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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
"Macho Man" Randy Savage, Dead at 58
May 20, 2011

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

Earlier this afternoon, Randy "Macho Man" Savage -- real name: Randy Poffo, son of wrestling legend Angelo Poffo -- died following a car accident outside Tampa, FL. He lost control of his vehicle, crossed a median, and impacted a tree. Police confirm Randy was not impaired (alcohol, etc.), but say he may have suffered a "medical event" before the crash (Randy's brother, Lanny Poffo, says it was a heart attack). Whatever the nature of the "medical event," it sounds as though the trauma and injuries caused by the wreck were ultimately responsible for his death.
 

Randy was 58 years old, and is survived by his second wife, Lynn (56 years old, and who was in the passenger seat at the time of the accident, and is now hospitalized with minor injuries).
 
While this is another wrestling star gone too soon, the underlying story is completely different from other recent wrestling deaths. There was no massive downward spiral of mental and/or physical health. There was no record of non-stop self-destructive behavior destined to end in self-inflicted death (be it intentional or accidental).
 
There was, in Randy's case, a guy who was last seen on TV (in TNA) about 7 years ago, and who'd gotten comfortable with the idea of retirement, who'd discovered the virtues of being himself (grey beard and all) rather than having to be "on" 24/7, and who'd settled down for a normal life.
 
And then sadly, there was this morning's accident, which brought all that to an end.
 
But let's be honest: no matter how happy we all might be to know that Macho Man was doing better in his post-wrestling life than most, we aren't his friends and family... we were his FANS. And that means, selfishly, focusing on the performer he was in the ring moreso than the man he was out of it.
 
Luckily, the performer he was in the ring left us with a hell of a lot to remember. And on a personal note: I was in Cincinnati today on business, and got the news down there, and then had a long drive home to ponder what I was gonna say once I sat down to do this. And here's what I came up with: by any measure, what Randy accomplished was amazing... but when you consider the limited time in which he accomplished it, it becomes almost unreal.
 
To me, that speaks volumes about Macho Man Randy Savage and his undeniable skills and charisma. In an industry where many men have careers that span decades -- starting with footage of their younger selves working up the ladder, up through clinging to a career past their primes -- almost EVERY memory that a wrestling fan who came to the genre in the mid-80s will have of Randy Savage comes from a single 6 year span of time.
 
Sure he finally made it to the national stage a few years earlier and got noticed in Memphis. And later he was one of the many moving parts in a crowded (and mostly ineptly-handled) WCW main event scene. But in the middle, there was his incredible, highlight-laden, trail-blazing WWF run that started when he won the InterContinental Title in 1986, and which continued (mostly) unabated until his final WWF World Title run in 1992.
 
When you think of Macho Man Randy Savage, it's almost a lock that the first Top 10 things you think of about the guy happened inside that little window of time. And yet: that did not stop Randy Savage from becoming a timeless legend. You need look no further than the massive coverage of his death (from purely sports entities like ESPN's SportsCenter to purely tabloid entities like TMZ) to realize that he made a massive impact on anybody who grew up with even a passing interest in the Hogan-era heyday of wrestling.
 
He hadn't been on TV in 7 years. He hadn't been on meaningful TV in 12. Hell, if you're one of the retro-hipster doofusses eulogizing Randy Savage based on Slim Jim ads, he hadn't done one of THOSE in 15 years. To have so many people all feeling so sad today has everything to do with the genuine brightness with which Randy's star burned, not with any sort of illusion caused by longevity.
 
To repeat myself, that speaks volumes about the singular performer Randy was. The Attitude Era may ultimately have spoiled a lot of us into thinking that all main event guys should have a mix of flashy/unique in-ring skills/athleticism, exceptional ability to cut a promo, a completely original and compelling character, and the intangible "It Factor" and charisma to pull it off (Austin, Rock, HBK, HHH, Angle, Eddie, Foley, et al)... but we've been living through the post-Attitude Mediocrity Era for long enough to appreciate that bona fide Total Packages like that don't grow on trees.
 
It's probably hyperbole to say that there are more DVD-worthy highlights from Randy Savage's 6 year run than there are from the entire 6 year run of the Mediocrity Era to date. OK: it's definitely hyperbole. But it's not hyperbole to say that no one guy has done as much in the last 6 years as Randy did in his 6. And that's remarkable enough for me.
 
