It was difficult to fully appreciate “Macho Man” Randy Savage as a kid.
Like your first Nintendo system, the sensory overload made it impossible to sort out why he entertained you, only that he did in a way you’d never seen before. Once you had a glimpse of THAT, there was no going back to board games (or Big John Studd vs. Ted Arcidi, as it were).
If the absurd delay in his WWE Hall Of Fame induction has a silver lining, it’s that it gave us all time to look back as adults and sort out what it was about an ex-minor league baseball player named Randy Poffo that made you…wow, man, freak out!!!!!
The Entrance: Few wrestlers dared to stray from the standard bad-guy ring entrance: scowl at the crowd, clomp down the aisle in your unflattering tights, whisper to your ugly, middle-aged manager, repeat. Savage, with his booming classical music, elaborate sparkling robes, and entirely sympathetic female valet ushered in the era of entrance-as-event-in-itself and changed what it meant to be a villain (and your previous understanding of the term “macho”).
The Flying Elbow: Until Savage, the WWF’s main-event guys were finishing their opponents with leg drops, sleeper holds, and lumbering belly flops; in hindsight, the athletic equivalent of the end credits and awkward shuffle out of the movie theatre. Savage’s flying elbow broke the mold, becoming the climax of every match and also, you assumed, recorded history. When the now-WWE tells you to not try this at home, it all goes back to the mid-‘80s, when an entire generation pointed two fingers to the sky before leaping off the couch onto an unsuspecting cousin.
Miss Elizabeth: At a time when the root of most WWF feuds was who had the strongest…ehh….strength, Randy Savage engaged in the most complicated male-female relationship your 8-year-old eyes had ever seen, especially when Hulk Hogan was added to the mix. What followed was an incredible 2-year character arc that saw the villainous Macho Man reform himself, achieve success, succumb to jealousy, suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of his former friend, and ultimately reassess his treatment of women. The man was practically doing Shakespeare while his contemporaries were…well…atomic dropping the Brooklyn Brawler.
The Interviews: Drop everything and do a Google image search for “breathing man”. Every face you see as you scroll down has a terrible Macho Man impression they’ve used at some point in their lives. Whether he was the best talker in wrestling history can be debated, but no one has ever been more imitated by everyday dorks like you and me (or done more to increase the awareness of pre-packaged pepperoni sticks).
“Macho Man” Randy Savage will be inducted posthumously into the WWE Hall Of Fame in March, a delayed but deserved final cup of coffee in the big time.
Husband. Father to one girl and one beard.. ’80s wrestling geek.