May 20th, 2011 saw the unfortunate death of Randy Poffo, known to most as Macho Man Randy Savage. It was a truly sad day for those who knew Randy Poffo. It’s hard to put into words what Randy Savage meant to wrestling fans. Everyone has their own memories of him. My hope with this week’s Nosebleeds was to look at Savage’s career and talk about his strong points and what he did for wrestling. I cannot possibly do the career of Savage justice in one column. To attempt do so would be arrogant and disrespectful on my part. What I can do is share with all of you some of my favorite memories of Macho Man. He was one of my favorites growing up, and many of you have your own memories of Macho Man. Those memories should be shared and cherished. What I share here I hope shows what Savage meant to me.
I will always remember Savage and Miss Elizabeth. They were one of the great couple in WWE history. One of my favorite Savage moments came at the first SummerSlam in 1988 during the Mega Powers-Mega Bucks main event. Savage and Hulk Hogan had the tide going against them in their match against Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant. Elizabeth hopped up on the ring apron and tore off the lower part of her dress, revealing a short skirt. Dibiase and Andre dropped their jaws as Hogan and Savage giggled like teenage boys on the outside. They capitalized on the distraction and won the match. Of course it is hard to talk about Savage and Elizabeth without talking about their split. When the Mega Powers broke up, it wasn’t just Hogan and Savage splitting, Elizabeth was one of them. As a young viewer I was captivated by the feud. Now far removed from those days, I am amazed at how well everyone involved executed the breakup of the Mega Powers. Savage in particular helped out that over the top. His character’s instability and paranoia are what drove the whole program. It would all culminate in a great match at WrestleMania V.
Savage’s WrestleMania career was very impressive. People still point to his match with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III as one of the best ever. I really liked his match the following year with Ted Dibiase. I loved how every match he had that night, he and Elizabeth wore a different outfit. The match with Dibiase got the title on Savage, gave him Hulk Hogan’s endorsement, and the launched the creation and destruction of the Mega Powers. The match at WM V with Hogan was another great match, but off all the Mania matches Savage had, I always preferred the his bout with Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. I loved the moment in the match where Savage went up top and Warrior caught him, sat him on his feet, and then slapped him across the face. That moment was some of the best storytelling at any WrestleMania. The match was a classic. In the minutes after the match, Sherri turned on Savage for losing. Elizabeth, who was sitting at ringside, pounced on Sherri, and reunited with Randy. It was one of those classic WrestleMania moments.
Savage’s promos were insane. Whenever I need a good smile, I just type “Randy Savage promo” into the YouTube search bar. The memorable quotes are just too many to list. What you could always count on in a Savage promo was intensity and a smile. You have to be made of stone if you watch a Macho Man promo and don’t smile at least once. His presence just pulled you in and said it all, the words were just filler. My brother Dave and I were laughing as we watched the 1996 Bash at the Beach when, during the first part of the show, Tony Schiavone expressed his thanks to have a psycho like Savage on WCW’s team for their war with the Outsiders. Savage played a pivotal role that night as he was the man Hulk Hogan turned against that night to form the NWO. The night after, Savage said it all when he stated that what he wanted to say and do to Hogan in retaliation was not appropriate for television, especially at the Disney studio. It’s just crazy how those words coming out of anyone else would sound cheesy, but they were different coming out of Savage.
When Savage turned heel and joined the NWO himself down the line, he engaged in a feud with Diamond Dallas Page that would elevate Page from the middle of the card to the main event. One of the greatest aspects of a legend is watching how they work with talent down on the card. What Savage did with Page speaks volumes about how good he was at his job. It’s not that he was the best ever, but he was very good. Savage was used by WCW to initiate the NWO split. First it was Savage, then Kevin Nash. Ever since the formation of the New World Order, it was inevitable they would have a rift. People may have been bored with the yet another Savage-Hogan series of matches, but Savage was the perfect choice for the first NWO member to go rogue. I enjoyed seeing him have another run at the top in 1998 when he beat Sting in a pretty decent match for the WCW Championship, as well as his feud with Bret Hart. We never got to see that feud on a big scale in WWE, so having it happen in WCW was very nice.
One of the funniest moments Savage had was during his feud with Kevin Nash in 1999. During the build to the match, Savage was shown carrying a bucket of excrement backstage saying “Yeah! That’s fermented!” It was even funnier when he screamed and squirmed as Nash emptied a septic tank onto Savage in the back of his limo. Every step he took, every time he opened his mouth, every time he stepped in the ring, you paid attention. He managed to make the act of carrying a bucket backstage pull you in. It’s just amazing how great of a character he was.
I wish I could say more about Randy Poffo, but I only knew Randy Savage, the guy I saw on television. I never met the man, but I knew the character very well. Like so many of you, I have many great memories of Savage. I cannot speak about his private life, but as a television character, I came to know the creativity of the man behind it. While I never knew him, I want to thank Randy Poffo for the memories. I will truly never forget. I hope that I can honor my Macho Memories properly.