WWE HALL OF FAME, CLASS OF 2015, PROFILES: “MACHO MAN” RANDY SAVAGE

Posted March 28th, 2015 by jshannon

WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2015, Profiles: “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Jay Shannon finishes out his look at the Class of 2015 by examining the life and times of the leader of this year’s class: “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

Savage was the one person that almost every fan has begged to see go into the Hall of Fame. The second generation star was one of the biggest stars of the Hulkamania era and beyond. Savage’s life came to an end far too soon. It is my honor to detail the works of the one and only…Randy Savage

The Early Years

Randy Mrio Poffo was the elder son of wrestling legend, Angelo Poffo. He was born, in Columbus, Ohio, on November15.1952. The family moved around quite a bit, due to Angelo’s wrestling. The family finally settled in one of the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Randy was very interested in sports and particularly baseball. Poffo was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals organization and sent to the minor leagues. Poffo went right from high school to playing pro baseball. Savage injured his right shoulder during a slide into home plate. He had to switch to using his left arm. To keep in shape during the off-season, Randy began to wrestle. Unfortunately, Poffo’s baseball contract prevented him for competing in “contact sports”. To get around that stipulation, Poffo donned a mask and body costume and took the identity of “The Spider”. Poffo had to make a decision between the two sports he loved…and he chose wrestling.

A Savage is Born

Randy Poffo got his nickname “Macho Man” from a most unusual source, his mother. Most fans thought the name came from the Village People song. In fact, Poffo’s mother was reading “Reader’s Digest” and saw the term in an article. She told her son that “Macho Man” would become one of the biggest names in the business and she was so right. As for the switch of surnames, credit to that goes to Ole Anderson. Anderson was working as the Booker for Georgia Championship Wrestling. Anderson was watching Randy wrestle when he quipped “That boy wrestles like a Savage”. The name stuck. Savage spent much of his early career working with his father, Angelo, and his younger brother, Lanny.

The Poffo Brothers were the main performers in Angelo Poffo’s ICW promotion. Randy eventually moved to the Memphis area. Randy feuded with Jerry Lawler over the AWA Southern Heavyweight title, while joining his brother to battle the Rock n Roll Express. Randy injured Ricky Morton by Piledriving him through a table. Savage eventually did a Face Turn to help Lawler battle Jimmy Hart and his First Family faction. Savage also worked numerous shows in Puerto Rico during 1984. Savage also met Elizabeth Ann Hulette during this time. Randy and Elizabeth were married in December, 1984.

The WWF Years

Savage entered the WWF in June, 1986. Numerous top managers wanted to sign Savage to their stables. Over several weeks, Jimmy Hart, Freddie Blassie, Johnny V, Bobby Heenan and others tried to win over “Macho Man” but he had another plan in mind. Eventually, Savage gathered the managers in the ring and presented his new manager…Miss Elizabeth (his real-life wife). The relationship between Randy and Elizabeth was kept secret. Elizabeth didn’t even have a name, initially. It was Savage that called her “Miss Elizabeth”. Savage feuded with most of the established Faces during his first year. Savage’s biggest feud of that debut year was against the Intercontinental Champion, Tito Santana. Savage took the IC title from Santana, in Boston, on February 8, 1986. The title change wasn’t show until February 24th. Savage would defend the title for 13 months, before dropping the title to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in one of the greatest matches to ever happen at a Wrestlemania (WM III).

Savage came back from his huge loss to capture the 1987 King of the Ring. The World title was vacated after Andre the Giant won it and then sold it to Ted DiBiase (Sr.). Savage was placed in the Tournament to be held at Wrestlemania IV. Savage made it to the finals, where he battle DiBiase. Savage would win and become the new World title. Savage was in full Face mode at the time.

Savage began working with Hulk Hogan as the Mega Powers. They faced off against the Mega Bucks duo of Ted DiBiase, Sr. and Andre the Giant. The Mega Powers dominated the feud but then fractures began to appear within the super team. Savage took exception to Hogan taking Elizabeth as his manager. The final break happened during an episode of The Main Event. The Mega Powers were fighting Akeem and Big Boss Man (The Twin Towers). Hogan rushed Elizabeth to the back after she was accidentally injured. Savage told Hogan that Hulk was beneath him and inferior as a wrestler. Savage then completed the Heel turn by attacking Brutus Beefcake. The Hogan/Savage feud went to the next level when Hogan defeated Savage for the World title at Wrestlemania V. Savage and Elizabeth were having marital issues and she removed herself from active appearances. She was replaced by Sensational Sherri. Savage also enlisted the aid of Zeus (actor “Tiny” Lister) to battle Hogan and Beefcake. Lister had played the antagonist in the film “No Holds Barred”. The Savage team was soundly defeated by Hogan and Beefcake at SummerSlam.

