In this special tribute to the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who passed away three years ago this month, some PTBN staff members got together to share their memories of where they were when they heard the news of his passing. Also, Stephen Sutton put together a nice biography on Savage’s career as well. Rest in Peace, Macho. You are gone, but will never be forgotten. Oh yeah!
Scott Criscuolo: I was sitting at my desk on a lazy, boring Friday when Justin texted me that the Macho Man was in a car accident. There was no indication at the time that he had died until shortly afterwards. I pretty much was stunned. This was a legend of the business that reaches over all aspects of pop culture. What made it more shocking and sad was that there was never closure with WWE. Vince McMahon had a problem and we will never know what it was. That will still haunt every WWE fan for life. I was glad his wife was not killed as well in the accident, but it was caused when his heart simply gave out. I just went to YouTube and started watching random Macho Man matches and promos. I just wanted to go back to my childhood and when he was at the top of his game. It was also very early in the history of the Place to Be Podcast and it gave my PIC and I a chance to show our fandom and gather other fans together to reflect on a great wrestling career. I know after three years we all still miss him.
Jason Greenhouse: I was at work and my girlfriend at the time texted me around 11am asking me if I had, “heard the news”. I replied, “What are you talking about?” Her next text to me were words that I was never expecting: “Randy Savage died in a car accident.” Soon after that, Savage was trending all over social media and reality kicked in. One of my biggest childhood heroes was gone.
Throughout the next hour or so, a few co-workers who knew I was a wrestling fan asked me if I heard about Randy. Even those who didn’t follow the product at that time knew who Randy was. This wasn’t just another “dead wrestler”. This was the loss of a man who was a part of pop culture. There was a TV in the break room area at my job. When I went to go eat lunch, ESPN was on and Randy’s passing was Breaking News on the bottom line.
That afternoon, my brother and friends text me talking about what occurred that day. The last time the passing of a wrestler hit me this hard was when Eddie Guerrero died in November of 2005. Later that night, I watched the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Randy “Macho Man” Savage, his retirement match against the Ultimate Warrior from WrestleMania VII. That match is my favorite WrestleMania match of all time to this day. Randy and Warrior tell the perfect story in the ring as do Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan on commentary. Randy and Liz in the ring alone at the end of the match is such an incredible moment.
Friday, May 20, 2011 is one of those days that I will always remember. Where I was, what I was doing and how I felt when I heard that “Macho Man” Randy Savage was no longer with us.
Joel Barnhart: When I heard the news three years ago about the passing of Randy Savage, I was in the midst of a transition. I was wrapping up 2 ½ years of overseas teaching in Pohang, South Korea. I’d been there for a while, teaching English to a variety of students, ranging in age from two years old to teenagers. It was a tremendous experience, but I was tired of being so far away from everyone and everything back home, so in the early winter of 2011, I had decided it was time to return to the U.S.
Oddly enough, living in South Korea is what rekindled a dwindling passion in wrestling for me. As you can imagine, when I first arrived, I was not familiar with the customs, culture, or entertainments. So, sometimes, I stayed in. Especially when I first arrived, sick as a dog, in December of 2008. During my first few weeks, I discovered that WWE programming was broadcast on Korean TV. Even better: all of the pay-per-views were broadcast for free, albeit two or three weeks behind their stateside air dates. No matter, I could avoid spoilers easily enough. Finding out that my students watched wrestling was a boon to me as well, as it gave me a way to connect with them. An entire group of adolescent Korean boys booed me nearly out of the room when they discovered my favorites included the (then) dastardly Chris Jericho and CM Punk.
Anyway, that revitalized the joy I’d found when I first began watching wrestling. The death of Savage sucked a lot of that away. It hit like bricks. Despite not growing up a WWF/E kid, I still watched plenty of “Macho Man” at my grandfather’s home while on vacations, and later, I came to know him during his WCW run. Once the internet became part of my worldview, I sought out more and more of Savage, becoming a bigger fan with each match.
The day he died, I was packing my bags, preparing for a five hour bus ride to the airport that evening, followed by a 25 hours of layovers, transfers, and flights back home. I remember sitting on the first flight — Seoul to Tokyo — listening to a podcast that eulogized Savage very well, albeit somberly. Since getting back home, I do not consider myself much of a wrestling “fan” anymore. I barely watch the current product. I subscribe to the WWE Network, buys comps online, spend hours on YouTube, and read countless articles about it, but I’m not a “fan.” Savage’s death, more than others, made me want to see what I’d been missing out on, from days long since gone. Days before I’d heard of wrestling. Days before I was even a thought in this world.
So, no, the death of Randy Savage, the “Macho Man, Yeahhh!” did not make me a “fan” of wrestling. It made me a historian instead. In the last three years, I’ve enjoyed so much new/old wrestling because of how much Savage’s death opened my eyes up to all of the greats of the past. The guys I either just missed out on by a year or two, and the ones I missed entirely by a lifetime. It’s a pretty great ride. Dig it!
Steve Wille: I don’t remember exactly where I was when I learned about the Macho Man’s death, but I recall finding it while scrolling through Facebook. As a child, I always preferred Savage over Hulk Hogan. I clearly recall seeing him for the first time on television while at a friend’s house. He was depicted as a star on one of the syndicated programs, forgoing the services of the managers of the time in favor of his girl, Elizabeth.
In fifth grade, the first wrestling shirt I ever purchased was the now unforgettable lilac “Macho Man” t-shirt. My first wrestling poster: Savage, adorn in a silver sparkling cape, balancing on the top rope. Savage’s passing probably affected me emotionally more than any wrestling-related death since the Benoit tragedy. Even my mother, not one with her pulse on the wrestling world, called when she heard the news on television. The manner in which he passed, struck down by a massive heart attack followed by a gruesome car crash, was surprising in itself. I had always pictured that whatever pointless disagreement that he had with Vince McMahon in the past would eventually be put behind them, and Savage would return as an ambassador for the WWE. It’s possible that Savage’s death made McMahon realize that he needed to make peace with others in his life, like the Warrior, before it was too late for them as well.
Todd Weber: I first heard the news about Macho Man Randy Savage while checking in with my friends at the Livejournal Blog of Doom. I remember getting pretty bummed at the time, but sharing stories with my internet buddies helped. I binge-watched my Macho Man DVD box set over the next few days.
In high school (I was class of ’89) Macho Man was my absolute favorite. WrestleMania IV had occurred the Sunday before my junior prom, and I was pumped that Savage was the new face of the company. I hated his heel turn as the Mega Powers exploded – I felt Hogan was in the wrong and that Macho Man should’ve been perceived as the good guy.
I only wish that Savage had received a Hall of Fame induction before he left us. Seeing Warrior recently make peace with the company and be formally recognized as an official all-timer brought him peace and satisfaction before he passed, and it would’ve been an amazing moment for Macho Man as well.