Randy Savage, R.I.P.

Slate's Culture Blog
May 23 2011 4:07 PM

Randy Savage, R.I.P.

Last Friday, I stared blankly at my computer screen as theemail condolences poured in. "I'm sorry for your loss. Macho Man will live onin our hearts and in our Slim Jims," a friend wrote in jest.

It was no joke to me, though, nor to the legions of 20- and 30-somethings whogrew up with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE, for "entertainment"). Itwas unsettling to learn that one of my childhood heroes, Randy "Macho Man"Savage, had perished-in a car wreck no less. He had once seemed so invincibleto me.

The Macho Man (real name Randy Poffo) was a leader during the greatestgeneration of professional wrestling, an era in which wrestlers became realsuperheroes, packaged with in-depth mythologies, larger-than-life skills in thering and on the mic, and, most notably, enormous muscles tearing out ofbrightly colored costumes. A ten-time world champion, the Macho Man's colorfulpersona, arsenal of slams and suplexes, and signature flying elbow drop madehim compelling to watch as both a hero and as a villain.

Advertisement

Over the weekend, I watched a bunch of Savage's interviewsand matches on YouTube to see if they held up to my childhood memories. Theydid. His WrestleMania5 world title match against Hulk Hogan in 1989 displays his prowess as ahigh flying heavyweight, a rarity during his heyday. His insane though highly entertaining interviews gotme excited all over again for his greatest matches, against Ricky the Dragon Steamboat and Ric Flair (In this interview he riffs, somewhatnonsensically, "Sugar is sweet and so is honey. Macho Madness can't be stopped.")With the exception of Flair, Hogan, the Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, noone has ever worked both the mic and the mat like the Macho Man.

After sporadic success in the late 1990s in the now-defunct WorldChampionship Wrestling , the Macho Man had been largely out of the wrestlingspotlight for the past decade. Within that time, I've seen myriad wrestlers dieprematurely: the British Bulldog, Miss Elizabeth, Bam Bam Bigelow, EddieGuerrero, Road Warrior Hawk. And now the Macho Man. I have a bittersweetfeeling of gratitude and guilt for my years of wrestling fandom. As thesebehemoths collided with one another 12 months a year, each body slam, chairshot, and piledriver was cutting their lives short. An initialautopsy was inconclusive, though Lanny Poffo, Randy's brother, claims that aheart attack caused the fatal crash. If the Macho Man's heart did indeed giveout, I can only imagine that over 20 years in the ring took their toll.

Many people will remember Randy Savage for his trademark "Ohh Yeah" or his Slim Jim commercials .I'll remember him for having sacrificed his body for my entertainment. A reallife action figure, a real macho man.

Follow  Brow Beat on Twitter . For more culture coverage, like  Slate  Culture  on Facebook.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.