Randy Savage

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Randy Savage
Randy Savage 1986.jpg
Randy Savage in 1986
Birth name Randy Mario Poffo
Born (1952-11-15)November 15, 1952[1]
Columbus, Ohio, United States
Died May 20, 2011(2011-05-20) (aged 58)
Seminole, Florida, United States
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Randy Poffo[1]
Randy Savage[1]
The Spider[1][2][3]
The Big Geno[1][2][3]
The Macho Man[1]
The Bonesaw[1]
The Macho King[1]
Mr. Madness[1]
Destroyer[1]
Executioner[1]
Billed height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[2]
Billed weight 237 lb (108 kg)[2]
Billed from Sarasota, Florida[2]
Trained by Angelo Poffo[2]
Debut 1973[4][5]
Retired 2005[1]

Randy Mario Poffo[6] (November 15, 1952 – May 20, 2011), better known by his ring name "Macho Man" Randy Savage, was an American professional wrestler and occasional color commentator best known for his time in World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

Savage held 20 championships during his professional wrestling career. He held six world championships between the WWF and WCW, having won the WWF Championship twice and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship four times. He also won the ICW World Heavyweight Championship three times and the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship once. A one time WWF Intercontinental Champion, WWE (formerly WWF) has named Savage as the greatest champion of all time and credited him for bringing "a higher level of credibility to the title through his amazing in-ring performances."[7] He was also the 1987 WWF King of the Ring and the 1995 WCW World War 3 winner. A major pay-per-view attraction in the 1980s and 1990s, Savage headlined WrestleManias IV, V and VIII, as well as four of the first five SummerSlam shows, the 1995 edition of WCW's Starrcade, and many other events. Hulk Hogan, face of the WWF during the professional wrestling "Golden Era" of the 1980s and early 1990s, has recognized Savage as a highly influential performer, and the only man during Hogan's dominance with whom revenues "would stay the same, or get better" when he was WWF Champion.[8]

For most of his tenures in the WWF and WCW, Savage was managed by his real life wife "Miss Elizabeth" Hulette. He was recognizable by wrestling fans for his distinctively deep and raspy voice, his ring attire, intensity exhibited in and out of the ring, using "Pomp and Circumstance" as his entrance music, and his signature catch phrase, "Oooh yeah!".[1][2] Savage died of cardiac arrhythmia while driving with his second wife Barbara Lynn Payne, in Seminole, Florida on the morning of May 20, 2011.

Early life[edit]

Randy Mario Poffo was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 15, 1952,[4][5] the elder son of Judy and Angelo Poffo. His father was Italian American and his mother was Jewish.[9] Angelo was a well-known wrestler in the 1950s and 1960s, who was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not! for his ability to do sit-ups for hours on end.[9] His younger brother is professional wrestler Lanny Poffo, who performs under his real name and the ring name The Genius. Randy also lived in Zanesville, Ohio where he attended Grover Cleveland Middle School. He graduated from Downers Grove North High School in a suburb near Chicago, Illinois.[10] He later moved to Lexington, Kentucky and lived there for many years.[11]

Baseball career[edit]

Savage was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a catcher out of high school.[12] He was placed in the minor leagues to develop, where he mostly played as an outfielder[13] in the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox farm systems.[4] Savage was 18 when he began playing minor league baseball; one of his teammates on the 1971 Gulf Coast League Cardinals was Larry Herndon who was also his roommate.[12] Savage would swing a bat into a hanging car tire as a regular training exercise in order to strengthen his hands and make sure he utilized his legs during swings. The technique was so effective that Herndon adopted it and used it during his own career as a baseball coach.[12] Savage injured his natural (right) throwing shoulder after a collision at home plate, and he learned to throw with his left arm instead. The team was managed by Jimmy Piersall.[14] Savage's last season was 1974, when he played for the Tampa Tarpons.[13] He played 289 games in four minor league seasons, batting .254 with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs.[12]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Savage (right) prepares to face off against Roberto Soto in a match held in Macon, Georgia on August 23, 1977.[15]

