20 May 2011

Randy "Macho Man" Savage

Picture courtesy of Rob Bricken
This morning, Randy "Macho Man" Savage died in a car accident. He's most well-known as a former WWF Champion (back when that used to mean something) and a huge wrestling star of the 1980's.

Wrestling, specifically the WWF, was a huge part of my formative years. I'm old enough to remember the The Main Event, the NBC special where Hulk Hogan lost the WWF Championship to Andre the Giant who subsequently gave the belt up when he tried to sell it to the "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase. This vacated the belt, which was then up for grabs in a tournament at Wrestlemania IV. While I didn't get to see that on pay per view, there wasn't an Internet to speak of to find out the results, so I went out of my way to find out that Macho Man came out the winner.

It was during his first reign as WWF Champion that my life long relationship with pro wrestling came to fruition. A few months after he won, the Mega Powers exploded.

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were best friends so they formed a tag team called the Mega Powers. Most tag teams of convenience like this one are created just for the sole purpose of them breaking up and eventually feuding, but at 8 years old, I didn't know that. I still thought wrestling was real and it was awesome. Much like the comic books I was so enamored with, these guys in the squared circle were larger than life, real superheroes who settled their grievances with fisticuffs, sometimes fighting for the honor of the ladies they loved. When the Mega Powers teamed up to take on the Big Bossman and Akeem, collectively known as the Twin Towers, Randy Savage was thrown into his manager, the lovely Miss Elizabeth. Hulk Hogan tended to her by taking her to the back so she could get the proper medical attention, leaving Savage alone with the giant monsters. When Hogan returned, Savage slapped Hogan and left him to fend for himself

I've watched a lot of wrestling and nowadays it blends together each week because very few memorable things happen, but every moment of that Main Event special where Randy Savage stormed into the back to yell at Hulk Hogan for having abandoned him in the match is etched into my brain and probably will be for the rest of my life. The melee was tremendous because Randy Savage had established himself as a jealous, possessive borderline insane dude who didn't trust anybody, even his best friend, with Elizabeth, so it made sense why he got so angry. And Hulk Hogan was only doing what he thought was right, so it made sense why he tried to take care of his best friend's girl.

But at 8 years old, all I knew was that I would do anything to watch Wrestlemania V, subtitled "The Mega Powers EXPLODE!" When my uncle offered to get it in exchange for mowing his lawn for two months, I jumped at the opportunity.

And while I was a dyed in the wool Hulkamaniac at the time, it wasn't until years later that I realized how much of my dedication to that feud and to wrestling in general was due to the talents of Macho Man. He was the most three dimensional character in wrestling and the Mega Powers' destruction wasn't even his most crowning achievement. If I were to name my top ten favorite moments in wrestling, five of them would involve Randy Savage (and the rest would probably involve The Rock and a few others would have Stone Cold Steve Austin and one would have D'Lo Brown; there's more than ten moments in my top ten is what I'm saying).

In a business where it's hard to be a fan without feeling insulted or embarrassed and where it's hard to feel phased by yet another death in a long string of them, Randy Savage is a guy that can allow any fan, current or former, loudly proclaim that he was one of the best. Oh, yeah. You can dig it.

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