Randy Savage Tribute
by Scrooge McSuck
The wrestling community lost one of the all-time great performers this past weekend. Randy Savage spent the better part of three decades entertaining in the ring, dazzling fans with his high-flying athleticism, charismatic persona, and unforgetable interviews. While I never like to hear about the passing of wrestlers, especially ones I remember watching on a weekly basis, I have to say that hearing about Savage's passing is truely the one that really hurts the most, not only for myself, not only for wrestling fans, but for everyone around the world. Randy Savage's name was synonymous with professional wrestling, but you didn't have to be a wrestling fan to know who he was. A larger than life character with his trademark sunglasses, deep, gruff voice, and a hankering for Slim Jim's, Randy Savage burned an everlasting image in the minds of everyone. While I will admit, I didn't care for some of the stories about Randy Savage's personal life and subsequent problems within it, I can only speak of the man for his performances in the squared circle, and in my honest opinion, he was one of the greatest of all time, and you could always count on him to put on a great show. I'm going to miss Randy Savage, but he left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten, and enough memories that will last a lifetime.
What follows is a collection of my favorite moments and matches featuring the Macho Man. While they are numbered, that doesn't mean that #1 is the definitive moment of his career, it just happens to be my favorite moment, and that's all that matters. And yes, even though Savage's career spanned over 25 years and various promotions, this list is exclusively World Wrestling Federation. So enjoy the list, and try not to take it too seriously, in case you don't agree with some of my selections....
Honorable Mention #1: Randy Savage convinces Mr. Perfect to be his Partner
While this is more along the lines of a "Mr. Perfect" moment, I just had to mention it here. For those who don't remember, we were roughly a week away from the 1992 Survivor Series, and the Ultimate Warrior, Savage's originally scheduled partner, had a horrible falling out with Vince McMahon and left the company with zero notice, forcing a complete over-haul of the card's main event featuring Savage and his partner against the make-shift team of Ric Flair and Razor Ramon, managed by Mr. Perfect. Wait, sorry, with their executive consultant, Mr. Perfect. Randy Savage, master of manipulation, appeared on Primetime Wrestling, the only time the show featured a heavy storyline, and pleaded his case to Perfect, feeding his ego the entire time, and being the cause behind the bickering among the entire group, which lead to Perfect taking offense to being considered past it, and teaming with Savage more out of spite to his former allies, rather than to help Savage out. I just loved how Savage was being a dick the entire time. It worked well, and did a good job of making sense of the sudden change to a major PPV situation.
Honorable Mention #2: Feud with Crush, WrestleMania X
I mentioned earlier that Savage had the ability to make anyone a believable threat and make the best of a given situation... here you go. It started with Crush being "injured" at the hands of Yokozuna, and Bobby Heenan blaming Savage for not helping Crush, even though it meant losing his position at the Raw broadcast booth for becoming physically involved in a match. Crush came back in October, but he had Mr. Fuji with him, and a new, evil goatee. Crush wanted a confrontation, and called Savage out. Savage obliged, and pleaded with Crush to not go down that path and do the right thing. It was all very convincingly done and you actually felt like forgiving Crush for letting his anger get the best of him... but then he turns on Savage anyway, and beats the crap out of him. The blowoff was a Falls Count Anywhere Match at Wrestlemania X, held at Madison Square Garden. While it wasn't the greatest match of all time, Savage once again show-cased that he still had enough in him to go. Sadly, it was the last time fans of the World Wrestling Federation would get to see the Macho Man grace the squared circle.
