Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the death of Macho Man Randy Savage this past Friday. Randy Savage will forever be remembered as one of the most unique, charismatic, hard-working, and recognizable stars in the history of professional wrestling.
It is his one-of-a-kind style, mixing elements of brawling, high-speed strikes, and subtle storytelling, that was responsible for creating the physical side of his stardom, as well as providing millions of fans with indelible images of artistry and mayhem.
If you haven’t been fortunate enough to see Savage go to work, then I suggest reading this list of his fifteen greatest matches ever, or, at least, what I feel are his finest performances. In my eyes, this would classify as “the essential Macho Man”.
15. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase (WrestleMania IV, March 27, 1988 – Atlantic City, NJ)
Not a GREAT match, but an important one. Savage had worked three matches earlier that night, and DiBiase had fought in two. With the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Title at stake, both men fought feverishly in the finals of a one night tournament. After Savage fended off interference from Andre the Giant, Miss Elizabeth brought Hulk Hogan to the rescue. Karma inserted itself, as Hogan whacked Ted DiBiase with a chair at the right moment, allowing Savage to drop the big elbow, winning the first of six World Championships. One of WrestleMania‘s most enduring images is an exhausted Savage, with Liz on his shoulder, both blinking back tears as she clutched his newly won championship.
This Coliseum Video-exclusive saw four of the best workers of all time, in different eras of their career. Savage and Hart, holding the company’s singles titles at the time, put on a clinic with their equally excellent counterparts, with Savage pinning Shawn Michaels after a roll-up after seventeen minutes of fine wine-style tag team wrestling. One of the lost highlights was Savage jawing with his former valet, Sensational Sherri.
13. Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo vs. The Rock n Roll Express (June 25, 1984 – Memphis, TN)
A wild, chaotic brawl between the Poffo brothers and the southern heart throbs. For the most part, both teams brawled in the spirit of Memphis “rasslin” until Savage, long before Sabu or Cactus Jack or the Dudley Boyz, dragged Ricky Morton to a table by the rabid crowd, and piledrove the mullet-haired babyface straight through it. Thanks to the Wrestling Gold video series, this match lives on to this day as an online gem.
12. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. The Honky Tonk Man (Saturday Night’s Main Event, September 23, 1987 – Hershey, PA)
Savage was looking to become a two time Intercontinental Champion, and was in the midst of his big babyface run. After dominating Honky for the majority of the contest, Savage delivered his flying elbow, but Bret Hart broke the fall up on two, giving Savage a mere DQ win. As Honky, Hart, and Jim Neidhart prepared to bash Savage with a guitar afterward, Honky threw down Miss Elizabeth in a shocking moment. Soon after, Hulk Hogan hit the ring, cleared the villains out, and, then and there, formed the Mega Powers with his former nemesis.
11. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair (Starrcade, December 27, 1995 – Nashville, TN)
Savage was fresh off beating Hiroyoshi Tenzan in the Wrestling World Cup earlier in the night, and Flair won a triangle match over Sting and Lex Luger earlier to earn this shot at Savage’s WCW Championship. As you’d expect from these two perfectionists, both men waged war. Flair hit a gusher during the match, and Savage appeared to have the title well in hand, but Arn Anderson bashed Macho with a pair of brass knuckles, allowing Flair to win the championship, giving life to the resurgent Horsemen.
10. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Tito Santana (February 8, 1986 – Boston, MA)
For quite a while, the Intercontinental Title scene was dominated by low key technicians like Santana, Greg Valentine, and Don Muraco, but Savage changed that. After a series of unsuccessful challenges in the fall and winter months, Savage finally upended Santana at the Boston Garden. After surviving Santana’s stifling offense, Savage was being back suplexed into the ring when he pulled a weapon from his trunks, clocking Santana with it mid-move. In three seconds, Savage was the WWF Intercontinental Champion.
9. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Shawn Michaels (April 19, 1992 – Sheffield, England)
Michaels’ star was rising, and was given this WWF Title bout on the company’s UK tour. For old time’s sake, Miss Elizabeth and Sensational Sherri got into it with one another, while their respective beaus put on a clinic designed to see if Michaels was “at that level” just yet. In the end, Savage squeaked by with a cross body counter, but both men looked tremendous, especially with Savage pushing forty years of age. Even then, few men could outwork him.
8. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior (Summerslam, August 29, 1992 – London, England)
There were a number of things wrong with this one. Warrior’s singlet was hideous, and the match didn’t have an ending (Savage lost by count out). All things considered, Warrior and Savage did good in trying to recreate the excitement of their WrestleMania VII classic (more on that later), with both men as babyfaces vying for Savage’s WWF Championship. The underlying story of Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect recruiting the winner and then screwing both over aside, Savage got another great performance out of the Warrior.
7. Randy Savage vs. Jerry Lawler (June 8, 1985 – Memphis, TN)
It was bloody, it was chaotic, and it was Savage’s out. A loser leaves town match culminated a long angle in which Savage had turned on Lawler, and Lawler’s CWA promotion was only big enough for one of them. The two ripped each other apart as the fans looked on anxiously, knowing that the hometown hero was going to have a hard time putting Savage away. In the end, Lawler prevailed, but Vince McMahon was the real winner: he signed Savage shortly thereafter.
6. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page (Halloween Havoc, October 26, 1997 – Las Vegas, NV)
Savage and Page had one of the most exciting feuds of 1997, and were, at the time, the only two men over forty years old in WCW that really seemed to try. Both men squared off in this brutal Las Vegas Death Match, where both men’s ladies (Miss Elizabeth and Kimberly Page) even got into it with each other. The match was similar to a Last Man Standing match, where a ten count had to be answered. As Page seemed to have the upper hand late, the NWO’s fake Sting smashed him with a baseball bat, allowing Savage the narrow win in a chaotic environment.
5. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Bret Hart (Saturday Night’s Main Event, November 11, 1987 – Seattle, WA)
Hart’s first chance to shine on national TV in a singles match was the continuation of the storyline with Honky Tonk Man mentioned earlier. Hart worked Savage’s leg, including cracking his ankle bone legitimately by slamming it against the ring post. Savage fought through the pain, made his comeback, and caused “The Hitman” to succumb to a roll up after an extended contest. According to Hart, despite the fact that Savage was limping afterward, he told Hart not to worry, because “it’s good for business”.
4. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair (WrestleMania VIII, April 5, 1992 – Indianapolis, IN)
For months, WWF Champion Ric Flair taunted Savage by claiming to have been with Miss Elizabeth years earlier. The enraged Savage had a chance to win the gold, and restore his wife’s dignity in one afternoon. After busting Flair open with a double axe handle against the railing, Savage was on the fast track to victory. But Mr. Perfect, Flair’s second, clipped his knee with a chair, and Flair took over with a Figure Four. Savage made the ropes and then chugged forward, nailing Flair’s cut with a right hand and rolling him up, tights pulled, to become champion for the second time. Flair put his hands on Liz afterward, but Savage mauled him further for good measure.
3. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania V, April 2, 1989 – Atlantic City, NJ)
Savage and Hogan experienced a bitter split two months earlier, with Savage accusing his one time friend of having “jealous eyes”, as well as “lust” for Miss Elizabeth. After the unfortunate turn, Hogan vowed to set Savage straight by taking his gold. A heated main event saw Savage pull Liz in his way as Hogan tried to throw a punch. After Savage busted Hogan open, he landed the Flying Elbow, but The Hulkster kicked out. The champ then fell victim to Hogan’s trademark finish, including the patented Leg Drop, and Macho Man’s bitterness and paranoia had led to his year-long World Title reign coming to an end.
Savage and Warrior engaged in a slow-paced fight, with the loser having to retire from wrestling. With Warrior seemingly spent, Savage dropped five Flying Elbows on him, but Warrior somehow kicked out. Then Warrior planted Savage with his finishing sequence, and Savage then kicked out. After Savage took a dive into the railing, Warrior polished off Macho with three shoulder blocks. Afterward, Sensational Sherri tore into Savage, prompting a returning Miss Elizabeth to run in and make the save. Then, before a large audience in the arena and worldwide, the happy couple reunited after two years apart (in fiction). The event’s biggest loser was also its biggest winner.
1. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (WrestleMania III, March 29, 1987 – Pontiac, MI)
And here it is: the match that redefined wrestling as we know it. Once a haven for slower brawls with lots of stalling, the WWF presented this match, a fast paced fight to the death with fourteen two counts. Months earlier, Savage, the IC champ, nearly ended Steamboat’s career by crushing his larynx. Seeking revenge, Steamboat and Savage fought tooth and nail in a match that inspired many, including Chris Jericho, John Cena, and Edge. In the end, Savage’s attempt to use the ring bell failed, and Steamboat cradled his way out of a scoop slam to win the gold, completing his revenge against one of his fiercest rivals ever.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.
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