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From Man to King – The Rise of the Macho King Randy Savage
In my first look into retro-wrestling, I decided to review one of my favorite performers of the era, Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Born Randy Mario Poffo, he was the son of wrestling royalty, the legendary Angelo Poffo. His brother, Lenny, also was a known wrestling talent at the time. Randy had been in pro wrestling for more than a decade before his debut in the WWF in the summer of 1985. And while his work in both Georgia Championship Wrestling and the Continental Wrestling Alliance was tremendous, let’s focus on what he is really famous for. No, I don’t mean sunglasses and Slim Jims.
Savage’s debut was billed heavily by the WWF, and he was courted by legendary managers like Bobby Heenan and “Classy” Freddie Blassie. Macho surprised everyone and chose the beautiful Miss Elizabeth instead, who was his real-life wife. The two made waves through the company quickly. Savage would berate and mistreat Elizabeth, creating massive heat with the fans at every opportunity. But where he did the most was in the squared circle, quickly compiling an impressive collection of wins over the company’s top stars.
He began a three-month feud with Tito Santana in late ‘85 that culminated in his first Intercontinental Title reign when he beat Santana with the classic “foreign object in the trunks” in February of 1986. During that year, he began to feud with George “The Animal” Steele over Elizabeth, and the two battled at Wrestlemania 2. Steele had developed a crush on Elizabeth, and while the matches weren’t great, they cemented his heel status. He would finish out the year with wins over Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan.
These matches led up to his finest moment, Wrestlemania 3, when he fought Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in a true classic. The pair combined for 19 2-count falls and countless high spots on the way to a win by “The Dragon” when George “The Animal” Steele interfered and cost Savage his Intercontinental Title after 14 months. The match was named the 1987 Match of the Year by all the wrestling mags at the time.
After winning the 1987 King of the Ring, Savage began a feud with The Honky Tonk Man to regain his Intercontinental Title. At a Saturday Night’s Main Event in October, a gentler and more fan friendly Macho Man was attacked by the Hart Foundation. During the attack, Elizabeth rushed to the back looking for help. She returned with Hulk Hogan and after clearing the ring, the two became partners and formed “The Mega Powers”.
Hogan and Savage epitomized the WWF in the ’80s, big guys, big hair, loud colors, and cartoonish characters. That’s probably how they got a cartoon show on Saturday mornings, but that’s for another blog. The difference between them largely fell on 2 things, ring work, and for a lot of 13-year-old boys, Miss Elizabeth. She, of course, would not only be responsible for the creation of this superteam, but it’s demise as well.
At Wrestlemania IV, Savage would have another classic moment, defeating the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase to win his first WWF Championship. Over the next year, he would beat DiBiase and Andre the Giant amongst others to keep his belt. But 1987-89 really centered around “The Mega Powers”. Savage and Hogan beat every tag team thrown at them, most notably “The Mega Bucks” (which was made up of DiBiase and Andre). But success was short-lived. Hulk decided that Elizabeth should manage him individually as well, and this didn’t sit well with Randy.
At the Royal Rumble in 89, Hogan eliminated Randy accidentally, and soon after, the 2 began to feud. As usual, most of these issues centered around Elizabeth. This would culminate at Wrestlemania V when the former partners went head-to-head in the main event. Hogan would defeat Savage and end his impressive title reign at 371 days. Not long after, the Macho Man replaced Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri as his new manager/valet.
I called this article “From Man to King” for a reason. In September of ’89, Savage would beat “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan to gain the title of “King of the Ring”. And Savage would end his time as “Macho Man” and ascend to becoming “The Macho King” with the “Sensational Queen” Sherri at his side. Given a scepter by his brother, “The Genius” Lanny Poffo, and Ted DiBiase at a coronation ceremony, he would end the decade this way, but the 90’s, that would be a whole different era altogether. We’ll examine it next time until then, keep your shoulders off the mat.