It's been a challenging week. First, the untimely death Thursday of 22 year old Oklahoma Sooners middle linebacker and a young man I befriended, Austin Box. Today we get the shocking news of the death of Randy Savage. Life is so fragile.....a few thoughts.
I was never close to Randy Savage but I had immense respect for his in ring work. Savage was a gifted high flier, had uncanny crowd psychology and a tough, athletic persona that could not be duplicated.
'Macho Man' Randy Savage was a legit star in the world of pro wrestling and one of the most famous wrestlers of any era.
My first exposure to Savage was in the early to mid 80's when Bill Watts was preparing to bring Savage into the Mid South territory. We had received several interviews and other video tape from Randy to compile 4-6 weeks of introductory vignettes that would intro Savage to the Mid South TV audience most of who had never seen 'Macho Man' Randy Savage in person.
I can still vividly remember working with fellow Watts employee Scott Munz on the edit of the vignettes while writing copy and then voicing over the features.
Ironically, after working several long nights on this project the vignettes never aired. Savage never made it to Mid South.
At that time, according to a text message earlier today from Watts himself, Savage was running 'opposition' against the Jarrett/Lawler 'Tennessee' territory. This business strategy put Savage on the wrong side of many promoters especially those who were friends of Jarrett and company and certainly those who supported NWA camps.
According to Watts, Savage was in need of bookings and the paydays that went along with them and wanted to come to work for the big Cowboy. I recall looking at the footage of Savage with Bill and we were both obviously impressed with what we saw.
Watts had a good relationship at that time with Jerry Jarrett, they even did a talent trade once upon a time that helped both territories, and Bill knew that if Jarrett/Lawler/Savage could work together that they could all make money as the volatile 'opposition' plot line had received main stream, local publicity and had piqued the publics interest.
Watts was able to help broker 'peace' between Jarrett and Savage by having, as I recall, a very stern, man to man talk with Savage about missed opportunities and the fact that most old school promoters would always look upon Randy unfavorably because of his family running opposition especially if Randy was not willing to extend the olive branch.
The rest is essentially wrestling history. Peace was restored in the Jarrett/Lawler/Savage area while King and Macho Man launched one of the hottest issues ever in the business. The two artisans sold out the legendary Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky that held well over 20,000 fans with more fans buying tickets to that event than virtually any other indoor event of that era including such famous arenas as Madison Square Garden.
In 1985 Savage roared into the WWE and his star was hung prominently for the entire world to see and did it ever shine brightly!
BTW after Savage left WWE and doing huge business while earning mega bucks, Randy called Bill Watts to thank Bill for Cowboy's advice back in the day which eventually got Savage noticed as a potential, main event acquisition for WWE.
Randy Savage is arguably one of the top 2-3 wrestlers that helped establish the WWE as the dominate promotion of its kind in the world. Savage deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Andre, Hulk, Piper, etc.
When I arrived in WWE in 1993, Savage was, unknown to me, on his way out. Randy, Bobby Heenan and I broadcast WM9 from ringside at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas on my first live, TV assignment for WWE. Broadcasting with 'Macho Man' was never easy but it was also never dull. He was as unpredictable wearing headsets as he was in his wrestling tights.
Unpredictability and breaking molds is a marketable trait and without question 'Macho Man' Randy Savage was one of the most marketable, unforgettable persona's to ever grace the squared circle.
Savage as a pitchman for Slim Jim was an instant success and forged an unforgettable image for the Slim Jim company that Randy literally put on his broad shoulders and carried to prominence back in the day when Slim Jim was attempting to gain a foothold in the snack food market. Some might argue that Savage is as well known for his ubiquitous Slim Jim commercials as he was for his wrestling exploits.
In my over four decades in the business, I have never encountered anyone who I perceived was as intense, 24X7, as 'Macho Man' Randy Savage. He was a gifted athlete, he played minor league baseball a handful of years, and brought artful athleticism and raw reality to his profession.
Before I ever stepped foot in WWE, I thought, as one who was earning a living in the business elsewhere, that the Savage-Steamboat match from WM3 was the best WWE match that I had ever seen. A handful of other bouts since then have ranked right up there with it but after a quarter of a century the 'Macho Man-Dragon' encounter from the Pontiac Silverdome still holds up today as an all time wrestling classic.
One never had to guess where they stood with Savage and he never had any issues expressing himself. He was, seemingly, always on edge or, perhaps more specifically, on point. Randy carried himself as one not to be trifled with and as a man who had great passion for his profession and unmatched intensity.
Fans of the genre of pro wrestling lost one of the most famous and skilled performers of all time this morning in Tampa when the former WWE Champion apparently had a heart attack while driving his vehicle with his wife of one year who was the sole passenger.
Our condolences go out to the Poffo family, Macho Man's friends and fans and to all whose lives were touched by 'Macho Madness.'
RIP Macho Man Randy Savage.