Looking Back At Legends: Best Feuds by the Biggest Stars in WWE Pay-Per-View Era
Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Jake the Snake Roberts
While both names keeps popping up for a Hall Of Fame invite, Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Jake "The Snake" Roberts remain mysterious by their absence. These two greats were among the most high profiled WWE stars in the late 1980s and early 1990s and contributed greatly to the success of pro wrestling by attracting a main stream audience.
Roberts and Savage crossed paths in a legendary feud in 1991-1992, pushing the envelope for what was acceptable entertainment while also getting things done in the ring.
How It All Got Started
Arguably one of the stranger events to headline a WWE PPV event, Randy Savage married Miss Elizabeth (kayfabe) at the 1991 installment of SummerSlam.
Following the surprisingly uninterrupted in-ring nuptials, Savage and Elizabeth hosted a wedding reception with Mean Gene giving the toast and serving as interviewer (what, your wedding didn't have one?).
As the couple commence opening their wedding gifts, Elizabeth shrieks with fear as a cobra is found in one of the gifts. Just then, the party was crashed by Jake Roberts and his stooge, the Undertaker (then a rookie in the WWE). Jake, then a heel, allegedly went after Savage because he was retired (following his loss in the career vs. career match at WrestleMania VIII) and couldn't fight back.
The Build-Up (Part 1)
Roberts continued to goad the Macho Man in a series of promos until he coerced him into the ring while Savage was doing commentary with Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper on a match that aired in an episode of WWE Superstars.
Savage attacks, but Roberts easily gets the upper hand and ties him in the ropes. Roberts then proceeds to pull out a king cobra and antagonize it until it latches on to the "defenseless" Savage's bicep. The snake had been devenomized, and the spot was planned, though Jake has since recounted on his WWE DVD that he struggled to get the snake off of Savage for quite some time without success before it finally released.
The image of the cobra clinging to Savage’s muscle tissue stirred a fan-based rally leading to Savage’s reinstatement in the WWE by President Jack Tunney the week before the fifth annual Survivor Series.
The Build-Up (Part 2)
While Savage had been expected to take Sid Justice's place and head up a four-man team of IRS and the Natural Disasters to take on Roberts, Boss Man and the Legion of Doom, President Tunney instead prohibited him from the event due to his "condition" along with the Snake in order even up the teams.
He also added the caveat that snakes were now barred from ringside and that Savage would get his redemption against Roberts at the earliest possible date. This also set up a one-on-one match at a new (and short-lived) attempt at a pay-per-view by the WWE, known as (This) Tuesday In Texas, on the following, you guessed it, Tuesday.
While he would not be competing at the event, Roberts was invited to deliver a promo and set up the match, and deliver he did.
Savage cleanly defeated Roberts at "This Tuesday In Texas" with his patented flying elbow finisher. However, a victory proved to be not enough and Savage sought to take Jake out. He decided to use a weapon to do so and eventually got his hands on the ring bell. While arguing with the ref on whether or not he could do so, Roberts recovers enough to land his own finisher, the DDT, and knock Savage out. He hits a few more DDTs and then goes under the ring to get the previously-banned snake.
Elizabeth makes it down to check on her husband and serve as a diversion while he recovers. Roberts antagonizes and assaults her while still teasing the presence of the snake. He is eventually removed by WWE officials and though he lost his match, Savage appeared much worse for wear afterwards.
The Feud Persists
Savage and Roberts would continue their feud into the early months of 1992. At the year's first pay-per-view event, the Royal Rumble, both superstars called each other out in their pre-match promos.
Roberts ended up in the event first with Savage following five spots later. Upon Savage entering the ring, Roberts sneaks out under the bottom rope, careful to avoid both elimination and the fury of the Macho Man. The two would soon get together with Savage eliminating Roberts fairly quickly. Savage followed him outside, showing he was not done with Roberts yet, but he was soon forced back in by the Undertaker, still an ally to the Snake for the time being. Savage would go on to be in the final four of the match, which Ric Flair ultimately won.
The Feud Dies Off
Savage and Roberts had one more televised match at a Saturday Night's Main Event in February. Savage won the match and punished Roberts afterwards with a few extra flying elbows before sending him running to the back and celebrating in the ring with his wife, Elizabeth.
As Savage finally makes his way out of the arena, a camera shows us Roberts setting up to hit "whoever" comes through the curtain first, and Liz was leading the way. Just before the Snake strikes, the Undertaker grabs the chair and prevents him from swinging it.
The intervention of the Undertaker would set up a match with Jake the Snake at WrestleMania VIII. Roberts would then go on to "train" the Ultimate Warrior for a match that never really happened against 'Taker before jumping ship for his one and only run in WCW. Meanwhile, Savage had earned a title shot against the Rumble winner Flair, a backup plan following Hogan's lack of commitment to the event which thwarted what would questionably have been the biggest main event in history with both stars being near their prime in ability and popularity. Savage went on to win his second heavyweight championship at the event while Roberts became victim No. 2 and counting for the Dead Man at WrestleMania.
The Roberts/Savage feud of 1991-92 was probably the most high profile for Jake the Snake as a heel. It also served to get Savage back into the main event picture. Furthermore, the compelling storyline gave both superstars an opportunity to shine on the mic and in the ring. In addition, the Undertaker was able to gain credibility in working with these legends as his popularity grew. But most probably, they'll remember the snake bite more than anything, a graphic scene etched in any fan’s memory for good.
What Can Be Learned Today
The message this feud gives us today is one of realism and sacrifice. Wrestling storylines should never shy away from reality. It gives people interest and gives the players credibility. From Triple H breaking into Randy Orton’s home to Jericho decking Michaels’ wife, it may take more than two good wrestlers to make a great feud, and the more real the story, the better.
The sacrifice by Savage may be a bit over the top, but give credit to the man to do whatever it takes to get his story across. He didn't fall from a very high place or bleed all over the ring, but he did experience tremendous pain with exceptional risk. Finding ways to incorporate this kind of vivid imagery and inspiring motivation would serve the feuds of today's wrestling world well.