As far back as he can remember, Alan Steel has always connected with pro wrestling.
“My parents were separated and my dad would pick us up on Monday nights, me and my sister, and take us to the (Mid-South) Coliseum,” he said. “On Saturday morning, I would be camped out in front of the TV at home.”
On Saturdays, when he wasn’t at home, Steel would watch wrestling wherever he could.
“My mother, grandmother, two aunts, sister, and cousin all went grocery shopping together on Saturdays,” he said. “When there were still Kmarts around, we would walk into the store and I would make a beeline to the electronics department and make the guy turn it on Memphis wrestling. I would sit down in the middle of the floor and watch.”
Among Steel’s early favorites were “Superstar” Bill Dundee and Koko B. Ware, two stars who despite their diminutive stature still put up a fight in the ring.
“I didn’t think I would be a tall guy. They were short guys kicking butt,” he said. “I would get wrapped up in that as a kid.”
Though he always knew he wanted to be a wrestler, Steel didn’t pursue it as a career until he was 21.
“I knew Charlie Parks’ niece and we talked about wrestling a lot,” he recalled. “He would run shows at the National Guard Armory…me and my cousin, he’d let us get in the ring and feel how it felt.
“The minute I got to do anything in the ring, my decision was made.”
Steel was trained by Dundee and another Championship Wrestling from Memphis star he’d share the ring with often—Derrick King. It was King, Steel said, who helped him get a foot in the door with his first company, Power Pro Wrestling. PPW was having a show at the New Daisy Theater and an opponent was needed for the late Steve Bradley.
“Derrick hooked it up for me,” Steel said. “I was sitting in my house and he called me. He said your phone is about to ring. (PPW owner) Randy Hales is going to ask you to work the New Daisy. Say yes.”
Steel noted he was already booked for another show, but canceled that appearance for the opportunity to appear on Memphis television. After wrestling Bradley, Steel said he was on TV the next morning.
“I screwed up in my first match,” he laughed.
At the time, Power Pro functioned as a developmental territory for WWE, giving Steel the chance to face such future stars as Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan.
“I was the last guy in the area to pay my dues on TV,” he said. “I was in a lot of households seeing me get my butt kicked every weekend…There was an obvious shift of who was going to be on the show (those contracted with WWE) and who was going to be extra, but I was having the time of my life.”
Some two years ago, Dustin and Maria Starr debuted Championship Wrestling presented by Pro Shingle featuring talent from the United Wrestling Network. The goal was, of course, what is now Championship Wrestling from Memphis. When the Starrs began compiling a roster, Steel knew he wanted to take part.
“On my bucket list of accomplishments, the only thing left was to give something back,” he said.
In addition to in-ring competition, Steel is among the trainers at the new Memphis Wrestling WrestleCenter. The WrestleCenter made its TV debut last Saturday on CW 30 Memphis as the legendary Jerry Jarrett presented Steel with the Memphis Heritage Championship. Steel won the title in the inaugural Grind City Rumble on the previous week’s show.
Steel had an inauspicious start in Championship Wrestling from Memphis after being left out of the Cobra Cup tournament. Steel and cohort Johnny Dotson ruined the presentation of the Cup to eventual winner Brett Michaels.
“I thought it was hypocritical to have a tournament that saw Dustin Starr say was based on tradition and honoring the heritage of Memphis wrestling. Then see the brackets and none of the guys in it had anything related to Memphis wrestling,” Steel said. “We bought our time, showed up, and let them know we didn’t appreciate it.”
After that perceived slight, Steel said that if he won the title the “disrespect would have to stop.” Steel and Dotson broke into the business together, both being trained by Dundee.
“When he walked in the first day, he was so athletic and could do everything. That made me mad,” Steel said. “But we created a bond and we’re still real tight. Outside of the ring, we’re friends. We’re the old heads of the new Championship Wrestling from Memphis.
“Our goal is to win every time we go out,” Steel added. “I want to be remembered when it’s all said and done. There have been a lot of guys on Memphis wrestling growing up that you watched that for whatever reason you don’t recall. Everybody wants to establish their footprint…I have a lot fewer matches ahead of me than behind me, but as long as I stay healthy I want to make this thing grow. I’m kind of an antagonist, but I want it to be successful.”
Steel described Championship Wrestling from Wrestling as a good mix of both styles and generations.
“There should be something on there for just about every type of fan. Maybe not the deathmatch fan,” he joked. “They can find something on there they can enjoy and it’s an hour-long, which is a relief considering everybody thinks a wrestling show needs to be so long these days.
“If I were a fan, I’d definitely be watching it,” Steel added. “We’ve got hard-hitting guys, flip-flop-and-fly guys, and older guys…It’s old school with a twist, which is how I’ve described myself for a long time. You can get the old school flavor of a Lawler and Dundee with me, Derrick and Johnny. And we’ve got these guys who are modern age Young Bucks who can do some ridiculous stuff. The ladies division is very popular and gets some of the highest viewed segments on the whole show.”
Championship Wrestling from Memphis will soon introduce a tag team championship and a women’s title is likely not too far behind. As part of the United Wrestling Network, guest stars from Hollywood such as Cece Chanel have been known to drop in.
Championship Wrestling from Memphis will host a drive-in wrestling event on May 29th benefiting the Hero Empowerment Center and The Heal the Hood Foundation. Tickets are also on sale for the next live taping on June 13th and the non-televised event, ‘Memphis Wrestling Saturday Night’, on June 19th at the WrestleCenter. For more information, visit championshipwrestlingmemphis.com.
Follow Alan Steel on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @STEELTRAP76.