Randy Savage Profile
Born: November 15, 1952 (Randy Mario Poffo) | Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio
Died: May 20, 2011 (Heart Disease)
Billed Hometown: Sarasota, FL | Billed Weight: 250 lbs
Nicknames: The Macho Man, The Macho King
Other Aliases: The Spider
Randy Poffo was a second generation star, whose father was Angelo Poffo, who competed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He first broke into professional wrestling in 1973, leaving behind a promising baseball career, where he played for the St. Louis Cardinals. After working a variety of territories with his father and younger brother, Lanny, his father started an ‘outlaw promotion’ in 1978 called International Championship Wrestling.
The company ran for several years in opposition to Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association. It was in ICW that Randy first met Elizabeth Hulette (Miss Elizabeth), who worked as an on-camera host and they began dating. Despite the history between the two promotions, Randy and Lanny went over to CWA when ICW closed in 1984. In a famous spot, on June 25, 1984, Savage delivered a piledriver on Ricky Morton through a table. On June 7, 1985, Savage lost to Lawler in a loser leaves town match, and headed to the World Wrestling Federation the following month.
Every manager in the WWF attempted to gain the services of “The Macho Man” (a moniker that his mother Judy suggested he use), but instead introduced Elizabeth to guide his career. Despite his bullying and mistreating of her, Elizabeth always stood by her man as he quickly rose up the ranks.
On November 7, 1985, he made the first of his many future pay-per-view appearances at The Wrestling Classic, reaching the final of a sixteen-man tournament, only to lose the penultimate match to Junkyard Dog by count-out.
He entered into a feud with Intercontinental champion Tito Santana, and – after a couple of unsuccessful attempts – used a foreign object to beat Santana for the gold on the February 24, 1986 edition of Prime Time Wrestling. Around this period, Savage had his first matches against then-WWF champion, Hulk Hogan, as well as a short rivalry with George “The Animal” Steele, after The Animal professed his love for Elizabeth.
The Macho Man defeated Steele at Wrestlemania II and after a couple more high-profile matches, he moved onto Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Savage had put Steamboat out of action after crushing his larynx with the ring bell off the top rope. In the meantime, he fought with Bruno Sammartino, the legend becoming enraged by Savage’s ego and boasting after injuring Steamboat.
Savage lost to Bruno in a lumberjack match by disqualification, and with Adrian Adonis, lost to Bruno and Santana in a steel cage in Madison Square Garden.
Savage’s impressive fourteen month reign as Intercontinental champion came to an end in memorable circumstances at Wrestlemania III on March 29, 1987. In the Pontiac Silverdome in front of a reported 93,173 fans, Savage dropped the title to Steamboat in a classic contest still talked about today.
After winning a King of the Ring tournament later in the year, and with the fans beginning to respect and admire him, Savage challenged The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Title, who had upset Steamboat for the belt. They battled on the October 3, 1987 Saturday Night’s Main Event, but the match was marred by the interference of The Hart Foundation. All three assaulted Savage and as The Hart Foundation held him, Honky went for the guitar.
Elizabeth bravely stood in front of Savage, but was violently pushed aside by Honky Tonk Man, who then blasted Savage’s skull. In desperation, she ran to the back and brought out WWF champion, Hulk Hogan. Together, Savage and Hogan cleared the ring, and soon after agreed to form the ‘Mega Powers.
Due to the controversy surrounding Hogan’s loss of the WWF Title to Andre the Giant, the belt was vacated and a tournament set up for Wrestlemania IV. In one night, Savage defeated Butch Reed, Greg Valentine, One Man Gang and Ted Dibiase in the final to win his first WWF Title.
The Mega Powers feuded with Dibiase and Andre (The Mega Bucks), and defeated them in the main event of Summerslam on August 29, 1988. They then moved onto a rivalry with The Twin Towers (Big Bossman and Akeem). But cracks began to appear when Savage was accidentally eliminated by Hogan in the Royal Rumble. Savage took great offense and the situation was cooled down when Elizabeth intervened.
