The Career of Randy Savage, By @TheCiaranJames

What more can be said about the “Macho Man” Randy Savage?  Arguably the greatest wrestler that ever lived. Randy, over the course of a 32 year career accomplished everything. From his distinctive voice, flamboyant ring attire and his often imitated catchphrase “Oooh Yeah” the “Macho Man” had it all. He is truly a wrestling legend.

Randy Mario Poffo made his professional wrestling debut in 1973 as “The Spider” which if you haven’t guessed already was similar to famous comic book character Spiderman. But fear not, the ring name was changed soon after thanks to Randy’s long-time friend Terry Stephens and legendary booker Ole Anderson. Randy treaded water in the Carolinas, the Maritimes and Nick Gulas’s Tennessee territory, alongside his father and brother Lanny Poffo. When Randy & Lanny’s careers were not headed in the way their father wanted he created International Championship Wrestling in 1978. The promotion was not affiliated with any wrestling alliance and would often promote head to head against rival NWA promotions. As you can imagine Angelo Poffo’s sons were the stars.

In 1984 due to falling audience numbers Angelo Poffo sold all assets to Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler respectively and ICW shut its doors. Due to the sale Randy moved across to Lawler’s Continental Wrestling Association where he immediately became embroiled in a bitter feud with Jerry Lawler. Their hostilities over the AWA Southern Championship Heavyweight title lasted for over a year with Randy eventually having to leave the promotion after being defeated by Lawler in a ‘Loser Leaves Town’ match in June 1985. During his time in CWA Savage would also make frequent trips to Puerto Rico which was also a hotbed for wrestling in the mid 1980’s.

Since his debut the “Macho Man” had established himself within the wrestling industry and come 1985 he was hot property. Insiders knew that Savage was destined for more than the likes of the NWA and in 1985 he signed for Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. He made his debut on Tuesday Night Titans where established managers such as Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart & Freddie Blassie vied to be his manager. Savage declined all the offers and instead chose Miss Elizabeth as his Valet/Manager, a duo who would go on to achieve great things in the WWF (E). Randy made his wrestling debut on 7th November 1985 where he defeated many established stars during the course of a 16 man tournament, he would eventually lose the final to Junkyard Dog.

Randy’s next career move pointed him in the direction of Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana, who in later stages of 1985 Savage traded wins and losses with. The feud culminated in February 1986 on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling where Savage challenged Santana for the IC title. The Macho Man defeated Tito that night and captured the Intercontinental title for the one and only time, however few realised then how much of an impact Savage’s win would have on the history of the IC title.  In the January before his title win George “The Animal” Steele took a liking to Miss Elizabeth which caused great annoyance to Savage. The feud between the two led to an Intercontinental title match at Wrestlemania 2, Savage retained the title but not before Steele became the first man to kick out of Randy’s patented Elbow Drop.

In late 1986 Ricky Steamboat became a challenger to the Macho Man’s title, the feud that started would eventually lead to arguably one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history. The hostilities between the two started as Savage and Steamboat were due to meet for the IC title. As Ricky made his way to ringside, Savage blindsided him, pushed him over the security barrier then delivered an elbow drop to his throat on the barrier. The attack however didn’t stop there, Savage proceeded to further damage Steamboat’s throat as he launched himself from the top turnbuckle with ring bell in hand into his throat. The WWF later reported that Savage had injured Steamboat’s larynx and sent him off to the hospital. Ricky returned and over the next six months the two went back and forth with each other in several brutal and bloody matches. The differences between them had to be settled, Wrestlemania 3 was where this would happen. With 93,000 packed into the Pontiac Silverdome, Steamboat finally defeated Savage. In a 15 minutes classic full of thrilling action and tense brawling, they also traded 19 two counts during the bout. It won match of the year awards from Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer in 1987 and is considered one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania and WWE history.

Savage has predominantly played a heel since his debut in the federation, but that would soon change in late 1987 with the formation of the Mega Powers. In September Savage successfully won the King of the Ring tournament and with fan resentment easing, the natural course was for Randy to turn face, he was also a massively respected worker by peers and fans alike. On the October 3rd edition of Saturday Night’s Event Savage challenged current IC champion the Honky Tonk Man. Their feud had started weeks earlier after the Honky Tonk man declared himself the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Savage was unsuccessful in his challenge due to the interference of then heels the Hart Foundation who attacked him along with Honky. During the beat down Miss Elizabeth who was knocked off the apron ran to the back to get help, she soon emerged with then WWF champion Hulk Hogan at her side. Hogan who was at the time the No1 face in the company came to the aid of Savage and saved him from the 3 on 1 assault. Once the heels ran for cover Savage and Hogan stood on the ring, two of the biggest stars ever in wrestling history shook hands and the Mega Powers were formed.

