Sunday, May 20, 2012

Macho Madness: A Tale of Kings, Warriors and Love

Hey yo bromigoes and bromigas,

Sick as a dog, but the show must go on. My sister is back on American soil and she still speaks English. WAHOO~!

So we have seen the progression of the Macho Man character. This is a key distinction in the wrestling world where there are one-dimensional gimmicks and very realistic characters. Some of the greatest wrestling draws were simple gimmicks. The Road Warriors are arguably the greatest tag team of all-time, but they have the character depth of a puddle. Even Hogan needed a heel reinvention in 1996 to finally become a character rather than a gimmick. Randy Savage was a character with tragic flaws of paranoia and jealous that drove him to fits of rage. Savage was a good guy at heart, but sometimes his emotions just got the best of him and that would turn him heel. After, the Wrestlemania V loss, Savage decided to make a clean break with the past. He dropped the lovely, but meek Elizabeth in favor of the physically capable, sadistic Sensational Sherri, who added a dynamic presence to his act. He dropped the short trunks for long tights.  After years of observing and being told Elizabeth was his greatest weakness, he made the conscious choice to choose the exact opposite female, but still a female, after all he did just have the biggest break-up of his career and you always want to make the ex jealous. The sequined robes and animal-print headbands were turned in for his trademark psychedelic space cowboy outfit. He even changed his nickname from Macho Man to Macho King after defeating “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan for the right to call himself the King of the WWF.
The Macho King and the Sensational Queen

Everything fit into the new character dynamic that after a year of trying to dethrone Hulk Hogan as the WWF World Champ and with the Ultimate Warrior being the anointed successor, he leveraged the Macho King title to delude himself into a fantasy of grandeur where he was the number one wrestler in the company.   The Macho King and the Sensational Queen would be carried to the ring by jabronis and he feuded with “common man” wrestlers such as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (HOOOOOOOOOO! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!) and the newly arrived, polka-dot wearing “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Why did he pick on these targets? Savage wanted to prove he was extraordinary not among the common class. It is evident by who he dressed, how he talked, who he hung out with and who he fought. Savage had gone from the supremely talented, but insecure young talent trying to talk and cheat his way to the top. Savage let his guard down in late 1987 and allowed Hulk Hogan to befriend him and cement his status as main event start. The paranoia that comes with the title and his over-protection of Elizabeth caused the Megapowers to burn. So he became insular, but as ex-World Champion, he became even more arrogant in his dealings.

In late 1990, Ultimate Warrior had been passed the torch and World title from Hogan at Wrestlemania VI, but was tanking as a draw. Savage tried to step up as a challenger, but was ducked in favor of heel Sgt. Slaughter. Sgt. Slaughter was an ex-Marine, but was turned heel as an Iraqi sympathizer at the height of the Gulf War, yep not one of the most tasteful WWF storylines. Savage got Warrior’s attention by costing him the belt against Slaughter. So it was setup a double main event for Wrestlemania VII: Hogan vs Slaughter for the title and WOYAH~! Vs Macho King in a career vs career match.


It all came down to this match, Savage and Warrior, whoever lost would be forced to retire. Savage could attain that moment forever immortalize him by taking the career of newly anointed Ultimate Warrior. On the flip side, Warrior could prove all the doubters and haters wrong by taking down the second greatest WWF superstar of all time up to that point.
A word on the Ultimate Warrior, he made Randy Savage look like a mild-mannered, even-tempered dude. Yep, he was that Looney Tunes. He talked to his hands and fuck it… watch this video:

Convinced? I thought so.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs The Ultimate Warrior – Career vs Career

Wrestlemania VII

Bobby The Brain spots Liz in the crowd before the match and posits she is here to watch Savage lose and rub it in. This gets a trademark, “O will you stop” from Gorilla. The Macho King and his Sensational Queen are carried to the ring by some jabronies. Warrior walks to the ring, instead sprinting. Thank God, one of the reasons for his poor conditioning in matches was that he blow up due to sprinting.  Warrior is decked out with Savage and Warrior’s face airbrushed on each of his knee-pads. His tights declare that “This [match] means more than this [WWF World Title]”. Cant say it much better myself.

