One year ago today, Randy Poffo passed away. I grew up watching him as the Macho Man Randy Savage and as cliché as it sounds, there’ll never be another like him. Last year, May 20th 2011, is a day that unfortunately, I’ll never forget. I’d just started working in my second job of the day when I checked my phone and had a text from a friend saying ‘Macho man randy savage is dead’ When I saw those words, I kind of froze. I felt like running out of the office to phone my friend and shout at him for sending such a sick joke. Shortly after, I saw it online for myself. Arguably the best wrestler of the 80’s in the WWF and one of the most charismatic performers ever was gone at only 58 years old.
Macho Man was one of the reasons I started watching wrestling. My first video tape was SummerSlam 89 where Savage brought in Zeus to destroy his arch enemy, Hulk Hogan.
The other tape my Mom bought me was WrestleMania III. There’s no doubt that Hogan and Andre had the moment that everyone will remember, but that wasn’t the match that stole the show in the ring. That accolade went to Ricky Steamboat and Savage. I remember the intensity of Savage when he injured Steamboat’s neck with the ring bell. He definitely sold me as a kid wanting to see more from the man with the flashy robes and great matches.
To me, Randy Savage made the Intercontinental Championship important. Sure Tito Santana and Greg Valentine held the title, but the Macho Man put the belt on the map. He carried men like George Steele to entertaining matches, which is a miracle. His battles with Santana and Steamboat were the best things on the card and thanks to Savage’s work ethic, the IC title became almost as important as the WWF Championship. Once Savage lost the title to Steamboat at WrestleMania III, a man named Hulk Hogan came along and helped elevate Savage to a legitimate main event star. The original plan of Ted Dibiase winning the title tournament at WrestleMania IV was changed and the Macho Man became WWF Champion. For the next twelve months, he and Hogan became the Mega Powers. They sold out arenas across the country and made the WWF more popular by the week. The year long slow build to their eventual split and title clash at WrestleMania V is to me, one of the best feuds of all time. Savage and Hogan had so much chemistry whether it was together or apart and Savage became a household name just like Hogan, by the end of the decade.
Another part of the attraction to the Macho Man was his relationship with Elizabeth. She was more than just your regular valet. She was dubbed ‘The First Lady of the World Wrestling Federation’ And that she was. The fact the two were married in real life, just made their chemistry stronger. Liz sold her concern through her facial expressions and Randy’s protective nature made him more endearing. When Savage turned on Hogan and got Sensational Sherri as his manager, it was just a perfect match. Two crazy characters together. The run as ‘The Macho King’ was another favourite era of Savage’s career by this fan. His feud with Dusty Rhodes was so entertaining and following that was one of the best matches of Savage’s career against Ultimate Warrior in the Retirement match. It was by far the best match of Warrior’s career. As a kid, watching Savage cost Warrior the belt and their match was a highlight of my childhood. The post match angle with Elizabeth and Sherri is one of the most emotional WrestleMania moments I’ve ever seen.
My friends and I, talk about wrestling all the time. One of the questions that we end up debating almost weekly is why Randy Savage hasn’t appeared in World Wrestling Entertainment since 1994. He’s one of two men, along with Bruno Sammartino, who deserve more than probably anyone, to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. The difference is, Sammartino has turned WWE down numerous times, Macho Man has never been asked. One of my friends considers Savage his childhood hero and I doubt he’ll ever be the same after his hero passing away without having that one last moment in the spotlight that he so richly deserved.
Old school fans will remember the MSG SummerSlam wedding between Randy and Elizabeth. The wedding reception set the tone for the next 6 months of WWF programming. Savage’s feud with Jake Roberts including the snake bite incident and Elizabeth slap will live as one of the most intense feuds of that era. Macho Man seemed to bring that intensity to every feud he was involved in. He went on to hold the WWF Championship for a second time, beating Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII, but after he dropped the belt back to Flair, Vince decided he was going in a new direction and Savage didn’t figure in his plans. Savage started 1992 as a major contender for the WWF title and ended the year as a colour commentator. Savage’s final two years in the Federation would see him occasionally get in the ring for a match or two. He had an epic feud with Crush that culminated in a match at WrestleMania X but following that, Randy commentated for the rest of the year.
In November 1994, Randy Savage made one of his most difficult career decisions. He walked out on Vince McMahon and the WWF after 9 years and joined his buddy Hulk Hogan in WCW. It was the best move Savage could make at the time. As Hogan and Flair had experienced, Vince wanted to push young stars and not push the older veterans. In WCW, however, Savage went on to win the WCW Title numerous times, was a top star, headlined pay per views and had great matches with Ric Flair, Hogan and others. In 1997, Savage was a key member of the new World order. But instead of flexing his political muscle like Hogan, Hall and Nash, Randy chose to make a new star by feuding with DDP. Their matches elevated DDP and were the last great matches Savage would ever have.
While wrestling is always what Macho Man will be known for, nobody can forget his Slim Jim endorsement. The “Snap into a Slim Jim” line became synonymous with the brand and made them a boat load of money. After Savage left WCW in 2000, he famously starred as Bonesaw McGraw in the Spiderman movie and again made fans laugh and entertained them.
Randy’s final wrestling appearances came in 2004 as part of TNA. Unfortunately he didn’t look or move like the Savage of old. He didn’t embarrass himself by any stretch but unfortunately he just couldn’t perform to the high level he had set before.
In his last few years Savage made peace with a lot of people he had fallen out with including Hulk Hogan. He married his childhood sweetheart and he even signed on to allow Mattel to produce his first WWE action figure in almost twenty years. In the end, Randy from all accounts was happy. I interviewed Lanny Poffo, Randy’s brother, earlier this year on ‘Inside The Ropes’ and he had a feeling Randy knew his time was coming to an end and wanted to make peace and marry his wife while he still could.
Although he never got the Hall of Fame induction he deserved so much, Randy Savage to me will go down as the greatest all round performer in the history of wrestling. Sure there were better wrestlers or talkers, but nobody combined the two and brought as much intensity, flamboyance and believability to their performances like Randy. With a tear in my eye and my Macho Madness DVD set on in the background I’ll fondly remember one of my favourites, The Macho Man Randy Savage as probably the most consistently entertaining pro wrestler I ever watched. Thank you Randy for the memories.
OOOOOHHHHHHHHH YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! DIG IT!
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