Yesterday, at 6.30pm, Tweetdeck announced that Macho Man Randy Savage had been killed in a car crash. My first thought was nothing more than 'blimey', but after scouring the internet for the details I reverted to a time when the Macho Man and his peers, sweaty steroid-addled men like Jake Roberts, The Ultimate Warrior, Rick The Model Martell, Brutus The barber Beefcake et al, were, in a way, my life.
It was 1990. My parents had recently divorced and, even though it wasn't acrimonious, I had taken it badly. I was 11. What's more, divorce was quite stigmatic then and I had more than one comment of 'you haven't got a dad.' That burned, that got me into fights, and that saw me ostracise myself from my mates, change forms at school, knock sport on the head, start smoking and, bizarrely, develop a fascination with wrestling.
The first event I watched was Summerslam 88, taped on a shitty VHS and borrowed off a mate of mine. I'm not going to pretend that I remember every second, but I do remember first liking the certifiably insane Ultimate Warrior as he beat the Honky Tonk Man. Jake Roberts was the next one to pique my interest, what with his DDT finisher and a bag of fucking pythons. Who takes live snakes in a bag ffs?
I also remember the main event. The Mega Powers vs The Mega Bucks. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase and Andre The Giant. Status, music and hype dictated I should be a Hulk Hogan fan, he was, after all, the King of wrestling, the All-American with 24" python arms and a big-leg drop finisher. But how could I focus on him when his partner, dressed like an LSD nightmare of a clown and an ice-cream van on homecoming parade, screamed, hollered, gurned and leapt about with such unhinged energy.
OOOOHHHH-YEAAAAAHHHHHHH, It was the Macho Man for me.
As I became unhappier, more insular and got in more trouble, I allowed wrestling to consume me. I bought every event, right back from Wrestlemania l and recorded everything in a blue ring binder. I had a section for goodies, one for baddies, with their weight, height, nicknames etc, and a section for every main event with results, attendances and any other detail I could fit in.
My obsession with wrestling didn’t last long, two years perhaps, but following the achingly sad arc of the Macho Man’s on-screen life made me think that me and him were in some way cosmically linked. Watching older events while real-life ones were taking place was confusing. There was his on-off relationship with his real-life wife Queen Elizabeth (I liked her too, but that’s a different story) his feud with Hulk Hogan, his epic battle with the Ultimate Warrior - when he delivered five consecutive flying elbow drops at Wrestlemania Vll only to lose his heavyweight Title belt - and his constant switching between being a fan favourite and a baddie.
But how could I focus on Hogan when his partner, dressed like an LSD nightmare of a clown and an ice-cream van on homecoming parade, screamed, hollered, gurned and leapt about with such unhinged energy.
Of course, I knew wrestling was fake, but I didn’t care. What I didn’t know at the time was that Randy Savage, born Randy Poffo in Columbus Ohio on 1952, had a cocaine habit that consumed him for much of his life. It seems pretty clear to me now that he was off his rocker for all of his interviews and probably most of his matches.
As I began to drift away from wrestling, Randy Savage was entering the twilight of his career as a top-flight wrestler. Divorcing from Elizabeth in 1992, he drifted in and out of the WWF, became a colour commentator, wrestled in lesser championships and continued his bacchanalian destruction of his septum and central nervous system.
I hadn’t really thought of the Macho Man for years until yesterday, but for two years his rasping voice, high-octane ring performances and energetic wrestling style provided me with a way out from my own teenage hell. It’s just a shame he was in his own for so long. Elizabeth herself died 8 years ago from a drug overdose, and Randy only remarried a year ago.
The WWE called him ‘the greatest Heavyweight champion of all-time,’ and said he bought ’a higher level of credibility to the title through his amazing in-ring performances.
I can’t argue with that, but all I know is that he meant more to a lonely and confused 11-year-old than he could possibly imagine. I also know that its been a long time since I tied fluorescent wool around my biceps and and hollered his catchphrase at the cat.
So I’m sure you’ll join me in a rousing shout of…
RIP Macho Man.
Flying Elbow Drop
"I'm a chameleon - and the beat goes on..."
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