411’s Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2008: Randy Savage
Randy Savage, born Randy Poffo on November 15, 1952 is a man that seemed to be destined to be in the business by blood alone. But he didn’t start that way. Randy had his sights on playing Professional Baseball. He made it to the minor leagues and played for the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals farm teams, but just wasn’t good enough to make it to the next level. Randy was never one to settle for second best, so he dropped baseball and went into professional wrestling.
In the mid-1970’s he trained under his father and with his brother Lanny and would go on to join the International Championship Wrestling group. This was a regional territory owned by his father, Angelo Poffo. He started under a mask as “The Spider” and quickly caught on with the crowds. After dropping the mask gimmick, he dawned the “Macho Man” persona. He would tag with his brother Lanny and win tag titles together in other territories. They also had a great, and many say revolutionary feud with the Rock and Roll Express. Back in ICW he would feud with his brother and defeat him for the ICW World Heavyweight Title.
But all was not well for ICW, they would start to lose mass amounts of money, so Angelo Poffo brokered a deal with the Memphis promotion headed by Jerry Jarrett. He would travel to Memphis and feud with Jerry Lawler and defeat him for the AWA Southern Heavyweight Title. This was one of the bloodiest feuds in Memphis history as they battled in No DQ matches, Cage matches and even barbed wire matches. The feud came to a conclusion when he would face Lawler again in a Loser Leaves Town match. True to their feud it was bloody and barbaric, and this time Lawler would prevail, sending Savage out of Memphis. ICW closed down and after a time as Memphis’s top draw, Randy would leave Memphis as per the stipulation for the big time.
The big time was the World Wrestling Federation, which he arrived at in 1985. Right away Savage was the target of several managers, who competed for his services. Jimmy Hart, Freddie Blassie, Bobby Heenan, Mr. Fuji and Johnny V all competed for the Macho Man, but he would choose the lady know to millions as Miss Elizabeth. With Miss Elizabeth by his side Savage would make it to the finals of the “Wrestling Classic” and lost to the Junk Yard Dog. But his fortunes would improve as he would go onto defeat a bloodied Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title in February of 1986.
Savage was now considered the top heel in the WWF. He would feud with George “The Animal” Steele over the Intercontinental Title, as well as Elizabeth whom Steele had taken a liking to due to Savage’s bad treatment of her. The two men would face off at WrestleMania II and Savage would sneak away with the victory. Savage rolled through numerous opponents while defending his title, but in November of 1986 he came face to face with Ricky The Dragon Steamboat. Unable to defeat Steamboat, Savage would attack him and crush his throat on the security railing with a double ax handle smash. To add more injury, he would then take the ring bell and leap from the top rope and land directly on his throat. By the end of 1986 Steamboat would return and challenge Savage to a rematch. They would face off at WrestleMania III and Steamboat would go on to defeat Savage for the title in one of the greatest matches of the era, and in WrestleMania history.
Savage would become a mere backdrop to the WWF, but slowly would start to gain the fans support. He would challenge the then IC Champion Honky Tonk Man and as he was about to beat him, the Hart Foundation stopped him and they and Honky beat down Savage. Miss Elizabeth would run to the back and return with Hulk Hogan to aid Savage. After they disposed of the attackers, the two men that never saw eye to eye shook hands and shocked the wrestling world while turning Savage fully face. AT WrestleMania IV he would be part of a 14-man tournament to crown a new WWF Champion. He would defeat Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and the One Man Gang on his way to the finals, where he would defeat The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase to win, with the help of Hulk Hogan.
The Mega Powers, as they were called were in full force. They teamed at Summerslam to defeat Dibiase and Andre the Giant and all seemed well. At Survivor Series they were the sole survivors for their team. But all was not well, as tension between Savage and Hogan grew when Hogan also took Elizabeth as his manager. As 1989 started, both men were entered into the Royal Rumble, where Hogan “accidentally” eliminated Savage, which caused a confrontation that Elizabeth was able to break up. On Saturday Nights Main Event, the Mega Powers came to an end. They were battling the Twin Towers when Savage was knocked from the ring and knocked out Elizabeth. Hogan carried her to the back and left Savage on his own. Eventually Hogan would return and when he offered a hand in tag, Savage slapped him and left him on his own. Hogan would win the match and then go back and confront Savage and check on Elizabeth. Savage attacked him and that signaled the end of them as a team. At WrestleMania V the Mega Powers would explode as Savage and Hogan faced off for the WWF Title. Hogan would end Savage’s one year reign that night.
The two would feud through Summerslam as Savage brought in Hogan’s Hollywood nemesis Tony Lister, aka Zeus from no Holds Barred and new manager Sensational Sherri. He and Zeus would team and fall to Hogan and Brutus Beefcake at Summerslam that year, seemingly ending their feud. With Savage unable to win back the WWF Title, he would settle for the next best thing; King. With Sherri by his side, he would defeat ” King Hacksaw” Jim Duggan for the crown. Now know as the “Macho King” with his queen, Savage would continue his dominance as a heel. Being the King, the most logical feud would be with “a common man.” Dusty Rhodes had entered the WWF and they would have a series of matches, including a mixed tag at WrestleMania VI as Dusty tagged with Sapphire and a Summerslam match that Savage won.
