An icon of the 1980s and 1990s, Randy Savage boasted a distinctive catchphrase and an exuberant persona. Yet, he wrestled with personal demons, jealousy, and paranoia, often overshadowed by other legendary pro wrestlers. Nevertheless, Savage was extraordinary, an enigma in life and adored after death, standing out among a sea of talented peers.
Real Name: Randy Poffo
Stats: 6′ 2″ 237 lbs.
Born: November 15, 1952
Born as Randy Mario Poffo in Columbus, Ohio, on November 15, 1952, he was the eldest son of Judy and Angelo Poffo, the latter a renowned professional wrestler. The couple met at DePaul University, and Angelo, after a baseball career setback, found success in wrestling during the 1950s and 1960s. He also gained fame for his record-breaking sit-ups, featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Randy’s younger brother, Lanny, would also become a pro wrestler. As a wrestler’s family, the Poffos frequently relocated, living in Ohio, Illinois, New York, and eventually, Kentucky. Randy excelled in sports and academics in high school, earning a National Honor Society membership.
Despite receiving a scholarship offer from Arizona State University, Randy chose to enter the Major League Baseball draft. Disappointed when undrafted, he graduated from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale in 1971. Post-college, Randy pursued baseball and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. As a two-time All-State catcher in high school, he joined the Gulf Coast League’s Sarasota Cardinals, hitting .286 in his rookie year. His performance improved the following year, earning a spot on the GCL All-Star team.
In 1973, Randy hit .344 in 25 games as a designated hitter for the Sarasota Red Birds. However, his batting average dropped to .250 upon promotion to Class-A ball with Orangeburg of the Western Carolinas League. Moving to Florida in 1974 to play for the Cincinnati Reds affiliate, his performance declined, with a .232 batting average, nine home runs, and 66 RBIs. After being released by the Reds, he tried out for the Chicago White Sox Class-A affiliate but failed to secure a position. He switched to left-handed throwing and first base due to a shoulder injury. Randy concluded his minor league career with 289 games across four seasons, a .254 batting average, 16 home runs, and 129 RBIs.
The transition from baseball to wrestling wasn’t just a career change; it was a return to familial roots. In the mid-1970s, Savage began training under his father’s guidance, learning the ropes of the sport that would eventually make him a global superstar. He started his wrestling career in 1973, wrestling under his real name in several territories, including the NWA. His early years in the ring were characterized by an evolving persona and a style that was beginning to show glimpses of the “Macho Man” character that would later captivate the world. It was during these formative years that Savage honed his skills, developed his character, and began making a name for himself. He wrestled in various territories, including International Championship Wrestling (ICW), where he and his brother Lanny Poffo, known as “Leaping Lanny,” wrestled as the Poffo brothers. These early years were critical in laying the foundation for Savage’s rise to fame, setting the stage for his emergence as one of the most charismatic and dynamic personalities in professional wrestling history.
Savage introduced a distinctive persona to the ring. John Pantozzi described him as someone who “seemed to have captured a rainbow and wore it for all to witness.” His extravagant style extended from his vivid, personalized capes and fringed wrestling tights to his oversized sunglasses, raspy voice, and deliberate speech. Savage commanded attention, appearing on the verge of attacking audience members at times. His overprotectiveness towards Elizabeth was a recurring theme in his storylines, with some feeling it bordered on dangerous obsession. Combined with his rapid, aggressive wrestling technique, Savage quickly became a top prospect in the industry.
His talents were soon recognized by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Promoted as wrestling’s top free agent, Savage joined the WWF, announcing Miss Elizabeth as his new manager amidst much excitement. The gentle and reserved Elizabeth served as a stark contrast to the explosive, suspicious Savage. In his WWF pay-per-view debut, Savage fought his way through a 16-man battle royal before ultimately losing to the Junkyard Dog. He then feuded with Tito Santana over the Intercontinental Title (IC) belt, which he won on February 24, 1986, at the Boston Gardens arena. The IC title often led to a challenge for the WWF Heavyweight belt, and Savage faced off against champion Hulk Hogan in several matches. Although he defeated Hogan on multiple occasions via count-out, Savage could not claim the belt due to count-out rules.