Savage first broke into the wrestling business in 1973 during the fall and winter of the baseball off season.[1] His first wrestling character, "The Spider", was similar to Spider-Man.[1] He later took the ring name Randy Savage at the suggestion of Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) booker Ole Anderson, who said that the name Poffo did not fit someone who "wrestled like a savage".[1] Savage eventually decided to end his baseball career and become a full-time wrestler, working with his brother and father.[1] He wrestled his first match against midwest territory wrestler, "Golden Boy" Paul Christy. Savage worked with his father and brother in Michigan, the Carolinas, Georgia, the Maritimes, and the eastern Tennessee territory run by Nick Gulas.[5]

After a while, his father felt that his sons were not getting the pushes they deserved so he started the "outlaw" International Championship Wrestling (ICW) promotion in the mid-American states.[4] Eventually, ICW disbanded and Randy and Lanny entered the Memphis scene, joining Jerry Lawler's Continental Wrestling Association (their former competitors). While there, Savage feuded with Lawler over the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. He also teamed with Lanny to battle The Rock 'n' Roll Express; this feud included a match on June 25, 1984 in Memphis, where in the storyline, Savage injured Ricky Morton by piledriving him through the timekeeper's table, leading to the Express winning by disqualification (though Savage's brother Lanny later said that Morton was not injured in the attack[16]). Later in 1984, Savage turned babyface and allied with Lawler against Jimmy Hart's First Family alliance, only to turn heel on Lawler again in early 1985 and resume the feud with him over the title.[1] This ended when Lawler beat Savage in a Loser Leaves Town match on June 7 in Memphis, Tennessee.[1]

Savage also fought frequently in Puerto Rico during 1984, alongside Carlitos Colon, Abdullah the Butcher and other wrestlers of that era.

World Wrestling Federation (1985–1994)[edit]

Debut and Intercontinental Champion (1985–1987)[edit]

In June 1985, Savage signed with Vince McMahon. Billed as "the top free agent in pro wrestling," Savage's first appearances on Tuesday Night Titans featured several established managers (including Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, and "Classy" Freddie Blassie) offering their services to Savage.[4] He eventually declined their offers and chose Miss Elizabeth as his new manager.[4][5] His gimmick was a crazed, ego-maniacal bully who mistreated Miss Elizabeth and threatened anyone who even looked at her. He made his pay-per-view (PPV) debut at The Wrestling Classic on November 7, 1985, participating in a 16-man tournament. He defeated Ivan Putski,[17] Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat,[17] and the Dynamite Kid[17] before losing by a countout in the finals to Junkyard Dog.[17]

In late 1985, Savage started a feud with Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana over that title. Santana beat him on October 19, 1985 at San Juan, Puerto Rico.[18] The November 2, 1985 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he unsuccessfully challenged Santana for the title (Savage won the match by countout but not the title because the title did not change hands by countout).[19] In a rematch on the February 24, 1986 (taped February 8) edition of Prime Time Wrestling, he won the WWF Intercontinental title at the Boston Garden by using an illegal steel object stashed in his tights to knock out Santana.[20] Early in his WWF career, Savage also won two countout victories in Madison Square Garden over his future tag team partner WWF champion Hulk Hogan (although the belt did not change hands due to the countout) as well as engaging in feuds with Bruno Sammartino and George "The Animal" Steele.[5] During this time Savage also formed a tag-team with semi-retired wrestler come color commentator Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who would remain a vocal supporter of Savage until Ventura left the WWF in mid-1990.

Savage's feud with Steele began on the January 4, 1986 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, when Steele developed a crush on Miss Elizabeth.[21] At WrestleMania 2, Savage defeated Steele in a match to retain his Intercontinental title.[22] He resumed his feud with Steele in early 1987, culminating in two Intercontinental title matches, both won by Savage.[23][24]

Savage wrestled Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III in the Pontiac Silverdome. After 19 two-counts, Steamboat pinned Savage (with help from George Steele, who pushed Savage from the top rope seconds before he was pinned) to end his near 14-month reign as Intercontinental champion.[25][26] The match was extremely choreographed, as opposed to the "on the fly" nature of most wrestling matches at the time.[1] Savage was a stickler for detail, and he and Steamboat laid out and rehearsed every spot in the match prior to WrestleMania, at his home in Florida.[1] The match was named 1987's Match of the Year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer. Steamboat and Savage were seen cheering with and hugging other wrestlers after the match.[1][5]

WWF Champion and the Mega Powers (1987–1989)[edit]

