that not speaking all of those years was tough on them. They are a unique group, and to understand their mindset, you have to speak with the most legendary gimmick wrestler of all time, George “the Animal” Steele.George “the Animal” Steele: There’s a lot of history behind George “the Animal” Steele that people don’t understand — because they’re young and George was around a long time. When I first went to New York in the WWWF, in about 1967, I had no manager. I did all my own talking. And I was pretty articulate, believe it or not.Being a full-time Phys Ed. teacher in his home state of Michigan, George only wrestled part time for most of his career. Basically, wrestling was his summer job. Nonetheless, his legacy of being a green-tongued animal that couldn’t speak started, oddly enough, while he was doing a promo.George “the Animal” Steele: I’m talking, the Grand Wizard’s talking, and he looked at me. He shut the mic off; he said, “Let’s do that again, you’re making too much sense for an animal.” Well, it kind of pissed me off. So I figured I’ll show them. So the cameras come back on, we’re doing the interview, and the mic comes to me and I went, “Uhhh, uhhh.” And he said, “That’s it. That’s what I want.” I went, “Oh crap.” I liked doing interviews.
Maybe if I start calling Phantom an animal he’ll finally stop talking
So what do I have to call you to shut your fancy transplanted British face? You know, I can’t imagine not being able to talk. Actually, I can’t even imagine having a gimmick. Thank God...
Adam Kleinberg (Author)
Adam Kleinberg is cohost of the "Get in the Ring" radio show. He lives in Dix Hills, New York. Adam Nudelman is a television producer, and writer, host, and producer of "Get in the Ring" radio. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Adam Nudelman (Author)
Adam Nudelman is a television producer, and writer, host, and producer of "Get in the Ring" radio. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.