“In our culture, when a pro wrestler dies, it’s the equivalent as a superhero dying.” Unknown
Sunday, August 28, 1988, was the first time Randy Savage entered my life. I was 7 years old, channel surfing, looking for something to watch on TV. I landed on channel WLVI 56, and these two larger than life individuals who called themselves the “Mega Powers” told me about the dastardly deeds perpetrated by the Million Dollar Man and Andre the Giant.
Savage went on to tell me that the power of Hulkamania and Macho Madness would bankrupt the Mega Bucks at Summerslam 88 tomorrow night. I did not have cable, but my next door neighbor Billy did. I was unable to watch it live since Billy’s mother would not let him have friends over. Served me right! I shunned his attempt to get me into wrestling when he invited me over for Wrestlemania IV five months earlier. He promised to bring over the tape over the next day since my mother babysat him.
When Billy arrived at my doorstep, there was no VHS tape in his possession. I asked him where the tape was, and he said, “My mom said I can’t bring it over until tomorrow.” I was mad. I yelled at him like no 8 year old should ever yell at anyone. I told him he could not come in and slammed the door in his face. Ten seconds later I realized my mom was watching him and he was locked out of his house, so I let him in. The next day, Billy brought the tape on my 8th birthday, and I was hooked for life.
Wrestling is a business where the words legend and icon are thrown around loosely. Both ring true for Randy Savage. He could talk, and he could work, and he did both of them like no other. Savage was Mr. Wrestlemania long before HBK took the mantel.
His match with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III is considered the greatest of all time. His journey through 4 men in one night to win the WWF title Wrestlemania IV is the stuff legends are made of. His turn down the dark path against his best friend Hulk Hogan culminated with an epic encounter at Wrestlemania V. The build-up leading to the match is considered storytelling at it’s finest.
The retirement match with the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VII was not only the best match on the card, but it was the feel-good moment of the year. Savage did the impossible and pulled a great match out of the Warrior. In defeat, he reunited with Miss. Elizabeth after she saved him from a vicious attack by Queen Sheri.
Savage stole the show, again, at Wrestlemania VIII when he defeated Ric Flair to win his second WWF title while defending Elizabeth’s honor. In WCW he captured his first of four world titles when he won the inaugural World War 3 battle royal. As a member of the NWO, he helped elevate Diamond Dallas Page to main event status when he put him over at the 1997 Spring Stampede.
His death has hit me harder than most. I feel as if a piece of my childhood has died. There will always be more Star Wars movies and He-Man adventures. There will never be another Randy Savage. He was a real-life superhero to me. I learned to appreciate him, even more, when I was training to become a wrestler. His matches in the ring were awe-inspiring. His promos captivated my imagination.
It’s funny how we don’t appreciate anything until it’s gone. In the end, maybe we can learn something from this. The bi-product of a superhero is to open our eyes to something greater than ourselves. Randy Poffo managed to open our eyes one more time as the world has lost a Macho Man.