WWE – Randy Savage Unreleased: The Unseen Matches Of The Macho Man (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 527 minutes approx.
Ooh yeah! The WWE have delved into the vaults of their massive video library once again to bring us this collection of rarely seen, long forgotten and never before released matches featuring Macho Man Randy Savage.
Being a match-centric presentation there are only a few discursive links to cover the basic timeline stories of Savage’s career hosted by Corey Graves with Diamond Dallas Page, Sean Mooney and Bayley. The former offer plenty of personal insight into working with Savage at the time, veering into insider territory, Mooney surprisingly more so than DDP, while Bayley essentially sits and looks pretty in her custom made Macho Man jacket, occasionally reaffirming her fandom of Savage.
Quiet often, when WWE makes such bold proclamations as “unseen” or “unreleased” in the titles of these collections they are to be taken with a pinch of salt and whist true here, some matches earn this distinction, noticeable by the absence of commentary and graphics. Along the early TV matches most of us wouldn’t have seen first time round are dark match bouts held at the end of TV tapings, often for Coliseum Video (which should bring back memories for older fans).
The match list begins at the beginning with Savage’s TV debut for the WWF from 9th July 1985, (actually taped on June 17th, ten days after Savage lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Jerry Lawler in Memphis). Then there is a TV tag match featuring Savage teaming with Jesse Ventura, which is curious as in the next match, Jesse was back in his role on commentary and clearly visible on screen yet his audio was blanked out.
Following two unique tag matches pitting Ricky Steamboat and Hulk Hogan against Savage and Honky Tonk Man, and Steamboat and Billy Jack Haynes against Savage and Hercules, the discussion turns to the classic WM III match between Savage and Steamboat, followed by a never seen house show rematch. It’s not as good as the PPV match but still a fun bout.
We move onto Savage’s first babyface run and his tenure as WWF Champion with a steel cage match against Ted DiBiase – NOT the famous MSG match where a fan climbed the cage to stop Virgil from interfering though. In a moment where someone didn’t get the memo, a match from France in late 1988 sees a ring girl carrying a sign with the wrestler’s names on them – Savage’s opponent Akeem’s reads “One Man Gang”, his former persona!
Savage’s heel turn against Hogan heading into WM V is briefly discussed – no mention that Randy checked himself out of hospital with an elbow infection to the work the match – leading to what is noted to be the earliest match against Ultimate Warrior from early 1989. The layout of this match will seem familiar to some of you as different version have featured in other releases, with Warrior’s then feud Rick Rude coming out to distract him.
There is another random six-man tag match from 1991 featuring once again babyface Savage, Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Ric Flair, The Undertaker and Jake Roberts, whilst Hogan and Savage reunite to face Roberts and The Berserker. Typical of wrestling logic – or lack thereof – Savage and Taker are now partners, teaming up against Flair and Berserker just a few months later!
Randy’s switch to commentator is covered, with Mooney diplomatically explaining that Savage preferred to wrestle but the impression painted was that it was another string to his bow in reinventing himself. The final WWF matches included here from 1993 aren’t that great and perhaps vindicate Vince’s decision to phase Savage out as a wrestler but Randy felt differently and in 1994 jumped ship to WCW.
DDP opines this proved Savage was still a draw and maybe Vince was wrong to write off the likes of him and Hogan as top guys – indeed the first Savage vs. Flair feud of 1995 saw WCW’s house show business turn around for the first time in many years – but the match quality from this period begs to differ. Short TV matches against Stunning Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton and Kurosawa (NJPW veteran Manabu Nakanishi) aren’t particularly memorable.
A couple that are memorable for the wrong reasons are the first WCW match from Clash of the Champions XXX in January 1995, the infamous Hogan and Savage vs. Kevin Sullivan and The Butcher (Brutus Beefcake) match that not only featured the ludicrous “rejuvenation elbow” spot but also post-match interloper Big Van Vader splitting his trousers!
The other notable match, the last in the collection, is another mixed tag match from Nitro in 1999. Savage and Madusa teamed up against Flair and “Little Naitch”, referee Charles Robinson playing a Flair clone. Savage, who at that point was as immobile and unruly as Scott Steiner is today, actually left Robinson with a collapsed lung and broken vertebrae after hitting the Elbow too hard in trying to protect his own recently repaired knee.
I believe there may be some copyright issues with the WCW music because in Savage’s debut on WCW Saturday Night, he comes out to no reaction due to the audio being muted. Then again after hearing Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance, Savage’s WWF theme, ad infinitum the silence is quite welcome! Similarly, I swear Hogan’s WCW theme American Made was replaced and buried in the mix by Real American.
Graves closes the programme by inviting his guests to do Macho Man impressions then and a final word about Savage, with DDP telling a nice story about Savage’s reaction to DDP showing his gratitude for helping his career. It is clear that he, Mooney and Bayley were genuinely fond of Savage which lifts this beyond being a vapid fluff piece.
As a companion piece to the Randy Savage Story from 2014, this release helps create a comprehensive look at the great and storied career of one of wrestling’s all time greats! Dig it!
German Language Subtitles
Rating – ****
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