The Madness of King Randy Savage
So almost a year ago I wrote my first “retro-wrestling” piece here. That first little look back, entitled From Man to King – The Rise of the Macho King Randy Savage was uploaded on February 26th, 2013. It was well-received enough that I wrote several more, and though I have been negligent over the last few months, in honor of my 1 year anniversary, I give you now, the second half I promised you way back then.
Randy Savage, having ended 1989 under his newly adopted moniker, “The Macho King”, opened the 90’s focused on ending his run against an old adversary, Hulk Hogan. On February 23rd, he battled Hogan for the WWF Championship on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Savage would lose when he was knocked out by Special Guest Referee James “Buster” Douglas during a confrontation over what Savage believed was a slow count (he was right by the way).
After this, Savage and Hogan ended their feud. Along with “Sensational Queen” Sherri, Randy began a program against “The Common Man” Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire, polka dots and all. This resulted in a mixed tag match at WrestleMania VI and a one-on-one at SummerSlam 1990. Savage lost the tag match, but defeated Dusty when it mattered, becoming the number 1 contender for the WWF Championship, now held by “The Ultimate Warrior”.
This feud, beginning in late 1990, actually came to head over Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter, ready to fight the Warrior, promised that if he won, would give Savage the first shot at his title. When Savage demanded the same promise from the Warrior, he refused. In response, Savage cost the Warrior his match against the Sarge, knocking him out with his scepter (see, it did have a purpose) for an easy pin. However, Slaughter’s win didn’t get him the Title shot he wanted, instead sending Randy to WrestleMania VII in a “Career on the Line” match, which Randy lost. (In a ridiculous twist Mr. McMahon released the Warrior over a pay dispute about 3 months later anyway) After the match, “Queen” Sherri, screaming at Savage, attacked him while he was down with the scepter. Suddenly, through the crowd came Elizabeth, who fought off Sherri and rejoined her man.
Now “retired”, Savage stayed on as a broadcaster, all the while, his on again-off again romance with Elizabeth still going on. Finally, Randy popped the big question on TV, leading to SummerSlam 1991 and “The Match Made in Heaven: The Wedding of Randy Savage and Elizabeth”. Everyone was excited, the WWF even sold wedding photo sets (see right). But, at some point during the wedding preparations (the bachelor party in fact) you guessed it, a heel interfered. (Why do wrestlers try this on-screen wedding bit anyways?) In this case, it was Jake “The Snake” Roberts and his buddy, The Undertaker. Snakes were put in wedding gifts, and Savage was knocked unconscious by Taker’s Urn, pretty typical wedding day excitement, really. Savage, still unable to compete in the ring due to his WrestleMania loss, begged then WWF President Jack Tunney for reinstatement but was declined. There was even a phone number you could call (at $9.00 a minute I’m sure) to let President Tunney know you supported Macho. Eventually, in the eyes of the WWF, Jake Roberts went too far and attacked Savage with a King Cobra. Tunney relented and Randy Savage was back. (By the way, the Cobra was real; it just had its poison glands removed, and it took a lot to remove the fangs from Savage’s arm in the locker area.) The pair feuded the rest of the year, over 2 pay-per-views, ending finally at Saturday Night’s Main Event in February 1992.
Soon after, the WWF Champion, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair began to recant stories of a night he spent with Randy’s wife, Elizabeth. He had hotel receipts and vague pictures of them in places together. An enraged Savage went after Flair and the 2 fought through the spring and into WrestleMania VIII, where Randy defeated Flair in a terrific match to win his 2nd WWF Championship. In April, it was proven that Flair’s photos were actually doctored images of Savage and Liz. Ironically, during this time, Randy and Elizabeth had split in real life; and she made her final appearance on WWF television on April 18th, 1992.
Through the rest of 1992, Randy wrestled against the up and coming Shawn Michaels, and then, a match with his old nemesis, the returning “Ultimate Warrior”, was set for SummerSlam 1992. During the match, Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect attacked Savage and the Warrior, which cost him the match, but not the Title. And a few weeks later, Savage dropped the belt back to Flair due to outside interference by “Razor” Ramon. A short-lived tag team of Randy Savage and “The Ultimate Warrior” was formed, calling themselves the “Ultimate Maniacs”. The team lost a WWF Tag Team Title shot against “Money Inc” (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Shyster) and then was scheduled to fight Flair and Razor. This match never happened as Vince McMahon again fired the Warrior 2 weeks before the match was set to take place for steroid use and the supply of steroids to other members of the WWF locker room. The Warrior was replaced by Mr. Perfect of all people, who turned on Flair and his manager Bobby Heenan when Heenan indicated the Perfect didn’t have “it” anymore. The new team won by disqualification.
Savage worked sporadically in matches over the next 2 years in WWF. Mostly, he did color commentary, though he did compete in the 1993 and 1994 Royal Rumbles. In ‘93, he was the next to the last combatant, being eliminated by Yokozuna. Randy left the WWF and accepted an offer from World Championship Wrestling in October 1994.
