Randy Savage RIP
|OFFWORLD - OTHER|
You better give it up for a true wrestling icon...
So sue me, I'm a wrestling fan. I first got into what WWE head cheese Vince McMahon prefers to call 'sports entertainment' these days way back in the early 1990s, in the era of (then) established stars like Hulk Hogan, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake, 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, 'Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase, Mr Perfect, Big Bossman and a colourful, gravel throated character known as the 'Macho Man, aka Mr Randy Savage.
Born Randall Mario Poffo in 1952, Savage was a supernova among stars in the WWF roster, a character so much larger than life that even the red and yellow machismo machine that was Hulk Hogan struggled to match him in the charisma stakes.
Coming from athletic stock (his father Angelo Poffo, a well known wrestler in his own right in the 1950s and 60s who at one point held the World Sit Up record), Savage initially aspired to be a baseball player, doing rookie time with the St Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox before an injury to his right shoulder in 1974 scuppered his hopes of major league success while he was with the Tampa Tarpons.
Fortunately for Savage he had already been flirting with wrestling shortly before his departure from the baseball diamond, initially in the guise of the Spider-man inspired 'The Spider Friend' (somewhat ironic given his cameo in Sam Raimi's 2002 take on Peter Parker's superhero alter ego) before adopting the more familiar Macho Man persona.
After short spells with the maverick International Championship Wrestling promotion and Jerry 'The King' Lawler's Continental Wrestling Association, Savage signed up with the WWF in 1995, hooking up with manager Miss Elizabeth (who was to become an important part of his professional and personal life) and eventually making his PPV (pay per view) debut on 7th November 1985 in The Wrestling Classic as part of a sixteen man tournament that saw him defeat the likes of Ivan Putski and Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat before being counted out by Junkyard Dog.
He won his first WWF Intercontinental title in February 1986 (after using an illegal steel object to defeat Tito Santana) which he later successfully defended against George 'The Animal' Steele in Uniondale, New York as part of the groundbreaking tri-city Wrestlemania 2. (The other two venues were in Rosemont, Illinois and Los Angeles, California.)
The following year he was involved in what is widely considered as one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time when his fourteen month run as Intercontinental champion was ended by Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat after no less than fourteen two-counts at Wrestlemania 3 (held at the Pontiac Silverdome).
Twelve months later, at Wrestlemania IV, Savage was a champion once more when he tore his way through a fourteen man championship for the then vacant WWF Championship, defeating the likes of Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine along the way before facing off against Ted 'Million Dollar Man' DiBiase in the final and pinning him with a little help from Hulk Hogan.
For the next 371 days Savage retained his championship, though he turned heel in the meantime after Hogan also took on Miss Elizabeth as his manager and then accidentally eliminated Savage from the 1989 Royal Rumble. This feud culminated in a title match between the former friends at Wrestlemania V when Hogan ended Savage's reign (though he holds the distinction of being the last person to hold the title for so long until John Cena came along).
In 1990 Savage began a feud with the Ultimate Warrior that led to a confrontation at Wrestlemania VII in which despite his best efforts, Warrior defeated Savage resulting in a post defeat beating by Queen Sherri that moved his now estranged beau Miss Elizabeth (who, luckily, just happened to be in the audience) to rush to his side at which point grown men could be seen crying as he supposedly retired from the square circle.
In true wrestling form, however, after entering into an on screen feud with Ric Flair, who claimed to have slept with Savage's by then wife Miss Elizabeth, the Macho Man stepped into the ring with the 'Nature Boy' and defeated him to claim his second WWF Championship title.
While all seemed hunky dory between Savage and Elizabeth on WWF TV, in real life the couple had separated and Savage made a rare admission in WWF magazine in 1992 that the private lives of wrestlers were not always as they appeared to be on television., at which point Miss Elizabeth was effectively airbrushed from WWF history for the remaining two years of Savage's involvement with Vince McMahon's growing empire.
Savage continued to wrestle for the next couple of years, as well as appearing as a commentator for a number of matches, before making his final major appearance at Wrestlemania X in a falls count anywhere match in which he defeated the Hawaiian grappler Crush.
Unhappy at his diminishing role in the WWF, Savage left later that year when his contract expired and signed up with the rival WCW, where he stayed for the next six years, winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship four times in the process, before apparently disappearing from the world of wrestling after participating in a 41-man Battle Royal on 3rd May 2000 on the expiration of his WCW contract.
Four years later, Savage briefly returned to the square circle at Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling's Victory Road promotion, teaming up with Jeff Hardy and A J Styles to defeat the ex-WWF trio of Jeff Jarrett, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, but this was short lived due to a disagreement over the finish of a December 2004 pay per view and the Macho Man was done with wrestling for the last time.
Though Savage had effectively been absent from the screens of wrestling fans for more than a decade, his short run with TNA and his role as Slim Jim spokesman aside, there was something about the Macho Man that reached through the fourth wall and spoke to us, ensuring that he was never far from our hearts. Savage had that certain something that today's (and indeed most of 'yesterday's') wrestlers would kill for. He had charisma, he had charm, he had the ability to make women want to mother him and men want to have a pint with him.
His complete and utter devotion to Miss Elizabeth, his real life wife from 1984 to 1992, was not only believable (mainly because it was real) but touching, and gave him a unique human quality among his fellow wrestlers. From the first time I saw him wrestle, in his louder-than-life outfits, to his emotional reunion with Miss Elizabeth at Wrestlemania VIII after his match with Ric Flair, to his lovable rogue promos (always delivered with his impossibly deep voice), to his cameo as Bonesaw McGraw in Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man movie, the Macho Man held a very special place not only in my heart but in the hearts of so many others.
It was a devastating TKO then, when I found out earlier tonight that the man who had been a hero of mine for the best part of two decades had died after reportedly suffering a heart attack at the wheel of his Jeep. I have no shame in admitting I shed a tear or two for this most unique of men, who proved that you could be both macho and a real, caring, emotional man.
Randy Savage, you will be missed, by many, many people, but on behalf of all those who are grieving tonight, I'd just like to say thank you, and may you rest in peace. Oh yeah.
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