1988 would turn out be a very fruitful year for the Macho Man, with Miss Elizabeth by his side Savage was quickly becoming the most beloved baby face in the company and his alliance with Hogan was good business for both. In February Hulk Hogan had been stripped of the WWF title due to some controversy involving his feud with Andre the Giant, therefore it was decided that a tournament would be held to crown a new champion. So at Wrestlemania 4 Savage was one of the names in the WWF title tournament along with thirteen fellow WWF superstars. It would turn out to be a very successful night for Randy as for the first time in his WWF career he was crowned their World Champion. On his way to winning he had victories over Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and One Man Gang, in the final he defeated Ted DiBiase, with the help of former champ Hogan.

Savage and Hogan would team twice more on PPV in 1988, as the Mega Powers they successfully defeated Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant at the first ever Summerslam PPV and teamed up again at the Survivor Series to take part in a traditional elimination match. Although the Mega Powers were a force in the WWF they had a very hostile alliance and over the coming months the seeds would be planted for what was to follow in 1989. Aside from his tag team exploits Randy had a very fruitful run as WWF Champion, holding onto the belt for 371 days and defending it against the likes of Andre and One Man Gang. As we ended 1988 Hogan’s admiration for Elizabeth was becoming very obvious, leading to Savage reverting back to the egomaniacal character from years before.

At the 1989 Royal Rumble further fuel was added to the fire as Hogan accidently eliminated Savage from the Rumble match itself. When Savage realised Hogan was responsible he launched himself at his tag team partner and they began to brawl, it took the actions of Miss Elizabeth to separate them. Although they made up, Savage was obviously upset with Hogan. Then after months of hostility between the two and WWE slowly turning the screw, the Mega Powers finally imploded in February of 89′. On February 2nd 1989 the long awaited split happened on an NBC special titled ‘The Main Event’, as the Mega Powers battled the Twin Towers (King Haku & Akeem). Miss Elizabeth was inadvertently knocked as Savage was throw from the ring, Hogan after witnessing what happened jumped to her aid and carried her backstage. Awakening from unconsciousness Elizabeth begged for Hogan to return to the ring to assist Randy, upon his return Savage slapped Hogan in the face took his World title and stormed backstage. In the aftermath of the match Hulk found Savage berating Elizabeth, he then turned his frustrations on Hogan who he accused of trying to steal Elizabeth and the title. Hogan confused by Savage’s accusations tried to make him see sense, however it reached boiling point when Randy struck Hulk with the title belt thus setting up their match at Wrestlemania 5.

The feud and subsequent match between the two was fantastic viewing, and the fact that you can now relive it all on the WWE network is a blessing. As events escalated towards Wrestlemania, Savage informed us that Hulk Hogan had lusted after Elizabeth, this was presented to us by way of some heavily edited dodgy footage by the ‘victim’ Randy Savage. There was even a question of whose corner Elizabeth would be in at the event itself. So in Atlantic City on April 2nd 1989 the former friends decided to settle the score with the then WWF title at stake. The match was a hotly contested thrilling encounter by arguably the two biggest wrestling stars in the history of sports entertainment. Savage dominated the contest and used heelish tactics to get an advantage over Hogan, he would even hide behind Elizabeth. After nearly 18 minutes of action Savage hit his patented Elbow Drop only for Hogan to kick out ‘Hulk Up’ and defeat Savage to capture his second WWF title.

The feud would continue throughout the summer months with various subplots and fellow superstars pulled into the storyline. The epic Savage/Hogan feud finally came to an end on the February 1990 episode of ‘The Main Event’ when in one final attempt to try and regain the WWF title, Savage once more fell to Hogan. That drew a line under their hostilities.

In 1991 Randy Savage would again show the world how it’s done when he entered into a feud with the white hot Ultimate Warrior after he cost him his WWF title at the Royal Rumble against Sgt. Slaughter. Their differences would lead to a retirement match at Wrestlemania 7 which Warrior, in his best ever WWF match, would beat Savage. Randy was applauded afterwards for carrying the Warrior through the contest and making him look his equal, Savage in 1991 was a ring general. In the aftermath of the match the ‘Macho Man’ was reunited with Miss Elizabeth who embraced him, Savage immediately turned face once more. Now (kayfabe) retired Savage became a regular on the WWF commentary. Randy finally returned to in ring action in 1992 when he and Ric Flair crossed paths after Flair captured the WWF title at the Royal Rumble. Ric also claimed he had previously been in a relationship with Savage’s wife Elizabeth. The very personal feud culminate at Wrestlemania 8 where Savage defeated Flair for his second World title. Shortly after his latest title victory Vince and insiders at the WWF believed Savage was finished as an in ring competitor and offered him an opportunity once more as a colour commentator. Randy was still a popular figure and could be seen weekly on the early episodes of Raw, however he felt he still had more to give as a WWF superstar. After common ground couldn’t be met, Randy Savage left the federation in 1994.

