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Randy “Macho Man” Savage: Eulogy for a Legend

Randy Macho Man Savage was a one of a kind performer. Randy Macho Man Savage was a one of a kind performer.

The sports and entertainment worlds were rocked by the passing of legendary professional wrestler, Randy “Macho Man” Savage last week. Few wrestlers earned such widespread acclaim as Savage. He was an electrifying performer who both casual fans and wrestling connoisseurs alike adored. He died in a car crash after suffering a heart attack at the age of 58.

When I was a kid, Macho Man was my favorite wrestler. He was exciting, a great talker, and an unforgettable character. I remember the day my mom bought me a Macho Man wrestling doll, one of those big, non-poseable figures that every kid played with in the ‘80s. It became my favorite toy. I remember seeing Savage in vignettes on Hulk Hogan’s Rock n’ Wrestling and wondering why he wasn’t part of the animated cast on the Saturday morning cartoon.

But my greatest memory of Randy Savage is probably the most effective bit of storytelling ever pulled off in professional wrestling, at least to me at age nine, and therefore to me in hindsight as an adult some decades later. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat challenged Savage for the Intercontinental title. Savage resorted to dirty tricks, and the match ended in chaos, with Savage driving Steamboat throat-first into the guard rail, then smashing him again with timekeeper’s bell.

Vince McMahon was doing commentary on the broadcast and kept shouting “Steamboat can’t breathe! He can’t breathe.” I couldn’t believe it. It seemed to me as if Savage had broken from the script and really hurt Steamboat, who was doing an incredible job of selling it. I worried that Steamboat might die. The memory of watching that show over twenty years ago still gives me chills.

Of course, that incident set up the legendary Savage/Steamboat rematch at Wrestlemania III, widely regarded as one of the greatest pro wrestling matches of all time.

Savage would go on to greater heights, winning the World championship at Wrestlemania IV and becoming a household name. His charisma and energy sold his persona to an expansive audience, while his in-ring athletics and ability to weave a physical narrative captivated anyone with so much as a passing interest in the sport/spectacle.

Randy was the son of professional wrestler Angelo Poffo and brother to Leaping Lanny Poffo, who also had a respectable career in the squared circle. He came by his wrestling prowess honestly, but Savage had an “it” factor that few performers in any discipline are able to tap into. He was truly one of a kind.

Upon the news of Macho Man’s death, I took to the internet to relive some of his greatest moments. Although my interest in pro wrestling has waned since the days of my youthful fanaticism, I found myself in awe again of Savage’s magnetic presence in the videos I watched. Whether it’s back in the Memphis territory during his early career or his heyday in the WWF - on the microphone or in the ring - I’m compelled to watch him: a performer at the apex of his craft. As an adult, I’ve learned that few pieces of nostalgia age so well. So I’d like to thank Randy “Macho Man” Savage not only for renewing those fond childhood memories, but for validating them in some strange way for my adult self. Savage entertained me, fascinated me, and made me laugh in some combination for as much of my life as I can remember. And I’m just one of millions. I’ve got to think he would have appreciated that. Oooooh yeeeaaaahh!

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The conclusion of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat's legendary Wrestlemania III match.
Last modified on Friday, 24 August 2012 17:29

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