In 1999, I was invited by my buddy Ken Hoffman of the Houston Chronicle to go to lunch with Randy "The Macho Man" Savage. Having grown up a child of the '80's, I was absolutely giddy. (Giddiness factor for me was a fraction of Hoffy's, although admittedly that had more to do with the presence of Savage's porn star girlfriend Gorgeous George.)
Oftentimes, when you meet one of the guys in professional wrestling, they turn out to be surprisingly normal, at least the ones I've met. And to be very clear, I'm okay with that. Having a normal conversation with someone you grew up mesmerized by on television is its own little thrill.
Randy "Macho Man" Savage was anything but normal. And to be clear once again, I was also okay with that.
That day at lunch, Randy Savage talked in the same meandering sentences in the same gravely growl that I heard as a staple of every Saturday morning when I was a kid growing up in Connecticut, old school WWF territory. In short, I was delightfully petrified the entire meal, especially when Hoffy kept whispering about how hot George looked. "Shhhh...he's gonna beat the shit out of us, Hoffy!!!"
Savage's aura and charisma on that 1999 afternoon discussing the next WCW card at the Astrodome over some chicken parm in a New York Pizzeria in Bellaire was every bit as hair-trigger unpredictable as his promos for the next card at the Hartford Civic Center in 1986 or his showing up ringside during a match involving the Honky Tonk Man or Hulk Hogan.
Today, Randy Savage (real name Randy Poffo) died after a heart attack which resulted in a car accident. He was 58 years old. The list of wrestlers whose careers and names transcend the sport and enter mainstream is short. The list of those whom you can truly credit for the massive expansion of the sport's popularity is even shorter.
In the 80's, it was Hogan, Andre, Piper, Savage.....
On a Friday, here is a video retrospective of the career of Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
Old school insane Macho Man promo (1980)
Macho Man selects his manager, The Lovely Elizabeth (1985)
Savage vs Ricky Steamboat -- Intercontinental Title, Wrestlemania 3 (1987)
Formation of the Megapowers with Hulk Hogan (1987)
...and Breakup of the Megapowers (1989)
Wedding reception with snakes! (1991)
More snakes! (1991)
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Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twittter.com/SeanCablinasian.