Macho memories: WWE, CM Punk pay tribute to Randy Savage on May 23 RAW
Come up to meet ya, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need ya
And tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets, and nurse me your questions
Oh let’s go back to the start
Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy.
No one ever said it would be so hard
I’m going back to the start
Last night, WWE produced a touching tribute to one of its greatest superstars of all time, Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Regarded for years as the one of the biggest, most colorful personalities in the company, along with Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper, the Macho Man was responsible for much of the WWF’s success throughout the mid-’80s to early ’90s. He was more than that, though. Like Hogan, the top dog, Savage’s popularity transcended wrestling fans, capturing the imagination of the general public with his incredible promo skills and even more impressive in-ring ability. But while Hogan entertained the masses and sent them home happy with his ring psychology and showmanship, it was usually the pure athleticism of the Savage match that folks leaving the arena were talking about. (Case in point: the classic Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat match at WrestleMania III, which stole the show and is considered the greatest ever despite being on the undercard of the most publicized main event of all time: Hogan vs. Andre the Giant.)
By 1986, Savage was widely considered by his peers and “smart fans” alike as the one of the top five workers in the world. His babyface turn and WWF title win at WrestleMania IV cemented that reputation with the company’s mainstream audience and kids worldwide.
Although Savage took Ted Turner’s money like everyone else in the late ’90s and jumped ship to WCW, Vince McMahon seemed to hold a grudge against his former champion that went well beyond professional reasons. Some have speculated that Savage may have had an affair with a young Stephanie McMahon, but that’s never been substantiated. (Though she sure seems to have a thing for wrestlers…sports entertainers…whatever.) For more than a decade, McMahon vetoed Savage-related merchandise, even though WCW had long been dead and buried.
In recent years, though, McMahon seemed to have mellowed on the Macho Man. The first indication that the heat was dying down was when Savage, an integral part of so many “Saturday Night’s Main Event” episodes on NBC (which at one time were doing better numbers than the network’s “Saturday Night Live” in the same time slot), was featured on the cover of the DVD collection. McMahon later agreed to a Macho Man DVD, though it consisted of only several of his most memorable bouts and not the documentary treatment that he deserved.
The biggest strides in repairing the relationship with Savage appeared to occur over last summer, when word spread that Mattel would be releasing Macho Man action figures–the first in 12 years. The Macho Man himself put an exclamation on the announcement with a video that aired at San Diego’s Comic-Con.
McMahon clearly realized that it made good business sense to mend fences with Savage, especially with Hogan tied up with TNA. Not only did Savage appear on the cover art of the new “WWE All Stars” video game but he also cut one heck of a promo putting the game over.
Undoubtedly, Savage was way overdue to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, which would likely be set up with appearances on Monday Night RAW where he could perhaps put the issue to rest with McMahon once and for all in front of a worldwide audience. Savage’s mainstream appeal could have done wonders in bringing old-school fans back, as most people over 40 feel a disconnect with today’s WWE product. And for Savage, who lived and breathed his character 24/7, he most likely would have had a hell of a lot of fun. Perhaps most important, he would have been recognized by his peers and McMahon as one of the greatest all-around performers of all time. In a business that quickly forgets its heroes, a rebirth for the Macho Man would have been good for all concerned. But it was not to be.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the selection of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” for the Macho memorial video seemed to reflect regret on behalf of the company, perhaps even McMahon personally, for not burying the hatchet sooner and talking things out like men. Regardless, any longtime fan of Randy Savage had to be moved. Clearly, the moment was not lost on CM Punk, who paid tribute to Savage with rather macho ring gear in last night’s RAW main event. With a Punk/Cena program reportedly in the works before the build to the Champ’s title match with Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam, I was hoping the Macho Punk would get the win with an elbow from the top rope. Still, it was cool to see Bret Hart apply the Sharpshooter on Punk, who at least sold the hold, unlike Michael Cole, who strolled out to ringside last night unscathed from his previous punishment endured locked in the Hitman’s finisher the night before. (It’s the little details that are missing nowadays.)
Without further ado…behold the madness of the Macho Man.