But if this document is to be fully comprehensive, we can't look just at those 6 years. Still: I'll be prone to glossing over the years that aren't in those 6. Sorry if you feel I misrepresent those years, but I'm limited by my age for anything pre-1986 and by my indifference to post-1997 WCW.
 
To be honest, though, I think most wrestling fans who are my senior would agree that I wouldn't be too far off if I barely mentioned the entire first 10 years of Randy's career. During the exact same time frame that his peers (Flair, Steamboat, Rhodes, Slaughter, etc) were criss-crossing the country and nationally known as regional draws for different NWA territories, Savage was stuck working for a single not-so-hot territory run by his dad... complicating matters: Randy was a genuine baseball prospect, and his first 2 years as a wrestler, he could only do it during the off-season. Even a father who booked the promotion couldn't push his own son to the moon if said son was only gonna be around 4 months per year.
 
As it turned out, baseball took its toll on Randy, and he shredded his right shoulder. He tought himself how to throw left-handed out of sheer stubbornness, and played one final season for Cincinnati's Single-A affiliate in Tampa in 1974. He batted .221 with 9 HR and 66 RBI in about 400 AB. Not world-beating, but not bad for a guy in his first year of doing stuff left-handed.... over the years, as a Reds fan, I've been lucky to hear Marty Brennamen and others talk about Randy's time in the Reds organization, and anecdotally, the Urban Legend seems to be that Randy would have been welcomed back to see if he could build on that season, due to him only being in his age-21 season and still having time to work the kinks out of being left-handed.
 
Whether that's true or not, Randy did not return to baseball in 1975, and started working full time for his father. This was not a rocketship to the stars, but Randy took to the business very naturally. Angelo Poffo knew it, and was ready to close up shop to urge his son onto a bigger territory, tagging along to add his own star power (as an aging legend). But once they tested the NWA waters, my understanding is that Angelo (and Randy) were not happy with the push Randy was getting, which resulted in a quirk of the Territory Days.... namely, Angelo had given up his midwest territory because Randy outgrew it, but when Randy was under-utilized in other, bigger territories, Angelo decided he wanted his old territory back. But he couldn't have it. So he opened an "Outlaw Promotion," which operated its own shows in other promoters' territories.
 
If you thought Randy's profile in his dad's legit (if tiny) promotion was low, then you hadn't seen anything yet. Randy, now aided by his brother Lanny (who'd just decided to try his hand at the family business), did their best, but Angelo's renegade outfit was simply not going to be able to make it in the long run. I'm not clear on the timeline of all this, as I was not even born for parts of Randy's career, but the Poffos cried "uncle" at some point in 1983, I think, and a part of the deal, Randy and Lanny were both accepted into Jerry Lawler's Memphis territory with no prejudice against them for trying to help their dad's outlaw promotion.
 
Here, in 1984, is where Randy Savage finally made it on the national stage.... not in the sense of being on national TV, but in the sense of being a huge star in a successful regional promotion, and thus getting mentioned in magazines and whatnot, and recognized by the new tape-trading movement of the day. Thanks to my own brief experimentation with tape trading during my college years, I was treated to what was apparently one of the biggest feuds of 1984: Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo vs. the Rock 'n' Roll Express.
 
I have no context for how big it was at the time, but I can say this: watching it 12 years later via the magic of 7th generation VHS, and at the exact same time as I was starting to get ECW tapes, I was stunned by how intense (and how similar) the two products were. It didn't matter that the crowds were smaller/regional, because this was some seriously kick-ass stuff. Just when you think Sabu has invented table breaking, there's this awesome brawl from 1984 where Randy Savage piledrives Ricky Morton through a table... I had no idea Macho Man had that in him, but that caused me to have even more retroactive appreciation for him.
 
From that lengthy tag team feud in Memphis, Randy had built up so much heel cred that there was only one thing left for him to do: he went up against Jerry "the King" Lawler, seemed like he might finally be the guy to topple him, and then ultimately lost, because that's how all Jerry Lawler feuds went for a 20-year stretch in Memphis. The last match between Savage and Lawler was a Loser Leaves Town Match, and you can pretty much guess how that ended... and you can pretty much guess what happened next.
 
