This wasn’t the way I wanted to come back to writing columns after a 2 month hiatus. This wasn’t even the time I intended to come back and write a column. However I would regret it later on if I never had the chance to share my thoughts on the passing of the great “Macho Man” Randy Savage…you’re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
It’s no secret at 29 years old I am a child of the 80’s which is really where “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s heyday was. Even though I was just really getting into wrestling when he first came into the then WWF I had never nor have ever since seen another like him. My first memory although somewhat vague was when he had his house show feud with Hulk Hogan and would wear T- Shirts with the words “Hulk Who” on them. Much like Hulk Hogan was a superhero come to life Randy Savage was really the first super villain I ever heard of since I wasn’t a big comic book fan at that age and while I had faith in my then hero Hulk Hogan I was a bit worried that this guy with the gravelly voice just might get the job done as he was so much different from all the other villains in the WWF at the time.
Of course I didn’t realize that most house show feuds end with the company being kept status quo and Hogan’s title reign was not in jeopardy but I bought into the hype. I wish I could say I have memories of him growing up as the Intercontinental Champion but being so young at the time I am amazed I remember the “Hulk Who” promos as much as I do because I don’t recall much of Savage as the Intercontinental Champion. I remember snippets of his feud with George “The Animal” Steele and vaguely remember the angle in which Ricky Steamboat’s larynx was crushed but I don’t remember watching the epic match that they had at Wrestlemania III as a child. My stronger memories of Savage would come later as he would become one of the “good guys” as I would like to refer to them and would go onto become WWF Champion and one half of the Mega Powers. At 6 years old the Mega Powers were the tandem for me and I can’t recall being in too many schoolyards at that age where you would play wrestling and someone didn’t do the infamous Mega Powers handshake. I laugh now as I am writing this because it was really so stupid but it worked so well at the time and I guess you just had to grow up in that era to really understand it.
As champion he was awesome and in that initial title reign I do fondly recall many of his title defenses against Andre the Giant, Ted Dibiase and even Bad News Brown. I never turned my back on my hero Hulk Hogan but I understood that what I was watching from Savage was something unique and different that I just couldn’t get from Hogan and even at that age I appreciated it. Everyone who regularly reads this column knows that former independent wrestler Diablo Santiago is my cousin and pretty much the guy I grew up watching alongside of. To this day he always will tell me how he doesn’t have a favorite wrestler but Randy Savage was his favorite heel. I remember watching the angle on Saturday Night’s Main Event where he turned on Hulk Hogan and accused Hogan of “lusting after Elizabeth” and being legitimately hurt as Diablo celebrated with glee proclaiming “He is back, he is back”. Of course his good feelings wouldn’t last too long as the Mega Powers would explode at Wrestlemania V which to this day is still my favorite Hulk Hogan Wrestlemania match and Hulk would vanquish the “Macho Man” to become only the second person to regain the WWF title (What a long way we have come since then huh?).
Randy would stick around though and win the King’s Crown from “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and become the greatest and most memorable of the 4 men to hold that distinction and also the last as the WWF was in store to deal with “The kingdom of the Madness” and it’s ruler “The Macho King”. It was around this time that the WWF originally had a deal with Mike Tyson and we would’ve had Tyson refereeing a match 8 or 9 years before he actually did Wrestlemania XIV but of course he lost the Undisputed Championship to James “Buster” Douglas who wound up taking the ref gig and refereed a match between “The Macho King” and Hulk Hogan which of course had a similar finish to Tyson refereeing at Wrestlemania XIV in that Douglas counted the pin on Savage and afterwards laid him out with a right hand. He would go onto team with actor Tom “Tiny” Lister Jr. who most wrestling fans would remember as Zeus but younger fans may know from the “Friday” movies in a series of matches the last of which was a steel cage encounter on PPV that was intended to promote the No Holds Barred movie that starred Lister and Hogan and was the only match on the show.
