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Friday, May 20, 2011

Tribute: Randy Savage

I'm going to write about Randy Savage for a minute, so if you make fun of me for enjoying the world of wrestling, skip the snark for now. Some people that know me always ask "why do you like pro wrestling?", citing my distance from the norm of fans. there are many reasons. The dramatic entanglement of a fight, heightened by feats no average person could achieve. The trash talking and betrayals, the enigmatic nature of some, the boastful exclamations of others. But really, it always has to do with identifying someone you admire and see as who you are or who you want to be.
At the impressionable age of 9, I haphazardly I flipped through the multitude of new channels available to me and caught a glimpse of an American Indian warrior at night, shouting about winning battles and then hearing a call. This was a man named Tatanka. It interested me enough recognizing this as a thing called " pro wrestling." I had seen a segment a year previous involving a guy kicking another guy through a window (later learning this to be the break up of The Rockers, and Shawn Michaels being the "kicker") , and decided to watch the rest. I saw someone I identified with shortly afterwards. His name was Bret Hart. His words before a match were simple, and he had a humbling nature, despite claiming he was the best there is, best there was, and the best there ever will be. This, even as a child, seemed like something I would do. Say I was "great", all the while not believing it and wanting people to respect the feigned confidence. But he expertly defeated an opponent. I though much of him. But then I saw something else, clips from an already completed event called Wrestlemania VII. Some fun stuff, even recognizing Sgt. Slaughter from G.I. Joe, but here as a bad guy. Then I saw segments of an emotional match and conclusion from a small but flashy individual. His name was Macho Man Randy Savage.
I begged my mother to go to a video store, as the commercial had said the event was on tape, and rent this Wrestlemania. I was dazzled by a tag team match by Bret Hart. But wrapped up in the "final" match of this Macho Man. Never before or since, has a competitor so deftly pulled so much in one match. He was easily one of the best wrestlers of all time. So much charisma, even people that hate wrestling have to respect him for his work outside of wrestling. His costumes were brilliant, his "promos" so perfect and unique. He became the standard for what people think of as a wrestler. As popular as Hulk Hogan was, Macho Man was the absolute bar. His match with the Ultimate Warrior hid how bad of a showman he was, and made both men look amazing. The unaffected amount of elbow drops, the seamless movement. And of course, the real life and fictional love of his life, Miss Elizabeth. It was a true romance all fans of wrestling care about. So genuine, so true, that even young boys getting sick by the mere mention of girl, were caught up. Ever since, the angle of romance in wrestling has been attempted, but never successful. Because it could never be as honest as those two were. It was never stale, and there was always something in the way of their love. Another wrestler, retirement, distrust, championships. It was amazing. And made me WANT to be Macho Man. I try, even now, to emulate his presence, charisma, and capacity for love. Being a man's man, but not afraid of shoeing his tenderness. He never treated Elzabeth horrible in the stories. More angry at the situations involved. No wrestler could ever have that impact, he was the very definition of unique. I even learned his was from the very places I now live, and had a great life before wrestling even.
He is gone. I feel as though if I had a flag representing my life, it would be a half mast today. I still want to be him. No fear of fashion, his outfits would attest. No fear of gravity, his feats would attest. No fear of humility, his comedy appearances would attest. No fear of showing love, as the above explanation would attest. The list of accomplishments is innumerable. Greatest match of all time is almost universally regard as his match against Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat. The match that changed wrestling, comparable to the first time people saw The Beatles, changing music forever. The first time people saw "Star Wars," changing movie forever. The first time we saw the moon landing. I understand, it is extreme to call these similar events, it's impact on the culture at large. But to those whose lives were changed, that is how they felt. That is what I'm trying to get across. Nirvana, The Simpsons, the Theory of Relativity. Cornerstones of culture. Things we universally can see the change before and after. The apex of a certain thing. The movement to a new era. I make these outlandish comparisons to emphasize his importance in his field. Know that.
What else did he do? Slim Jim commercials, beloved by all. Spider-Man. We all remember, he was perfect. Space Ghost Coast to Coast, as Leonard Ghostal, Rad's Badass Gandfather. We all know him. We all regard his accomplishments in the highest. He had bad times, but let those wash away for now. We will remember everything great he did. His impact on me, cemented for the rest of my life. Randy Poffo, the man that changed wrestling forever.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Macho Man was awesome. Too much to say, not enough words. A true legend, not one of these "legends" in the sense of the word that gets passed around all the time these days.

    Macho was one of the few wrestlers to ever really get some soul redemption inside the squared circle and so he goes out not as a tragedy, but as a fire so hot that it eventually had to burn out.