I didn’t find out that Randy Savage had died until two days after it happened. I was on vacation at sea, no contact with the outside world other than with shop owners in Freeport, The Bahamas or with standup comedians who came onto my cruise ship who hadn’t heard or who didn’t want to relay the news during their set.
A lot of emotions came flooding to me, mainly because Randy Savage was one of my favorite wrestlers ever and I felt a crushing blow come to my childhood, my memories and to my wrestling fandom on the whole. I mean, he was the reason why I love pro wrestling as much as I do, and he wasn’t a guy who stuck around past his prime, leaving his memory relatively undiluted.
In a career where he was largely overshadowed by Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, it can be hard to put him above both guys. If you use the drawing power argument, yeah, Savage is going to get smoked by both those guys, as well as those who came after him like Steve Austin, The Rock and even John Cena. Often times though, drawing power can be a misleading statistic. Yeah, both Hogan and Flair were big stars, but Savage was always there pushing them.
Remember some of the most memorable angles from the 80s and 90s. Hogan vs. Andre was the big draw from WrestleMania III, but Savage and Steamboat helped make it an entire card rather than just a one-match show. The Mega Powers wouldn’t have been as big a success if it weren’t for Savage playing foil to Hogan. Savage/Warrior was the better story and had the better moment at WrestleMania VII than Hogan, and his chase of Flair at WrestleMania VIII was decisively better than any botched torch-passing from Hogan to Sid. In WCW, he provided a great counterweight to the nWo angle when he wasn’t a part of it, and his feud with Diamond Dallas Page was must-see TV.
And even for a guy who never felt like a main attraction, he racked up quite the impressive résumé. He won six total World Championships, losing them only to Hogan and Flair when he did drop them. He was a King of the Ring and a World War 3 winner. He was the main attraction of WrestleMania IV. He was a spokesperson for Slim Jim over guys like Hogan and Flair and really every other wrestler on either roster at the time. Not bad for a guy who “didn’t draw” like his peers, eh?
It’s also arguable that he was the best pure wrestler of the group. That might be blasphemy among many folks, because hey, Ric Flair is the greatest worker of all-time, right? Right? Well, I’m not here to say that he’s not on an elite level, because he was in his prime. I’ve seen some prime Flair action, and it’s great. It really is. But then I watch Randy Savage in action, and it’s like I’m watching a guy work on another level.
I’m not just talking the nuts and bolts, but Savage injected so much emotion into his matches. In professional wrestling, the emotion is just as important, if not moreso, than the moves themselves. Plus, Macho Man carried Ultimate Warrior to a match the quality levels that no one before and no one after ever, ever could. That is a freaking miracle, and I think anyone who could have done that is someone who deserves to have serious consideration.
Regardless of whether he was the best of all-time or not though, I think we can all agree that losing him too early is disappointing and sad. I hope the man rests in peace, and no matter whether you think he’s the best of all-time or not, I think we can all agree that the wrestling world is a colder place without him.
Thanks again, Macho Man. No matter who agrees with me or not, in my heart, you’re one of the best, if not the best, who ever laced up the boots and climbed into that ring.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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