Randy "Macho Man" Savage showed up in the WWF in mid-1985, and was given a gimmick as "wrestling's #1 free agent." All the heel managers of the day bid on his services, but at the end of the day, Randy eschewed Freddie Blassie and Bobby Heenan and Lou Albando, and brought in an entirely new manager: The Lovely Miss Elizabeth. In reality, she was his wife, and had minor experience as an interviewer on Memphis TV... but onscreen, she was the quiet (and somewhat mysterious) brains behind Savage's brawn. Or so they'd claim; Liz rarely did much beyond being a prop for Randy being a "macho" jerk to her. But that still was a huge part of the act: she garnered the sympathy, and Randy soaked in the boos.
 
In 1986, my true first-hand memories of Savage kick in, courtesy of the Saturday morning when I somehow snuck a peek at Superstars of Wrestling. As I've said before, I had parents who didn't approve of me watching wrestling until I hit a certain age, but Savage beating Tito Santana for the IC Title (thanks to Evil Ref Danny Davis and a foreign object) is definitely one of my last "orphan memories" from before I got to be a religious watcher of all things wrestling.
 
Savage spent several months fending off Tito and other challengers to his IC Title, and his act was so hot that the WWF -- for one of the only times I remember -- implemented the "IC Champ is the automatic #1 Contender to the WWF Title at all times, should he choose to invoke it" rule. Savage and WWF Champ Hulk Hogan had a few VERY well-received matches on house shows, which is supposedly when Vince McMahon realized what he might have here... 
 
Keep in mind this was a different Vince, too. Still Vince of the "territory raiding" days, who had no problem recognizing/stealing a breakout star when the fans declared their interest. He wasn't yet the Vince of today, who clings insecurely to the idea that he must create the stars, and it matters more who he thinks looks like a star than who the fans say PERFORMS like a star.... on top of Vince having a different mindset in those days, you cannot overstate the value of Savage showing up on WWF TV as a 13-year veteran (even if 10-11 of them were conducted in near-obscurity). Randy showed up as a fully formed talent; no developmental time needed. Just put him on TV, and BOOM, you had a star in the making. Everybody could see it: mere months into his WWF career, he was a champion, which marked the beginning of his fabled 6 year run.
 
If there were any doubts about Savage's potential as the focal point of the promotion, they were erased by a little something everybody likes to call One of the Greatest WrestleMania Matches of All Time. It began in November '86, when Savage was taken to the limit by Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat on a free TV match... Savage was so addled that he opted to get disqualified, rather than continue the match on the up-and-up. And worse: after he was DQ'd, he continued his assault on Steamboat, using the ring bell as a weapon.
 
For storyline purposes, this resulted in Steamboat's larynx being crushed. He was away from TV for 2 months before returning to exact his revenge. That took the form of facing Savage again, once again for the IC Title, this time at WrestleMania 3, in front of a record crowd. Steamboat won, and regardless of how many fans viewed WM3 because of the promise of Hogan/Andre, the majority of fans REMEMBER WM3 because of Steamboat/Savage. It was just that good.
 
Better than good: it was two of the most talented wrestlers ever, both at their very best during the same 20 minutes, which just so happened to be on the biggest night in the history of wrestling. Hell: even Liz took it upon herself to show up looking hotter than ever, and referee Dave Hebner busted ass like no referee I'd seen before, and Jesse and Gorilla delivering classic commentary, and.... well, just take my word for it: it was a harmonic convergence for the ages.
 
I'll pause now while you go to youtube to watch it.
 
I had no clue at the time why it happened, but after Ricky won the belt, he lost it immediately to the Honkytonk Man. Even as a 5th grade, Hogan-loving mark, I thought that was bogus. Mostly because Steamboat was my first favorite wrestler ever; but partly because, even then, I was part-wanker and I somehow understood workrate enough to know that I wanted Steamboat/Savage rematches. They never happened, because -- as it turns out -- Steamboat asked for a few weeks off to be there for the birth of his son; the office declined unless Steamboat gave up the title. So at least now I know why that happened...
 
But when Steamboat walked away, it had a trickle down effect: not only did fans lose the planned 4 months of rematches on house shows and Saturday Night's Main Events, but without Steamboat (the absolute ultimate babyface), the appeal of booing somebody as awesomely entertaining as Randy Savage began to dissipate. Without Ricky's sympathy-generating yin to Savage's raging yang, fans started to cheer Randy. Vince was already keen on taking Savage to the next level, but this just meant he'd have to take a different path to get there.
 
