Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story

A few months ago, the WWE finally gave "Macho Man" Randy Savage the proper home video treatment in the form of a feature length documentary with the release of Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story (trailer). This is long overdue because of WWE's and Randy's rocky relationship since he left the company in 1994. Before this, the only other Randy Savage set WWE put out was 2009's Macho Madness DVD, which was simply a collection of matches. The two sides were starting what seemed like a gradual healing process with Savage doing a couple of promotional appearances shortly before his untimely death in 2011. Several weeks ago WWE finally announced that Randy Savage will be making his long awaited entry into WWE's Hall of Fame. So in anticipation of that event next month, now is as good as time as ever to review Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story.

I could rattle on forever about Macho Man's career, but I already wrote a tribute to him chronicling his career right after he passed for my old friends at Team Fremont/Robot Panic/Mojo Menace. For this entry, I want to focus on how WWE's biography portrayed the Macho Man and how much attention they gave/ignored for various parts of his career. The bio is quite fascinating because it is mostly a fitting tribute to him, but WWE does put a unique spin on certain aspects of his career worth going into.

There is a nice opening intro on Randy's childhood setting the stage with him being a second generation wrestler of Angelo Poffo, and his brother Lanny following in his footsteps as well. For those that did not know, Savage was an aspiring pro baseball player originally, and the documentary gives a decent amount of time interviewing childhood friends and teammates about his time playing baseball growing up and his years in class A minor league baseball. While covering his transition to wrestling I was surprised they dedicated a little time about his runs in CWF and Memphis that caught the attention of the WWE which helped landed him and Lanny jobs over there. Jerry Lawler helps shed some details of their rivalry, along with some brief clips from their headlining feud from the Memphis territory in the mid-80s.

WWE had an old interview with Savage they used in spurts throughout this feature from 1993 I had no idea existed until this documentary. He is in the full Macho Man get up, but is mostly talking out of character about his career through that point, which helps compliments the bio through his WWE days. A lot of time is given showcasing the vintage "Macho Man" look with his colorful and flamboyant outfits, but the WWE does it in a ostensibly disrespectful way. This biography claims that Savage had a smaller body compared to other WWE headliners and pointed out he had bigger ring entrance costumes to disguise that and the bio went further out of its way to point out Savage wrestled on his toes a lot to allegedly hide the fact he was a little shorter than the average main eventer. This whole segment should have been cut, as it comes off like WWE only desires ripped up body builders in the main event and that WWE feels ashamed that they let Randy have so much success much like they constantly point out Daniel Bryan's shortcomings with all the success he had in recent years. It was not like Savage wrestled with the ring gear on once the match started, and I felt it was always just a small part of the success of the flashy "Macho Man" character, the same way with the one-of-a-kind cadence on how he moved around the ring that made him stand out in a good way and not in a negative fashion like WWE wants you to believe here all these years later. This scene just felt slimy and bitter on WWE's part with WWE wanting to go out of their way to get a few potshots in at Randy so they got the last word in their tumultuous relationship.

Throughout the feature they also spend a lot of time about his relationship with his on air manager and then real life wife, Miss Elizabeth. Besides detailing the highs on how Elizabeth was a great part of "Macho Man" act and their main event wedding ceremony of Summerslam '91, it later goes into real life lows. We get insight from a few of their colleagues like Hulk Hogan and Ted DiBiase providing comments about how Randy was always extra protective of Elizabeth to a fault, and later going more in depth about how their marriage wounded up in a divorce. Time is also given to Liz's untimely death in 2003 when she was residing with Lex Luger, with Luger surprisingly on hand to provide some present day thoughts on Liz and Randy. This is all fact to the best of my knowledge of how Randy acted backstage, and pertinent info on Randy's life that warranted some attention. However, on a feature that is mostly about celebrating Randy's career I could not help that it felt a bit overkill on their behind-the-scenes drama, especially when compared to other failed relationships in wrestling history that got little to no attention in other wrestler's biographies WWE put out over the years.

Speaking of the WWE management, unlike most of their other biographies, no McMahons or Triple H are on hand to pay their respects to the Macho Man. This is understandable because of all the controversial rumors about what lead to Savage leaving the WWF, but part of me still wants to know what they would have said about Randy all these years later had they been interviewed.

The feature does give plenty of time profiling his rise through the ranks and his prolific run with the Intercontinental Championship, including his career defining match with Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III. Steamboat and other legends like Bret Hart are on hand here and provide emotional memories about that classic match still fresh to them all these years later. The feature proceeds to capture his other glorious highs of the 80s from winning his first WWF Championship at Wrestlemania IV, to the success of the rise and fall of the Mega Powers tag team with Hulk Hogan that climaxed with their unforgettable main event at Wrestlemania V. I like how the bio treats Randy's villainous turn as him reinventing himself as the "Macho King" and aligning himself with "Sensational" Sherri.

