Steve O

Recently I had a flashback to wrestler Steve O (Olsonoski), 6'1", 230#, during the year of his prominence at Georgia Championship Wrestling on Superstation WTBS. He didn't last long there, perhaps because he wasn't colorful enough for the burgeoning cable-TV market, or maybe he just wasn't much good at wrestling ... I liked him, but what do I know? ... I always thought he was hot.

He was a big fighter, born the same year I was and touted for (like me) having a college degree in education. (Looking back on it, I ask, Why mention his teaching credentials? but back then I savored the tenuous link between us.) He combined karate (or karate-ish traits) with traditional catch wrestling, foreshadowing pro-wrestling's future direction (not a good one, as far as I'm concerned). In the first three shots below, we see him winning knifehand-versus-knifehand against Japanese wrestler Haru Sonoda on 10 October 1981.

Steve looked his best in tight, grimace-making clenches, either struggling in a bear hug or pretzeled on the mat with another fighter--as in the last three shots below, against Jim Nelson on Halloween of 1981. Working a very slight resemblance to then-popular Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner, his seventies-style hair invited grabbing. Like Bruce, he was a hero I liked to cheer for.

Want to see these matches in motion? See Steve-versus-Sonoda here and Steve-versus-Jim at about the 44-minute mark here.


  1. One of my favorites. He started wrestling in 1978 I believe and on a BGEast tape called "Beatings 1" there is footage from a match that is filmed by a spectator ringside that is silent, no commentary, and was an arena match with Steve O and Big John Studd from probably both their rookie years. It's just clips but it is the hottest match I've ever seen. He must have been barely 20 with longer hair and a mustache and it was just brutal, in the later part you could see Big John Studd got cut open. It's grainy and about 90 seconds long only but I'd kill for the whole thing.
    Here's a shot of a very young pre-1980s Steve.

  2. I was also a big Steve O fan (figured I was the only one). At a time when most of the wrestlers were characters (hillbillies, Russians, savages) or huge monsters or wild men, Mr. O stood out for being just a normal guy next door with a normal body and hair that was normal at that time. How unfair to throw this mild-mannered young Everyman in the ring with every assassin, barbarian, and crippler they could find! Poor Steve O! He was one of those wrestlers who, when they would promised at the beginning of the show he would be appearing, you stayed glued to the television waiting for his match.

  3. That Big John Studd match from the late 70s looks so awesome because Studd was really more athletic back then and when he would throw Steve into the ropes and meet him with a knee to the gut, pick him up and throw him into the ropes and meet him with a head-butt, pick him up and throw him back into the ropes and another knee to the gut…..while Steve is selling his gorgeous ass off writhing on the mat and Studd climbs to the top rope….all you could hear were screams from the ladies in the audience. I'd kill for the entire match! By the time he got to TV on TBS it was standard milk toast stuff.


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