While the spotlight never shone quite as brightly on Randy “Macho Man” Savage as it did on his friend and great rival, Hulk Hogan, it’s hard to think of another man who personified pro wrestling (specifically ’80s pro wrestling) so completely. Ask the average person to imagine a pro wrestler and a good portion of them will immediately summon up memories of fringed jackets, kaleidoscope cowboy hats and promos cut by a man who sounds like he’s halfway through passing a kidney stone. Randy Savage was wrestling, and his life was as improbable, conflicted and frequently amazing as the sport itself.
Strap yourself in because we’re going back to THE DANGER ZONE with 10 madness-inspiring facts you might not know about Macho Man Randy Savage…
1) Randy Savage owes his career to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (believe it or not). Randy Savage (real name, Randy Poffo) was the son of Angelo Poffo, a successful pro wrestler in his own right. Angelo won a version of the NWA US Title back when that really meant something, but probably his most lasting contribution to wrestling (aside from fathering Randy and his brother “Leaping” Lanny Poffo) was innovating the neckbreaker, which he used to finish most of his matches.
Angelo didn’t have any particular interest in wrestling or desire for the spotlight early in life, but that changed when he had a brush with fame while serving in the US Navy in 1945. For whatever reason Angelo got it in his mind that he was going to beat Ripley’s official world sit-up record, and over the course of 4 hours and 10 minutes he did it, doing 6,033 straight-legged, elbow to knee sit-ups (6000 to break the record, and 33 more for every year of Jesus’ life). Angelo was left exhausted and bloody (that many sit-ups will wear the skin right off you back) but for his feat, he was awarded his first ever championship belt.
Angelo would spend the rest of his career chasing more championships, an obsession he would pass down to both his sons. Would Angelo have gone into wrestling if he hadn’t managed to beat a Ripley’s record on a whim? Possibly, but he may not have, depriving us of some very talented second generation stars.
2) Young Randy almost made it in Major League Baseball. Randy was a natural athlete growing up, but the pro wrestling game wasn’t what he wanted to pursue – baseball was his first love, and he was good. Randy was signed by several Major League Baseball teams in his late teens and early 20s, playing for the farm teams of the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox.
Shocking proof that Randy Savage’s hair wasn’t always completely terrible.
Unfortunately Randy’s baseball dreams were destroyed when he badly separated his shoulder during a collision at home plate. Being extremely determined (and a bit insane) Randy forced himself to become ambidextrous through sheer force of will, but it wasn’t enough. Any hopes of making the big leagues were scuttled. Thankfully, Randy’s backup plan panned out pretty well.
3) Randy was first dubbed “Savage” by Ole Anderson. Quick, think of a wrestler that’s the complete, diametric opposite of Randy Savage. You may not have thought of ol’ “your dad’s less interesting friend” Ole Anderson, but he’s a pretty good choice, and yet Randy Savage owes one of the least flashy wrestlers ever a major debt.