March 19, 2013
by Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist
Calling Pittsburgh the “hometown” of George “The Animal” Steele, longtime wrestler Jim Meyers accepted induction into the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) Hall of Fame following the spring “Horror Realm” convention this past weekend.
Meyers often tells the story how his wrestling persona was cultivated with the help of “Jumpin’ Johnny DeFazio and others at the famed “Studio Wrestling” promotion of the late 1960’s. When Meyers came to what was then the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) territory that included Pittsburgh, he searched for a tough surname. “This is the Steel City,” is what DeFazio told Meyers. Soon, George “The Animal,” a snarling, incoherent, uncontrollable force, was born.
Steele battled Bruno Sammartino (inducted into the KSWA Hall in 2012) and a litany of wrestlers, including “Killer” Joe Abby, of whom a wrestling tournament (scheduled for this Saturday, March 23 at the KSWA Arena in Lawrenceville) was named.
During the presentation with KSWA Owner Bobby O, Steele did very little reminiscing of his own stellar career. Instead, he chronicled the exploits and success of Abby, a tough-as-nails, villainous wrestler inside the ring, but a tremendous, hard-working man outside the squared circle.
“Was he a great wrestler? No,” said Steele. “Was he a great talent? No. [But] was he a great man, really what it’s all about? Yes.”
Steele continued, “He was a Repo Man. If you didn’t pay your bill, he’d take your car.” Steele said Abby had “scars” on him and sometimes he’d be a little “roughed up” after a night of repossessing automobiles around Pittsburgh. “I’m glad you are remembering him.”
Steele, who headlined the KSWA FanFest/Toy Drive on December 3, 2011—and broke attendance records in the process—thanked Abby and other wrestlers who didn’t win many matches, but regardless made indelible impressions on the industry.
Steele was in Pittsburgh to meet and greet fans as part of “Horror Realm,” at the Crowne Plaza, Pittsburgh South, March 15-17. “This is my hometown when it comes to George Steele,” said Meyers.
“We want to thank you for all you’ve done for wrestling,” said Bobby O.
The Joe Abby Memorial Tournament is this Saturday, March 23 at the Home of Professional Wrestling in Pittsburgh, the KSWA Arena in Lawrenceville. Also among the Class of 2013 is “Mr. Tenacity” Tommy Faime, the first of the “KSWA Originals” to be inducted into the KSWA Hall of Fame. Bell time is 7:30; tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for kids.