Savage’s next step was to take the “King” title from “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. He became the Macho King in September, 1989. Sherri took the identity of Queen Sherri. Macho King’s first big feud was against “Common Man” Dusty Rhodes. The King and Queen lost to Rhodes and Sapphire (Rhodes’ manager/valet) at Wrestlemania VI. On that same show, Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan for the World title. Savage finished his feud with Rhodes and then set his sights on Warrior’s title. Warrior refused to give Savage a title shot so Savage devised a plan to cost Warrior the title. At the Royal Rumble, Savage sneaked down to ringside during the Ultimate Warrior vs Sgt. Slaughter World title match. Savage smashed his royal scepter over Warrior’s head, knocking him out. Slaughter would take advantage and capture the World title. Slaughter would go on to lose the strap to Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania Vii. Savage would battle Ultimate Warrior in a “Retirement Match”. Warrior managed to defeat Savage. After the match, Sherri freaked out and began to attack Randy. Miss Elizabeth came out of the crowd and forced Sherri to flee. Savage finally proclaimed his love to Elizabeth and the two were “married” at SummerSlam 1991.

Savage had been working on commentary since his “retirement”. After SummerSlam, when Jake “The Snake” Roberts tried to attack the happy couple, Savage demanded to be reinstated. Savage feuded with Roberts and Undertaker. Savage brought in Sid Justice (Sid Vicious) to aid him in the wild feud.

During the feud with Roberts, Savage was involved in one of the most disturbing incidents of the era. During an episode of Superstars, Savage was trapped in the ropes. Roberts brought out a cobra and brought it close to Savage. The de-venomized snake sank its fangs into Savage’s arm. The crowd panicked as the blood ran down Savage’s arm. Replays of the incident were edited with a huge red “X” across the actual bite area. That attack was the catalyst to having Savage reinstated as an active competitor. The feud with Roberts came to a strange ending when Roberts was shifted into a feud with Undertaker.

Savage moved into a feud with Ric Flair. Flair doctored photos and video to make it appear that he had been having a relationship with Elizabeth. Savage would face Flair and beat Ric to become a World Champion for the 2nd time. Behind the scenes, Randy and Elizabeth’s marriage crumbled. The two were divorced on September 18, 1992, just over a year after their public marriage.

Savage went back into a feud with Ultimate Warrior over the World Title. When Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect attacked Savage, Warrior came to Savage’s aid. Savage would eventually lose the World Title to Flair. Warrior and Savage did get a shot at Money Inc.’s World Tag Titles but the champs kept their belts by way of a DQ loss. Warrior and Savage were set to fight Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series but Warrior was dismissed by the WWE, shortly before the match. Mr. Perfect took Warrior’s place and he and Savage defeated Flair and Razor.

Savage moved into a full-time color commentary position when Monday Night Raw debuted in January, 1993. Savage only made a few in-ring appearances over the next year or so. His most memorable was being the final man eliminated in the 1993 Royal Rumble (Yokozuna beat him). Savage’s last PPV match was a win over Crush at Wrestlemania X.

Time in WCW

Savage didn’t sign a new contract and left the WWF in November, 1994. He showed up on Nitro on December 3rd. Savage mended fences with Hogan and saved him from an attack by the 3 Faces of Fear. Savage then teamed with Sting to battle Big Bubba Rogers (Big Boss Man) and Avalanche (Earthquake). Savage restarted his feud with Ric Flair. Savage won the WCW World Title by being the last man standing in the wild 60-Man Battle Royal, at World War 3. Savage and Flair traded the belt, several times, over the next few months. The Flair vs Savage feud took a strange turn when Savage brought in his ex-wife, Elizabeth, to serve as his manager. She turned on him and allied herself with Flair. Flair claimed (storyline) that Elizabeth had given Flair a large portion of the divorce settlement money. The Flair feud ran another six months until Bash at the Beach, when Hulk Hogan turned on Savage and formed the n.W.o.. Savage was poised to feud with the new group but left WCW when he could not reach a contract agreement.