Main article: The Mega Powers

Savage won the King of the Ring tournament later in 1987.[27] Savage's popularity was rising to the point that he was being cheered by a majority of the fans despite being heel, so he became less hostile towards the fans and Miss Elizabeth. When The Honky Tonk Man declared himself "the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time", Savage began a feud with him to get the title back, becoming a fan favorite in the process. On the October 3, 1987, edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he got his shot at The Honky Tonk Man and the Intercontinental Championship, but lost out on the title when The Hart Foundation, who along with Honky were managed by Jimmy Hart, interrupted the match, getting Honky disqualified. In the ensuing beatdown, Miss Elizabeth got Hulk Hogan to save him, leading to the formation of "The Mega Powers."[28][29]

Savage won his first WWF Championship in a 14-man tournament at WrestleMania IV.

At WrestleMania IV, he participated in the 14-man tournament for the vacant WWF Championship. He had successful matches against Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and One Man Gang, and then went on to the finals, in which he defeated "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, by pinning him with the help of Hogan.[30][31][32] Savage retained the WWF title for over a year, defending it against the likes of super heavyweights One Man Gang[33] and André the Giant.[34]

The Mega Powers' main feuds were with The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant), whom they defeated in the main event of the first-ever SummerSlam pay-per-view event,[35][36] and The Twin Towers, a tag team composed of super-heavyweights Big Boss Man and Akeem (formerly the One Man Gang). In the case of the latter feud, Savage frequently became involved in Hogan's matches involving one of the two villains (and vice versa); the two rival factions captained opposing teams in the main event of the 1988 Survivor Series, which was won by the Mega Powers.

Problems between Savage and Hogan developed, however, in early 1989 after Hogan also took Elizabeth as his manager.[29] At the Royal Rumble, Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage from the Royal Rumble match and they started to fight until Elizabeth separated them.[37] On the February 3, 1989 edition of The Main Event, Savage and Hogan took on the Twin Towers in a match that saw Elizabeth accidentally get injured at ringside. Hogan carried her to the back, which enraged Savage to the point that he abandoned Hogan later in the match. Savage and Hogan got into a heated argument with Savage declaring that Hogan was an inferior wrestler to him and that he wanted to steal Elizabeth from him. He then proceeded to attack his partner, then attacked Brutus Beefcake as he tried to intervene before finally being separated by security, thus Savage turned heel once again for the first time since 1987.[38]

At WrestleMania V, Savage dropped the WWF title to Hogan after a reign of 371 days.[39][40] He eventually replaced Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri. Savage would co-main event SummerSlam 1989, teaming with Zeus, a character from Hulk Hogan's movie, No Holds Barred, against The Mega-Maniacs (Hogan and Brutus Beefcake).[41][42] Savage and Zeus faced Hogan and Beefcake in a rematch contested in a steel cage at No Holds Barred and lost again.[43]

Macho King and retirement (1989-1991)[edit]

Savage adopted the moniker "The Macho King" after defeating Jim Duggan for the King of the Ring title in September 1989 (Duggan in turn had won it from Haku).[44] On a later wrestling episode, he had a coronation as the new "King of the WWF" led by wrestler The Genius (actually Savage's brother, Lanny Poffo), in which Ted DiBiase gave him a scepter as a gift. Savage would use that scepter as a weapon numerous times. The "Macho King" and Hulk Hogan met one last time (intended to end their ongoing year long feud), when Savage got a shot at Hogan's WWF Championship on the February 23, 1990 edition of The Main Event.[45] The pinfall was counted by new heavyweight boxing champion Buster Douglas despite Savage kicking out at two, Douglas then punched Savage in the face after Savage confronted and then slapped Douglas.