Of course all good things come to an end and Hogan would lose the title to the Ultimate Warrior and Savage would pursue and cost the Warrior the title and have the greatest match I have ever seen the Warrior have at Wrestlemania VII and retire. Many fans will remember that match for the post match reunion between Randy and Miss Elizabeth. Me? I will always remember a spot in which Savage kicked out of the warrior splash and Warrior looked at his hands, the sky and just gave up and left until Savage bought him back into the match. To this day while I loved the match I always thought it was a stupid spot and it was the main thing I took away from the match.
I could keep going and keep regurgitating his career but I’d much rather most of you go back and buy/rent or just watch some videos and see some of these angles take place. There are many that everyone always talks about as being “All time classics” such as the Steamboat encounter, the matches with Hogan or the match I just referenced with the Ultimate Warrior. Personally I always enjoyed the Randy Savage matches that never really received there just due such as his final Wrestlemania match against Crush at Wrestlemania X and his match with Dennis Rodman at Road Wild 1999. I am not saying these were epic encounters but just the fact that Randy could take a guy like Dennis Rodman and get a decent, entertaining match out of him I thought was pretty cool.
I don’t think I have ever seen a bad Randy Savage match or promo. He was a guy who took whatever the company he worked for gave him and made it something to see. An entertaining guy in the ring and out. I remember myself and Diablo would watch PPV at a friend of his named Michael Bollimo’s house and this guy was like an ultra fan and for that matter so was his entire family including the grandmother. Every inch of that guy’s room was covered with wrestling paraphernalia and everyone in the family watched and loved wrestling and went to all the shows. We watched Wrestlemania X in that guy’s house and before the show he showed us his video of what would later be called WWE Fan Axxess in which he and his whole family attended. All they could talk about was how the only wrestler who really did anything extra for the camera was the “Macho Man” and looking back on it, it really showed at the time the kind of guy he was. You see this was when WWE was touring hard and you look at most of those guys at the event and while they weren’t mean you could tell they didn’t really want to be there but not “The Macho Man” who gave a big smile, thumbs up and “Ooooh Yeah” everytime he saw that camera on him. The guy was always on.
I know there are many fans who always point to the NWO as when they became interested in WCW and saw them as a viable competitor for the WWE. For me it happened months before the NWO as the hot angle in WCW was “Macho Man” feuding with Ric Flair for the WCW title and I was a huge fan of both as the angle and the matches were entertaining as hell and in my eyes that was when I became more interested in WCW over the WWE. One of my favorite pieces then was when they had “Macho Man” suspended from all televised events and would show him trying to enter the building to get arrested. I remember one WCW Saturday Night in which he saw a camera man filming him and just stomped the snot out of the poor guy. People don’t remember this too well but in that initial Scott Hall promo he even referenced it when referring to “The Nacho Man” he went on to say “that guy can’t even get in the building”. Again like most things it was something you had to watch in it’s time to really appreciate it.
I always looked forward to that day when “Macho Man” would get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. I know many people would point to many rumors about him and Stephanie McMahon or Vince being hurt by him jumping to WCW as reasons he was on the outs with WWE but I always held true to the belief that everyone comes back and truly believed it was just a matter of time before Randy would be back in the WWE. I imagined that speech being one of the most awesome I had ever seen live or otherwise and it truly being a great WWE moment. We will never get that moment now as even if WWE does put Randy into the Hall of Fame (which I would be shocked if it doesn’t take place this next year in Miami) he won’t be there to accept and it’ll be too late for all of us to really show him what he meant to us.
I’m going to miss Randy Savage; he is one of the all time greats and truly a legend in a business where everyone claims to be some sort of legend or icon. Best believe every time I see a top rope double axe handle, a top rope elbow drop or even a slim jim wrapper I will be thinking of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Wherever he is I know “Macho Man” is headling right now and I’m pretty sure his audience is stilling “digging it.”