Things completely boiled over in the aftermath of the February 3, 1989 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Savage and Hogan were facing The Twin Towers when Randy was thrown out of the ring and crashed into Elizabeth on the floor. The Macho Man was left alone when Hogan chose to take Elizabeth to the back for medical treatment. When he returned, Savage was irate, slapped him across the face and walked off.
In the backstage area, Hogan pleaded with Randy to see reason, only for Savage to blindside him. The Mega Powers had exploded, and set up the main event for Wrestlemania V. Going into the match with a badly infected elbow, The Macho Man’s reign ended.
After the loss, Savage replaced Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri. After defeating King Duggan in September 1989 – who in turn had won the ‘King’ title from Haku – The Macho Man became The Macho King (and Sensational Sherri became Queen). He continued to battle Hogan, but was usually on the losing end, despite teaming with “The Human Wrecking Machine,” Zeus.
Savage and Zeus lost to Hogan and Brutus Beefcake at Summerslam 1989, and again at the No Holds Barred pay-per-view in a steel cage. The singles rivarly with Hulk was also wrapped up on the February 23, 1990 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event in a bout refereed by boxing legend, Buster Douglas.
After a short rivalry with Dusty Rhodes, Savage’s next target was WWF champion The Ultimate Warrior, who had beat Hogan for the title at Wrestlemania VI. When Warrior turned down Sherri’s pleas to give Savage a title shot if he defeated Sgt. Slaughter at the 1991 Royal Rumble, Savage and Sherri interfered in the match and ultimately cost Warrior the title.
This all led to a ‘retirement match’ at Wrestlemania VII, where despite hitting Warrior with multiple flying elbowdrops, Warrior prevailed. Sherri took out her frustrations and attacked Savage until Elizabeth ran to the ring and dispatched her. In one of the most emotional and memorable moments in WWF history, Savage and Elizabeth reconciled and embraced in the ring. (Despite this high profile ‘retirement,’ Savage would work several matches in Japan for SWS, the final bout taking place on April 1, 1991 in Kobe).
Now that Savage was ‘retired,’ he worked as a colour commentator and in a highly emotional segment, proposed to Elizabeth, which she accepted. Billed as the “Match Made in Heaven,” Randy and Elizabeth ‘got married’ at Summerslam 1991. However, the celebrations were soured thanks to The Undertaker and Jake Roberts, who hid a live cobra in a wedding present to scare Elizabeth.
A petition was raised to reinstate Savage, a decision that was accelerated after a nasty incident on the October 21, 1991 edition of Superstars. After being coaxed into the ring by Roberts, Savage was attacked and had his arms tied in the ropes. Roberts then brought out his king cobra, which he allowed to graphically bite Savage on the bicep. The Macho Man got free, but collapsed, clearly under the effects of the snake’s venom.
Soon after he was reinstated by WWF President Jack Tunney, Savage defeated Roberts at the Tuesday in Texas pay-per-view on December 3. However, he was then DDT’ed several times, and Jake then slapped Elizabeth. The highly intense feud ended when Jake’s partner The Undertaker chose to save Elizabeth from being hit with a steel chair by Roberts.
Savage became a two-time WWF champion when he defeated Ric Flair at Wrestlemania VIII on April 5, 1992 in front of a packed Hoosier Dome, despite having an injured knee. The Savage/Flair feud began when Flair claimed to have had a prior relationship with Elizabeth, and even had pictures (later revealed to be doctored). Sadly around this time in September, Savage and Elizabeth divorced, leading to her leaving the company.
Savage and Warrior battled again at Summerslam 1992 in a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London, England, ending in Savage being counted out after having his knee injured by Flair and Mr. Perfect. Not long after, on the September 14 edition of Prime Time Wrestling, Savage dropped the title to Flair when he passed out while in the figure-four leglock.
Savage and Warrior formed a short-lived team The Ultimate Maniacs, until Warrior was fired in the lead-up to Survivor Series 1992, where they were to oppose Flair and Razor Ramon. In an interesting move, Savage asked Mr. Perfect to be his new partner, and to the surprise of everyone – including their opponents and Bobby Heenan – Perfect accepted. They went on to win by disqualification.
