While there have been a lot of influences on me—guys like Bobby Heenan, Bret Hart, HBK, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude and many others—there is one person that is solely responsible for getting me hooked into the wrestling world.
The wrestler I am referring to is none other than the second-to-none legend "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
Randy Savage has been, without a doubt, one of the most influential heels in the history of pro wrestling. If you were a fan of the bad guys, he was your Hulk Hogan. He would also help break ground for high flyers all over the world.
He had the ability to cut a promo that still can't be duplicated today, and he would always end it off with an: OOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YYYYEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHH! He had a sense of style and class that could not be matched.
This is not to be out-shined by his in-ring abilities. He knew how to play the crowd and set the story of the match. His heel tactics that he created are still used today by our young grapplers.
My friends, make no mistake about it, their will never be another wrestler like Randy Savage again. I hope that you enjoy this journey with me. It will be a fun and entertaining ride that I hope no one forgets.
In order to understand the life of Randy Savage we have to travel all the way back, a trip back into simpler times, when Randy Poffo was just a glimmer in his father Angelo’s eyes.
Angelo Poffo would come to this country way back in the 40s. He would have a tough childhood living in the windy city of Chicago. He would often have to fend for himself when picked on because of his inability to speak English well.
His parents were strict with Angelo and would often force him study hard and work harder. It's these values that would be passed through the blood of his sons. All his hard work would pay off when he joined the Navy.
It was there that his dedication and good work ethics would earn him top honors in the military. He would also be known for something else that would make him a bit more famous.
He would set the record for doing over 6,000 sit-ups. This would not only get him bragging rights on the base, but it would also get him a spot on TV for Rippley's Believe It or Not.
He would meet his wife in 1949 while she was in high school. They bumped into each other at a local gym and the rest would be history. They would go on to have a family of two boys: Randy and Lanny Poffo.
The 50s would be a defining moment for young Randy, as he would often go watch his dad wrestle. Not knowing at a young age that wrestling was fixed, he would often get into fights when his father would lose.
"Randy would come home from school with his tie off to the side, and his hair a mess, and I knew he'd been fighting," says Judy. "He couldn't take anyone saying a bad word about his dad if he'd lose a match. Lanny was calmer. He'd walk away. But not Randy."
Playing sports would be a major part of both Randy and Lanny's lives growing up. It would be Randy who would excel, though. As a junior in high school, in 1971, he would hit over .500.
He would follow it up his senior year batting .521. These staggering numbers would land him a spot with the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Randy would be on his way to a good baseball career. He would make it to two straight All-Star games in the minors.
Then, fate would take a turn for the worst for young Randy. He would suffer a freak injury during a play at the plate with the other team's catcher.
He would separate his right shoulder and his muscles would be torn from the bone. He was, later, traded to the Reds, but at that point the writing was on the wall.
Still determined to make it in baseball, he would train himself to throw with his other arm. His hard work would seem to pay off when he was signed by the White Sox in 1975.
Sadly for young Randy, that is as far as his baseball career would ever go. He would be cut the following season. It was at this moment in his life when he would hit rock bottom. Not sure what he would do with his life, his father would steer him in the direction of pro wrestling.
“I played pro baseball for the Reds, the Cardinals, and the White Sox in their minor league systems. I had a great time doing it. I was signed out of high school, so I let football and basketball go to the side; and even though I had my grades in order, I wanted to take my shot at baseball," Randy said.
"When that didn't work out, my dad, a wrestler named Angelo Poffo, said he could open the door for me in terms of taking a chance at wrestling, so I decided to go for that.”
Randy Poffo would go on to join the world of pro wrestling with his father and brother. It was his father who would wind up managing both of their careers. Unlike his brother Lanny though, Randy wanted his own identity in the wrestling world.
