If you lived in Memphis, Tennessee during the ’70s, ’80s, and the ’90s, there’s a good chance that you watched professional wrestling. For years, that region of the United States was a hotbed for the sport. Wrestlers like Jackie Fargo, Bill Dundee, Jerry Lawler, Dutch Mantel, Austin Idol, and Jimmy Valiant were the reason why the wrestling scene was on fire there.
Pro wrestler “All That” Alan Steel remembers watching his favorite superstars in the ring that were such a big part of his life while he was growing up. On most Monday evenings, his father would take him to the Mid-South Coliseum so he could watch the matches in person.
On Saturday mornings, there was a good chance that Alan would be in front of the T.V. watching his favorite show. If by chance he wasn’t at home when wrestling came on, he would figure out a way to not miss seeing the weekly program.
“If we were out shopping, I would be in the electronics department of the store watching wrestling,” Alan Steel said. “My mother always knew where to find me.”
In 1997, when Alan was 21 years old, he decided that professional wrestling was something he was going to pursue. He met a man named Charlie Parks. Parks ran an outlaw promotion in the area who agreed to train Alan. Around that same time, Alan also met Sid Vicious, Vicious agreed to train him as well. As it turned out, both men never followed through with his training, so Alan decided to try something else.
“I wrote Channel 5 a letter and asked if the local promotion which was Power Pro Wrestling had a wrestling school,” Steel said. “A week later, I received a letter back from the station and they gave me Bill Dundee’s phone number.”
A few weeks after making contact with Bill Dundee, Alan found himself traveling from Memphis to both Jackson and McKenzie, Tennessee every Wednesday night to learn the in-ring sport from Bill and his son Jamie.
They taught him how to protect himself and the basic fundamentals of wrestling. Alan was also educated on the psychology of wrestling, which is not just how to do something, but when you do it and why.
“You’re never going to see Bill teach anybody how to do a moonsault or anything that is not of the old school,” Steel said. “When it came to wrestling, I was taught that if I didn’t believe in it, then nobody else would believe in it either.”
Alan trained for six months and also did some referring before he stepped into the ring to wrestle in his first match. Throughout his training period, some of the sessions were intense and repetitious. Dundee stressed to him the importance of paying attention to the details.
Now, 20 years later, Alan is still wrestling and everything that Bill passed on to him has served him well. Although Alan never signed a lucrative contract with the WWE, he continues to fulfill his dream and has done a lot of cool things in the business that not everyone can say that they’ve done. From time to time throughout his career, he has wrestled with the WWE and has done some extra work for them as well.
“It was definitely disappointing not to get called up by the WWE, but I’ve known from day one that you can be one of the most talented guys out there and still not get a job,” Steel said. “The WWE looks at thousands of guys every year and only a handful of them get signed. You have to have the “IT factor,” and that depends on who’s looking at you what determines the “IT factor” in my opinion.”
In 1998, Alan’s first year in the business he had the opportunity to be on television with Power Pro Wrestling. Things were going well for him until the promotion’s owners made a business deal with Vince McMahon and Power Pro Wrestling ultimately turned into a developmental system for the WWF. With the WWF’s talent coming in, most of the wrestlers that were there prior to the merge got pushed to the side, Alan was one of them.
“The push that any of us were getting on T.V. at the time backed off quite a bit, and they started putting all of the attention on their wrestlers,” Steel said. “The WWF wasn’t going to focus on anyone that wasn’t under contract, and we pretty much became the B-Team.”
Some of the wrestlers that came to Power Pro Wrestling under contract with the WWF at the time were guys like Kurt Angle, Prince Albert, Rikishi, Crash Holly, Brian Kendrick, and Daniel Bryan. When they were in Memphis however, most of them wrestled under different names from what they are known as today. Those were the people Alan was wrestling with.
The changes that were taking place at Power Pro Wrestling were discouraging for Alan and his fellow wrestlers, however, the opportunity also served as a positive experience for them because of all the different styles and influences the new wrestlers were bringing with them.
“If you didn’t learn anything, it was your own fault because we were put in this melting pot of talent. It was an amazing time,” Steel said. “I took advantage of the opportunity to show everyone that I could hang with the guys, and I was hoping to be noticed by the individuals that were handing out contracts for the WWF.”
Even though things didn’t turn out the way that Alan had hoped for, he still credits that period of his wrestling career to the most fun that he’s ever had. Alan has a love and appreciation for wrestling that goes further than just the ring. It transcends to the audience and the locker room as well. For Alan, the journey has been “All that.”
Few wrestlers are able to say that they’ve been able to continue in the sport for as long as Alan has. He was planning to retire at the age of 40, but at 41, he’s still going at it. The wrestling dates aren’t as plentiful as they used to be, but he does have certain promotions in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas that he likes to work with.
“I’ve never done drugs in my life, but if I had a drug of choice, it would be pro wrestling. I get my fix almost every weekend,” Steel said. “Some people are born to wrestle, and I think that I’m one of those people.”
Favorite wrestler: “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig
Career highlight: My match with the WWF. (Tag match against Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade)
Favorite band: Chicago
Favorite sports team: The San Francisco 49ers during the Joe Montana & Steve Young era.
Hobbies: Weightlifting, laying video games, and watching movies with my wife.
Dog person or a cat person: A dog person
A state that I’ve never been to Washington
Favorite food: Pizza
A movie I’ve seen multiple times: I-Robot
Favorite actor: Tom Cruise
Favorite color: Gray
A book I have read: Hulk Hogan’s biography
Favorite dessert: Banana pudding
Alan Steel vs. Tim Storm vs. Rob Conway (Triple threat match-6/20/2015)
Alan Steel interview:
Steel Kage call out the Briscoe Brothers
Alan Steel highlights
Alan Steel vs. Derrick King (a brawl outside the ring)