Randy Savage Dead at 58...Thoughts on a True Superstar

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.          

  

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Very well said, JR.

Macho was always my favorite in the early days of WWE when I was a 6 years old. May the Madness Meet the Maker. RIP.

As eloquent as always. Thanks, JR. R.I.P. Macho Man

This is one of the first 'celebrity deaths' in my lifetime that actually makes me feel sad.

But he always felt like far more than a celebrity to me.

I can't think of anyone who gave a better interview and I think it will be a long time before someone comes along that is half as talented.

I saw this online and thought it to be very powerful.  wheresrandysavage.tumblr.com/post/5670796416

RIP, Macho Man.

Thank you, JR, for your moving tribute.  I always enjoy hearing what you have to say.

Such insight here, JR.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always.

This is so sad to me because I was just a teenager when this guy with the raspy, deep voice that could grind pepper in an instant came on my TV and started talking about "riding the edge of a lightning bolt" and other off base stuff.  I thought that this was one weird, intense dude with a gorgeous woman at his side.  As the months passed by I realized what a great talent Macho Man was, and he became one of my all time favorites.  I still remember mimicking his voice, which was never easy on my throat, but I still did it because I was emulating one of my all time favorites.  So right now as I sit here, I'm giving a big, deep throated "OHHHH YEAAAH" to one of the greatest of all time, Macho Man Randy Savage.  I looked forward to your pending Hall of Fame speech, but now we'll never hear it, but those of us who are your true fans can hear in our heads a lot of what you would have said.  Rest In Peace, Randy.....you were taken from us too soon.

Very thoughtful and well said about a man that was more than a legend in this business.

His very unique voice and gifted in-ring ability was definitely things I'll never forget about him.  Looking at it, I'm very glad I was able to watch him live on a few occasions.

I wasn't aware of the story with him and Mid-South.

Very sad to hear of the loss of Austin Box as well because the Sooners are my team, too.

Thanks JR for the touching tribute on Macho Man!  My condolences to the family of Randy Savage, too.

Nice tribute Blog for the Macho Man. Thier will never be a performer like Randy  Macho Savage in the wwf or wwe history. Savage was an intense worker and his promos was just intese. He was a legit worker in the ring. He was the real deal. Savage and Steamboat set the bar mid cards or main events at a wrestlemanina. Hope he is reuntied with his true love the lovely ms Eliazbeth.  RIP Macho Man. May The Madness Live

Randy was my all time Fav and while I still watch WWE it hasn't been the same since he left.

I watch WWE TV and support several local outfits and I don't like TNA at all. That said I can't believe the McMahon family seems to still want to show No Respect to Savage. No mention at all on SD for the man who helped make WWF/WWE into the monster it is today. I don't want to hear it's because he died this morning and since the shows taped on Tuesday nothing could be done because I've seen it done and within the last year.

The McMahons have no class! A little tiny mention on WWE.com and that's it. No Class! Never allowing his fans, friends and family to celebrate with him the HOF induction he so richly deserved. No Class!

i grow up on randy savage when he was in wcw rip hof

He was the type of wrestler that you could put in any wrestling show's main event ... WWF, NWO,  Attitude Era ... you could put him everywhere and it would work because he had that personality.

This hurts almost more than one can handle. Today alone i've seen more facebook posts than I have EVER seen mentioning wrestling. We lost one of the best today.

JR thank you for your lovely tribute. Please let us know where we can make a donation, send flowers, or just do something to tell his family thank you. He meant so much to so many of us and I can't tell you the many hours of entertainment that this man brought to my life. It's going to take a while to get over this one, for sure...Your very right, life is very very short!

As always,

Thank you JR

Marty

Austin, Texas

Thank You JR. My condolences to the Poffo family.

Nice blog JR. Thank you. Bummer. One of my childhood heros is gone too soon. Macho, like many of the other great wrestlers was in a class by himself. He may never have made it in pro baseball but he was a 5 tool player in pro wrestling. There were no holes in his game.

I really would have liked to see him one more time in a WWE setting but I guess that is just me being selfish. Anyways, thanks for the memories Macho, gone but NEVER forgotten.

My prayers go out to Randy's wife and family. I lost my husband in 2009 and he was 57. My heart goes out to his missus. Macho Man you are missed by all. God bless you and your loved ones.

Mama Kass here.
The Lord's blessing to y'all
I woke up, it is a good day.

This sounds so cliched, but I never post on blogs. But Randy's untimely death has moved me. It's such terrible and sad news. Macho Man was a true legend of the sport. He had one of the most charasmatic, instant personas and was a fantastic entertainer. I'll always remember watching him and Hulk fall out at Royal Rumble '89 when I was 9. The drama was unforgettable. Rest in peace Randy, the memories will never fade.

 Very nice Mr. Ross,    I had the pleasure of meeting Macho Man on the Wildwood NJ boardwalk back in the 80's. He was very low key at first, asked us if we wanted an autograph (i declined) I asked him if he would say "Freak Out! Freak Out!" for me and he proceeded to cut a promo on me and my friend that was the coolest thing ever. By the time he was done their was a crowd gathered and Randy made sure to remind everyone about matches that night.

He wrestled Tito Santana and as he came to the ring to thunderous boos  I screamed out "Freak Out! Freak Out!" he turned and pointed to me. I was ecstatic. Without a doubt one of the greatest of all time.