At this point, Vince McMahon pushed ahead with his “New Generation Era,” and felt that Savage’s headlining days were done. Savage went back to being a colour commentator, notably on the company’s new flagship programme, Monday Night RAW. He wrestled only occasionally, but was given an opportunity to shine when he entered into a feud with his friend, Crush.
On RAW, Crush had been injured at the hands of the five-hundred pound Yokozuna as Savage sat at the announcer’s table. After several Banzai Drops, Savage dragged Crush out of the ring. When Crush returned from the battering, he berated Savage for having taken so long to act, and the tensions between the two heightened over the next few episodes of RAW.
Crush then revealed he wanted to align with Yokozuna and his manager Mr. Fuji, which Savage strongly urged against. It appeared he had gotten through to his friend, only for Crush to blindside him. Randy suffered a lacerated tongue during the attack and was hit with multiple Banzai Drops. After a short absence from RAW, he angrily returned and challenged Crush to a match. Savage defeated Crush in a falls count anywhere match at Wrestlemania X.
In the middle of 1994, Savage made some appearances for Smoky Mountain Wrestling, including Volunteer Slam 3 on May 20, where he lost to Bruiser Bedlam after interference from Dory Funk Jnr.
The rivalry with Crush may have continued only his contract expired at the end of 1994, and he chose not to re-sign. Instead, he inked a deal with World Championship Wrestling, and despite this, Vince McMahon gave a heartfelt thank-you to him on the November 7 RAW.
The Macho Man made his first appearance for WCW on the December 3, 1994 edition of WCW Saturday Night, and from the outset announced he wanted the World Heavyweight Title. However he still chose to align with the WCW champion – which happened to be Hulk Hogan – as well as Sting. Together, they battled Ric Flair, Kevin Sullivan and his Three Faces of Fear stablemates, The Butcher (Ed Leslie) and Avalanche (John Tenta).
Savage in particular feuded with Flair, rekindling the rivalry that began in the WWF. At Slamboree 1995 on May 21, Flair attacked Savage’s father Angelo, after Savage and Hogan had defeated Flair and Vader in the main event. He reached the semi-final of a tournament for the United States Title with Flair, which was called off when the two brawled to the back before the match had even started.
Savage became WCW World champion for the first time when he won the inaugural World War III battle royal on November 26, 1995. However, it was marred by a controversial finish, when it came down to Randy, Hogan and The Giant. As the referee was distracted, Hogan was pulled under the bottom rope after eliminating The Giant. When the official turned around, Savage was the only one left in the ring and was proclaimed the champion.
The feud with Flair ignited to a higher level when Miss Elizabeth was brought in by Savage at the beginning of 1996, only for her to turn on him for Flair. Savage and Elizabeth’s real-life divorce was used as a big part of the storyline, with Elizabeth giving some of the proceeds of the divorce settlement to Flair and The Horsemen to flaunt at every opportunity.
Despite the tension over the finish of World War III, Savage and Hogan continued to be allies. At Fall Brawl, Randy teamed with Hogan, Sting and Lex Luger against The Dungeon of Doom in the WarGames match, which they won. Furthermore at Uncensored on March 24, 1996, Savage and Hogan went up against a multitude of opponents in a triple-tiered cage match. Despite the odds, Savage won the night by pinning Flair.
However, everything changed the next time Savage and Hogan would meet in the squared circle. Hogan took a sabbatical after the Uncensored bout, and during that time, WCW was invaded by former WWF headliners, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. They issued a challenge to WCW to find three of their best for a match at Bash at the Beach. WCW chose Savage, Sting and Luger to take on Hall and Nash, who refused to reveal their ‘third man.’
During the match, Luger was stretchered out after colliding with the ring post. Hogan came to the ring, seemingly to help Savage and Sting, only to turn on them, and reveal he was the mysterious ‘third man.’
The group now known as the New World Order attacked wrestlers on a weekly basis, and especially targeted Savage. The Macho Man challenged Hogan for the World Heavyweight Title at Halloween Havoc on October 27, 1996, but lost after interference from The Giant. After the match, Savage took a leave of absence.
