It’s no secret that Japanese Pro-Wrestling is my favorite, aside from video games. It is also true that Professional Wrestling characters in fighting games were based off of real wrestlers. For instance, King and Armor King from Tekken are based off of Tiger Mask and Black Tiger, Bass from Dead or Alive and Alex from Street Fighter were both based off of Hulk Hogan, Hugo from Street Fighter is based off of Andre The Giant, and El Blaze of Virtua Fighter was based off of Rey Mysterio Jr.
And then, there’s Wolf Hawkfield.
Wolf Hawkfield is a fighting game character that lives, eats, and breathes Strong-Style professional wrestling since he made his debut in the first Virtua Fighter game. He has used signature throws such as his Scoop Slam, German Suplex, and his infamous Giant Swing. Nowadays, he can do other moves such as Stone Cold Stunner, Diamond Cutter, F5, Emerald Flowsion, and more.
But did you know that Wolf Hawkfield actually exists in real life? Well, now you do. He was portrayed by Jim Steele from 1997 to 2000.
Jim Steele is a retired professional wrestler. He wrestled for WCW, ECW, AJPW, NJPW, and WWC. In his early career, he wasn’t getting pushed for any titles in WCW, and he only made one appearance at ECW where he fought 911. He spent his entire time in AJPW, where he was trying to elevate his career. From 1994-1997, he was struggling on elevating his career due to bad gimmicks that won’t work for him.
In late 1997, shortly after the release of Virtua Fighter 3tb, SEGA was promoting their upcoming wrestling game, All Japan Pro Wrestling Featuring Virtua. True to its name, the game featured the roster of AJPW such as Johnny Ace (John Laurinaitis), Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa (R.I.P.), Giant Baba (R.I.P.), and Stan Hansen. The game also featured Virtua Fighter’s Jeffry McWild and Wolf Hawkfield in their VF3 incarnation. The sequel, Giant Gram, included Kage Maru to the mix. He fights like a cruiserweight.
After Jim Steele left Triangle of Power, a stable consisting of “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Gary Albright, and himself, he was given a brand new gimmick by AJPW to become the real Wolf Hawkfield, a character based on the Virtua Fighter’s pro-wrestler of the same name. This was the gimmick that got Steele over with the fans.
In the ring, he used some of Wolf’s signature moves such as the Wrist Lock Swing, the Lariat, and others. I’m not sure what other moves he has used since there’s not much footage to find on his matches. His in-ring attire was Wolf’s VF3 1P costume.
He did formed a tag team with Johnny Smith and participated in several tournaments such as the World’s Strongest Tag Determination League. Wolf and Johnny defeated the team of Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori to become the All Asia Tag Team Champions. This was the first time that Wolf Hawkfield has won a title in AJPW. In singles competition, he competed in the 1998 Champion Carnival. They held the title for 10 months until they lost it to the team of Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida.
Throughout 1998 and 1999, he lost his momentum when he wasn’t used for the 1998 World’s Strongest Tag Determination League and the 1999 Champion Carnival. He did team up with his former stablemate Gary Albright to compete in the 1999 World’s Strongest Tag Determination League, and entered the 2000 Champion Carnival. That was the last time the Wolf Hawkfield gimmick was used.
In the summer of 2000, Mitsuharu Misawa left AJPW to form Pro Wrestling NOAH. He took the majority of the native roster and a few gaijin wrestlers with him, leaving Hawkfield and the others behind. After that, he reverted back to Jim Steele again.
Throughout his career as Wolf Hawkfield, he was used to promote the AJPW games such as Feat. Virtua, Giant Gram, and Giant Gram 2000. Giant Gram was the only game to have both Virtua Fighter’s Wolf and AJPW’s Wolf. Giant Gram 2000 only used AJPW’s Wolf.
In All Japan Pro Wrestling Feat. Virtua, the game uses his VF2 Bio and Jim Steele’s bio, which was a nice touch. Of course, his moveset is from Virtua Fighter 3. Giant Gram: All Japan Pro Wrestling 2 may have both VF’s Wolf and AJPW’s Wolf, but those two have different movesets. VF’s Wolf retains his VF3tb moveset, while AJPW’s Wolf uses his own moveset that he has in real life. Giant Gram 2000 omits the VF characters, but retains AJPW’s Wolf Hawkfield.
I have to admit, SEGA collaborating with AJPW was interesting to say the least. I didn’t think for a second that there would be a real-life Wolf Hawkfield in professional wrestling. The more I find interesting information about Virtua Fighter, the more I feel the need to share it with you guys for VF Month.
As for Jim Steele… He did captured the essence for being Wolf Hawkfield. I did check out some of his matches with Johnny Smith and they were pretty decent. I wish I could find more online, but I’m pretty sure someone has the tapes. If so, I’d upload them if you can.
VF Month is still going, ladies and gentlemen. On the next blog, I’ll be talking about VF3tb’s ongoing support in Japan.
Until then… Train Up, Fighters!