Savage was on a roll and he and Sherri had their sights set on the WWF Title, and the Ultimate Warrior. At the 1991 Royal Rumble, Sherri would try to seduce Warrior into giving Savage a match, but failed so Savage would storm the ring and knock out the Warrior with his scepter, allowing the Iraqi turncoat Sgt. Slaughter to win the WWF Title. It was this action that led to WrestleMania VII, where the two men would face off in a retirement match. Savage led Warrior to possibly his greatest in ring performance ever, but when al laws said and done the Warrior had defeated Savage. Sherri didn’t take this loss well, and berated Savage in the middle of the ring and even attacked the tired and beaten Savage. It was then that Miss Elizabeth came out of the crowd and fought off Sherri. Savage and Elizabeth would embrace in a truly great WrestleMania moment.
In retirement Savage became a color commentator. He would propose to Elizabeth on WWF TV where she accepted. This was when basically no one that was a fan knew they were already married. They were married at Summerslam 1991, with full reception. Jake Robert presented them with a gift, which turned out to be a King Cobra. Savage was enraged with Roberts, and a few weeks later attacked Roberts, but Roberts tied him up in the ropes and had the cobra bite Savage. Savage would then petition WWF president Jack Tunney to return as a wrestler and was allowed. He and Roberts battled for months and finally on Saturday Night’s Main event Savage would defeat Roberts and end the feud.
Just as thing seemed to improve, they got worse. The WWF Champion Ric Flair alleged that he had an affair with Miss Elizabeth. Savage was a man possessed and he and Flair would battle at WrestleMania VII where Savage would win his 2nd WWF Title. He would defend it until September of 1992 until Flair took advantage of his bad knee and defeated him for the title. Savage went on to mentor Crush, but it didn’t last long as Crush turned of Savage. They would battle at WrestleMania X in a Falls Count Anywhere match that Savage won. Savage was phased out as a wrestler and became a commentator on Monday Night Raw. He would wrestle for Jim Cornette in Smokey Mountain Wrestling and in the fall of 1994 his contract ran out. Vince wanted to keep him as a commentator but Savage believed his wrestling career was far for over.
Savage would join the WWF’s competition WCW and ironically team with former enemy/partner Hulk Hogan to battle the Dungeon of Doom. Savage found World Title Success again in WCW as he would win the 60-man World War III battle royal in 1995 for the vacant title. He and Flair would rekindle their feud and swap the title on and off. When Hall and Nash came in, he would team with Sting and Luger to battle them at Bash at the Beach, that night Hogan would turn on WCW and beat down Savage and Sting forming the n W o. He battled the n W o for months taking many beating and eventually disappearing for months. When he returned he shocked the world when he joined the n W o.
Savage and DDP would engage in a long feud that many felt made DDP a major player in WCW. Eventually he and Hogan’s ego got the best of them and he challenged Hogan for the leadership of the n W o. In a surprise move Nash sided with Savage and the n W o Wolfpack (Red) was formed. Savage won the WCW title again and lost it to Hogan and eventually had to take time off for knee surgery.
He would return in late 1998 with the black and white colors, but actually aided Ric Flair in defeating Eric Bishoff for control of WCW. He disappeared again for 3-months finally returning to referee the WCW World Title match with DDP vs. Sting vs. Hogan vs. Flair. Savage helped former nemesis DDP win his first world title that night. Savage also went through what many labeled as a “mid-life” crisis at this time, as he brought in then girlfriend “Gorgeous George,” Madusa and “Miss Madness” as his valets.
He would feud with Kevin Nash and defeat him in a 4-way match for his 4th WCW World title. He would lose it back to Hogan, again and then feud with Dennis Rodman after firing Madusa and George. George has sided with Rodman, but turned on him to help Savage win their PPV match. Savage would disappear only showing up one or two more times on WCW TV and eventually never coming back.
After he left WCW he went to New Japan and worked the Tokyo Dome in 2000 and lost to Rick Steiner. Savage’s name was rumored many times for the World Wrestling All-Stars group, but never appeared. Savage would appear in the Spiderman movie as “Bonesaw” McGraw. He would challenge Hulk Hogan to a match, where the funds generated would go to charity, but Hogan never replied. He would later release a rap album, and challenge Hogan in his song “Be a Man!” In 2004 he debuted for Total Non-Stop Action at the end of their Victory Road PPV. He quit the company after “feeling threatened” by Hogan’s presence there. The next month he would return and wrestle with AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy and defeat Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Jeff Jarrett. Savage got the pin on NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett and when most thought it would lead to a match, Savage left the promotion again and as far as wrestling goes, hasn’t been heard from since.
When all is said and done…
Randy Savage is considered one of the greatest workers of his generation, as well as one of the most inconsistent. He was considered a master of ring psychology and very gifted on the mic. Over the last few years he has been labeled by many fans as crazy due to his constant challenges to Hulk Hogan, including some on his rap album, as well as his there and then gone stint with TNA. But if you take out all of that, you have a man that was very influential on today’s generation of wrestlers. When you take into account that, all of the great matches and classic Macho moments you have a hard time arguing that he shouldn’t be included here on this list.