Today is a sad day for those of us whom are professional wrestling fans, as it was discovered that legendary wrestling superstar, Macho Man Randy Savage died today in a car accident that was triggered by a heart attack while he was behind the wheel. He was 58 years old.
Typically the deaths of wrestlers come as no surprise to me, as throughout the years, I’ve shrugged off the deaths of numerous sub-40 year old wrestlers whom I certainly do remember, but were mostly indifferent about their passings. Renegade, Test, Rocco Rock, and Crash Holly come to mind as wrestlers who died early, mostly because of their own stupidity and/or drug problems. There was a stretch between 2004-2008 where there was pretty much another wrestler dying on a monthly basis. And every time, it was the same stories – heart failure. Drug overdose. Or both.
If they were big enough wrestlers, then the media would get a hold of the stories, and then point their fingers at steroids, and just how stupid professional wrestling is. Otherwise, they would die in relative obscurity, except to those of us who remember them as enthusiasts.
But the death of Macho Man is different. The death of Macho Man legitimately makes me feel a little bit sad. Macho Man’s death isn’t just the death of one man, but it’s also the death of a small slice of childhood.
To some degree, I can rank how much a wrestler’s passing affects me; to some it seems silly to be a little affected by people I didn’t know who made a living running around in wrestling trunks, jumping off the top rope, hitting each other with chairs, and pretending to fight and hate one another. But what can I say, some people obsess over shit like Twitter and Facebook, and as a kid, I obsessed over pro-wrestling, and still enjoy it to this day.
But anyway, the few times I have been disturbed by wrestlers passing have been: Eddie Guererro, Chris Benoit, Ray Traylor, Curt Hennig, and now Randy Poffo, the real name behind The Madness.
Guerrero’s passing was sad, because here was a guy who literally battled back from all sorts of injury and addiction, found God, and cranked his career up to eleven, and legitimately was on top of the world, when the payback for years of substance abuse simply came to collect at an inopportune time.
Chris Benoit was the story of a man who was an incredible performer, who simply succumbed to the monsters inside of him, and was involved in one of the most horrific real-life murder stories – he strangled his wife (also a former wrestling personality), murdered his child, and then hung himself, in the ultimate coward’s way out. All of this happened, not too far from where I live today, less than the distance it takes for me to get to work.
“The Big Boss Man,” Ray Traylor, and “Mr. Perfect,” Curt Hennig’s deaths upset me in the same way that Macho Man’s death upsets me. The three of these guys were prominent stars in the era of wrestling that I grew up with. With each of their passings, it feels like another sliver of my childhood fandom has died with them. Not only do I have fond remembrances of matches that all these guys have had, but I still admired and loved them after I got older, and I saw former shells of their once great selves still trotting out to the ring, having adapted to the times, and engaging in over-the-top storylines and character changes. The ever-evolving wrestling business, and these guys stayed with it until the very bitter ends.
Google the words “macho” and “man,” and it’s a forgone conclusion that the top image result is Randy Savage. If you look on Youtube for Slim Jim commercials, and you’re going to end up with Randy Savage. If you ever hear anyone go “oooooh yeah,” it’s assumed that it’s a Macho Man impression. The words “dig it,” are synonymous with Randy Savage. His impact on culture beyond wrestling is gargantuan than people realize.
However, Macho Man’s in a slightly different boat, which adds to the sadness of his end. Unlike most wrestlers in the industry, he was one of the very few who never truly made his peace with Vince McMahon, the ever monopolized owner of the business. Seeds were sown for his eventual re-emergence onto WWE television, as one of the last things he did was a web-spot for the latest WWE video game, which he was actually a part of, which is a pretty big leap to begin with.
But to those fans “in the know,” would know, Macho Man and Vince McMahon never really liked each other for the longest time. And McMahon is the kind of guy that can let any bygones be bygones, as long as there’s profit to be made, but throughout the last two decades, Macho Man was the one guy that would never return. All sorts of rumors, from just some severe head-case bridge burning, to Poffo being the guy that took daughter, Stephanie’s virginity are all out there to why the two never could work together, but the fact was, that Macho Man was denied to the fans for the longest time. And now, it’s too late.
Macho Man never got a DVD set, like many previous controversial wrestlers in the past already have, from Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, all the way to the Ultimate Warrior. Vince’s greatest banes, enemies, annoyances, and competition have all been given a share of the limelight, and subsequent monetary benefits, at some point, but Macho Man never did.
Macho Man was never inducted into the superficial WWE Hall of Fame. When he is next year, it’ll be for all the wrong reasons.
But what kind of sucks a lot is that Macho Man was on the very small list of wrestlers that I’d love to have met one day. I’ve met Hogan, I’ve met Foley, I’ve met DiBiase, and I’ve met a lot of jobbers that have been amusing to meet. Meeting the Macho Man would’ve been one of those unforgettable encounters. But it’ll never happen.
The funny thing is that Macho Man came up in a conversation Huzzard and I had, literally a day ago, while talking about old school wrestling, and how today’s matches never end on surprise pins, like small packages, or sunset flips. And how some of the greatest matches in history did, namely two of Macho Man’s greatest Wrestlemania matches, against Ricky Steamboat at WMIII, and Ric Flair, at WMVIII.
I guess the long hiatus since the last wrestler’s death only meant that someone big was going to be next.
Beef, spice. Art thou bored? OOoooOOhhHH yeah, brother. DIG IT! R.I.P, Macho Man.