Savage then entered into a dream feud against veteran wrestler George “the Animal” Steele, who had developed feelings for Elizabeth and intervened when Savage mistreated her. They competed for the IC title at Wrestlemania II in a cage match in Uniondale, New York. Though Steele withstood Savage’s signature elbow drop, Randy secured a roll-up pinfall using the ropes for extra leverage.
Savage’s rivalry with Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat came next, with both skilled athletes offering a refreshing contrast to the slower-paced matches typical of the WWF. The feud escalated when Savage attacked Steamboat during a fan meet-and-greet, crushing his throat. The storyline continued for months, culminating in a highly anticipated match at Wrestlemania III, which many would hail as the WWF’s greatest.
Savage was known for meticulously planning his matches, a trait attributed to his perfectionism and desire for flawless execution. Announcer Gene Okerlund recalled, “Savage was obsessed with things being absolutely perfect and tight in his matches.” Lanny explained that Randy believed in sports and entertainment, striving to prove himself the greatest athlete ever. This dedication to excellence contributed to his memorable performances on the Wrestlemania stage.
Behind the scenes, Savage and Steamboat meticulously orchestrated their match, and the three-month-long vignettes illustrating Steamboat’s injuries whipped fans into a frenzy. As Dave Hebner refereed and both wrestlers entered the Pontiac Silverdome, the crowd erupted with excitement. In the ring, Steamboat quickly sought retribution, choking Savage with a Hangman maneuver. The match was a nail-biter, featuring 22 near falls. The audience went wild when Savage grounded Steamboat after a disoriented Hebner took a hit. Savage seized the ring bell, climbed onto the turnbuckle, and prepared to repeat his earlier assault on the Dragon’s throat, only to be thwarted by Steele. Injured, Savage attempted a bodyslam, but Steamboat countered with a roll-up and secured a pinfall. The crowd went wild as Hebner handed Steamboat the belt, and he and Steele exited to applause. Savage remained in the ring, defeated and humbled, with a distraught Elizabeth by his side, knowing he had just delivered the performance of a lifetime. Many fans consider the Wrestlemania match the greatest in WWF history, and it was named 1987’s Match of the Year by both the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and Pro Wrestling Illustrated. However, as Lanny later revealed, the match became an unattainable benchmark for Savage, haunting him in the years to come.
Despite his villainous persona, Savage’s in-ring prowess and electrifying promos attracted fans in droves. As his popularity soared, he found more fans cheering than jeering. After winning the King of the Ring on September 4, 1987, Savage softened his treatment of Elizabeth and his antagonism towards fans, propelling him towards another shot at the IC belt, now held by Honkytonk Man. During their October 3, 1987, match on Saturday Night’s Main Event, the Hart Foundation interrupted, leading to Honkytonk smashing a guitar over Savage’s head. Elizabeth fetched help, returning with Hulk Hogan. Hogan entered the ring, and after a tense standoff, Savage extended his hand, forming the Mega Powers.
Over the next few months, Savage and Honkytonk faced off in various matches, with Savage chasing Honkytonk’s Intercontinental belt as a stepping stone to the WWF championship. Behind the scenes, however, Honkytonk refused to relinquish the belt to Savage, arguing that his own momentum was too strong and that Savage didn’t need the belt to be a legitimate contender for the WWF World title. Consequently, their feud concluded with a series of cage matches between Savage’s team and Honkytonk’s team. Though he failed to capture the IC title, Savage had bigger goals on the horizon.
On February 5, 1988, WWF’s “The Main Event” occurred at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana. The show featured a rematch between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant from their iconic Wrestlemania III fight. Andre controversially won due to referee Earl Hebner, who posed as his twin brother Dave and wrongfully delivered a three-count pinfall. Andre then gifted the title to Ted Dibiase, the Million Dollar Man. However, the title was ultimately vacated since it could only change hands via pinfall or submission. Consequently, a 14-man tournament was scheduled for Wrestlemania IV to determine the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion.
