Tuesday marked the three year anniversary of the passing of one of the greats in the business – Randy Savage. The “Macho Man” was and may still be the most underrated heavyweight champion of our generation. And as a fan of his work in the NWA, WWF and then WCW, he remains one of those performers that “got it” when he put on a show in the ring for the masses of fans.
Savage held 20 championships during his professional wrestling career. He held six world championships between the WWF and WCW, having won the WWF Championship twice and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship four times. He also won the ICW World Heavyweight Championship three times and the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship once. A one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, his match with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III is considered widely as one of the greatest pay-per-view matches of all time.
In my opinion, Savage was never given the just due he deserved by Vince McMahon and the boys back in Bristol. Even with the title reigns, the union with Miss Elizabeth (his real life wife during his time in the company) and the flare for the dramatic with his battles with Hulk Hogan, Rick Rude, Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, et al, there is no better performer this side of Shawn Michaels that the company ever had or has today.
Yes, I am excluding Hulk Hogan because he was as predictable as the moon rising and the sun setting.
Savage and a host of other wrestlers, including Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff and Rick Rude could have carried the WWF in Hogan’s place and would have been just as popular – if not more – with the fans. There was a real chance to make the WWF more of an NWA or AWA outfit with the belief in more champions, more fan support.
In June 1985, Savage signed with Vince McMahon. Billed as “the top free agent in pro wrestling,” Savage’s first appearances on Tuesday Night Titans featured several established managers (including Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, and “Classy” Freddie Blassie) offering their services to Savage.
He eventually declined their offers and chose Miss Elizabeth as his new manager. His gimmick was a crazed, ego-maniacal bully who mistreated Miss Elizabeth and threatened anyone who even looked at her. He made his pay-per-view (PPV) debut at The Wrestling Classic on November 7, 1985, participating in a 16-man tournament. He defeated Ivan Putski, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and the Dynamite Kid before losing by a count out in the finals to Junkyard Dog.
Savage is also part of a generation of wrestlers who believed in a craft, a show, and a story being told between to combatants in a ring where the fans were oblivious to the ideas of internet wrestling, wrap sheets and cheat sheets. Yes, the matches were predetermined, but the psychology of the feuds were on display for the first time in arenas and on screen.
Savage, among others, made that happen.
Savage, Piper, Hogan, Rude, Henig, Orton and Bundy – they all made that happen in the ring while we 40-somethings watched as children. Savage was better than all of them, regardless of the fact Hogan held the gold and no one else could come close.
Savage did it all, and did it the right way and for that the wrestling business and world is forever grateful.
We miss him, even today. Oh, Yeah!
Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71
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