May 20, 2011 was a sad day for pro wrestling
fans – that was the day “Macho Man” Randy Savage
died from injuries sustained in a car accident.
Savage, who would have turned 60 years old today, was a beloved star of WWF and WCW wrestling, known for his seven world championships, his signature “Oooh yeah!” catchphrase, and his fantastically flashy costumes.
Randy Savage (AP Photo)
In the ring, Savage – a second-generation wrestler whose father, Angelo Poffo, was a favorite in the 1950s and ‘60s – was an intense athlete and showman. He wrestled with and against some of pro wrestling’s other great names, exciting his fans with big matchups like his win against the massive Andre the Giant:
As fans of pro wrestling know, a rivalry can turn to a partnership (and turn right back again). So it was with Randy Savage and another superstar of the wrestling world, Hulk Hogan.
In his early days, Savage wrestled Hogan – clearly not pulling any punches – at Madison Square Garden, but not long after Macho Man’s victory, the two set aside their rivalry and because friends and tag-team partners. They formed The Mega Powers team and dominated the wrestling world in the late 1980s.
The friendship wouldn’t last, due in part to Hogan’s overly obvious attention toward Savage’s then-wife and wrestling personality, Miss Elizabeth. Tensions were beginning to simmer by the end of the decade, when Savage gave this interview (which demonstrates that he was more than just a great wrestler – he was also a pretty funny guy):
The Mega Powers dissolved, but Savage continued to dominate the ring through his early-1991 retirement… and on through his late-1991 return to the sport. New rivalries were formed – one notable feud was with Ric Flair, who did further damage to Savage’s marriage by publicly claiming he had an affair with Savage’s wife. The real-life tension was reflected in the ring. (While you enjoy the theatrics in this Flair-Savage match, don’t miss Savage’s signature entry song, an amped version of “Pomp and Circumstance.”)
Savage continued to wrestle through the 1990s and into the 2000s. But by the mid-‘90s, he was starting to branch out of the wrestling world as well. He took movie roles, notably in Spider-Man as wrestler Bonesaw McGraw. He guest starred in TV shows like Baywatch and Walker, Texas Ranger. He lent his legendary gruff voice to animated series like King of the Hill, Family Guy and others. And perhaps most famous was his commercial work for Slim Jim.
In the wake of Randy Savage’s death, the wrestling world mourned. Hulk Hogan reacted immediately, stating, “I’m completely devastated, after over 10 years of not talking with Randy, we’ve finally started to talk and communicate. He had so much life in his eyes & in his spirit, I just pray that he’s happy and in a better place and we miss him.” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also tweeted an early response: “RIP Randy "Macho Man" Savage - you were one of my childhood inspirations and heros. Strength, love and prayers to the Savage/Poffo family.”
Randy Savage’s fans miss him as much as his friends and colleagues. But we can still watch him doing what he did best.
Originally published May 2011