Savage then began feuding with the "Common Man" Dusty Rhodes, losing a mixed tag match (along with Sherri) to Rhodes and Sapphire at WrestleMania VI[46] but beating him in a singles match at SummerSlam 1990.[47] In late 1990, Savage started a feud with then WWF champion The Ultimate Warrior. The feud escalated at Royal Rumble 1991, when Warrior refused to promise Savage the right to challenge him for the title, should Warrior defend it successfully against Sgt. Slaughter (Slaughter had already granted Savage this opportunity, should he beat Warrior). Savage had sent Sensational Queen Sherri out before the match to try to persuade the Warrior to promise this in a face-to-face interview laced with sexual innuendos, but was unsuccessful. Outraged, Savage promised revenge, which he got during the Slaughter-Warrior title match. Before the match began, "The Macho King" Randy Savage attacked the champion, resulting in the Ultimate Warrior having to crawl to the ring. Later, Savage ran out to the ring and smashed the sceptre over Warrior's head, (knocking him unconscious for Slaughter to pin), and then immediately sprinted back to the locker room.[48] The events at the Royal Rumble led to a career-ending match at WrestleMania VII, which Savage lost.[49] After the match, Savage was attacked by Queen Sherri as he lay dejected in the ring.[1] This was too much for Miss Elizabeth who happened to be in the audience.[4] Elizabeth rushed to Savage's aid, fighting off Sherri and reuniting with her one-time love to huge crowd appreciation, with Savage becoming a fan favorite once again for the first time since 1989.[1] Despite his retirement from active wrestling, Savage stayed in the WWF in a non-wrestling capacity while the Ultimate Warrior was fired by Vince McMahon after SummerSlam later that year.[1] Savage actually wrestled a number of times following Wrestlemania VII and the WWF's official story was that out of respect, the Warrior had generously allowed him to see out the final months of his contract before he was forced to retire.

Miss Elizabeth Hulette, Savage's first wife.

Return, WWF Championship and teaming with Ultimate Warrior (1991–1992)[edit]

Savage returned to television in a non-wrestling role as the "Macho Man" after WrestleMania VII as a broadcaster. Meanwhile the storyline with Miss Elizabeth continued, culminating with Savage proposing to her in the ring leading to an on-air wedding at SummerSlam 1991 dubbed The Match Made in Heaven. It was at this time that Savage was targeted by Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who was by now a villain. On an edition of Prime Time Wrestling prior to SummerSlam, the announcers and several wrestlers threw a "bachelor party" for Savage, with Roberts' arrival deemed unwelcome by the rest of the contingent.[50]

In the post-SummerSlam wedding reception, Roberts and his new ally, The Undertaker, made their presence known by hiding a live snake in one of the newly married couple's wedding presents; Elizabeth was frightened when she opened the gift box, and the Undertaker blindsided Savage by knocking him out with the urn. Sid Justice ran off both Roberts and The Undertaker. Savage, still unable to compete due to his WrestleMania VII loss to the Ultimate Warrior, immediately began a public campaign to have himself reinstated as an active wrestler to gain revenge on Roberts; however, WWF president Jack Tunney refused. Meanwhile, Roberts cut a series of promos berating Savage. The feud began to boil over during a television taping for WWF Superstars of Wrestling October 21 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when Roberts cut an in-ring promo to goad Savage – who was providing TV commentary – into the ring. After he was lured into the ring, Roberts attacked Savage, eventually tying Savage into the ropes before getting a live king cobra to bite his arm, according to Hulk Hogan and Jake Roberts on the Pick Your Poison DVD that the snake was holding on with the fangs and that Jake had a hard time getting the snake off Randy. Sid Justice was originally supposed to be the victim of the snake bite, but due to a biceps injury, Savage accepted to be snake bitten.

Savage then urged fans to lobby Tunney to reinstate him, under the rallying cry "Reinstatement! That's the plan! Reinstate the Macho Man!" In response, Tunney reinstated Savage and announced a match between him and Roberts for the This Tuesday in Texas pay-per-view event. Savage won the match,[51] and the two continued to brawl afterward. The feud continued throughout the winter, ending after a match on the February 8, 1992 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, which Savage won;[52] Roberts had planned a backstage ambush of Savage and Elizabeth after losing the match, but was stopped by The Undertaker.

Savage then began an onscreen feud with WWF Champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. According to the storyline, Flair claimed that he had been in a prior relationship with Savage's wife Miss Elizabeth, going as far as presenting pictures of Elizabeth and Flair together. This culminated in a title match at WrestleMania VIII; Savage won the match and his second WWF Championship.[53][54][55]

During this time, Savage and Elizabeth separated in real life, and Elizabeth made her final WWF appearance on April 19, 1992 at the UK Rampage pay-per-view, where Savage defended his WWF Championship against Shawn Michaels.[56] However, the Savage-Flair feud continued, keeping the Flair-Elizabeth television storyline intact until Elizabeth's final WWF appearance (the UK Rampage match between Savage and Michaels) aired on WWF Prime Time Wrestling in June. About this same time, WWF Magazine published photos of Savage and Elizabeth, which were identical to those featuring Elizabeth and Flair; it was revealed that Flair had doctored the Savage-Elizabeth pictures. The former couple were divorced on September 18, 1992.

