“Macho Man” Randy Savage died yesterday. That’s both weird to say out loud and it’s even surreal just to type it out.
I grew up watching him ply his trade in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and then in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He was one of the most incredible performers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.
I know, I know; already, I can hear the moaning. “This is an MMA website. If I wanted to read about pro wrestling, I would go to a pro wrestling website.“
Sorry, but it’s happening.
Where do you think the design and name for this feature came from? Besides being a crafty little play on words (which, if you haven’t noticed by now, is highly beloved by our fair leaders Tom and Jesse), it’s an homage to my younger days of being a pro wrestling fan. Saturday Night’s Main Event used to be a big deal.
Randy Savage was a big reason for that. ESPN Research noted that a Nov. 3, 1987 show that featured Savage and Hulk Hogan forming the “Mega Powers” (stop acting like you don’t remember) did a 9.7 rating.
Not that it matters but for comparisons sake, the highest rated episode in the history of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) couldn’t even do half that. TUF 10 episode three, featuring the Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson fight, did a 3.7.
What made Savage so great? Too many incredible attributes to list off. He was as charismatic as he was athletic, as gifted as he was talented and as captivating as he was amazing.
I can’t come up with enough flattering descriptive words for him. He didn’t quite transcend the world of pro wrestling like Hulk Hogan or The Rock did, but that’s part of what was so amazing about the outpouring after his death.
His impact was felt long and wide by such a wide variety of people. It was unbelievable to see Twitter light up with various well wishes and R.I.P. messages.
It makes me wonder if mixed martial arts has someone like that.
First of all, you should head on over to my old stomping grounds at Cageside Seats to check out a bunch of great coverage of Randy Savage. That’s the resident SB Nation pro wrestling site, so hit it up to see a lot more comprehensive coverage on him than what you’ll get here.
That said, who didn’t love the “Macho Man?”
There’s no way you don’t remember his astonishing Slim Jim commercials (SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM, OOOOOHHHHHH YYYYYEEAAAHHH!!!).
It was hard not to be captivated by his presence. He had such a unique way of presenting himself, not just because of his always flamboyant attire ( and who could pull that off like Macho?) but also because of his voice and the way in which he delivered his powerful words.
Alternating between a scream and a whisper, with that deep gravelly delivery, it was impossible not to hang on his every word. Savage was funny when he wanted to be, but he could also show a mean streak that could not be matched.
All of this, combined with the exposure he received due to WWF’s extreme popularity at the time, served to establish his place in the hearts of many a fan, both young and old.
I was astonished when I looked at my timeline on Twitter to see the reaction from just plain old regular every day folks to former and current professional wrestlers (some of which were quick to exploit his death, cough Hogan cough) to MMA fighters to MMA media to sports personalities … you get the picture.
Michelle Beadle, an ESPN personality and the host of SportsNation, tweeted the following:
Just to remember one of the baddest: http://tinyurl.com/ywfdze. Macho Man.
Her link goes to a video of “Macho Man’s” appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show. He appeared next to Morgan Fairchild and it is, without a doubt, one of the greatest showings by any entertainer I’ve ever seen on a talk show.
Take notes, MMA fighters, this is how it’s done.
The first exchange they have is absolutely legendary in Savage’s response:
Hall: Why are you the “Macho Man?” There are a lot of big guys; what makes you any more macho than the next big guy?
Savage: One thing in particular but everything in general, yeah!
Money. That answer is just money.
I don’t even need to point out the one thing in particular (the WWF championship around his waist) for that response to be perfect.
I’ll tie this in to MMA by simply asking — why don’t we have more fighters that take a page out of this book?
Now, before anyone gets wadded up with what I mean about that, I’m not advocating for fighters to start “acting” or to start becoming something they are not. I do not think that would be a great idea if for nothing else, the fact that most fighters are probably terrible actors.
What I mean to say is, why can’t someone like, say, Jon Fitch tap more into his natural personality and let it shine through? Or maybe even just turn it up a few notches?
Those have been the most successful pro wrestling characters. The Randy Savage you see in that video is extremely close to the actual man himself, Randall Poffo. Remember “Stone Cold” Steve Austin? When he played a character in the beginning stages of his WWF run, “The Ringmaster,” he was terrible.
Everyone hated his schtick because it was both lame and he was clearly uncomfortable in the role of representing a man that he is not.
So he turned into “The Rattlesnake,” a puffed up version of himself, a self-professed redneck that loved to drink beer and give the middle finger to his bossman (which I would never do, Tom, I promise).
Is he playing a character at that point? No, he’s just being himself with the volume turned all the way up. Randy Savage did this, as well, and they were both masters at perfecting their craft this way.
If a few fighters did this, it would probably do wonders for their careers. It would make them more interesting to us. Sure, it might also backfire and showcase a side of them that no one wants to see, but hell, take a chance. One thing no one wants to watch is paint dry and that’s a problem afflicting a few guys in the world of MMA.
Let yourself shine through, boys.
Which brings me back to my question of whether or not there are any fighters from both today or yesterday that would cause such a ripple through the world if they were to pass away. Do we have that in our sport?
Would Georges St. Pierre get that kind of reaction tomorrow if he was to die (good god, I hope that doesn’t happen)? Maybe. But would it come from such a diverse crowd as it did for Savage? No way.
Of course, that’s okay. I’m not at all saying MMA fighters should try to appeal to a wider audience just so they can have a wider variety of folks mourning their death when it inevitably occurs.
I’m just saying, Randy Savage is a glowing example of how far you can get if you just let yourself go and have some fun with what you’re doing.
You want people to remember you when you die? You want your memory to live on like the “Macho Man’s” will?
Get out there and make it happen. Shine on through.
Here’s a couple more videos, courtesy of the folks at CSS that did some digging up, to see the brilliance of Randy Savage. And, one last time, goodbye “Macho Man.” You were one of the greatest.