5. Intercontinental Title Match vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat; WrestleMania III
Little has to be said to introduce this match. It's one that is going to be on "Best of..." lists for years to come, as long as there is wrestling fans with enough free time to dedicate to them, and has been declared over and over again by the newer generation of wrestling fans as one of those matches that just stuck in their mind as inspiration for wanting to be professional wrestlers. This feud can be summed up with one key incident. During a Non-Title match on Superstars, Randy Savage came crashing down on Steamboat's throat with the ring bell, "injuring" him in the process. Steamboat came back pissed off and wanting Savage's title. The two would steal the show at WrestleMania III, putting on a great match, with non-stop action, building tension, and a lot of intensity, before finally seeing a new Champion crowned. Even though Savage lost the match, his career would only grow greater, while Steamboat's would fade in and out before premature retirement. As I mentioned before, I hate being the guy saying this wasn't the greatest match of all time, but it wasn't the greatest match of all time. It was still pretty damn good, and one of a handful of reasons to check out WrestleMania III for repeated viewings.
4. Feud with Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Fall 1991
It all started, coincidentally enough, with the sudden departure of the Ultimate Warrior. Randy Savage was pulled out of "retirement" and thrusted into a program with the recently turned heel Roberts. It all started at the wedding reception of Savage and Elizabeth, a.k.a "Mrs. Macho." Roberts, an uninvited guest (oxymoron!), gave the present of a cobra, and viciously attacked Savage with the help of the Undertaker. Savage, still retired, pleaded for weeks to be reinstated by Jack Tunney. It wasn't until the snake incident that he got his wish. What snake incident, you say? Well, on the episode of Superstars before the 1991 Survivor Series, Roberts tricked Savage to come to the ring, tied him up in the ropes, and unleashed a cobra on him. The cobra then started biting Savage's arm. The camera made a good point to catch a very good close up, watching the snake attaching itself to Savage, drawing blood in the process. The whole thing freaked me out, and obviously fans at ringside, too. The two would meet at a special PPV dubbed "Tuesday in Texas", where the carnage continued. Savage won the match, but Roberts got the last laugh, viciously beating Savage after the match, then physically assaulting Elizabeth, something unheard of to wrestling fans. Although the feud just kind of flamed out from there, until a lame blow-off match on the first episode of Saturday Night's Main Event on FOX, it was still one of the best programs put together to close out the year 1991.
3. Macho Man wins the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IV
Wrestlemania IV is often remembered for two reasons. The Tournament and the pathetic collective corpse of a crowd. While the latter truely makes for a bad experience, the former is memorable, just for the fact it was a one night tournament to declare a new WWF Champion. All the top names were involved, but only one man was walking away champion, and that was the Macho Man. Savage went through the likes of "The Natural" Butch Reed, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, the One Man Gang, and "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase to become crowned the new champion. One of the more unsung parts of the entire four match experience was that for every match, Savage and Elizabeth came to the ring with different, matching outfits. I know it's such a minor detail, but sometimes it's the minor details that make for a better experience. While some will question the ending of his match with Dibiase to finally win the title, who can question the final, lasting image from Wrestlemania IV, with Elizabeth on the Macho Man's shoulders, world title belt around her shoulder. I feel like I'm forgeting something from this whole show, I can't imagine what it could be... Oh, wait, and then you had the association with Hulk Hogan, which leads us into...
2. The Mega Powers... EXPLODE!
Although WrestleMania IV marked the first major happening of the newfound friendship between the Hulk and the Mach', it was really on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event where Elizabeth pleaded for the Hulkster to help her save Macho Man from a brutal attack at the hands of the Honkytonk Man and Hart Foundation. After Wrestlemania IV, the alliance was quieted down until Savage needed help fighting off the super-team of Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant, and brought Hulk Hogan with him to take on the Mega Bucks at the inaugural SummerSlam, held at Madison Square Garden. As time went by, though, Savage grew increasingly frustrated or paranoid, depending on who's side you are on in the storyline, about the friendship between Hogan and Elizabeth. Enter the Twin Towers, two mammoth men named Akeem and the Big Boss Man, who helped drive a wedge in between the Mega Powers. It all finally came to a head at The Main Event, a television special broadcast the first week of February, 1989. In it, Elizabeth was accidentally struck and knocked unconcious during the tag match. Hulk Hogan, ditching his partner, carried Elizabeth back to the locker room, refusing to leave her side while recieving medical treatment. Hogan eventually returned to the ring, and was greeted with a slap to the face. After the match, Savage finally confronted Hogan for having lustful eyes for Elizabeth, and then his jealousy over not being World Champion anymore. When Savage was finally done laying the verbal smackdown, he viciously attacked Hogan from behind and even put his hands on Elizabeth, who attempted to break things up. This would all lead to the blowoff at WrestleMania V, which ended up doing ridiculously good buisness for it's time. Hogan won, of course, but again, it was a classic example of Savage making a storyline seem that more believable and intense.