Randy started treating Liz nicely, and decided to quit hating on babyfaces so he could start a feud with Honkytonk... in one memorable night, Savage went from bad-guy to receiving a Honkytonk guitar shot, and when he woke up, Liz had convinced Hulk Hogan himself to get involved. With a handshake and Hogan's tacit endorsement, Randy Savage was now a good guy.
 
An initial plan had Savage immediately winning the IC Title from Honky, and then being first in line the following year after Ted DiBiase won the WWF Title at WM4... according to widely accepted urban legend, Honky somehow had enough stroke to nix this idea, and he kept the IC Title for over 15 months. Meantime, the timeframe for Savage's WWF Title win was shortened, and he actually won the belt AT WM4, instead of after it. The loser in all this: Ted DiBiase, who never did get his planned brief run as champ.
 
Savage won the belt in the WM4 tournament, beating DiBiase in the finals. My main memory of that day was going into the closed-circuit venue POSITIVE that there would be a Steamboat/Savage rematch in the 2nd round of the tournament. It was the only possible explanation for setting the brackets up like that. Right? Wrong. Steamboat jobbed to then-deteriorated Greg Valentine in the 1st round, and my hopes were dashed. I can only assume if the internets existed back then, they would have exploded when Vince cockteased us with an entirely logical Match of the Year 2nd Round Match, only to serve up a 3 minute Savage/Valentine crap-fest in the 2nd round, instead. Boo.
 
Anyway, Savage won, and did so with some help from Hogan. Hogan would then remain on the periphery of Randy's business for pretty much the entire next year. Savage never had a single 1-on-1 PPV match as champion, as he was always teaming with Hogan. Said matches included SummerSlam (where Miss Elizabeth took off her skirt, and ensured that an entire generation of boys -- myself included -- ended up with their pantsworks wired correctly) and Survivor Series (where Hogan "accidentally" touched Miss Elizabeth in a fashion that Savage thought was suspicious, starting his downward spiral into paranoia). That's another thing that makes Macho's success and today's media coverage all the more amazing: even at his pinnacle, he was Hogan's lackey in a lot of ways. At least, that's how the WWF booked him. But the fans knew the real score, and that's why we're so sad today.
 
Anyway, Hogan and Savage (a/k/a "the MegaPowers") blew up on a live NBC TV special, and went on to face each other at WM5 (where Hogan took the belt back from Savage). Liz had been impartial in the Hogan/Savage feud, but disappeared from TV after WM5. Through mid-1989, Savage worked to re-establish himself as a viable top card heel, eventually becoming "Macho King" Randy Savage by defeating "King" Hacksaw Jim Duggan (the "King" title was a bastardized lineage of the 1986 King of the Ring crown won by Harley Race). With his "queen" Sherri Martel at his side, Savage found himself in a feud with Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire by the end of the year and into 1990's WM6 (where a mixed tag match among the four was a less-than noble way for two already-pre-destined Hall of Famers like Savage and Rhodes to be used on the biggest show of them all).
 
Savage got some credibility back by beating Rhodes in a singles match at SummerSlam that year, and then declaring his intent to take the WWF Title from the Ultimate Warrior. However, this was a tumultuous time in the WWF, and the front office was jumping from plan to plan in an attempt to find some major storyline hook that would help them fill up the Los Angeles Coliseum for WM7. It was starting to look like Warrior/Hogan II wasn't going to work because Warrior was not drawing like they'd hoped. Then there was an idea that Savage could draw money with Hogan. But then even that was scuttled when Vince had the idea to bring in Sgt. Slaughter as an Iraqi Sympathizer at the height of Gulf War Tensions.
 
Of course, that didn't work, either, and WM7 had to be moved from the 100,000 seat Coliseum to the 17,000 seat LA Sports Arena. It should be noted that WWE did not have to refund any tickets in making this move. Ahem. Hogan/Slaughter for the WWF Title was given top billing at WM, but the company went on ahead and followed through on the storyline threads of Savage challenging Warrior... at WM7, the two had a Loser Must Retire Match.
 
Savage lost, but in so doing, accomplished two things: (1) he got an absolutely outstanding match out of Warrior (having a good match with somebody as good as Steamboat is easy; having one with a load like Warrior is amazing), and (2) he reunited with the long-lost Miss Elizabeth. Randy's retirement was never meant to be permanent, but there may well have been real-world significance to including Liz in his "farewell," as Randy was never comfortable with the arrangement of Liz traveling on the road with him and 50 other hornball douchebags. Then for two years, Liz staying at home while Randy was on the road didn't really work out for the best either. The planned break wouldn't just let them work on things off screen, but to hopefully take some inspirado from their storyline playing out ON screen, too.
 
