Monday, May 23, 2011

What Macho Meant to Me

Regis Philbin and Randy Savage
Photo Credit: Ron Gatella/WireImage/Sports

When I was a wrestling fan in my nascency, I had two favorite wrestlers: Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. Imagine my dismay when I watched my first ever full wrestling event to find out that one of them was a major bad guy who had spurned his longtime main squeeze and was feuding with the other big hero of the company, the Ultimate Warrior. You'd have to forgive me for that though; I was nine years old and barely cognizant of anything other than "this guy was the good guy and this guy was the bad guy". Then again, it wasn't all bad. After Warrior kicked out of seven flying elbow drops, looked into his hands and put Savage down for good (hmmm, sounds familiar...), it drew Sensational Sherri Martel into the ring to berate her fallen King, as if he was some worthless bit of street trash. They kept panning to Miss Elizabeth in the crowd, and all of us sitting in my parents' living room kept hoping, praying, almost willing that woman to get up out of her seat and give Sherri the what for. She did. She cast her out, and then in that moment, when she and Savage embraced in the middle of the ring, I became a wrestling fan for life.

Even moreso than when Hogan defeated the Iraqi menace of Sgt. Slaughter, or any other singular event that happened on any wrestling show, it was that moment in time, the Macho King, abdicating his throne and becoming a Macho Man once again and forevermore, holding his sweetheart on his shoulder, that made me the fan I am now. Without that moment, without Randy Savage, I don't think you'd be reading this blog. I'd be lying too if I thought that I was the only one who felt this way too. There are many polarizing figures in wrestling, but there are a scant few that I see an almost complete consensus agreeing on. Even in death, and I guess to say especially in death, Savage comes through as one of those figures. Everyone seemed to love him, whether their fandom was in the NWA/JCP/WCW or in the WWF/E, whether they liked the "sports" side of the "entertainment" side better. There was something about him that made him almost universally liked.

Maybe he was the quintessential professional wrestler. He had something for everyone. He had an animal magnetism around him, maybe one of the most charismatic human beings ever to walk the face of the earth. His voice was one of a kind, the kind of tone that would make a blind man be able to sketch him with perfect accuracy. He always had a unique way of saying things, that you couldn't help but be mesmerized by his speech, even if it was berating and belittling the innocent-appearing Liz as he was wont to do in his early career. He was one of the best workers of his time too, maybe even the best. Sure, Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat were both great workers, but I have to wonder if they could have dragged the match that Savage did out of Warrior at Mania that he did. It wasn't that only Savage knew how to work a guy like Warrior. It's just that he had a much better feel for pouring himself into any match he worked. Steamboat was surgical. Flair had panache, but it fit his character inasmuch that he was an elitist. Savage wrestled with heart, with emotion on top of wrestling with ability, bumping, selling and that sort of thing.

No matter what the reason, he was a guy you rooted for, and personally, he was a guy I rooted for. Whether he was in the right like when he was suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous accusation from Flair and Mr. Perfect regarding his wife Liz, or whether he was dead wrong when he want absolutely batshit bonkers in WCW, it didn't matter. He was the fucking Macho Man, and he ruled. And like I wrote in my Fair to Flair piece last night, he didn't linger around too long. When he was gone, he was gone, and he let us remember him for what he did that was great, not for trying to pass off a watered down version of himself as better than what he gave us in his salad days.

So with that in mind, with my heart heavy but my soul ever thankful for what that man gave to me as a fan, I say fare thee well, Macho Man. Thank you for making me love professional wrestling. Thank you for all the memories you gave me. Thank you for always giving it your all and being the best you could be whenever you stepped through that curtain. May you rest in peace, a peace you deserve, and may every single wrestling fan who has ever watched you or who ever will watch footage of what you've given us keep your spirit alive.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!