Pro Wrestler Matt Taven, who currently holds the Ring of Honor tag titles with Michael Bennett, was the featured guest on the most recent episode of the Talk’n Shop podcast (episode #68) on MLW Radio. Taven discussed aspects of his career with the show’s co-hosts, Bullet Club members Doc Gallows and “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson, as well as Rocky Romero. AJ Styles was also present for part of the show. Taven’s primary contribution to the episode of Talk’n Shop was his lengthy retelling of a 2010 incident in which he accidentally hit WWE legend George “The Animal” Steele with the full force of a moonsault. Steele, who was 73-years-old at the time, was not seriously injured by the miscue, although the botched spot looks harrowing in the video footage that still circulates online.
Taven recalled that he only had two-and-a-half years in wrestling when he was booked for the Northeast Wrestling show in Waterbury, Connecticut, for a show that featured George Steele. Steele was cast as the “special enforcer” for a bout featuring Matt Taven and a police officer (who was apparently moonlighting as a wrestler) versus Brian Anthony and Bull Dredd. At one point in the match, Taven took to the top rope to hit Dredd with a moonsault on the outside, but Dredd was mixing it up with Steele at ringside, and Taven became momentarily confused as to which wrestler was which.
“…Bull Dredd and George ‘The Animal’ Steele for some reason decided to wear the same outfits,” Taven explained. “Both are bald, both are wearing black with red trim. Both are very similar looking. So I look through my legs as I am up on the top rope and I see a bald guy wearing black and I think, ‘Well, here we go.’ ”
Taven came down on Steele’s head, knocking him to the floor. Concerned that the initial impact may have injured Steele, Matt was even more fearful that the veteran might be experiencing a heart attack as the elderly grappler struggled to his feet after the miscue. Taven added that the fans’ reaction inside the venue was one of complete shock.
“If you could imagine everyone being completely silent — now imagine less noise than that.”
Inside the ring, the match ended when Taven’s unnamed partner speared Brian Anthony and covered him for the win. In the midst of the post-ring, Taven tried to make amends with Steele by inviting him into the ring to take a bow. Steele declined and walked off.
Backstage, Taven was mortified when he was approached by ECW Original Tommy Dreamer, who questioned Matt about what he might have observed after his collision with Steele.
“… I want to ask you a serious question,” Dreamer said, according to Taven. “Did you pop the bag?”
Dreamer went on to explain that Steele wore a colostomy bag. On the podcast, Taven did not say definitively whether or not the bag actually broke.
Taven indicated that he tried to make peace with Steele after the match, noting that Steele gave him some grief backstage. When all of the wrestlers, including Steele and Taven, went to a restaurant later that night, Taven accidentally knocked a large amount of glassware and dishes off the table and onto Steele’s feet. While Matt noted that the night just kept getting worse and worse, things really got weird when word of the incident spread via social media. Video of his moonsault onto Steele spread rapidly, and Taven said that he was inundated with calls asking if he had really been the one to take out George ‘The Animal’ Steele.
Matt Taven noted that the infamous spot is still talked about to this day, and one of the hosts even mentioned that he had recently been asked about the incident by another wrestler. Taven said that the situation garnered a lot of heat for him behind the scenes, even interfering with his career momentum for a while.
“This legit delayed me from getting into Ring of Honor for two years.”
The hosts of Talk’n Shop made light of the unfortunate moment in which Matt Taven and George Steele came crashing to Earth, but everyone was also in agreement that they were glad that the WWE Hall of Famer was not seriously injured. Most of the laughter was aimed at Matt Taven, who shared his story with a healthy amount of self-deprecation and humility. Even AJ Styles gave Taven kudos for his ability to spin a yarn.
“I think this is one of the greatest stories ever told,” AJ Styles told Matt Taven.
In addition to his current run as an ROH tag champion, Matt Taven also held that promotion’s TV title back in 2013. George “The Animal” Steele retired from wrestling full-time in 1988, and he was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 1995.
[Image credits: Buena Vista Pictures via HotFlick.net; Ring of Honor; and IWGP]