In the role of color commentator, Randy (now a babyface coming out of his retirement match) grew more and more effusive about what a great influence Liz was, and how she was making him so happy about being retired. It all built up to the fateful Saturday morning where he proposed (fake) marriage to her, and she accepted. The already-married couple went through another ceremony at the SummerSlam PPV, and Randy was supposed to remain in his one-day-a-week commentary gig for another 6 months....
 
And then the Ultimate Warrior pulled one of his little hissy fits and got fired minutes after the SummerSlam PPV ended. Vince needed somebody to fill the void left by a departing main eventer. That someone was Randy Savage.
 
The storyline explaining his return to the ring played out over 2 months on TV (starting with a previously unplanned angle where Jake Roberts "crashed" the wedding reception), and included at least one memorably graphic angle where Jake got one of his vipers to clamp down on Randy's arm. The snake may have been venomless, but the visible puncture wounds caused the WWF to censor the angle any time it was replayed. Jake's heinous actions, and Randy's desire to defend himself (and his wife) finally forced President Jack Tunney to rescind Savage's retirement, and let him back into the WWF.
 
Of course, while all this was playing out on TV, Savage was actually back on the road, already, wrestling as the "surprise" replacement for Warrior on house shows after a measley 4 month vacation.
 
On the upside, since he was filling the slot intended for Warrior, Savage was right there at the top of the card. He won his feud with Roberts handily, just as Warrior would have done if he'd stuck around to follow up on the story where Roberts was to be revealed as the evil genius behind Papa Shango's attacks on Warrior... and then, Savage found himself front-and-center when the WWF began pondering its WWF Title Plans for WM8.
 
For reasons still not adequately explained (I still think the story is simple: once Hogan decided he'd be going away for a bit to hide from the steroid accusations, Vince knew Hogan wouldn't job to Flair at WM in what could be Hogan's last match, so Vince knew he had to find somebody disposible to face Hogan at WM8), Hogan was pulled from the WM8 main event against Royal Rumble Winning Ric Flair, and put in a main event against "Psycho" Sid Justice/Vicious. Meantime, WWF Champ Flair got bumped down to the midcard "co-main event," and found himself feuding with Randy Savage.
 
Elizabeth was once again part of Savage's character, as the storyline had Flair claiming he "knew" Liz before Randy. The implication was that he meant "knew" in the Biblical Sense. He even promised naked pictures of Liz would be shown on the jumbotron at WM8. So of course: my ragingly pubescent self immediately begged my parents to buy tickets so we could go to WM8 in Indianapolis. The pictures never appeared, but a good time was still had by me, my brothers, and my not-as-reluctant-as-you'd-think mom.
 
Savage won his 2nd WWF Title that afternoon in Indy. As expected, Hogan went away to hide from the then-hot steroid investigation... his "replacement" was a returning Ultimate Warrior, who was never quite trusted as reliable, and lived down to those expectations by walking out a few months later... and all the while, there was Randy Savage, the WWF Champ, busting his ass and having great matches, all while the WWF had a terrible year, business-wise.
 
Not only was attendence and revenue down, but this is when Vince started putting more effort into not getting convicted of steroid charges than he was putting into his wrestling company. He had his lieutenants in charge, and they were not only hamstrung by absent stars (Hogan trying to stay out of the limelight, and Davey Boy Smith and Road Warrior Hawk for similar physique-related reasons, Warrior gone for batshit insanity reason, etc) but may not have been entirely competent for the job. It was during this period when Vince was hands-off that his underlings agreed to the contract with the World Wildlife Fund that was a stupid contract to agree to, and resulted with the WWF having to become WWE years later.
 
Vince may not have been in control, but he was still keeping tabs on things, and forming opinions. The WWF's nosedive at the box office had to be blamed on somebody. Vince didn't choose to blame the stars who "went missing," nor the underlings who were in charge. Once the WWF took the title and put it on Flair again, and then had Flair immeidately drop it to Bret Hart in a shocking turn of events, neither of the two ever held the same stature in the WWF again.
 
Thus endeth'd the "6 years of awesome" that I refered to above.
 
