"The Macho Man" Randy Savage
1952 - 2011
May 19, 2011
It is with great sadness that I write yet another tribute to a fallen member of the wrestling brotherhood. Randy Savage one of the all time greats of our industry died in a car accident this morning at the age of 58. I was alerted to this tragedy by a text from John Pollock at 10:55 MST this morning. I was teaching class at the time and my entire class was shocked and saddened by the news. From what I understand Randy had a heart attack behind the wheel and crashed his car and died from injuries suffered in the crash. I would like to offer my condolences, to his family, friends, and fans; he will be greatly missed.
I didn’t know Randy Savage well, but his death hits me like we were close friends. To me Randy Savage is one of the greatest performers this industry has ever or will ever see. He was inarguably one of the greatest workers of all time, one of the most memorable standout promos of all time, as well as one of the most recognizable and iconic characters this business has ever seen. You don’t even have to be a wrestling fan to recognize the name Randy Savage or be able to break out a trade mark Macho Man “OH YEAH!” impersonation. “The Macho Man” Randy Savage was everything I loved about the wrestling business and likely one of the men most responsible for me becoming a fan and for choosing to make the wrestling business part of my life.
As I’ve mentioned here before I started watching wrestling after seeing the Road Warriors in the AWA, and did not discover the WWF (here on refereed to just as WWE) until the Saturday Night’s Main Event era in the mid 1980s. Up until that point the only wrestling I could watch was the AWA, and International Wrestling, which was based out of Montreal. I watched both promotions on TV on a semi regular basis and while I liked wrestling at this stage I would not have considered myself a big fan. Once I discovered Saturday Night’s Main Events all the changed, and I went from being a guy who liked watching wrestling, to being a big time wrestling fan.
I was hooked on WWE immediately and Randy Savage was instantly my favourite. He was the perfect blend of flash and substance. He had the sequined robes, the crazy look and style, which grabbed your attention, and even more importantly for me, the athletic ability and skill to back it up and keep you wanting more. I would quickly add guys like Bret Hart, and the Dynamite Kid to my list of favourites but Randy Savage was the guy who first got me hooked on WWE.
I attended three WrestleManias and maybe a half dozen live events as a fan (it was a 3 hour drive to Toronto, the nearest City WWE ran events in) and I can honestly say I never bought a ticket to a wrestling event that Randy Savage wasn’t on. He was a difference maker to me when it came to buying tickets. If Savage was on the card I knew I was getting my money’s worth, he was just that good.
Randy Savage wrestled in eight WrestleManias and in my opinion stole the show on five of those eight occasions. Savage’s first WrestleMania was not a great showing but he faced George “The Animal” Steele that night, so he was fairly handicapped. At WrestleMania III he stole the show with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in a match that to this day is considered one of the greatest matches of all time. At WrestleMania IV (a show I attended live as a fan) he pretty much was the show, working 4 times and winning the World Heavyweight Title in the main event. At WrestleMania V (I was there live for this one too) he again had the best match of the night carrying Hulk Hogan to one of the best matches of his career. At WrestleMania VI (Yes I was there live this time too), I think he was purposely saddled with a mixed tag match featuring Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire in an attempt to keep him from steeling the show 4 years in a row and upstaging Hogan and Warrior in the main event.
At WrestleMania VII the Macho Man again managed to steel the show this time doing so with one of the worst workers on the card, carrying The Ultimate Warrior to likely the best match of his career. Mania VIII he was at it again having one of the two best matches on the show when he challenged Ric Flair for the WWE Title (Bret and Piper being the other great match on that show). And finally WrestleMania X where he was stuck in an absurd concept matches with Crush that not even the great Randy Savage could salvage.
It was his charisma and talent that made me a fan and his smaller stature and athletic ability that help convince me I had a chance at making it in this business. Unfortunately I never got the chance to work with Randy Savage but thankfully our paths did cross one time and I got to share a locker room with The Macho Man.
It was in 1994 when Chris Jericho and I were wrestling in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, for Jim Cornette who was also working with WWE at the time. Jimmy managed to pull strings and get some WWE guys to work the occasional SMW event, and in the summer of 1994 Randy Savage was one of those guys.
The event was in Morristown, TN at I think the high school gym. I was just a green kid with a few years experience under my belt, just happy to be wrestling on any show, and here was former World Heavyweight Champion Randy Savage wrestling on the same show. He worked a tag match that night with other SMW regulars and I was so jealous of the guys who got to work with him. As a person and a performer Savage was extremely cool. He was friendly with everyone and worked extremely hard in his match. Considering the caliber of this show and his stature in the industry I expected Savage to sit on the apron and not do a thing but he busted his ass and I remember him telling the guys he was working with, “Nothing off the top rope, but anything else you guys want to do is cool.” He watched the other matches that night offering feedback. I was completely marking out when I came back through the curtain and Savage pulled Chris and I aside and said he really liked our stuff. He also said he thought we should slow down a bit and pace ourselves. If I only had a dollar for every time I was told that the first 5 years of my career.
That wasn’t the only piece of advice he offered me that night although this second piece of advice I received due to a case of mistaken identity. After the show was over I was just hanging out in the locker room, and Randy pulled me aside and asked if I’d mind him giving me some personal advice. I said; no please do,(Like I’m going to tell Randy Savage I don’t want to hear what he has to say) so he proceeded to say, “I see they’re doing an angle with you and your wife. Well I did an angle with my wife one time, and I ain’t got no wife no more.”
I assume he was confusing me with Chris Candito because Chris was doing an angle with Tammy Sytch at the time and while Chris and Tammy were never married they were definitely a couple at the time. I think I was the only married guy on the show, so perhaps that’s where he got Chris and I confused. Mistaken Identity aside Savage knew what he was talking about, because I never did do an angle with my wife and here I am 17 years later and I still have my wife.
It’s just so hard, remembering how happy I was on that day, getting to meet and talk with someone I looked up to so much, and now sitting here retelling the story and knowing both Randy Savage and the wife he was referring to, Miss Elizabeth, are both gone. This industry has lost too many, and today it has lost one of the best ever.
Thank you Randy: For your great contributions to this industry and for taking a few minutes out of your life back in 1994 to offer some green kid some advice you thought would help him with his. You will be missed, never forgotten, and most importantly fondly remembered.
Photo I took of Randy Savage at WWF Live event at
Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.
Photo I took at WrestleMania IV of new World Champion,
Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
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