Macho Man, a tournament favorite, reached the finals against Ted Dibiase after defeating Butch Reed, Greg Valentine, and the One Man Gang. With Hogan at ringside to prevent interference, Savage pinned Dibiase and won the title after Hogan attacked Dibiase with a chair. Savage, Hogan and Miss Elizabeth celebrated their victory, reuniting the Mega Powers.
Over the next 371 days, Savage defended his world title against formidable opponents like One Man Gang, Big Boss Man, and André the Giant. He enjoyed even more popularity as part of the Mega Powers alongside Hogan, with the duo winning matches at the first Summer Slam event and the 1988 Survivors Series.
Outside the ring, Savage and Hogan develop a friendship, and Elizabeth becomes close with Hogan’s wife, Linda. However, tensions rose when Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage from a Royal Rumble match on January 15, 1989, leading to an in-ring fight. Five weeks later, during the Main Event II, Elizabeth was injured, and Hogan carried her away, leaving Savage feeling betrayed. Savage accused Hogan of trying to steal Elizabeth, setting the stage for a title defense against Hogan at Wrestlemania V. Despite being hospitalized for an elbow infection, Savage competed for 17 minutes before being pinned by Hogan.
Without the championship belt and Miss Elizabeth, who remained with Hogan, Savage replaced her with Sensational Sherri Martel. Over the next few months, Savage and Hogan continued to face off, with Hogan often teaming up with Brutus Beefcake against Savage and Tiny “Zeus” Lister. After winning the 1989 King of the Ring tournament by pinning Jim Duggan, Savage declared himself the “Macho King.” During his coronation, he received a scepter from Ted Dibiase and was accompanied by his brother Lanny, now known as “The Genius.” Savage faced Hogan once more for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship but lost due to a controversial pinfall.
Over the next year, Savage competed against Dusty Rhodes and the Ultimate Warrior. At Wrestlemania VII, he faced Warrior in a retirement match. After losing, Sherri attacked Savage, but Elizabeth, watching from the audience, chased her off, reuniting the couple and turning Savage into a fan favorite again. Despite the retirement stipulation, Savage wrestled a few more matches, with his last match on April 1, 1991, in Kobe, Japan.
Retired from wrestling, Savage worked as a color commentator for WWF broadcasts. The WWF continued to showcase his relationship with Elizabeth, culminating in their on-screen wedding at SummerSlam 1991. However, the couple’s reception was marred by Jake “the Snake” Roberts, who had hidden a live snake in one of their gifts.
On an October 21, 1991 broadcast of WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Roberts taunted Savage, provoking him to enter the ring. Roberts then attacked Savage and forced a live King Cobra to bite his arm. Despite being de-venomized, the snake wouldn’t release Savage’s arm, and Savage later experienced a fever that sent him to the hospital. After this incident, Savage was reinstated and faced Roberts in a series of matches until February 1992.
Randy then focused on WWF champion Ric Flair, who had claimed to have had an intimate relationship with Elizabeth and shared doctored photos of them together. WWF Magazine later exposed the photos as fake, showing the original images of Elizabeth and Savage with Flair’s substitution.
Savage and Flair feuded over Elizabeth’s honor, leading to Savage winning the championship at Wrestlemania VIII on April 5, 1992. However, behind the scenes, Savage and Elizabeth’s marriage was crumbling despite their on-screen portrayal of a strong relationship. Savage was known to be overly jealous and protective of Elizabeth backstage, often demanding other wrestlers stay away from her. The couple eventually divorced on September 18, 1992, with Elizabeth’s final WWF appearance on April 19, 1992. Savage’s issues with Hulk Hogan, whom he blamed for contributing to his marital problems, led to a long-standing grudge.
In 1993, Savage’s popularity earned him a spokesman role for Slim Jim beef jerky products, promoting the brand with the catchphrase, “Need a little excitement? Snap into a Slim Jim!” He continued as their spokesman until 2000.