In early 1993, WCW fans were chanting "We Want Flair," and Flair asked if he could go back and give the fans what they wanted. Shockingly, Vince agreed to this because he saw little to no value in Flair at that point; he practically gift-wrapped the life preserver that WCW would need to eek out its existence until the Bischoff Era took hold. And more to the point: Savage was once again taken out of the main event picture, and turned into an announcer and part-time special attraction (at the age of 39, and significantly younger than Hogan).
 
Savage didn't wrestle at WM9, a show where Hogan returned and won the WWF Title. He didn't wrestle at SummerSlam. He was not scheduled to wrestle at Survivor Series, but wound up taking part in a 4-on-4 match as a last second replacement for Mr. Perfect. From there, he was given the job of feuding with the WWF's monster heel du jour, Crush... though Savage would beat Crush at WrestleMania 10, that would be Randy's last significant match in the WWF. He continued on as a commentator, and was last seen in a "host" capacity at SummerSlam 1994.
 
Savage, still confident that he could perform at a top level, was not pleased with 18 months of being a glorified commentator. The efforts to patch up his marriage with Liz had ultimately failed. Now divorced, Randy had a desire to dedicate himself fully to his wrestling career, which was hard to do when he'd go months between matches, and do one day per week of commentary voice-overs. Vince had apparently lost faith in Savage's drawing power (and may have had some personal issues with him, as well), and when Randy's contract expired in Autumn 1994, there was not much of a "good faith" effort by the WWF to retain his services at a fair market rate for a championship caliber wrestler.
 
Randy wasn't gonna take the commentator/part-time-wrestler offer made to him, especially given that he doubted he'd ever be used properly on rare occassions he got to be a wrestler, what with the WWF's "New Generation" taking shape... luckily for him, Hulk Hogan had jumped to WCW earlier in 1994, and Savage pretty much knew he'd get top dollar from Eric Bischoff, who was at his "writing checks on Uncle Ted's dime" best starting in '94. Sure enough, that's exactly how things worked out, and Randy became another huge "get" for what was shaping up as "WWF South."
 
Coming into WCW, Savage's appearance was made into a big deal, mostly because of uncertainty over how he'd react to being in the same ring with Hogan (Savage had, late in his WWF days, gone public with his belief that Hogan may have slept with Liz, or at the very least encouraged her to leave Randy)... but once he showed up as Hogan's ally, his usefulness to WCW was apparently gone. With no Hogan-related drama, he dropped down the card and had silly feuds with The Shark, participated in (but did not win) a US Title tournament, and other nonsense.
 
It was only when Savage hooked up with another mis-used star, Flair, that he did something of note in WCW. Some 7 months after his WCW debut, Savage started feuding with the Nature Boy. And just in time for the launch of Monday Nitro, where Bischoff counted on stunt booking and surprises to lure fans away from RAW. Suddenly, Bischoff needed all the talented crowd-pleasing stars he could get, and he found that Savage and Flair were doing well with fans. So Randy won the WCW Title in somewhat-suprising/random fashion in a 60-man battle royale,and then proceeded to trade it back and forth with Flair for the next 4 months (into Spring of '96).
 
Of course, the Spring of '96 is when the nWo happened, and Savage started out on the wrong side of that equation. He (and most other anti-nWo WCW stars not named Sting) was shunted aside or used as fodder for Hogan, Nash, and Hall. And then for about a half-dozen others. It got so bad that Savage wanted to leave the company when his contract expired in November '96.... but deep pockets and certain promises were enough to keep him around.
 
In short, that meant Savage got a huge payday, and a chance to join the nWo, hoping to ride their coattails to greater expsoure and bigger matches. But the nWo had grown bloated by early 1997, and Savage was just but one cog in a giant machine. Barely brushing up against the top of the card, Randy still was a solid performer, spending almost the entirety of '97 having various iterations of a feud against Dallas Page (which had legs thanks to the variable participation of both Liz and Kimberly). 
 
Then, from the perspective of This Humble Observer, WCW pretty much went to crap overnight. The abysmal awfulness that was StarrCade '97 (a show that had been massively well-built, but which then shat the bed in its actual execution) cast a pall on all things WCW. Even while adding more ex-WWF stars (the incoming Bret Hart), WCW had no idea what to do with the ones they already had. Randy decided that he had no incentive to keep putting himself on the line in meaningless matches, and had long-needed knee surgery in early '98. When he returned, it was the height of the Nash-booking Era and its nonsense.
 