Also props to WWE for interviewing representatives from the company that manufactures the convenience store sensation meat snack, Slim Jim. Randy became synonymous with the beefy, spicy snack for their over-the-top "extreme" 90s advertising that was a perfect fit for the Macho Man character as he was their spokesperson in countless memorable ads for a majority of the 1990s. I lost track of how many of those damn tasteless things I ate because of how ridiculously awesome those ads were (yes Macho, higher education does have me down in the dumps!). It was good to see the Slim Jim reps had fond memories of Savage being a class act as they reminisced about him having no problem recording countless takes for their commercials and Savage going out of his way showing up to support their NASCAR team.

Unfortunately they decided not to give time to cover some of my other childhood favorite feuds of Randy with his great retirement match at Wrestlemania VII with the Ultimate Warrior and his second WWF Championship win against Ric Flair at Wrestlemania VIII. Instead, the bio jumps to him taking a backseat in his final WWF years as an announcer and use this as WWE's angle on what lead to him leaving the company at the end of 1994 and going to WCW. Randy's brother Lanny provides a few other reasons here with Randy brewing resentment with a tale on how the company disrespected his father a few years earlier, and the WWF denying him a rivalry with an up-and-coming Shawn Michaels that Randy pleaded for as his last big feud in the company as more reasons as why he left. Lanny goes on to say the 1996 "Billionair Ted" satire skits that poked fun at WCW by highlighting Hogan and Savage's old age and bald spots were the last straw that caused a big rift between Savage and the WWE. I honestly have no idea about the validity of the aforementioned controversial rumors, but hearing Lanny's side here and him going more into detail in another recent interview Lanny did with Wade Keller lead me to lean more to this all combining for why Randy left the company and the actual reasons there was a big grudge between the two parties for so long.

The biography kinds of glosses over Randy's five year tenure in WCW for the remainder of the 1990s. A bunch of assorted highlights are shown, but the only real parts of his WCW career that got some extra coverage was his big time grudge with Diamond Dallas Page in 1997, where DDP is on hand here to discuss how thankful he was for Savage helping him break out into the main even tier in WCW with this rivalry. Other than a brief nod to Savage's last WCW run with his "Team Madness" faction where he came out accompanied with three lovely ladies, there is not much at all about discussed about his WCW years which is unfortunate because he did have a bunch of other really good encounters and feuds there in his five years there.

The documentary then does a decent job running down his twighlight years after he retired from the business and did a ton of charity work and ended up marrying his old college girlfriend a year before his death. I really liked this portion of his documentary because not much was known about Savage post 2000 other than his awesome cameos in the movies Spider-Man, Ready to Rumble and Bolt, and him making a go of it in the music industry with a rap album. I would have appreciated a joking nod to Randy's film and music endeavors, but I will gladly take this scene focusing on him finding peace and love with his family instead. The main feature has no mention of his very brief run in TNA Wrestling in 2004, but in one of the BluRay exclusive interview snippets, Dusty Rhodes talks about how he was part of management during Randy's TNA stint and he mentions how Savage backed out of a PPV appearance at the last minute because he was ashamed of letting his look go and how he did not want to tarnish his legacy.

After the main feature, there is a collection of 15 matches spanning Savage's WWE and WCW years, with BluRay exclusives featuring an additional four matches and an extra half hour of bonus interview clips that did not make the final cut of the biography. WWE has been pretty good at trying to avoid repeat matches on DVDs when putting out multiple home videos on individual wrestlers, and I did not recognize a single repeat match when comparing this to the match listing in the Macho Madness DVD. This is both good and bad, because a lot of these are fresh match ups I never saw before on video, but the negative is that nearly all of Savage's most remembered bouts were already on the last DVD and a lot of these match ups either have crazy shenanigans taking away from the match or feature Savage in good matches, but coming out on the losing end. For example, you get to see Savage lose both his then-WWF Title and WCW Title to Ric Flair, and lots of early career Savage matches that have screwy finishes. There are still at least several really good bouts on here, with a really good street fight against Bad News Brown in 1989, a surprisingly good match against "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and another epic No DQ encounter in his classic feud against DDP.

I ended up rambling and going farther in depth about the documentary than I thought I would, but it was worth every word because of the notorious relationship between Savage and the WWE over the years. Even with a few pot shots that overstay their welcome that WWE could not resist, the documentary is a well made tribute to Savage's career for the most part. It feels a smidge short at just over 90 minutes as they could have covered many more parts of Savage's rivalries and outside-the-ring lifestyle and easily went two hours. I also was surprised they did not include a small smattering of some of the vintage Macho Man interviews as extra features like the last collection did. Those gripes aside, Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story is still a much welcomed and long overdue biography that is a must own for any Macho Man fan, especially with his very fast approaching WWE Hall of Fame induction.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestling Road Diaries Too

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