Was "Macho Man" Randy Savage really that good?
It's that time of the week where we look back on a legend's illustrious career and ask the question; Were they really that good? This we we take a look at the legendary "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
I want every one right now to freak out, freak out as the Macho Man is here for one reason and one reason only; To see if he was really that good. He was the tower of power, too sweet to be sour, maestro of madness. His illustrious career had it all; classic matches, title reigns, WrestleMania main events, King of The Ring wins, a commentary stint, snapping into some Slim Jim's, movie appearances and a rap album, you read that right, he made a f*cking rap album. He was also involved in a well-documented, possessive and jealous relationship, which many people have spoken out about, and didn’t have a lot of trust in anyone backstage. Despite his shortfalls, we’re looking at his body of work alone as we once again ask; Were they really that good?
Born Randy Poffo, he started out his career in sports as a baseball player playing for various teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Tarpons. He played a total of 289 games in the minor leagues and hit 16 home runs. He got into wrestling during baseball's off season in 1973, after being trained by his father Angelo. His first gimmick was ‘The Spider’ basically a wrestling rip-off of Spider-Man. He later adopted the Randy Savage moniker from his friend and Georgia Chamlionship Wrestling booker Ole Anderson after he said “Poffo doesn’t fit someone who wrestles like a savage”. His mother suggested the Macho Man name after reading an issue of Readers Digest and seeing that Macho Man was going to be the hottest new saying.
Randy eventually quit baseball to take up the graps full time, working alongside his brother Lanny (better known as The Genius) and his father. Angelo saw a lot of talent in Lanny and he was the jewel in his crown, that is until he saw Randy wrestle. The story goes that Lanny, being the experienced pro wrestler already thought he could outwrestle Randy easily. That wasn’t the case. Randy outwrestled Lanny and Angelo was gobsmacked. This was when the Poffo patriarch saw the vat of potential waiting to spill out of his eldest son. During the early stages of Randy’s career, his father thought his sons weren’t getting the pushes he felt they deserved, so he started the ‘outlaw’ promotion International Championship Wrestling, which folded within six years.
Randy then found himself wrestling as a heel out of Jerry Lawler’s Continental Wrestling Association, ICW’s main competitor. During his time in CWA, Randy feuded with Jerry Lawler over the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship, teamed with Lanny for a feud with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. In 1984 he turned babyface and teamed with former rival Lawler to tackle Jimmy Hart’s 'First Family' only for Savage to turn on Lawler becoming a heel once again in early 1985. It was during this time that the Mayor of Madness signed with WWE, which led to Lawler defeating Savage in a loser leaves town match. Randy was on his way to WWE, and much like said company, the madness was expanding.
Upon his arrival at the land of the giants he was billed as the ‘top free agent in pro wrestling’. Top managers were practically fighting over who was going to manage the Mayor of Madness during his first appearances on Tuesday Night Titans, he rebutted all potential candidates in favour of his real life wife Miss Elizabeth.
His gimmick was a possessive, ego-maniacal bully to his wife Miss Elizabeth, and unfortunately this would spill over into real life in later years. WWE was where Randy shone, he was a cut above the majority of the locker room. His crazy, well-articulated promos and his elegance in the ring endeared fans, but when he switched on the savagery, the fans were enthralled with him! It helped that his ring work was slick and fluid, his psychology was second to none.
During his early years with WWE he had feuds with Tito Santana over the Intercontinental Championship (eventually prying it away from Santana) as well as the legendary Bruno Sammartino and George ‘The Animal’ Steele. He also held three victories over Hulk Hogan, albeit count out victories. We then get to THAT match, the legendary showdown between Randy and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat at WrestleMania III (right here in the Silverdome Brother!). This match was named 1987’s match of the year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and Wrestling Observer News. The match was meticulously planned out, to the point of Savage having Steamboat come to his home to rehearse spots prior to the eventual award-winning show stealer. Randy was a perfectionist, he had to have everything perfect or he wasn’t happy, and that perfectionism shows in his work.
Later in 1987 he won the King of The Ring tournament. Despite being a heel, he was organically becoming a babyface. The fans loved him! He was supposed to be evil, irrational and villainous, forcing WWE to pull the trigger and officially turn him babyface. This happened after a match against The Honky Tonk Man in which Randy won by DQ after The Hart Foundation interrupted and began to beat down Macho Man. Miss Elizabeth, worried about Macho Man, ran backstage and enlisted the help of the Hulkster. Hulk and Savage cleaned house and Hogan extended his hand, which Savage shook and in that moment the Mega Powers were born.
At WrestleMania IV it was the Macho Man’s time. He won a 14-man tournament to win the vacant WWE championship. That night Savage battled “The Natural” Butch Reed, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and One-Man Gang on his path to the finals, where he ultimately met Ted DiBiase, the man who was stripped of the belt for trying to buy his way to being a champion. Randy overcame the dastardly Million Dollar Man to win his first world championship.
While in the Mega Powers, Randy really stood out next to Hulk Hogan, outclassing him every time the stepped into the ring as a team. Their first feud was against “The Mega Bucks” Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase which they won in the main event of the first ever SummerSlam. They then went on to deal with the Twin Towers (Big Boss Man and Akeem, previously One-Man Gang) with Mega Powers coming out on top. After this there was dissension in the Mega Powers.