Just trying to get noticed and find a niche, Savage proposed an idea where his character took things to a new level. He decided that if he'd lost Liz, then the only thing better than 1 hot babe hanging on your arm is THREE hot babes hanging on your arm. His half-his-age girlfriend was one of them, legit wrestling badass Madusa was another, and if we thank him for nothing else, we MUST remember that if it was not for Randy Savage, "Miss Madness" would likely never have found her way onto our TV screens. And of course, Miss Madness is the fine specimen who would one day be known as Molly Holly.
 
The only feud I remember Savage having that was anything particularly different than mid-card tripe was when he feuded with Dennis Rodman. And while that was "different," there is no way it was any "good."
 
Savage disappeared again, and his contract expired again, too. Over the final 18 months of WCW's existence -- from  late 1999 to early 2001 -- Savage would come in and make surprising guest appearances here and there, as part of the Russo-era stunt booking craze, but he never agreed to a full-time contract, and thus never had much of an impact on the overall TV product.
 
Savage participated in a few start-up ventures here and there, but was mostly invisible to wrestling fans as he gave acting a shot... the pinacle of that effort was his role in the first SpiderMan movie as Bonesaw McGraw. Completely against type, Randy played a WRESTLER in that film. Good times...
 
When TNA decided to switch their business plan from a weekly PPV model, they tapped Randy for their jump to FOXSportsNet... he gave them a bit of a boost for their first free-TV show, but only hung around for 2-3 months before creative differences with Jeff Jarrett led to him leaving TNA in late 2004.
 
And then.... well, and then that was it.
 
Randy's body had its aches and pains; he hit 50, and knew some fans were starting to see it in his ring work, so why not go out with some pride? Why risk aches and pain in your brain if you're going to be dealing with a glorified indie promotion that won't treat you the way you (for better or for worse) think you should be treated?
 
Retirement enconsed Randy slowly, but he finally took to it. He settled down with a good woman (and unlike "Gorgeous George" of the early 2000s, it was one in his age group), and he started to think about himself as an ex-wrestler, rather than as a wrestler-waiting-for-his-next job.
 
With that in mind, his relationship with WWE greatly improved. While almost every other star of the 80s and 90s has been embraced by today's WWE in terms of "Legend" status, Savage remained a sore (or rather, non-existent) subject for WWE, fanning the flames of the rumor that he and Vince had personal, rather than business, issues.
 
All that started to change in late 2008, when Randy and Vince met, and agreed to release a 3-disc DVD of Randy's greatest moments (Randy declined to be interviewed for the DVD, so there was no documentary, just footage of his best moments that he helped select). Following the DVD, Randy agreed to an action figure deal, and the first WWE-made figure of "Macho Man" Randy Savage since the early 90s hit shelves in 2010. And just this year, the "WWE All Stars" video game marked the first time Randy Savage has been a playable character in a wrestling game since the days of Sega Genesis and NES systems.
 
For fans, it was a good thing to see. I think most of us have made our peace with the fact that there is absoloutely no justifiable reason for WWE to celebrate Chris Benoit's in-ring accomplishments.... but burying Randy Savage for 15 years is the height of either spitefulness or stupidity. And we were finally moving past that.
 
Which leads us to perhaps the 2nd saddest realization of today. Not just that Randy Savage is dead, and his loss is even greater to his family and friends than it is to us.... but after that, that we fans have now been robbed of the ultimate pay-off to this Savage/WWE fence mending: Randy Savage's induction to the WWE Hall of Fame, and his sure-to-be-awesome speech that night. 
 
Well, that and the sequel DVD which would have had the documentary/interviews that the first one lacked....
 
There's no doubt that Randy is, by all objective metrics, Hall of Fame worthy. And doubts about whether WWE would "let him in" were mostly dashed by the recent business dealings between the two sides... it was just a matter of picking the right spot, because WWE likes to portion out the big names so there's one clear "headliner" to the HoF every year. It might have been next year. Or the year after. There didn't seem to be any reason to rush.
 
And yet: here we are.
 
I guess we can't technically call him a WWE Hall of Famer here in this eulogy.... but I'm going to just go ahead and assume I speak for everybody reading this when I say that Randy "Macho Man" Savage is a Hall of Famer in the hearts and minds of every wrestling fan who was lucky enough to see him do what he did better than almost anybody else in the history of the business.
 
He will not be forgotten.


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
 
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
 
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
 
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
 
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
 
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 


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