For the better part of 1992, Savage and his old nemesis Warrior (who returned to the WWF at WrestleMania VIII), peacefully co-existed. However, when it was announced that Warrior was the new Number One Contender for Savage's WWF Championship, old tensions resurfaced and they had several heated exchanges prior to the match. Savage defended the title against Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1992. Savage lost the match by countout, after having his knee injured by Flair and Mr. Perfect, but retained the championship. After the match, Warrior helped a badly injured Savage to the back.[57][58] On the September 14 episode of Prime Time Wrestling (taped September 1), Savage lost the WWF title to Flair after interference by Razor Ramon.[50]

He formed a tag team with The Ultimate Warrior known as the "Ultimate Maniacs" after both men were attacked by Flair and Mr. Perfect during their match at SummerSlam. After his title loss shortly after, an injured Savage backed Warrior to be the man to dethrone Flair. On the November 8, 1992 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, they took on Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Money. Inc. lost by countout but retained their title.[59] Savage and Warrior were scheduled to face Flair and Ramon in a tag team match at Survivor Series 1992. Warrior was fired from the WWF weeks before the event, so Savage chose Mr. Perfect, executive consultant to Flair, as his partner to replace Warrior. Perfect initially laughed off the suggestion, but was angered by Bobby Heenan and his insinuations that he could never again wrestle at his previous level, and accepted the match. Despite initial distrust (an interview prior to the match had Savage admit to Perfect that he neither liked nor trusted him), the duo defeated Flair and Ramon via a disqualification.[60]

Color commentator and departure (1993–1994)[edit]

When Monday Night Raw began in January 1993, Savage served primarily as a color commentator, wrestling only occasionally against characters such as Doink, The Repo Man, Rick Martel, and Crush. However, he was the runner up in the Royal Rumble match at Royal Rumble 1993, where he was eliminated by Yokozuna.[61][62] He returned to pay-per-view at Survivor Series 1993 as a substitute for Mr. Perfect and competed in the 1994 Royal Rumble match. His last WWF pay-per-view appearance as a competitor was a victory over Crush in a Falls Count Anywhere match at WrestleMania X.[63] Savage also made periodic appearances in Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion in fall 1994. Meanwhile, Savage was also a color commentator for the 1994 King of the Ring and made his final WWF pay-per-view appearance at the 1994 SummerSlam at the new United Center in Chicago, where he served as the master of ceremonies. Before the SummerSlam PPV, Savage and several WWF superstars, including Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, Bart Gunn and the 1-2-3 Kid took part in a charity softball match against the "Chicago Media All-Stars". The WWF superstars won the game 9-7 with Savage showcasing his old baseball skills by hitting a home run.[64]

At the end of October 1994, Savage's WWF contract expired and he abruptly left to sign with the competing World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Randy Savage's final WWF appearance was on October 17, 1994 In Burlington, VT. Raw was being taped for 3 weeks worth of programming, and the last episode that was aired on October 31 would be Savage's last. During this episode, Bob Backlund was facing Lex Luger. During the match, Luger was attacked by Tatanka. Savage made the save and this upset Backlund. Then as the show was going off the air that night, Lex Luger was being interviewed backstage and Tatanka came out of nowhere and began to brawl with Luger. This was the last video footage aired of Macho Man. While off the air, Vince McMahon and Randy Savage were at ringside at the time watching the show from their monitors. Then Bob Backlund came out of the crowd, jumped the railing and attacked Randy Savage and put him in the crossface chicken wing. Savage was helped to the back after the incident. This was the last physical segment Savage would do in the WWF/WWE.[65] On the November 7 episode of Raw, it was confirmed by McMahon that Savage did not sign a new deal with the company, and wished him the best of luck.

World Championship Wrestling (1994–2000)[edit]

Feud with Ric Flair and departure (1994–1996)[edit]

Savage signed with WCW, and his first appearance was on the December 3, 1994 edition of WCW Saturday Night prior to Starrcade. Savage made reference to the love/hate relationship he had with Hulk Hogan, then the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Savage eventually saved Hogan from an attack by the 3 Faces of Fear, shaking hands with his friend and rival. His first WCW feud was against Avalanche. At SuperBrawl V, he teamed up with Sting and took on Avalanche and Big Bubba Rogers in a tag team match, which Sting and Savage won.[66] However, his encounter with Avalanche continued and ended at Uncensored, with Savage getting the win by disqualification after a fan, who happened to be Ric Flair dressed in drag, attacked Savage.[67] This led to Savage and Flair resuming their earlier feud.