When Savage reached a new agreement with WCW, he returned and shocked everyone by joining the n.W.o.. He also reunited with Elizabeth and went into a feud with “Diamond” Dallas Page and Kimberly. After that feud played out, Savage went into a program with Lex Luger. Savage was one of the major reason why the n.W.o. splintered. Hogan did not want Savage to take the World Title from Sting. Hogan felt that he, as leader of the group, should be the only member to hold the title. Kevin Nash helped Savage win his 3rd World Title. That title reign only lasted one night, as Bret Hart helped Hulk Hogan win the title back on Nitro. One reason for the title change was that Savage had damaged his ACL in the first title match.

Savage had a few matches against Bret Hart and Roddy Piper before needing to take time off for multiple knee surgeries. By the time Savage returned, the n.W.o. was all but gone. He formed his own little group, Team Madness, with Madusa (Miceli), Miss Madness (Nora “Molly Holly” Greenwald) and Gorgeous George. The group fell apart when the girls began in-fighting. During this time, Sid Vicious returned and joined Savage in his feud against Sting and Kevin Nash. Savage pinned Nash, in a tag team match, to win his 4th (final) WCW World Title. Nash would help Hollywood Hogan defeat Savage on Nitro, one night after Savage won the World Title. After the demise of Team Madness, Savage took a quick break from wrestling. He returned for one final angle, being a part of the Millionaire’s Club. The group was dissolved after a few months. Savage’s last in-ring performance was a part of a 41-man Battle Royal. He quietly left the company after the May 3, 2000 appearance.

A brief visit to TNA

Savage took a 4-year break from wrestling. During that time, he created an ill-received rap album. He also played “Bonesaw” McGraw in the original Spider-Man film. He did several other film and television appearances.

His next wrestling experience was in the fledgling TNA. He feuded with Jeff Jarrett and the Kings of Wrestling. Savage was supposed to defeat Jeff Jarrett for the World title but the match never happened. Randy Savage’s final wrestling match was: Savage, Jeff Hardy and A.J. Styles vs Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Jeff Jarrett at Turning Point 2004. Savage left TNA due to health issues.

The Return and His Passing

Savage disappeared from the public view after he left TNA. He did some voice over work in the late 2000s. Savage came to terms with the WWE to lend his likeness to a Legends action figure. He also did a promo for the video game WWE All-Stars, in which Randy Savage was a playable character. There were strong rumors that Savage might return to do commentary on Pay-per-views or on one of the weekly shows. Sadly, this never came to pass. On May 20, 2011, Savage was driving with his 2nd wife, Barbara, near their home in Florida. Savage suffered a fatal heart attack while driving. The vehicle they were in crashed, injuring Barbara. At first, reports had it that the crash was the cause of Savage’s death. It was later confirmed that Savage was dead before the crash happened. An autopsy showed that Savage had advanced Coronary Artery Disease. It is speculated that the heart issues may have be an issue as far back as his TNA days. Savage had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his death. His heart just stopped. Randy Poffo was cremated and his ashes were spread beneath a favorite tree on his property in Largo, Florida. Combined with his ashes were those of his most beloved dog, Hercules, who had died some time earlier.

It would take another four years before Savage got his induction to the Hall of Fame. Savage had a strained relationship with Vince McMahon for many years. Triple H reached out to the last surviving member of the original Poffo family, Lanny, about bringing Randy into the Hall of Fame. Lanny would admit in interviews that he was initially hesitant to allow the honor to be given to his brother but eventually agreed. Savage’s biggest ally and most bitter enemy, Hulk Hogan, will be allowed to induct Savage into the Hall of Fame.

In Conclusion:

Randy Savage was a unique character within a world filled with unique people. His star shined brighter than most and he was part of some of the biggest storylines of the time. Randy Savage was one of those people that I always wanted to meet but never did. I did, however, get to pay a tribute to Randy at a Pro Wrestling Destination show, shortly after Randy’s death. I broke out my cowboy hat with matching tie and sunglasses. I am so happy to see this fantastic star finally get his place of honor.

Oh Yeah!

Peace

–Jay Shannon
WordSlingerJay@Gmail.com

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