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Legends of the Ring #3: Macho Man Randy Savage

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It was announced on Raw that the legendary Macho Man Randy Savage would finally take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. He will be inducted by his former tag partner and rival, Hulk Hogan. As a fan of Savage I’m overjoyed. It’s a long time coming, just a shame that he won’t be there in person to accept the honour.

What made Savage so beloved? He was the total package quite frankly. He had the flamboyant robes, the raspy voice which proved to be his trademark, the awesome top rope elbow drop finisher, the ability to perform, insane charisma, Elizabeth by his side and of course, THAT catchphrase! Randy Savage has to have been one of the most impersonated guys amongst me and my friends, even today we still burst out with a random “OOHHH YEAH” or “DIT IT” or even “SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM”!

It would only be appropriate to dedicate some time to that match against Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III. It’s a match which is often referred to as the greatest match of all time. Leading up to the event, Savage drove a ring bell into Steamboat’s throat from the top rope. Moments later, Steamboat was taken out on a stretcher while Vince yelled on commentary “he can’t breathe”.  Steamboat was doing a master job selling the injury. A few months later, Steamboat recovered from the “crushed larynx” injury and challenged Savage to a match at WrestleMania for the Intercontinental Championship. After the match Gorilla Monsoon had this to say, “If you live to be a hundred, you’ll never see a match as good as this!” Even Monsoon knew something special had just happened. The phrase show stealer springs to mind! It’s a match that still stands the test of time and is looked back on with fond memories by wrestlers and fans alike. In a match which had 22 near falls (yes I was counting), that alone just proves how badly both guys wanted the win. The emotion and determination was first class. In short, Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania 3 is one of the best matches ever. Five stars. No question about it! Ricky has went on record for a number of times stating that Savage was so obsessed with perfection that he would practice this match with Steamboat everyday leading up to Mania. He even wrote out the match move for move also. That shows how much Savage cared about his craft and how obsessed he was about being the best and leaving a lasting impression on the fans.

The other match that stands out is that with Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7. It was a career vs. career match with the loser being forced to retire. It was an unbelievably emotional draining match, and with their careers on the line, every minute was thrilling. Savage was the better worker no doubt, but Warrior also had his moments too which is rare considering the average quality of Warrior’s matches. It’s a match that truly stands the test of time. The match lasted for 20 minutes and it told quite a story, but that would only be half of it. Post-match, Sherri (Savage’s manager at the time) is furious with Savage for losing because it would mean the end of her too (at least in theory). She began to kick away at Macho. Elizabeth, who was sitting at ringside, hops over the barrier and throws Sherri out of the ring. The crowd went nuts over that; they weren’t used to seeing Elizabeth get physical. Elizabeth tries to help Savage up; he threw his hand up thinking that it was Sherri. When he turned around he was shocked and confused to see Elizabeth. His face was a picture. He looked as if he’d seen a ghost!  Elizabeth is crying. After a few moments, they embrace and the fans go nuts. Some of the fans are even crying too. It was truly an emotional scene. Savage held the ropes open for Liz, as she had done for him for so many years, and then Savage gives one last series of turnbuckle salutes for the crowd. They then leave hand in hand, reunited after more than two years. Perfect storytelling.

His feud with Diamond Dallas Page is the perfect example of getting someone over. Page wasn’t exactly a nobody before locking up with Macho but it sure as hell helped him to progress to the next level, even Page himself admits he wouldn’t have been world champion had it not been for this feud. Their first match happened at Spring Stampede of April ’97 and lasted up until Halloween Havoc of that year. Prior to Stampede, the two were working the live event circuit. The story goes that Arn Anderson (a road agent at the time) approached Savage and asked him (in front of Diamond) what’s the finish going to be. Savage had a creative control clause in his contract which allowed him to change any bookings he saw fit. Savage thought about it and simply said, “I think I’ll take the Diamond Cutter”. The match took place, Page got the win and Savage whispered to him, “We’ve got our finish for Spring Stampede”.  It’s cool to read things like that, the veteran star willing to put over new talent no questions asked. If you ever get a chance, pop on over to DDPTV where every match and promo from that incredible feud as well as some behind the scenes info from DDP himself has been uploaded. You may not get through it all in one day but believe me, it’s worth it!

Savage retired in 2000, he reappeared in TNA in 2004 but left soon after due to health concerns. He never appeared in another promotion again. Pictures resurfaced of him over the years supporting a white bushy beard and his receding hairline.  It looked nothing like him. He was so unrecognisable that he could sit in the crowd at WrestleMania and nobody would batter an eyelid. May 20th 2011 was the day we heard the sad news of Randy’s passing. He suffered a heart attack whiles driving. The following episode of Raw played an amazing tribute video dedicated to his in-ring accomplishments, promos, appearances on TV shows and those Slim Jim ads. It was also that episode of Raw where CM Punk donned those pink trunks and yellow boots complete with white stars on the trunks.  Punk also adopted the top rope elbow drop into his move set. His influence was immense!

His Hall of Fame induction is going to be special. Watching those clips on RAW during his induction video brought back a ton of memories. I just wished that he was there on March 28th to hear the ovation he’ll receive, but it will be a celebration of his life that he so richly deserves and that his legacy will live forever.

OOOOHHHHHHH YEEEAAAAHHHHHH!!!

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