He participated in the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship tournament and went on to defeat The Butcher in the first round[68] and "Stunning" Steve Austin in the quarterfinals.[68] He interfered in Flair's match against Alex Wright, attacking Flair and causing Wright to get disqualified, which set up a tournament semifinal match in which the winner would face the winner of the Sting and Meng match for the United States Heavyweight Championship at The Great American Bash. Savage and Flair's tournament semifinal match never took place, however, due to Savage and Flair brawling in the backstage area prior to the match and being eliminated from the tournament.[68] They were instead given their own match in the main event, which Flair won.[69] Savage later defeated Flair in a Lifeguard Lumberjack match at Bash at the Beach.[70] Later that year, during part of the storyline in which Arn Anderson and Ric Flair turned on each other, Flair (looking for a partner to take on Anderson and Brian Pillman in a tag match) tried to recruit Savage to be his partner. Remembering the rivalry (and how Flair had attacked Savage's father, Angelo Poffo, which was the catalyst for their feud back in May), Savage refused.

At World War 3, Savage won his first WCW World Heavyweight Championship by winning the first-ever 60-man three-ring battle royal.[71] He lost the title to Flair a month later at Starrcade 1995: World Cup of Wrestling; earlier that night, he defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan.[72] Savage won his second WCW World Heavyweight Championship back from Flair on the January 22, 1996 edition of Nitro[73] but lost the title back to Flair the next month in a steel cage match at SuperBrawl VI.[74]

In January 1996, Savage brought Elizabeth with him into WCW as his manager once again, but she turned on Savage in his last title loss to Flair. Thereafter, Flair claimed that Elizabeth had given him a sizable amount of Savage's money, taken in their divorce settlement, which Flair used to set up a "VIP section" at Monday Nitro events. Flair and Savage continued to feud until June 1996. At Bash at the Beach, the nWo was formed when Hulk Hogan turned on Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger and joined "The Outsiders", a tag team of former WWF wrestlers Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.[75] After their inception, one of their main enemies became Savage himself, who was one of the leaders of the WCW crusaders against the nWo before joining them a year later. At Halloween Havoc, Savage faced Hogan for the WCW title but lost when the Giant interfered and chokeslammed him.[76] Savage left WCW following the event, when he was unable to reach a new deal with the company.[77]

Return and The New World Order (1997–1998)[edit]

Savage returned to WCW in January 1997. After months of abuse from the nWo, he joined them at SuperBrawl VII, when he helped Hogan defeat Roddy Piper in a rematch of their Starrcade match the previous year. He also reunited with Elizabeth, who had joined the nWo several months earlier. He began feuding with Diamond Dallas Page and DDP's wife Kimberly. Their feud lasted almost eight months which included tag team matches,[78][79][80] a no disqualification match at Spring Stampede,[81] a falls count anywhere match at The Great American Bash 1997: Savage/Page II,[82] and a Las Vegas Death match at Halloween Havoc.[83]

In early 1998, Savage started a feud with Lex Luger which culminated in a match at Souled Out, which Luger won.[84] Luger also won a rematch between the two at SuperBrawl VIII.[85] When Hogan failed to recapture his "nWo" Title from Sting, it was Savage's turn, and he got his shot at Spring Stampede. Hogan tried to make sure that Savage would not win the title because Hogan felt that he was the only nWo member who should be World Champion, since he was the leader of the stable. With the help of Nash, however, Savage beat Sting for his third WCW World Heavyweight Championship, despite tearing his ACL in his knee during the match.[86][87] The following night on Nitro, Hogan faced Savage for the championship. For a while it looked like Hogan had Savage beat,[88] but for the second consecutive night, Nash came to Savage's aid, powerbombing Hogan.[88] Savage tried to capitalize on this, but an interfering Bret Hart attacked Savage and preserved the victory for Hogan.[88] Savage then joined with Nash and others to form the nWo Wolfpac, a split from Hogan's group.[89] Savage went on to feud with both Hart and Roddy Piper.[90][91]

Team Madness, Millionaire's Club (1998–2000)[edit]