He returned on the January 20, 1997 Nitro and held up the show, claiming to have been blackballed by Eric Bischoff unless he joined the nWo. A number of officials and wrestlers tried to move him to no avail, until Sting dropped from the ceiling. After a tense stand-off, Savage chose to exit with Sting and be a fellow ‘free agent.’ But then, Savage decided to join the nWo after all at Superbrawl, when he helped Hogan defeat Rowdy Roddy Piper and reunited with Elizabeth (she had joined the group during his break).
Savage began a long and memorable feud with Diamond Dallas Page, and they had three big pay-per-view matches over the course of eight months. Page defeated him in a no disqualification bout at Spring Stampede (April 6, 1997), but with the help of Scott Hall, Savage won a falls count anywhere match at Great American Bash (June 15). At Halloween Havoc, Savage won after help from Hogan in a last man standing match, and then tried to return the favour to Hogan during his steel cage bout with Roddy Piper. Savage was unable to prevent Hogan losing, but the two badly beat up Piper to close out the event.
After a series of incidents on Nitro – as well as on the debut of Thunder – which saw Savage and Lex Luger cost each other their respective matches, the two battled in the main event of Souled Out on January 24, 1998. Luger won by submission, as well as the rematch at Superbrawl.
A clash of egos began to collide in the upper echelons of the nWo, going back to when Hogan lost the World Heavyweight Title to Sting at Starrcade 1997. With Hogan unable to get the belt back, Savage stepped up to the challenge, much to Hogan’s disapproval. The tension was further heightened when Savage beat Sting for the belt – with the help of Kevin Nash – at Spring Stampede 1998.
During the course of the match, Savage tore his ACL, and so dropped the title to Hogan the following night on Nitro, despite the efforts of Nash. It was Bret Hart who made the difference to prematurely end Savage’s third WCW World Title reign. Savage and Nash broke away to form nWo Wolfpac, but after the June 15 Nitro, he had to leave to recover from knee surgery. Savage made just one more appearance in 1998, when he helped Flair beat Bischoff for the Presidency of WCW.
In April 1999, Savage came back with an entirely new and chiseled look, and a new valet and real-life girlfriend, Gorgeous George. In what would be called Team Madness, Madusa and Miss Madness (Nora Greenwald) also aligned with him.
Savage became a four-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion as the result of a tag match stipulation where the winner of the fall got the title. Savage had Sid Vicious as his partner against Nash and Sting, and Savage won the belt by pinning Nash.
The following night on Nitro, Savage dropped the title to Hogan after interference from Nash; shortly after, Team Madness disbanded. Savage feuded briefly with Dennis Rodman, beating him in a no disqualification match at the Road Wild pay-per-view.
He disappeared again until the October 25, 1999 Nitro, when he cut a promo with Gorgeous George, stating that he wished to ‘pass the torch,’ but it came to nothing. He made his final WCW appearance on the May 3, 2000 Thunder when he joined the Millionaire’s Club, only to leave again. (WCW was then folded in the early months of 2001).
After WCW, Savage made a few appearances for TNA before ending the arrangement for health reasons. He mostly stayed away from wrestling, and landed the role of ‘Bonesaw’ in the hugely popular 2002 Spiderman film. (Interestingly, Randy wrestled under the name ‘The Spider’ very early in his career in the territories). The relationship between him and Hulk Hogan greatly soured, and Randy was vocal in sharing his opinions on this subject, even producing a rap song challenging Hogan to ‘be a man.’
On May 20, 2011, Randy Savage passed away of a heart attack while driving with his wife in Florida. The car collided with a tree, but was found not to be the cause of death; his wife fortunately suffered only minor injuries. The autopsy revealed Savage had an enlarged heart and that he was suffering from heart disease.
WWE presented a tribute video on the May 23 RAW, and TNA also gave a ten-bell salute. On January 12, 2015 – after getting permission from his brother Lanny – Randy was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. (This was actually against Randy’s wishes, as Lanny explained Randy was still upset with Vince over the “Billionaire Ted” skits from 1996, in which Savage was called “The Nacho Man” and branded a sell-out).