Rest In Peace "Macho Man" Randy Savage. You will be missed but Macho Madness will live on forever. OH YEEEAAAAHHHH!!!!!

   Macho Man was a real artist in the ring & did EX promos.  His match vs Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat at WM3 is still the best  I've ever seen. I've read where some people in the internet wilderness have said he had a big ego but so what!  You have to have a certain amount of ego & swagger to be at the top of the mountain.   All I know is the world is alot less colorful without him!!!

Thanks so very much for your touching tribute, JR...It was a very sad day for me last Friday after learning of Randy's death....So much like losing a friend that you hadn't seen in a while, not thought of every day, but certainly not forgotten.  WWE, NWA, AWA, and WWF, all those shows held special memories for us in the 80's and early 90's...Oh, man, Nobody, and I mean nobody in our group of friends in Seattle missed those shows!  We would have parties around Wrestle Manias, cuss and discuss our favorite good guys and bad guys, and Randy was always at the top of the list...What a talent, what a show man, what a interview, and what a loss.  Wrestling isn't the same anymore, I stopped watching some years ago because the wrestlers that I cared about had either retired or passed on...but..here with this group of old friends and new friends, we can remember the days when professional wrestling was the TOP sports event of the 80's, when it drew more viewers than main stream sports, and going to the matches when you were lucky enough to be able to see them live, was so very cool, electric, and akin to a rock concert..  Goodbye, Randy....peace and healing to your family...

No words can describe it.  I was a huge Hulkamaniac, but Macho Man was the perfect balance as a super heel.  I loved them together as the Mega Powers, but loved it even more when they faced each other.  Macho Man was definitely my favorite heel throughout the time of the WWE in the 80's.  I was cheering for him to win the I.C. (back when it meant something) belt from Tito Santana for the first time........Great match by the way.  Macho was one of the best in the capacity to have a "feud" back in the day when a feud could actually build up and mean something.  Back when a feud would start on one of the "talk show" segments like Brother Love, Snake Pit, Piper's Pit, etc.  I will never forget the feud with Steamboat that lead up to WM III.  The feud he had with Jake the Snake, George Steel, Hogan, and the list goes on.  There are several great tributes to Macho Man on Youtube that you all should go and check out.  They are nicely done. 

R.I.P. Macho Man.  You were a household name around the world and a very common name brought up in mine. 

Supercrazyfan1

I get tired of fighting people on Wikipedia who either try to actively bury the territories and their accomplishments, or just have a pointed lack of interest in maintaining proper historical perspective.  Unfortunately, this death has led to more media-fueled frenzy rather than thoughtful reflection as far as that goes.  Trying to portray his few appearances in TNA as significant, yet his years in ICW and Memphis as irrelevant or meaningless, as if he suddenly appeared out of a cave one day in 1985 as a fully-developed pro wrestler, is best described by an eight-letter word which would probably get this post or my account deleted were I to utter it.  It begins with "B," if you didn't get that far on your own.

I read the Cowboy's autobiography several years ago, so I was aware of part of the story.  Thank you for filling in with some more details.  I think Savage was actually far more toned down in the WWF than in immediate years past in Tennessee and Kentucky.  The Steamboat match at WM3 hasn't worn so well with me for two reasons: 1) I was getting Japanese tapes back in 1987.  Savage vs. Steamboat was certainly a well-worked match, but as a spectacle, nothing at WM3 compared to the Antonio Inoki vs. Masa Saito match held months later on Ganruyjima Island in Japan;  2) The revelations of Ric Flair and others that Savage insisted on carefully choreographing the match in advance.

"Here is the result of The Epilogue...God exists by two falls to a submission." - John Cleese, 1969

Great thoughts JR,

   I really enjoyed your comments.   RIP Macho Savage.

Breckenridge

Wow, Mr. Ross, that was right on. I was a huge fan of the Macho Man growing up, and to read your word about him was great. To this day my favorite WM was IV, when Macho Man won the tournament for the vacant WWE Championship. Props to CM Punk for his flying elbow attempt last night at Over the Limit. I rose to my feet when he raised his arms like Savage before jumping off the top turnbuckle. I think I would have lost it if he hit the flying elbow.

I'm a huge fan of you're blog, and you have inspired me to start my own. I am no wrestling insider, but just a fan and a father of two fans. here is the link to my blog:

http://sharpshooter-bircheezy.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=7

Perhaps if you have a moment you could check it out. Thanks. And I  mean no disrespect. Just one wrestling fan to another.

 with the wicked weather spreading across the country chances were slim to none that you would have a flight with no delays. Its not like your the only passenger  in all the airports throughout the country who has been delayed. Its life. Traveling is part of your job. You win some, you lose some.

Thanks Daves for the thoughtful travel advice. I know that I can always count on you to lift me up when my spirits are down.

Hi J.R.

when I think of the many many many many many many Memory's That Madness have giving to us all and the way he shared his gift with us it brings a smile to my face I'll miss him and Liz Sad doesn't tell how sad I was when I learn though a person I fell like the World just die that day I hope his family his friends and Fans knew that he was always love by me and the billions worldwide!

Miss you Macho Man your Tour with the rest of the fellow wrestlers that gone before you tell Dr. Death and Eddie Gilbert and Eddie G that we miss them down here and love them!