Main article: Team Madness

After the June 15 edition of Nitro, Savage took a hiatus from the company to recover from at least two major knee surgeries. He made only one more appearance in 1998, helping Ric Flair defeat Eric Bischoff for the Presidency of WCW on the December 28, 1998 edition of Monday Nitro.[92] When Savage returned, he debuted a new look and theme music, sporting a slicked back ponytail, earrings, and a new villainous attitude (though still embracing the fans), as well as introducing his then 22-year-old girlfriend Gorgeous George as his valet.[1] His first action was as the guest referee in the main event at Spring Stampede, which was won by Diamond Dallas Page.[1] For a short time afterward, Randy interfered in DDP's matches to make sure that Page kept his World Title, but when Kevin Nash won it at Slamboree, Savage went after the title himself.[4] It was around that time that Madusa and Miss Madness joined Macho Man as his other two valets; together they were known as Team Madness.[93]

At The Great American Bash, Sid Vicious returned to WCW and helped Macho Man attack Kevin Nash.[1] This led to a tag team match at Bash at the Beach between Nash and Sting against Savage and Sid Vicious, in which whoever scored the winning fall would win the WCW World Title. Savage won his fourth and final WCW World Heavyweight Championship when he pinned Nash.[94] Savage's last reign as champion did not last long. The next night on Nitro, he lost the title to a returning Hollywood Hogan, when Nash interfered and powerbombed Macho Man (in a reversal of the situation from the previous year, in which Nash had attacked Hogan to help Savage keep his title, albeit unsuccessfully).[95]

Team Madness slowly started to disband, after Madusa and Miss Madness began fighting each other over who was responsible for Savage's title loss.[4] Savage soon fired both of them and started a feud with Dennis Rodman, defeating him at Road Wild.[96] Following a brief hiatus from WCW, Savage returned and joined the Millionaire's Club—a group consisting of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and other veterans—aiding them at the end of a television taping.[97] Savage made his final WCW appearance on Thunder on May 3, 2000, where he participated in the 41-man battle royal for a title shot at The Great American Bash.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2004–2005)[edit]

Savage made his return to professional wrestling at TNA Wrestling's Victory Road by confronting Jeff Jarrett.[98] At Turning Point, he teamed up with Jeff Hardy and A.J. Styles to defeat the Kings of Wrestling (Jarrett, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall), in his last in-ring match.[99][100] The main event of Final Resolution in January 2005 was scheduled to be Jarrett and Savage for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[1] Savage's plan was to win the belt and then drop it back to Jarrett at the next pay-per-view. On February 18, 2005, Savage left TNA amid health concerns.[1]

Other media[edit]

Endorsements[edit]

He was the celebrity spokesman for Slim Jim snack foods in the mid-to-late 1990s. His catch phrase in the ads was "Snap into a Slim Jim, oooooh yeah!" In 1998, Savage accepted an award from Harvard University's humor society Harvard Lampoon as Man of the Year.

Acting career[edit]

Savage was cast in the 2002 film Spider-Man as the wrestler Bonesaw McGraw (based on the comics character Crusher Hogan). He made an appearance as himself in the movie Ready to Rumble and played character Jim Davies in Velcro Revolver. As a voice actor he voiced the rogue alien wrestler "Rasslor" in the Dexter's Laboratory shorts Dial M for Monkey. He provided the voice for "Gorilla" in an episode of King of the Hill. During the '90s he provided the voice of Space Ghost's grandfather in an episode of Space Ghost Coast To Coast. He also provided the voice of "The Thug", an agent in Disney's 2008 animated film Bolt, his last film appearance.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
2000 Ready to Rumble himself
2002 Spider-Man Bonesaw McGraw
2008 Glago's Guest short film
2008 Bolt Thug (voice)
2009 Super Rhino Thug (voice)
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Baywatch himself Baywatch Hawaii episode
1996 Dexter's Laboratory Rasslor (voice) Dial M for Monkey segment of episode 7
1997 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Leonard "the Gray Ghost" Ghostal (voice) a former professional wrestler (and Space Ghost's grandfather), in episode "Piledriver"
1997 The Jeff Foxworthy Show himself Wrestling Opera episode
1997 The Weird Al Show himself Al Gets Robbed episode
1999 Walker, Texas Ranger Whitelaw Lundren episode "Fight or Die"
1999 Mad About You himself episode "Separated Beds"
1999 Arliss himself To Thine Own Self Be True episode
2001 Nikki James "Pretty Boy" Carter pro wrestler, in episode "Fallback"
2003 Duck Dodgers Master Sergeant Emily Dickinson Jones (voice) Queen Is Wild, The/Back to the Academy episode
2003 Whatever Happened to Robot Jones Biker (voice) Family Vacation episode
2005 Family Guy Himself (voice) episode: "The Cleveland–Loretta Quagmire"
2005 The X's Sasquatch (voice) Photo Ops/Boy's Best Friend episode
2007 King of the Hill Gorilla (voice) episode, "Bill, Bulk and the Body Buddies"
Video Games
Year Title Role Notes
2009 Cars Race-O-Rama El Machismo (voice)

