When you think of professional wrestling and you ask the average person to come up with five names one of those names without a doubt will be “Macho Man” Randy Savage. It was three years ago today he died behind the wheel of his car driving with his new wife of just over a year. The death of Savage, like the recent passing of the Ultimate Warrior was not just a wrestling news story, it was a news story period.
Randy Savage’s influence on the wrestling business is massive. Very low on that list of impact is the fact you are reading this article written by me. I would not be a wrestling fan if not for having seen Randy Savage on a television screen as a child. He stood out in a land of over the top personalities in the eighties. He was unique even in that setting. He was supposed to be the “bad guy” I was supposed to hate him and boo him. How on earth could I though? This guy was cool and was everything a young me thought defined that. He wore sunglasses and flashy robes that were always different. He had a gorgeous woman as his manager, Miss Elizabeth and in the ring he flew through the air with reckless abandon like no one else at the time.
It is hard to explain to younger fans how unique Savage was as a wrestler; to do a spot jumping from the top rope to the floor was unheard of at that time. There was only one guy that did an axe-handle to the floor and he had stars on the front of his tights and “Macho Man” on the back of them. Perhaps the most famous time he used that move was when he had a beaten down Ricky Steamboat’s neck laid across the old steel guard rail. Savage would than climb to the top and crash down on him the force driving Steamboat’s throat into that guard rail. Savage was not done as he took Steamboat threw him back in the ring and got the ring bell and smashed it across the injured throat that Steamboat was clutching. That was the start to the angle that would become one of the greatest wrestling matches of all-time at Wrestlemania III.
Still to this day that match is exciting and a match that many current day wrestlers will reference as their favourite wrestling match of all-time. Some now look down on that match as it would be known that pretty much that entire match was scripted. Savage was insane about it having ever single spot planned out. While some say that takes away from it, personally I think it speaks to the brilliance of Savage. He made that match what it was and all in the end to ultimately lose and put over Steamboat.
Savage would have many other memorable moments like winning the WWF Title the following year that as history has shown was originally promised to go to “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. A series of events led to it being Savage and in the end it was his finest moment in the WWF at the time. This would set the scene for a year long build to Hogan and Savage first teaming together as the “Mega-Powers” to eventually breaking up and Savage returning to his “evil” ways and facing Hogan for the title at Wrestlemania V.
Savage again in a match that was never originally planned to happen but he would win the title for a second time against Ric Flair at Wrestlemania VIII. This was going to be Flair vs. Hogan, but for a variety of reasons the WWF decided not to run with that program for Wrestlemania. Instead doing an angle where Flair would get after Savage by claiming to have had a relationship with Elizabeth who Savage had reunited with after losing to the Ultimate Warrior the year prior.
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For me the WWE Hall of Fame will always be incomplete until Randy Savage is given his rightful place in it. There are lots of rumours and speculation as to why this has never happened. It all might be true, but what is also true and undeniable is the impact Savage had on this business. Even going back to his days in Memphis, he was a huge deal in that area of the world. Moving forward to more modern times where he influenced an entire generation. He captured people’s imagination in so many ways and he was truly larger than life. Unlike many stars of his era when his time was done he really stayed away from the wrestling business.
I will always be grateful to C.M Punk for bringing Randy Savage’s legacy back to the forefront by doing his version of the “Savage Elbow” from the top rope. It never looked as graceful or as good as the original one performed by Savage, but it made him relevant to a whole new generation of fans. Randy Savage chants were once again filling WWE arenas and his memory was kept alive. Punk after his passing as a tribute dawned the classic Savage trunks with yellow boots and knee pads with CM Punk on the back instead of “Macho Man” the show after news of his passing three years ago.
Jay Lethal in TNA would do the Macho Man gimmick and did a complete impersonation with a Savage imitation of his very familiar voice. I do my own version of that as well and there are not too many Savage imitation’s that are to level of mine but his was. I remember Lethal recalling that he once got a phone call from Savage saying how much he liked the tribute. Lethal thought it was a prank from someone, but later came to realize that it was in fact actually Randy Savage.
The truth is I could go on and talk about how Savage is truly one of the pioneers of the high flying wrestling style that we see today. He was one of the first to wrestle in that way on such a large stage. If you ask 100 wrestlers about Randy Savage that knew him what they remember about him one word is used by all of them. Intensity, it was what drove Randy to be the performer and person that he was. He was always wound really tight and had a hard time trusting people in a sport where it is vital to do so in many respects. He would continue on in WCW and was the guy that made Diamond Dallas Page a huge star. Choosing to work with him and allow him to go over on him in their feud. Something that was up to Savage as he like so many had creative control in his time in WCW.
I could go on for days telling you how great Randy Savage was and how he is one of the greatest in the history of this industry. It makes me so very sad he was denied the chance that the Ultimate Warrior was given this past Wrestlemania to be honoured in the way he deserved. Still, I think Savage knew how much people all around the world loved him and now miss him since his passing 3 years ago.
My hero as a small child was Randy “Macho Man” Savage. He wasn’t perfect but he was still my guy no matter what. He will always be the reason I love wrestling and in a strange way the things I like about wrestling and various wrestlers all ties back to Randy Savage. You can have your debates on who is the greatest wrestler of all-time with names like Hogan, Austin, The Rock, Michaels, Flair and a bunch of others. Savage is in the debate and rightfully so.
I can’t believe it has been three years that he has been gone. He will never be gone from my thoughts and memories as it is the same for millions around the world that loved him. I never met him but I felt like I knew him. That right there is the secret to any performer’s success not just in wrestling but in entertainment. That ability to leap off a screen and make you care about them and feel like you relate or connect to them in some way.
Macho Madness will live forever thanks to the man Randy Poffo and his dedication and love to the sport of professional wrestling.