Mark For War: The Madness is Over
This week, finally, after a beyond-overdue wait, it was announced that “Macho Man” Randy Savage will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this April, as the flagship entrant.
An old-as-time wrestling urban legend painted Savage as the guy who took a young Stephanie McMahon’s virginity, causing him to be permanently ousted from all WWE marketing and celebration.
For years, fans craved for him to show up on Raw, or for the WWE to create throwback figures of him (which they didn’t for some time). Finally, though, with the release of his three-part DVD in the mid-2000s, the ice between WWE and Savage seemed to be melted. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to build the bridge quick enough to get Savage on TV before his untimely death in a 2011 car accident.
But now, he at least get’s the posthumous spot in the Hall of Fame he so deserves.
Does anyone else see a connection between Savage’s death and the WWE reconciling with other superstars who otherwise were on the same blacklist as Savage prior to his death? The Ultimate Warriors’ poetic rebirth on WWE TV, Bret Hart’s increased presence, and Scott Hall’s warts-n’-all resurgence were all, in my opinion, fueled by WWE’s regret over not reconciling with Savage prior to his death.
This is an example of how, even in death, Savage is still perpetually influential in wrestling.
Actually, given his influentially, longevity, and likability, Savage might very well, pound for pound, be the greatest wrestling superstar of all time.
He has always been my answer when someone asks me who I feel is the “Greatest of All Time” (with Ric Flair as a close second).
I base my opinion on a million little things, but here’s the main pillars on which I usually rest my argument:
He Was a Workhorse
Savage was the original workhorse to break into the main event conversation in WWF during the 80s wrestling boom. He did this simply because his matches were so good he literally couldn’t be kept out of the main event. Savage’s glory years were from 1987-1989. This three year span saw Savage face Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III, a contest mainly site as a game changer. A year later, at Wrestlemania IV, Savage wrestled an unprecedented four times in a single night to bring home his first WWF championship. Savage held that championship until one year later, at Wrestlemania V, when he clashed with Hulk Hogan, the end of a year-long feud, which saw Savage slowly turn heel over a brooding year.
This three-year run was pivotal for the wrestling business. Arguably, if Savage hadn’t blown off the door for workhorse’s being in the main event conversation in the late 80s, it may not have happened ’til the mid-90s, with Bret Hart. This would have probably led to a reduced roll for Bret in the main event picture, much like the one Savage received after his run ended in 1989.
He Successfully Turned Heel to Face (and Face to Heel)
The 80s were a very black and white time for wrestlers. They were either good guys or bad guys. Extreme repackaging had to occur in order for heels to turn faces, or vice versa, usually resulting in a slow build for the superstar in question post-turn. Savage seemed to be above that. He could be the biggest heel in the company one day, and big the biggest face the next. Wrestlemania III brought fourth a huge heel Savage who made Ricky Steamboat swallow his Adam’s apple, but a year later, at Wrestlemania IV, you had Savage catering to the fans with an against-all-odds, bombast win of a mega-tournament. A year later he clashed with Hogan, fueled by jealously and mistreatment of his equally trailblazing valet, Elizabeth. And a year after that, at Wrestlemania VI, he took pompousness to a new level with his “King of the WWF’ gimmick, with Sensational Sherri in tow. As soon as you thought Savage was set for life as a heel, he changed face again in a match against another face (how the hell does that even happen?), The Ultimate Warrior, at Wrestlemania VII.
Savage adapted to whatever was needed from him at that time in the company, and killed it no matter what. Guys like CM Punk followed suit in this amazingly difficult process.
Super-badass to see Savage constantly change his wardrobe on a match-by-match basis, with Elizabeth wearing a matching dress. Savage and Liz changed four times during his aforementioned Wrestlemania IV tournament win. This paved the way for Warrior doing it once he took the WWF by storm, as well as John Cena, who rocks a new T-shirt every week. Coincidently, this makes Savage one of the most collected WWF figures ever made.
Savage put over so many people in his carees, and seemingly lost no steam in the process. Steamboat, Hogan, Warrior, Jake Roberts, Yokozuna, Repo Man — you name it, they were all put over by Savage. In a time when superstars were obsessed with their “spots,” Savage seemed to be an A-lister who jumped at the opportunity to lose clean in the name of validating another’s career.
To this day, Savage’s promos are the most talked about in wrestling history. Savage’s distinct voice is unmatchable. His insanely out-there slang is the stuff of legend. We wouldn’t expect anything less than a guy that rocked a wardrobe a pimp wouldn’t mess with.
His Slim Jim Endorsement
I don’t think anyone has done, or will ever do, more for the beef jerky industry than Randy Savage. His Slim Jim endorsements are the stuff of legend. Actually, if Slim Jim were smart, they’d begin reairing those old commercials during the buildup to Savage’s Hall of Fame induction.
Savage is also, truly, the only mainstream wrestling superstar to be successful in the push of a mainstream brand not owned by the WWE. King Kong Bundy’s computer stuff, or Foley’s ravioli-pushing weren’t anywhere near the Slim Jim legacy Savage left.
This guy is beyond the real deal. Even though it’s tainted by him not being there, his induction this year is a long time coming, and an amazing blessing.
I really think Miss Elizabeth being nominated this year would be the right thing for WWE to do.
Let me know your thoughts any and all things Savage in the comments section. And congrats, Randy.
Match of the Week: Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair: Wrestlemania VIII, April 5th, 1992, Indianapolis, IN
A legit clash between my number one and number two wrestlers of all time. This was the last great Randy Savage match. This match actually wasn’t even supposed to happen. When Ric Flair jumped over to WWE during the builidup to Wrestlemania VIII — a transitional Wrestlemania that saw many legends of the 80s beginning their victory laps — the plan was to have a dream match between the two most popular wrestlers from that era, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. But because both were being bitches for whatever reason, they refused to wrestle each other. So we got Savage/Flair for the belt instead. The wrestling gods work in mysterious ways. In actuality, this was a clash of the two top guys of the 80s when it came to skill. You have a bloody match filled with Hall of Famers, angst, lust, and Savage winning like a heel (holding the trunks on a school boy roll up) followed by a huge face pop. Only Savage!