Saturday, May 21, 2011

JC's Take: The Cream of the Crop: R.I.P. Randy Savage

I had every intention of finishing my review of the WWE's 2011 this weekend, and still might, but this takes precedent.

I, just like everyone else, was shocked and saddened by the unfortunate news of Randy Savage's death Friday. It stunned me. I was at work when I found out, and still had another 6 hours to go. I didn't want to be there. I just wanted to come home and watch some Macho Man matches. I wanted to come home and read other's thoughts on the Macho Man.

Macho Man Randy Savage is one of the few wrestlers that everyone recognizes. Even if you didn't follow wrestling, you knew him from the Slim Jim commercials. Savage's death is one that just rips the heart out of everyone who has ever been a fan of wrestling. Whether you were a fan during Randy Savage's era or after, it hit you. Randy Savage is one of the wrestlers that new fans would go out of the way to find old clips of. He is a very unique character. His flamboyant outfits, awesome shades, and unique voice made him stand out from the crowd. You need qualities like that to stand out in the wrestling business, and Savage used them to perfection.

Randy Savage's career started well before I was born. He was a standout in Memphis before he made his way to the WWE. Savage became an instant hit with the wrestling audience. Savage excelled in the ring. He always gave his best every night. Randy Savage was known as a perfectionist. Savage wanted his match to go off flawlessly in the ring, and it did all the time. Savage was able to get great matches out of anybody. He was that skilled in the ring.

Randy Savage continued to climb the ranks of the WWE. In February of 1986, Savage won the Intercontinental Championship. During the 1980s, many people considered the wrestler who held the IC Title to be the best in ring worker in the WWE. He may not have drawn the same amount of money or had the same amount of star power as the WWE Champion, but he was definitely one of the best if not THE best in ring worker in the company. Savage held the IC Title for over a year.

At Wrestlemania 3, one of the best wrestling matches of all time took place. Sure, Andre the Giant vs Hulk Hogan is what drew people to the Silverdome in Detroit, but Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat was easily the best match on the show. It was the culmination of a heated feud between Savage and Steamboat. Savage put Steamboat out of action after storyline crushing his larynx on the guardrail with the ring bell. It all lead up to Wrestlemania 3. I've watched this match at least a dozen times. I just watched it before I started writing this. It still stands up as a classic. The near falls, the fast-paced action. For a match from that era, it was definitely unique and stood out. I would recommend to anyone who hasn't seen it to go find it and watch it. It truly stands the test of time.

After Wrestlemania 3, more and more fans started to root for Savage. He started to become a fan favorite. In late 1987, Savage formed an alliance with ultimate good guy Hulk Hogan, and the two became known as the Mega Powers.

The Mega Powers took on everyone in their path. After the WWE Championship was vacated in 1988, a tournament was held at Wrestlemania 4 to crown a new Champion. Most people thought that Hulk Hogan would walk out WWE Champion. But to the surprise of many, the Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant rematch ended in a Double Disqualification. Savage wrestled four times that night, defeating the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase in the Finals to win the WWE Championship. Savage was embraced as Champion, as fans were finally happy to see a fresh face at the top.

Savage held the Title for a year, before tensions reached a boiling point with himself and fellow Mega Power partner Hulk Hogan. Hogan defeated Macho Man for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 5. By this time Savage had reverted back to his heel ways, but what still a great worker in the ring.

After feuds with Dusty Rhodes and Jim Duggan, Savage began a feud with the Ultimate Warrior in late 1990. After Ultimate Warrior refused to promise Savage a Title shot, Savage cost Warrior the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble. The feud culminated in a Career Ending Match at Wrestlemania 7. Again, this is another match that is considered a classic. Most people consider it to be the Ultimate Warrior's best in ring performance of his career. It was a great match. Just watched it recently. The crowd was into it. It really felt like both men were wrestling for their careers. Savage lost the match, but won the crowd back at the end of it. In one of the most emotional moments in WWE history, Savage reunited with long time manager Elizabeth after the match, and married her at SummerSlam that summer.