Randy would toy around with many different names throughout his career. He had names like the Destroyer, the Executioner, the Spider Friend, and Big Geno. It wouldn't be until much later in his career that he would pick the name "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
“These guys saw me as some skinny guy who just came out of baseball, and at that time baseball players weren't supposed to lift weights, so they just saw me as some kid trying to make it off of my dad's name, Randy said.
"That's why I changed my name to Macho Man Randy Savage. The truth behind that is my mom was reading Reader's Digest one day, long before the Macho Man song came out, and they said in this article that Macho Man was going to be the next hot term.” Randy said.
His father would continue to manage both him and his brother Lanny throughout the 70s and early 80s. He would venture to places like the ICW, GCW, and the CWA in his early stages of his career.
Despite winning multiple heavyweight titles he always felt he was living in his father's shadow. Randy wouldn’t find his own path to greatness until 1985, when he and his brother were signed to the WWF. It was an opportunity that Randy Savage would always be grateful for.
"On June 17, 1985, when Vince McMahon came to me. Before that I was running around crazy and Vince wanted to know if I wanted to do business. That's the day Vince McMahon guaranteed me an opportunity, a shot that if I did well, he would give me my chance at wrestling in the main events, and he was true to his word.
"I got lucky that the people identified with me, my style, my rebel style, my Slim Jim. That's what they like about me. But Vince McMahon gave me my opportunity on June 17, 1985, and I appreciate that forever," Randy said.
He as pushed hard and fast once he arrived in the WWF. In his first appearance on TV he would choose Elizabeth, as is manager. This would lead to a long and storied romance between the two.
He would bring a new style to the ring that was seldom seen. He would don a flashy costume and would have the crowd in frenzy with his heel tactics. We would also be introduced to a style of wrestling that would help make high-flyers a common theme in the WWF.
Savage was soon wrestling as Vince’s top heel. His first Pay Per View action would come Nov. 7, 1985. He would enter the 16-man "Wrestling Classic" tournament and make it to the finals, where he was counted out against the Junkyard Dog.
He would quickly start making his move up the ladder. With his in-ring ability and skills on the stick, he was moving fast. He would get his first taste of gold in 1986.
He would start feuding with Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title in late '85. His first match with Tito would end in a count out. They would have a rematch on Feb. 8 at the Boston Garden. It was then that Savage would win the title.
This would only be the beginning for Savage, though. He would hold the title for over a year. It is considered by many, as the title's most prestigious run. He would feud with Jake "The Snake" Roberts, George "The Animal" Steele, and Ricky Steamboat while he was champion.
At Wrestlemania III, unknown to him, Savage would take part in what most consider his finest match. He was set to take on Ricky the Dragon Steamboat. The two of them would make history that night.
Steamboat vs. Savage is still considered by many as one of Wrestlemania's greatest matches. If you asked Savage, he would disagree with that statement, as he says in this excerpt from an interview with Wrestling Digest:
WD: One of the greatest matches is WWE history is you vs. Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome. Do you think it is the greatest match of your career?
RS: Yeah, that is what I've heard, as a lot of people think it was. It was a world indoor record with 93,000 people there, and it was really fun to wrestle there that night. I just remember having a good time, but I had a lot of good times. It wasn't just that night."
Savage's stock in the company would only continue to rise, as 1987 would continue to be a big year for him. Soon the fans would start to love Savage. He made his first face turn with company.
One of his first major feuds as a good guy would be with the Honky Tonk Man. During this feud Honky and the Harts were assaulting Savage in the ring. It was at this moment an unforgettable team would be born.
Hulk Hogan, Savage's bitter rival would come in to make the save. That was when the Mega Powers would be introduced to the wrestling world. This unlikely pair would go on to shock the wrestling world.
As Wrestlemaina IV approached, Savage would be entered in a 14-man tournament for the WWF Title. This was due to the title being vacated after the Andre the Giant vs. Hogan fiasco.
In this tournament, Savage would have to wrestle four times. He went on to beat Butch Reed, Greg Valentine, One Man Gang, and Ted DiBiase to become the WWF champ for the first time.