Savage defended his World title against the Ultimate Warrior and others before losing it back to Flair in September, partly due to interference from Razor Ramon. Over the next two years, he competed in singles and tag matches against top wrestlers and was a color commentator for Monday Night Raw and PPV events. Savage remained in these roles until his WWF contract expired in November 1994.
Although Vince McMahon believed that Randy Savage’s time as an in-ring competitor had passed, Savage felt he still had much to achieve. As 1994 came to an end, Savage’s WWF career concluded, and he debuted in World Championship Wrestling on December 3, 1994. Initially hinting at a possible continuation of his feud with Hulk Hogan, Savage instead aided Hogan at Starrcade ’94, establishing himself as a babyface in WCW.
Savage’s first major WCW feud was against former WWF rival Ric Flair, headlining television and pay-per-view events throughout 1995. On November 26, 1995, Savage won his first WCW World Heavyweight title at World War 3, but lost it to Flair the following month. Savage regained the title in January 1996, only to lose it once more to Flair in February. Their rivalry continued until the summer 1996, when the New World Order (NWO) emerged.
As a key figure in the match that launched the NWO, Savage teamed with Sting to face The Outsiders. Following Hogan’s shocking heel-turn, Savage joined forces with Sting, Lex Luger, D.D.P., and others to defend WCW against the NWO. However, after failing to negotiate a new contract, Savage briefly left WCW before making a surprise return in January 1997.
Upon returning, Savage felt blackballed by WCW and sought out Sting. WCW President Eric Bischoff told Savage he could only return as an NWO member, which Savage did at SuperBrawl VII. Reuniting with Miss Elizabeth, Savage feuded with Diamond Dallas Page and his wife Kimberly before targeting former ally Sting, who now held the WCW title. At Spring Stampede 1988, Savage defeated Sting for the championship, despite interference from Hulk Hogan and a torn ACL during the match.
With Kevin Nash’s help, Savage caused a rift in the NWO, leading to the formation of NWO Wolfpac. Savage then feuded with Bret Hart and Roddy Piper but disappeared midway through the year for knee surgery.
As the late 1990s approached, the landscape of WCW began to shift. The emergence of the New World Order (nWo) storyline saw Savage playing a pivotal role, alternating between adversary and ally. His character’s evolution during this period was a testament to his versatility and ability to adapt to the changing dynamics of the industry. However, it also marked the beginning of the end of his active in-ring career.
Injuries, a common plight among professional wrestlers, marred Savage’s final years in WCW. His high-impact wrestling style had taken a toll on his body, leading to sporadic appearances and a reduced in-ring schedule. Additionally, the arrival of new, younger talent shifted the focus away from the veterans who had once dominated the scene.
Randy Savage’s last official match in WCW occurred in 2000, signaling the end of his full-time wrestling career. While he didn’t retire officially at this point, this match represented the final chapter of his active in-ring story in WCW. Though not his most memorable, the match closed the WCW chapter of a career that had spanned over two decades.
After WCW, Savage made occasional appearances in other promotions, but his time in WCW was the final significant period of his wrestling career. One of Savage’s most memorable post-wrestling ventures was his foray into acting. He lent his distinctive raspy voice to the character of “Bonesaw McGraw” in the 2002 blockbuster “Spider-Man,” directed by Sam Raimi. His performance, though brief, was a hit with fans, blending his wrestling charisma with his natural flair for entertainment. Savage also appeared in several TV shows and movies, showcasing his versatility as an entertainer beyond the wrestling ring.
Savage’s unique voice became his ticket to the world of animated entertainment. He provided voiceovers for various animated projects, most notably the character of “The Thug” in Disney’s “Bolt.” His ability to infuse animated characters with his distinct machismo and energy was a testament to his creative talents and adaptability as an artist.