At the Royal Rumble Hulk accidentally eliminated the Macho Man from the namesake match and the two began to fight until it was broken up by Miss Elizabeth. They then had another match with The Twin Towers, and this time Miss Elizabeth was knocked unconscious after Akeem threw Randy out of the ring and he landed on Miss Elizabeth. Hogan was the one who carried her backstage. Macho Man was pissed, he left Hogan half way through the match. Things got heated backstage with Randy declaring he was the superior wrestler (which was the truth hands down) and getting jealous of Hulk and Elizabeth thinking that Hulk wanted to show Elizabeth some Hulkamania if you catch my drift. This culminated in a match at WrestleMania V with Savage dropping the strap to Hogan after a 371-day reign. Fun fact, Savage was admitted to hospital with an infection in his elbow, but checked himself out to wrestle Hogan despite being ill and being heavily bandaged.
In 1989 Macho Man won the King of The Ring tournament once again and became the Macho King, a gimmick which saw him become a massive obnoxious dick. This was the perfect gimmick to pair with “The Common Man” Dusty Rhodes (I can’t do this, from now on I will refer to him as just Dusty. Honestly, it’s the worst rebranding ever. See my article on Dusty for more of my thoughts on this), losing to Dusty and Sapphire in a Mixed Tag match at WrestleMania VI. He remained the Macho King until 1991 when he eventually ended up in a feud with The Ultimate Warrior. They ran an angle where he failed to turn up to the Royal Rumble, with the angle claiming that he was scared of Warrior and was trying to avoid him. This led to a match at WrestleMania VII with a career-ending stipulation and Miss Elizabeth in the crowd. Savage may have lost but it gave us one of the most heart-warming moments in wrestling history, the reuniting of Savage and Elizabeth.
He spent the majority of his remaining tenure in WWE as a colour commentator much to his chagrin. He actually wrestled several times after the loss but they played it off that Warrior was gracious enough to let savage finish out his contract before being forced to retire. At SummerSlam 1991 the wrestling wedding to end all weddings played out and it was truly a wrestling wedding. It was corny, over the top and had a king cobra. What’s more Vince than that?
Savage would have one more WrestleMania match at WrestleMania X against his friend turned enemy, Crush, in a last man standing match which Randy won by tying Crush up and hanging him upside down backstage. In 1992 Randy And Elizabeth got divorced as she couldn’t coping with his insecure, jealous and possessive behaviour.
1994 Macho man would venture off to WCW where he briefly reformed the Mega Powers and Won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship a couple of times. He is also the forgotten person in the Hulk Hogan turning heel angle, being the one that Hulk leg dropped. He later drank out of the NWO cup and once again won the World Heavyweight Championship, only to lose it to Hogan the very next night. This happened TWICE. Good ol’ Terry eh? He took some time off after being ‘fired’ by Flair and came back with an edgier look, after his then valet Gorgeous George (not to be confused with the legendary Gorgeous George) won Ric Flair's “My girl vs your girl match”. This prompted the formation of Team Madness which consisted of Macho Man, Gorgeous George, Madusa and Miss Madness. It was short lived and afterwards, WCW had him face Denis Rodman (yep, the obnoxious basketball player who joined the NWO) at Road Wild, which thankfully Savage won. He would make just two more appearances for WCW after the Rodman match. He also had a brief stint in TNA where he teamed with AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy defeating the Kings of Wrestling.
In 2003 Miss Elizabeth unfortunately passed away due to “acute toxicity” by mixing pain meds with vodka while she was with Lex Luger. He was arrested and pleaded guilty on all charges and served five years on probation.
On 20th May 2011 Savage suffered a sudden heart attack whilst driving his Jeep and crashed into a tree after becoming unresponsive. Savage passed away at the age of 58. Before his passing though, he appeared in the first Spider-Man movie as Bonesaw McGraw in a nod to his old gimmick The Spider. He also released a rap album entitled ‘Be a Man’, the album included a tribute to Curt Hennig with the album’s title track being a diss track aimed at Hulk Hogan. He was also the face of Slim Jim’s in the early 90’s. In 2015 he was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his brother Lanny with a touching poem about Randy.
Macho Man basically did everything and more. His talent was excellent and his character was unique, he stood out in a crowd of cartoon superheroes. His catchphrases are still used today! His Elbow drop was beautiful, no one can drop an elbow like Randy could, the only elbow that comes close is Shawn Michaels’. Randy was a rarity and a lot of people mar his accomplishments because of how he was in real life with Elizabeth and his insecurities.
If I was asking “Was Randy Savage a good person?” I would say probably not. We’re looking purely at his career and his work. His stellar WrestleMania III match with Steamboat was well ahead of its time and he was one of the most prominent characters for WWE in the 80’s and early 90’s. He was excellent in the ring and on commentary, he had a fantastic sense of ring psychology and he was a true ring general. His dedication to the craft was second to none as proven by his rehearsing of his and Steamboat's classic. So, was The Macho Man really that good? I’d have to say OOOOOOOOHHH YEAHHHHH!
And that’s just my two cents.
Now I'm off to snap in to a Slim Jim. Tanks for reading and I’ll catch you all next week.
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