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Friday, May 20, 2011

Mourning the passing of Randy "Macho Man" Savage

Today one of the icons of my youth passed away. Randy Poffo, known to many as Randy “Macho Man” Savage died in a car accident from a heart attack. He was 58.

Randy Savage was one of the icons of my youth. From his raspy voice to his manic promos in the ring and for Slim Jim meat snacks, Macho Man Randy Savage was a part of every boy’s life growing up back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. His trademark catch phrase “oooooooh yeah!” is practically etched in my long-term memory.

I used to watch Randy Savage on WWF Superstars on Channel 9 at six on Saturday Nights when I was 11. Often accompanied to the ring by his valet Miss Elizabeth, Randy was one of the first wrestlers to make an entrance by coming down the aisle. Often dressed in sequined capes and other elaborate costumes, Randy made an impact on viewers from the first moment they saw him. From the first moment the audience heard “Pomp and Circumstance” before he came to the ring, they knew they were going to see something spectacular in the wrestling ring.

The Macho Man was one of the greatest pro wrestlers in the sport, his matches sheer poetry in motion to watch. Whether it was a jobber like Mario Mancini, a mid-carder like Junkyard Dog, or a World Champion like Hulk Hogan, Randy made every match feel like it was a main event. He had a presence and charisma that captivated viewers. In the ring he was a master performer who could tell a story with his body that compelled the viewer to watch the match from start to finish.

While many may remember how Hulk Hogan dominated the Main Event and the WWF Championship, it Savage’s run in the mid-card that kept me watching me watching wrestling as a kid. Back then he was the heel you wanted to see to beaten, the character you loved to hate. During his year-long reign as Intercontinental Champ he kept us glued to our seats with matches with the Junk Yard Dog, Hillbilly Jim, and Tito Santana. This run over face opponents built up to a head with a match with Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat. After the match Savage went wild and jumped off the top rope and crushed Steamboat’s larynx with the ring bell. Several times. Steamboat couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t speak It was the start of one of the greatest storylines in wrestling history.

In the aftermath, Steamboat took months to recover. The progress was slow. But as Steamboat regained his voice he issued a challenge to Randy Savage for Wrestlemania III for the Intercontinental Championship. As Savage continued to steamroll opponents in front of the camera, behind the camera, Savage and Steamboat prepared for their match at Wrestlemania III, rehearsing every move and spot until it was perfect.

Their hard work built to a powerful climax at Wrestlemainia III. The match between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania was a classic and one of the greatest matches in wrestling period. If you haven’t seen a wrestling match in your life, I highly recommend this one. Absolute perfection in the ring from start to finish.

While Savage lost the Intercontinental Title at Wrestlemaina, he continued to build in popularity. Hulk Hogan was feuding with Akeem and The Big Boss Man and the two titanic forces proved to be too much even for a ringside superhero like him. Out of nowhere, Savage came out and cleared the ring. As the villain turned hero The Mega powers were established. Soon after, Randy Savage won his first World Championship at Wrestlemania IV and became a bona fide main event Superstar.

But there was tension between the two superstars. Things built to a head one Friday Night when The Mega Powers Hogan and Savage took on the Big Boss Man and Akeem. As the match built up, Miss Elizabeth came to the ring to help. She was knocked off ringside to the floor A conflicted Hulk Hogan was torn between helping his tag team partner or getting his partner’s valet help. Being the consummate hero Hogan carried Elizabeth to the back to get her medical help. In the aftermath of the match, Macho Man would turn heel and attack Hulk Hogan for abandoning him in the ring. The mega powers became mega rivals. This would build into a climax at Wrestlemania V with Hogan beating Savage for the WWF championship.

As Savage would break up with Miss Elizabeth, he soon took up with Sensational Sherri and became King of the ring. The “Macho King” Complete with scepter, ruled the wrestling ring.

Savage soon turned face and reconciled with Elizabeth. Their character’s wedding was labeled “A Match Made in heaven” It was soon made into a Match made in Hell as Jake “The Snake” Roberts disrupted the proceedings. This built into Savage’s feud with Jake The Snake Roberts where Savage took a bite from a cobra in the middle of the ring.

My last memory of Randy Savage in the WWF was his feud with Ric Flair, the “real world’s champion.” Ric claimed that Randy’s wife Elizabeth was having an affair with Ric. It was all a ploy to get in the Macho Man’s head.

With the help of up and comer Razor Ramon, Savage lost the WWF championship to Flair and left the WWF in 1993. He would later would go on to work in WCW in 1994. Soon he made an impact as the man who took the fall in 1995 when Hulk Hogan became the third man in the nWo “Hollywood Hulk Hogan” in the greatest heel turn of all time. Savage would later join the nWo and then the nWo Wolfpac.

The last time I saw Savage in a wrestling ring was his world title run in 1999.And the last time I saw him perform as a wrestling character. in the Movie “Spider Man” playing Bonesaw McGraw, the wrestler Peter Parker beats in the first act of the movie.

Poffo as “Macho Man Randy Savage” shaped the way two generations of young wrestling fans saw sports entertainment. His face and heel turns were twists and turns worthy of the best soap operas. He kept viewers captivated at every turn and his matches the stuff of legend.

Reading about his death today on the net was out of nowhere; I haven’t been this shocked by a celebrity’s passing since Michael Jackson. As one of the icons of my youth, I felt I had to write something to pay my respects to his memory.

Rest in Peace Randy Poffo. You will be missed. Thank you so much for two decades of great memories and allowing me to see you make Pro wrestling history.

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