Death and tributes[edit]

On the morning of May 20, 2011, Savage died after suffering a sudden heart attack[101][102] while driving with his wife in Seminole, Florida, a town on the Pinellas County side of the Tampa Bay area.[103] He was 58 years old. Savage became unresponsive and lost control of his Jeep Wrangler, crashing into a tree.

Initial reports of his death indicated that he had been killed in the collision,[104] when in fact he and his wife had been wearing seatbelts and suffered only minor physical injuries in the crash.[102] An autopsy performed by the Pinellas-Pasco County medical examiner's office found that he had an enlarged heart and advanced coronary artery disease (more than 90% narrowed). The drugs found in his system included a prescription painkiller and a small amount of alcohol. Savage had never been treated for heart problems and there was no evidence that he was aware of his heart condition. It was unclear whether he had suffered a blockage in his coronary arteries or cardiac arrest from lack of oxygen to the heart muscle. The cause of death was officially ruled as "atherosclerotic heart disease".[102][105]

Savage's remains were cremated and placed under a favorite tree on his property in Largo, Florida, near his mother’s development. Ten days before his death, Randy asked his brother, Lanny, to pour the ashes of his dog, Hercules, in the same spot.[106][107]

After his death, Vince McMahon described Savage as "extremely charismatic" and as "one of wrestling's all-time greats."[108][109] Savage's legacy lives on in WWE despite not being a member of the Hall of Fame. CM Punk paid tribute to him by adopting Savage's diving elbow drop into his moveset. Just days after his passing, Punk further paid tribute to Savage by wearing pink trunks and yellow boots complete with white stars on the trunks on the May 23 episode of Raw during a tag team match with R-Truth against John Cena and Rey Mysterio.[110]

Music[edit]

Savage's music debut was on the WWF-produced WrestleMania: The Album in 1993, where he sang on the song "Speaking From The Heart", one of many songs sung by then-WWF wrestlers on the CD. Ten years later, on October 7, 2003, Savage released a rap album titled Be a Man. It includes a tribute to "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig as well as a diss track aimed at Hulk Hogan.[111] Savage promoted Be A Man with a concert tour featuring Brian Adams as his bodyguard and Ron Harris as touring manager. During this time, the development of a second album was already in progress with Savage exclaiming, "We are absolutely going to have more records."[112] However, no further albums were released. Rapper Don Trip released a mixtape on January 24, 2014 entitled Randy Savage. All tracks have Savage's famous "Ohhh Yeah!!!" in the opening of the song.

Video games[edit]

He appeared in WWF WrestleMania, WWF WrestleMania Challenge, WWF Superstars, WWF WrestleMania Steel Cage, WWF Super WresleMania, WWF Royal Rumble, WWF King of the Ring, WWE All Stars, as a DLC in WWE 12 and as an unlockable character in WWE 2K14

Personal life[edit]

Savage married Elizabeth Ann Hulette on December 30, 1984. She later became his manager in the World Wrestling Federation. They separated in the summer of 1992. On May 10, 2010, Savage married his long-time girlfriend, Barbara Lynn Payne.[113]

For years, Hogan and Savage were at odds and had an on again/off again friendship. According to Hogan, Jimmy Hart[114] and Randy's brother Lanny Poffo,[115] the two reconciled shortly before his death.[115] However, former wrestler The Ultimate Warrior disputed the reconciliation and stated that the relations between Hogan and Savage had been limited to some casual encounters.[116]

In wrestling[edit]

Savage applying a chokehold to The Ultimate Warrior.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]