The word “icon” is often bandied about recklessly when it comes to pro wrestlers. Many have been labeled an “icon” in the industry when they maybe don’t deserve it.
But one thing is for sure. “Macho Man” Randy Savage was and is an icon in the professional wrestling industry. When pro wrestling is brought up to people of any age, fan or non-fan, instinctively The Macho Man (along with Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin) will be one of the names brought up. His mannerisms, his voice and his trademark “Oooh yeah” will be mimicked. His time as the spokesperson for Slim Jim raised the stock for both sides.
His death was not just that of another pro wrestler, but also that of a pop culture phenomenon. News of his death was broken to me by text messages from close friends and posts on my facebook from those who knew me. That has never happened with any other wrestler’s death. It showed the level of notoriety, popularity and dare I say, respect, that The Macho Man commanded from people, who either never watched wrestling or hadn’t watched since Savage was in his prime back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
In era when larger than life characters and outrageous personalities ruled the wrestling world, The Macho Man stood out even in that time period. Personalities like Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Andre the Giant and The Ultimate Warrior were fondly remembered and still have their share of fans who look back on them nostalgically. But The Macho Man was in another class all to himself.
And of everything that made Savage the complete package was his valet Miss Elizabeth. Back in 1985 there wasn’t such a thing as a beautiful valet like Elizabeth standing ringside for her man. Usually an unscrupulous manager would be on the outside helping out their protégé. But the beautiful Miss Elizabeth added another dimension to Macho Man’s character. He was the jock everybody hated who landed the sweet girl next door. And their relationship was one of the greatest overarching storylines in pro wrestling history that twisted and turned for over a dozen years and spanned two different promotions. For many a young man (including yours truly) Miss Elizabeth was their first boyhood crush.
In fact my first pro wrestling memory, from way back in 1989, involved The Macho Man. It was a Friday night Main Event TV special on NBC that saw The Macho Man team with Hulk Hogan (The Mega Powers) battle Akeem and The Big Boss Man (The Twin Towers). A mistimed bump from Savage cause him to land unintentionally on Miss Elizabeth. Savage came back into the ring to continue the match while Hogan jumped down to help Elizabeth. He ended up carrying her to the back for medical attention while Savage continued to get pounded by Akeem & Boss Man. Hogan soon returned to ringside to help out Savage. When Savage regained his composure he went over to his corner for a tag. He slapped Hogan in the face and walked off. Hogan put himself into a rage and took out both opponents and got the victory.
The two men then brawled backstage as Miss Elizabeth helplessly looked on. It was wild stuff for its day and officially caused The Mega Powers to explode and turn Savage into a hated villain.
When you are only five years old, you probably don’t remember a whole lot. But, you are also quite impressionable at that age as well. It was my first wrestling that I ever remember laying my eyes on. I was hooked. Twenty-two years later I am still a professional wrestling fan.
Plain and simple, he was one of the greatest of all time and one of the two or three most fondly remembered pro wrestlers ever. Not a day goes by when I tell someone about my pro wrestling writing that a “Oooh yeah” or a finger wave or a Slim Jim comment or an impersonation not come out from those I’m talking with. It’s too bad WWE and him couldn’t make peace with each other for one last appearance. He should have really gotten his WWE Hall of Fame induction live and in person, just so he would’ve gotten one last curtain call to say goodbye to his fans and the industry, and allow the fans to say goodbye to him.
But I’m thankful for the commemorative Macho Man figure I received from Mattel some weeks ago, and it will be displayed proudly. God bless you Macho Man, and I’ve got one more elbow drop off a couch coming in the near future.