“That’s back when wrestling was real? Right?” – Bob Trate
My buddy Bob likes his nerdy stuff, I like mine. While he’s watching sci-fi epics, I’m watching guys in spandex pretend to beat each other up.
But what got me started? Why does anyone decide to watch pro wrestling? Some will say it’s the pageantry, others will say it’s the larger-than-life personas, some think it’s the death-defying stunts. I disagree. I think everybody who tunes in was originally hooked by a great storyline.
This was mine…
When I lived in St. Louis, my neighbor Mike was a huge wrestling fan. He’d force me to watch the WWE (then WWF) Saturday morning programming with him. One Saturday, Ted DiBiase (an evil millionaire) and his tag team partner Andre the Giant (who if my eleven-year-old self was to be believed was about 9’ 5”) bribed the referee who would be officiating their SummerSlam tag team match.
How can they do that? On national TV? Someone call the commissioner!?
However, their opponents didn’t seem that concerned. They were known as the Mega Powers; Hulk Hogan (the strongest guy ever), Miss Elizabeth (the most beautiful woman ever), and “Macho Man” Randy Savage (the World Heavyweight champion).
I’ll admit, my attention was piqued. We talked my dad into ordering the event and (spoiler alert) the good guys won.
I watched wrestling off-and-on for a while and noticed Randy Savage starting to become jealous of the attention Elizabeth had been receiving from Hogan. And on one fateful Friday night, that jealousy finally boiled over. The Macho Man laid the Hulkster out backstage.
He can do that?! Tag teams are allowed to break up?!
At any rate, I was hooked. I begged my dad to take me to the next show at the St. Louis Arena. He relented (man, he hated wrestling…good dad though) and I was in heaven. The Macho Man defeated Bad News Brown (Stone Cold before Stone Cold) in a Street Fight (kids in my school were convinced Bad News was going to bring a gun) and Hulk Hogan got the best of the Big Boss Man (an evil prison guard) in a Steel Cage Match.
However, the moment where the crowd (and I) came unglued was when the Macho Man came out during Hogan’s match and dragged Elizabeth away from the ringside area.
She has a manager’s license, she’s allowed to be there! Who are you to dictate how she makes a living!
For those of you who don’t know how this storyline ends, good triumphed over evil, the World Title returned to Hogan, and Elizabeth was freed from the bonds of her tormentor. Good times.
Maybe it’s weird to boil Randy Savage legacy down to a nine-month period of his career. But it made a world of difference in my life.
So, I think Randy’s legacy should be that of an incredible and influential in-ring worker, a character with unrivaled intensity, and some of the most ridiculous cowboy hats ever worn on national television.
Oh, that and the fact that whenever “Pomp and Circumstance” plays at a graduation, half the audience is thinking “Ohhh yeah.”