1. The Retirement Match, WrestleMania VII
I am going to say this once... this is easily my favorite match featuring the Macho Man, and not just my favorite "moment" of his. I will go on a record and say it is one of my top five matches of all time, when it comes down to being able to watch it over and over again. The storyline leading in wasn't much to brag about... Savage was a falling star clinging to his glory, and ended up pissing the wrong guy off, the Ultimate Warrior, by costing him the title after Warrior refused to give Savage a shot at his title. The two never made much interaction between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, as the entire feud was covered with promos airing every week during the Event Center, up until the Primetime WrestleMania Special where the contract was officially signed. No, it wasn't until the match was getting ready to take place that things took an unexpected turn.
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan are at the commentary booth, talking about what we're about to see. A match between two men where the loser must retire. Midway through, though, we see Heenan's attention distracted, and he instructs the camera man to track down Elizabeth, who is sitting among the crowd, somewhere along the second or third row in the entrance aisle. Surprising at the time, since we had not seen Elizabeth since WrestleMania VI, where she also was involved in Savage's match.
What followed by an all time classic. Warrior, who I will long consider a terrible wrestler, did a great job of doing what he was capable of doing right, and keeping pace with Savage, a notorious wrestler known to map out matches in precise detail. With a slow start, and building up gradually, it was a roller coaster of a match. Savage seemed to have the match won, dropping multiple elbows onto the Warrior, only for the Warrior to kick out. Warrior responded by performing his signature finishing moves, but Savage had enough in the tank to kick out as well. Warrior would begin talking to himself, questioning his destiny, and opting to take a walk, but Savage's sneak attack on the Warrior, gave the Warrior motivation to not walk away, and completely destroy Savage, pinning him with one foot after multiple diving shoulder tackles.
After the match, Randy Savage's manager, the Sensational Sherri, frustrated and livid at Savage for losing (and losing her meal ticket, according to Monsoon), began to viciously assault the defenseless Macho Man. Suddenly, Elizabeth hopped the rail, charged the ring, and threw Sherri out by the hair, the first time I can recall Elizabeth ever recall becoming physically involved in the action. Savage, barely making it to his feet, finally turned around, and saw only Elizabeth. After a game of "ask the crowd what happened", and after catching a glimpse of the angered Sherri still at ringside, Savage came to the realization of what happened. Elizabeth wasn't hurting him, Elizabeth came to help him. After a long dramatic pause, the two finally embraced in the center of the ring, and the camera crew did their best to catch a handful of people crying their eyes out. Savage would hoist Elizabeth on his shoulders, celebrating not losing the match, but what he got back, Elizabeth, and the love and appreciation from the fans, who gave a man they soo mercilessly boo'ed to start the match, a rousing ovation leaving the ring. I am not in the least bit embarrassed to admit I was crying writing this last paragraph, or specifically, the last couple of sentences up.
While these moments and matches stand out most to me, Randy Savage's career can hardly be summed up in just five paragraphs. There are countless matches and moments that are out there waiting to be viewed and discussed, and I'm going to do my best to enjoy them as much as possible. I'd like to close this by saying one thing... need a little excitement? Snap into a Slim Jim, Ooooh Yeah!!
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