WWE – Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray / 3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 94 minutes approx
With his distinctive husky voice, unkempt hair, thick beard, signature sunglasses and outrageous cape and jackets, Macho Man Randy Savage certainly stood out from the crowd during his twenty plus year wrestling career. And while his appearance was colourful, often to the point of being unspeakably gaudy, in the ring Savage was just that, a hot headed ball of intensity with many great and classic matches to his credit.
For many wrestling fans Savage is one of most glaring omissions from the WWE Hall Of Fame (Edit: this was finally corrected in 2015) as well as an overlooked subject for the DVD tribute treatment (there was a match only compilation a few years back). Rumours and speculation have been rife as to why Savage’s name has been a trigger for tight lipped responses among the McMahon circle – from the lurid to the petty – but in the wake of Savage’s death in 2011, it would appear Vince may have finally let bygones be bygones; if not this release is a positive first step in that direction.
This retrospective opens on a rather grim note with a montage of TV news features covering Savage’s death followed by a solemn scene of Randy’s brother “Leaping” Lanny Poffo (aka The Genius) at the scene of the fatal car crash. It seems a bit ghoulish to make this the introduction to this documentary and perhaps even a little exploitative if one was to be cynical about it, considering the open hostilities between Lanny and the WWE in the wake of Randy’s death but I guess some grudges can mellow over time.
Sharing their comments are the likes of Jake Roberts, Ted DiBiase, Bret Hart, Gene Okerland, DDP, Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, and most importantly Hulk Hogan and Ricky Steamboat, both of whom go public with the well known stories about Savage; Steamboat recalls how Savage insisted their classic Wrestlemania III match was constructed move by move, while Hogan talks about their strained relationship during the Mega Powers run and how he was inadvertently involved in the Randy and Liz divorce (despite remarrying on TV at Summerslam).
Along with Lanny the story of his brother is shared with additional comments from their mother Judy. We learn how Randy was a keen sportsman with a taste for everything but his main love was baseball at which he excelled. However Randy never made it into the major league ranks when no club signed him up, so he followed in the footsteps of his wrestler father Angelo Poffo, making his debut under a mask as The Spider (to avoid being caught as per the condition of his baseball contract).
Angelo Poffo started his own promotion, International Championship Wrestling (ICW), and a new look Randy, who went from a skinny baseball player to a bearded, beefed up wrestler, was soon the top star. To get more attention for ICW the Poffos would invade their nearest local rival promotion, Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) (and not Mid South Wrestling as the narrator incorrectly tells us), and started a successful inter-promotional feud that put Randy on the map.
While no matches from this period are shown we see some rare pictures and promos which show the nascent Macho Man persona, long before the glitzy robes and cowboy hats. Lanny reveals that he encouraged Randy to steal the “oh yeah” catchphrase from regional star Pampero Firpo to help intensify his weak promos which didn’t match his aggressive ring work.
Savage’s WWF run is told through a mixture of kayfabe and fond candour, with everyone putting him over as a great worker and larger than life personality. It was here that his wife Elizabeth is introduced to the story and while everyone who worked with Savage recalls how over protective and paranoid he was towards Elizabeth, Lanny is steadfastly resolute that this wasn’t true and the others are lying. Take that for what you will.
Randy’s jump to WCW in 1994 is covered in less depth, with the initial tone being a suggesting it was an act of betrayal towards Vince McMahon which some believe is why Savage was persona non grata and lead to the vicious Nacho Man and Hukster skits of 1996. It’s difficult not to side with Savage over this since all he wanted to do was wrestle and Vince McMahon not being interviewed to put his spin like sophistry on it suggests he knows this too.
The final segment is somewhat poignant and tragic as it first deals with Elizabeth’s death in 2003 (complete with the audio of Lex Luger’s phone call to the emergency services, something which upset a lot of fans when WWE aired this on TV at the time). Then we visit Randy in his later days in which he was said to beat his happiest before the tragic accident occurred. Again we see the touching and sobering footage of Lanny visiting the accident spot.
Aside from pointing out his foibles, no-one has a bad word to say about Randy Savage while Lanny comes across a little too defensive at times while their mother remains neutral and the most sympathetic person featured here. As ever the rest of this collection is made of great archive matches from the vaults, many I am sure will be first time views. Old school fans will rejoice in some of the gems here including a pre-WM III match against Steamboat which is a corker!
Long overdue, the Macho Man Randy Savage story is an interesting and eventful one told with a degree of honesty and respect. Even with the feeling that certain topics have been glossed over fans shouldn’t be disappointed with this insightful and superbly well made presentation.
Is it recommended? Oooooh yeah!
WWF Title Lumberjack Match – Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Randy Savage (Madison Square Garden – February 1986)
Winner is the King of WWF – Randy Savage vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan (Madison Square Garden – October 1989)
Randy Savage & Sting vs. The Blue Bloods (WCW Saturday Night – September 1995)
Randy Savage vs. Booker T (WCW Monday Nitro – December 1997)
Fearing the Savage
Getting into the WWF
A Safety Net
Hundred Dollar Bill Guy
No Days Off
Part of the Team
Rating – **** ½
Man In Black