Hulk Hogan who had left the WWF in 1993 had made a nice home for himself in WCW, come 1994 Hogan was very influential in who WCW hired and fired. Therefore after their real life differences Hogan extended the olive branch to Savage and convinced Eric Bischoff to hire the former ‘Macho King’. In Randy’s debut for Ted Turner’s WCW he came to the aid of Hogan at Starrcade, they embraced and buried the hatchet live on PPV. In 1994 Randy still had the name value and in the ring he could still go with the best of them, however like Hogan the character was still the same, maybe Vince was right when he cut ties with Savage. He would team with Hogan as the “Monster Maniacs” in various feuds and tag matches over the next few years, in their most famous match they teamed to take on 8 opponents at Uncensored 1996 in a Doomsday Cage match.

In between his teaming with Hogan, Randy would capture his first WCW world title at World War 3 in November 1995, the title was vacant at the time so WCW set up a 60 man battle royal to determine a new champion. Savage prevailed after 30 minutes of action. In January 1996 Savage and Elizabeth were reunited once more as he brought her in as his manager, however she was to turn on him after he lost a title match to Flair. The two would continue to battle into the spring and early summer of 96′ until WCW took a different direction.

In the July of 1996 WCW debuted their best gimmick the “NWO” at the Bash at the Beach PPV, Savage had teamed up with Sting & Lex Luger at the event to face The Outsiders Scott Hall & Kevin Nash. In the closing moments of the event Hogan would betray his friend and turn his back on WCW and the fans to form the NWO with Hall and Nash. Savage being an enemy of the trio was routinely beaten by the NWO, he finally faced Hogan at Halloween Havoc for the WCW World title in a losing effort. Following the event he would take leave from the company.

Savage would return to the company in January 1997 but did not at first take sides in the ongoing WCW/NWO feud that would come at SuperBrawl in February where he aided Hogan in a win over Roddy Piper therefore aligning himself with the New World Order. Over the course of the next few years Savage and Hogan would once more team up and then split based on WCW’s direction at the time, he even formed the NWO Wolfpac faction with Kevin Nash and feuded with Hogan’s NWO Hollywood version. The two former WWF Icons clashed for the WCW World title in July 1999 which Savage lost, this would be the last time they would face off with each other. After WCW started to decline Randy’s career also began to stagnate further into mediocrity, his last appearance was in the summer of 2000 during the Millionaires’ vs New Blood feud in a show closing brawl.

Randy Savage returned to pro wrestling in 2004 for TNA, he would make sporadic appearances over the next year and compete at Turning Point in December alongside Jeff Hardy & AJ Styles. He was at one point scheduled to defeat Jeff Jarrett for the TNA World title at Final Resolution in January 2005, however before the event could take place Savage left due to health concerns and quietly retired from professional wrestling. He would never wrestle for a mainstream company again.

On May 20th 2011 the wrestling world learned of Randy’s death. While driving with his wife in Florida he suffered a heart attack at the wheel and the vehicle crashed into a tree. We would later learn that Savage had an enlarged heart and coronary artery disease, a problem he would never have known about.

After his retirement from wrestling, legions of fans called for the Macho Man to be inducted in the WWE’s Hall of Fame, if anyone was worthy of a place it was Savage. There were many reasons as to why Vince McMahon never inducted Randy before his death, many report their relationship was strained from the get go. However WWE finally relented in 2015 as “Macho Man” Randy Savage was inducted by former rival and friend Hulk Hogan, the two had reportedly reconciled sometime before Randy’s death. At the HOF itself his brother the “Genius” Lanny Poffo accepted the induction on Randy’s behalf.

During his 32 year career Randy won 20 Championship titles, was a major player within the 1980’s and 90’s and at his peak could rival Hulk Hogan with his drawing power. He is regarded by fans and colleagues as one of the greatest pro wrestlers in history and his influence is still felt now, some 42 years after his debut. Those of you who are reading this over a certain age will understand the impact Savage had, those of you who are too young, I beg you to check out all of Randy’s exploits on the WWE network, and you will not be disappointed.

Was Randy Savage that good?…………….Oooh Yeah!

 

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