Savage joined WCW in December of ’94, and after a series of pointless matches, restarted his feud with Ric Flair. It truly felt like WCW had no place for him on their roster. Over the next few months, the two battled everywhere, even in the back, missing their own matches during US Title Tournament, allowing youngster Alex Wright (Das Wunderkind everybody!) to become Champion essentially by default. Flair attacked Randy’s father Angelo Poffo, Savage smashed up Flair’s luggage, real poignant stuff. Finally, at the 1995 “World War 3” pay-per-view, success! Randy Savage won WCW’s 60 man battle royal (essentially a 3 ring Royal Rumble) to become WCW Heavyweight Champion but dropped the belt to Flair at Starrcade ’95 one month later. In January 1996, Savage rehired Elizabeth to be his valet/manager and immediately defeated Flair on WCW Monday Nitro. It was more of the same the next month at SuperBrawl VI. Liz turned on Randy and cost him the title, with Flair announcing the 2 had been secretly dating, frivolously spending the money Savage gave her in their real-life divorce settlement. This probably would have gone on longer had it not been for the change of direction the company would soon take.
At the 1996 “Bash at the Beach”, Hulk Hogan shocked the world, turning on Lex Luger, Sting, and especially Randy Savage. Hogan joined the “Outsiders” (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) and formed the New World Order (n.W.o.) Savage initially led a team of WCW Crusaders against the n.W.o. and even battled Hogan for the WCW Championship at Halloween Havoc, but lost when the “Giant” (Paul Wight) chokeslammed Savage. Randy then left the company over contract issues for a couple of months.
He returned as “Macho Madness” Randy Savage and joined the n.W.o. at SuperBrawl VII, reuniting with Elizabeth. After helping Hogan defeat Roddy Piper, Randy and Liz began feuding with “Diamond” Dallas Page and his wife Kimberly. A long series of matches ensued over 8 months, including a number of mixed-tag matches. There was no clear winner of the feud, but there were some decent matches. This led to a feud with Lex Luger and an eventual title match against Sting for the WCW Championship. Hogan tried to cost Randy the match, feeling that he should be Champion, but Nash interfered and helped Savage win the belt.
On Monday Night Nitro the next evening, Hogan challenged Savage for the Championship, and nearly won. Kevin Nash interfered again, power-bombing Hogan, and setting Randy up to retain his belt, but then Bret Hart came in and interfered on Hogan’s behalf. Hogan went on to win the WCW Championship. But the damage was done, and the n.W.o. splintered into 2 factions, with Savage joining Nash in the n.W.o. Wolfpac.
Randy was gone for most of the rest of 1998, healing from knee surgery. Returning in 1999, Savage reappeared with his new real-life girlfriend, the 22-year-old Gorgeous George, as his new valet and manager. Savage seemed to befriend DDP and helped him retain the WCW Championship over the next few months until he lost it to Kevin Nash. Savage formed Team Madness, with Madusa Miceli and Miss Madness (who later went to the WWF as Molly Holly) and feuded with Nash. Savage paired with Sid Vicious against Kevin Nash and Sting. Randy pinned Nash to claim his 4th and final WCW Championship. The next night on Nitro, Hogan challenged Savage and defeated him when Nash power-bombed Savage. Miss Madness and Madusa began to argue and Team Madness disbanded soon after. 3 months later at the Road Wild pay-per-view, Savage defeated Dennis Rodman (for some reason). He wrestled a few more times and then had last WCW match on Thursday Night Thunder in May 2000, as a member of a 41 man (what an odd number) battle royal. He then retired from wrestling.
In 2002, Randy Savage appeared in “Spider-Man” as wrestler Bonesaw McGraw. On May 1st, 2003, his famous wife, Elizabeth Ann Hulette, now in a volatile relationship with former wrestler Lex Luger, died of an overdose of painkillers and vodka at age 42. Stories indicate Savage was devastated by this news. Savage did a large amount of voice work for many animated shows including “Dexter’s Laboratory”, “King of the Hill”, “Duck Dodgers”, and the 2008 Disney hit, “Bolt”. He attempted a very short comeback in 2004 for Jeff Jarrett’s Total Nonstop Action promotion but had to quit over health issues. In 2010, he married his longtime girlfriend, Barbara Lynn Payne.
Randy Poffo suffered a heart attack on May 20th, 2011 while driving his Jeep Wrangler with his wife in Seminole, Florida, crashing into a tree. He died before medical help arrived. Initial reports were that he died from the car crash itself, but autopsy reports showed he had advanced coronary heart disease that had been undiagnosed. He was 58.
Randy Savage lives on in the hearts of wrestling fans everywhere, and he is still wildly popular. Shortly after his death, CM Punk began using his flying elbow drop finisher in tribute, which he still does today. He is the most obvious missing entrant into the WWE Hall of Fame, likely due to his tense relationship with Vince McMahon that was never resolved. This year, his old arch-rivals, “The Ultimate Warrior” and Jake “The Snake” Roberts are being enshrined, and I only hope “The Macho Man” will be there soon. Thanks for reading, and keep your shoulders off the mat.