Savage became an announcer after losing to Warrior. At the wedding reception after SummerSlam, Elizabeth was surprised by one of Jake Roberts snakes in a gift box. On an episode of Superstars, Savage confronted Roberts. However, it lead to one of the most shocking moments in WWE history. After tangling Savage in the ropes, Roberts allowed his snake to bite the arm of Randy Savage.

As a wrestling fan and a young child, this was my first vivid memory of Savage. I was scared. This is what lead me to my fear of snakes. As a child, I thought; How could this happen to such a nice guy? It was definitely out of the norm for the WWE to do at the time. It lead to the return of Savage to in ring action. He wrestled two matches with Jake Roberts, both with great intensity and crowd heat. After wrapping up his feud with Jake Roberts, Savage took on Ric Flair at Wrestlemania 8, and won his second WWE Championship. Savage returned to the announce position in 1993, but returned to action to take on Crush at Wrestlemania 10, where he won. Savage left the WWE in 1994 and went to rival WCW.

Savage proved that in WCW he could still go full time. He won the WCW Championship 4 times. He had one of the best pro-longed feuds in WCW with Diamond Dallas Page. I didn't follow a lot of WCW. I know most of its history, but only the basic stuff. But Savage showed that he could still go during his time with WCW. He cemented his spot as one of the greatest in ring performers ever, reached the top of the mountain in 2 different companies.

So what exactly is Randy Savage's place in wrestling history? There is no denying that he is one of the best in ring performers ever. The guy knew how to put on an entertaining match. It didn't matter who he worked with, whether it was another veteran like Ricky Steamboat or a larger than life Ultimate Warrior, Savage always got the best out of them. Savage's in ring work, to hardcore wrestling fans, is what made him a star. That is what he is remembered for by wrestling fans. His ability to go out and steal the show night in and night out.

Randy Savage had a great passion for wrestling. He was one of the most charismatic individuals in wrestling history. While some of his promos may have seem a bit weird and out there, they were always entertaining and made their point. Whether he was making his case as being the best in the business, or was letting his opponent know what he had coming to him, Savage got his point across, and he always made sure of it. His raspy voice made his promos something fans would always remember. Randy Savage was the one of the wrestlers fans loved to imitate, not to make fun of him, but as a sign of respect. Everyone loved his unique persona and they wanted to be just like him.

The Macho Man also stood out for being a small guy in a big man's world. While the muscular guys like Hulk Hogan and the giants like Andre the Giant always stood out, Savage was able to make his way to the top and win the WWF Championship. Just like I said about Edge during my write up on him, Savage was a guy that a wrestling fan could identify with. He was an average size guy who busted his butt every night, giving 100% every time. Hulk Hogan was considered a larger than life performer, but Randy Savage was considered a normal, hard-working performer.

Also, how could you not live his entrance music? Pomp and Circumstance is the best entrance theme ever. When I came out to it for my 8th grade and high school graduation, I just had this incredible urge to throw my arm in the air and do the famous finger twirl.

Randy Savage was one of my favorites as a child. One of the first things that drew me to him was hist top rope elbow drop. Savage made that move famous. It's one of the moves that always made me want to pretend to be Randy Savage whenever I fake wrestled. As a child, I was amazed to see someone take such a huge risk like that. It's one of the same things that drew me to the Rockers. Seeing Randy Savage work his magic in the ring was truly a great thing. Like Shawn Michaels, I couldn't help but cheer for him whether he was a good guy or bad guy. His in ring work was just so good that you couldn't root against him. On my all time favorite list, I'd probably put him at 5, behind Michaels, Sting, Rock, and Steve Austin. As an in ring performer, he'd probably be 2nd behind Michaels.

Today is a sad day in the world of professional wrestling. We've lost one of the true greats. A man who had a natural gift of being a wrestler. A man who loved the wrestling business. A man who gave his all every single night. A man respected by everyone who has watched even a single minute of pro wrestling. Thank You Randy Savage, you were a true great and a man whose work will be remembered by everyone, now and for eternity.

At least now we know when it thunders in the sky, it's just Randy Savage dropping an elbow from the top rope.

Rest in Peace Randy.

Until next time,
Justin C

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