Leveraging his fame and recognizable persona, Savage became a popular choice for brand endorsements. One of his most famous post-wrestling roles was as the spokesperson for Slim Jim Snack Foods. His energetic and over-the-top commercials for Slim Jim became iconic in the 90s, with his catchphrase “Snap into a Slim Jim, oh yeah!” resonating with audiences and becoming a cultural reference point.
Surprisingly, Savage explored his musical talents by releasing a rap album titled “Be a Man” in 2003. The album featured a mix of wrestling-themed songs and personal tracks, including the titular song “Be a Man,” a diss track aimed at fellow wrestler Hulk Hogan. While the album received mixed reviews, it showcased Savage’s willingness to experiment and his passion for entertaining in all forms.
Outside of the entertainment industry, Savage was known for his philanthropic efforts. He was involved in various charity events and activities, often using his fame to raise awareness and funds for causes he believed in.
The most famous relationship in Savage’s life was with Elizabeth Hulette, better known as Miss Elizabeth. Their on-screen partnership in the WWF was one of the most iconic and beloved storylines in wrestling history. Their chemistry was palpable, with Miss Elizabeth’s poised and graceful demeanor perfectly complementing Savage’s over-the-top machismo. Behind the scenes, however, the couple had more than just a business relationship. The two had met at a gym in Lexington, Kentucky in 1982 and were married in 1984. Unfortunately, Randy’s jealousy and overprotectiveness were too much for Elizabeth and she divorced him in 1992. However, they would continue to work together, including in WCW as members of the NWO.
While in WCW, Savage dated Stephanie Bellars, who worked under Gorgeous Geroge and as part of the Team Madness stable. In 2010, Savage married Lynn Payne a woman he had dated before his relationship with Miss Elizabeth. His marriage to Lynn settled him and he enjoyed his life away from the carnival atmosphere in professional wrestling. The couple retired to their home in Seminole, Florida.
Randy Savage passed away in 2011, but his impact on professional wrestling remains. His charisma, intensity, and unique style set a standard in the industry. In WCW, he was not just a performer but an innovator, a legend, and an icon whose influence extended well beyond his years in the ring.
As fans reminisce about the “Macho Man’s” glory days, it’s clear that his spirit and contributions to professional wrestling will never be forgotten. Randy Savage’s career in WCW was the final act of a magnificent play, leaving behind a legacy that will forever echo in the annals of wrestling history.
Randy Savage passed On the morning of May 20, 2011., He was driving his Jeep Wrangler near his home in Seminole,with his wife in the passenger seat when he became unresponsive and crashed into a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene at the age of 58. His autopsy indicated that he had an enlarged heart and advanced coronary artery disease, which had resulted in a sudden heart attack. The cause of death was officially ruled as atherosclerotic heart disease. His wife suffered only minor injuries in the accident. He was cremated five days later, and his ashes were placed under a favorite tree on his property in Largo, Florida.
In the pantheon of professional wrestling, Randy “Macho Man” Savage is a figure of immense stature, his legacy a rich tapestry of unforgettable moments, groundbreaking achievements, and an indelible influence on the sport. Born Randall Mario Poffo, Savage’s career spanned over three decades, marked by his unmistakable voice, flamboyant attire, and an in-ring prowess that captivated audiences worldwide. His iconic bouts, notably against Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III and his intense rivalry with Hulk Hogan, are etched in wrestling lore, showcasing his exceptional talent and charisma. Beyond his athletic feats, Savage’s persona, a perfect blend of intensity and showmanship, redefined what it meant to be a sports entertainer. His impact extended beyond the ring, as he became a cultural icon, recognized even by those distant from wrestling. His “Oh yeah!” catchphrase and Slim Jim commercials transcended the sport, making him a household name. Savage’s untimely passing in 2011 was a profound loss to the wrestling world, but his influence endured, inspiring new generations of wrestlers. His induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 was a fitting tribute to a man who was, in many ways, the embodiment of professional wrestling’s spirit and spectacle. The “Macho Man” Randy Savage remains, for many, the heart and soul of an era, his legacy forever a part of wrestling’s grand history.