"I was glad. It was satisfying. I knew what it meant and I knew a lot of the guys would be depending on me to lead them. It was a fun thing, and not only a fun thing to achieve, but you have got to remember there is a lot of respect with it and a lot of confidence in the person wearing it. It was cool that they thought enough of me to let me be the lead dog," Randy said.
Savage was, indeed, on top of the wrestling world. He was the world champ, over with the fans, and one half of wrestling’s most popular tag team. In just three years Savage would reach the top of the wrestling world.
He would remain champ for over a year, a feat that is rarely seen in this day and age. In fact, there have only been two wrestlers to accomplish this since he did it. Like most good things in life though, this reign had to come to an end.
Hogan and Savage would start to have a falling out. The angle the WWE would use to turn Savage Heel again would be over jealousy problems with Elizabeth.
This would ultimately lead into a match where Savage would drop the title to Hogan at Wrestlemania V.
Things would slow down for Savage after he lost the belt. He would get involved in some minor feuds here and there, but nothing to write home about. In 1990 he became the Macho King by beating Duggan for the crown.
He would also get involved in the storyline between the Ultimate Warrior and Sgt. Slaughter. In this angle he would try to use Sherri to persuade the Warrior into giving Savage a shot at the belt. He would refuse and Savage would get revenge by costing the Warrior the title.
This would lead up to a retirement match at Wrestlemania VII with the Ultimate Warrior. Like most of the Warrior's matches, this match consisted of gorilla presses and clotheslines. Savage would nail multiple elbows on the Warrior but would still lose the match.
All was not lost for Savage, because after the match he would be reunited with his long lost love Elizabeth. Savage would move to the booth after his match with the Warrior. While his skills in the ring were great, his skills as a commentator were pretty much awful.
This would just be a ploy in the end as they were setting up for the Savage and Elizabeth wedding. They were married in real life, but not at Summerslam like some believe. After the marriage, at the reception Jake Roberts would put a snake in one of the gifts.
This angle would also end up in some controversy after the snake bit Savage in the ring. Savage would joke about it afterwards, because 12 days after it bit him, the snake would end up dying.
“I had a lot of great feuds. Though, Jake The Snake was one, especially since his python bit me. That's a really funny story because the snake was supposed to be devenomized, and when the python bit me, it wouldn't let go," Randy said.
"About five days later I had a fever and went to the hospital with a 104-degree fever. It's unbelievable to walk into the hospital and tell the doctor I had a snake bite.
Finally, the fever went down, they gave me antibiotics, and luckily the snake was devenomized, but 12 days later, the snake died."
"He was devenomized, but maybe I wasn't," Randy said. "Jake told me: 'You killed my snake, dude.' Our feud generated a lot of interest after that angle, even though they couldn't show it on national TV. It was too graphic. They could only show it with a big X over the screen,” Randy said.
After the snake bit him, Randy Savage would come out of retirement to seek his revenge. The feud would end on Saturday night’s main event when he would beat Roberts. Savage would only have one real major feud after the one with Roberts.
In 1992, he would have a feud with Ric Flair. At the time, Flair was telling everyone that he was having an affair with Elizabeth. The ironic part of all this is, a short time later Savage and Liz would get divorced in real life.
Flair and Savage would go on to feud with each other for some time. It would also be during this period that Savage would capture his second world title. He would wind up holding the belt for five months before dropping it to Flair again.
That would be Savage's last hoorah in the WWF. He would move back to the booth calling matches, and a short time later he would leave the company after a few gimmick matches. The WWF did at least pay their respects to him on his last episode of Raw.
Savage would leave WWF and head to his new home in WCW. While he did have some nice moments with WCW, he never would recapture the glory he had in WWF.
During his time in WCW, he would wind up winning the Heavyweight Title a few times. The first time would be in a 60-man three-ring battle royal. It would be very short-lived though; he would drop the belt a month later to Flair.