Warrior is very stoic, while Savage is tweaking out, the crowd is firmly behind Warrior, but there are Savage fans in attendance. Warrior establishes he is the more powerful of the two by winning a lock-up. Savage attempts some early cheating, but that doesn’t phase the WOYAH~! Warrior hits a clothesline, double goozle, two atomic drops, and a final double goozle sends Savage crashing into Sherri. Well it seems like the Macho King is going to have to change his strategy.  Savage gets tangled in the ropes and Warrior goes to work in a match of this magnitude you have to take every advantage you get. When Warrior telegraphs a back body drop, Savage finally gets some offense in with a sitout clothesline. He tries to complete the combination with cross-body off the top, but Warrior catches him mid-air. BUT, he sets him down and paintbrushes him. TORCHED~!

Savage takes a walk and throws a chair in the ring. This is enough distraction to blindside the Warrior, but Warrior still levels him. None of the Macho Man’s usual tricks seem to be working. It turns out it was not a trick to get him the advantage it was Warrior’s overzealousness. Warrior charges into the corner and Macho moves at the last second sending Warrior to crash and burn over the top. Here we go, Sherri, take it to him. Sherri gets in more offense than Savage has at this point with throat thrust, double axe-handle, knee-lift and an eye-rake. This buys Savage some time to recover and then capitalize on his newfound advantage by sending the Warrior into the steel ring post. YOU CAN’T HURT STEEL!!! Here come the Warrior chants, chant all you want, but doesn’t change the fact that your boy is a fuckin nutjob.   The ususal bodyslam/kneedrop combination gets two, but gives Savage the psychological advantage of the first close pinfall. Backslide spot, but Warrior wins for a two count, so much for that advantage.
Both men stand up and stare at each other so Savage, being a defiant prick, spits at him. In a strange spot, Warrior tries to hit a flying shoulderblock on a kneeling Savage only to miss. Savage regains the advantage with a chinlock in the first stoppage of action in this fast-paced match. Sherri is so fuckin loud. Double clothesline and both men are down.  Sherri desperately tries to revive her meal ticket, the Macho King, but then does the next best thing distracts the ref while Warrior has him in a small package. A frustrated Warrior takes the ref to task, but that is when Savage blindsides him with his textbook high-knee. Savage holds Warrior in place to take a spiking from Sherri as she ascends the top, but Sherri connects with her high-heel onto Savage. If this was WCW, Savage would have been blinded for a couple months.

Warrior goes after Sherri, which gives Savage a chance to roll-up him for two and then drives his throat into the top rope as Savage slingshots himself over. Wicked clothesline to the back of the head by Savage gets two.  Savage in complete command knows what he must do. He hits not just one, not just two, not just Three, not just FOUR, BUT FIVE BIG ELBOWS OFF THE TOP onto the prone Warrior, a lesser man would just expired from this world after four and Hogan would have hulked-up after one. Too easy, too easy.

Warrior doesn’t kick out, but barely lifts his shoulder up at two, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Hogan would have pressed Savage off and no-sold the whole thing. Hogan sucks. Savage’s wide-eyed expression at the Warrior’s kick-out is worth everything. It is a mixture of frustration, shock and fear. Fear that he may not be able to win this match. Savage pounds away on the Warrior, but to no avail as WARRIOR begins to do his rope-shake, we all know what is coming. Three clotheslines, the press slam and now the Warrior splash. He turns Savage over and he kicks out. HOLY SHIT! What a false finish.

Warrior looks down to his hands and then up to the Heavens wondering what he has to do put the Macho King away. Gorilla tries his best to narrate this melodramatic mid-match crisis. Warrior believes this Divine Providence that he is no longer fit to wrestle (I never thought he was that fit anyway) and begins to walk away as the ref pleads with him to reconsider because it will cost him his career. After all this, Savage forces his hand by walloping Warrior and Warrior is out. Sherri hold Warrior in place draped over the guard-rail as Savage ascends his perch looking to hit his double axe-handle onto the outside. However, this time, Warrior shoves Sherri off and Savage crashes and burns chin-first onto the guardrail.

Warrior stands Savage up in the middle of the ring, but he is out on his feet. Flying shoulderblock sends Savage flying out of the ring. Two more of these and Warrior puts his foot on Savage’s chest and the ref counts 1-2-3.

You won’t find many more dramatic matches in the history of wrestling. This is essentially now the blueprint of every Wrestlemania main event. Hit people with your finishers, but they still kick-out and then you have to hit the super-finisher to pick up the win. What I love about this match is that neither man really wins the match. Each time, they got an advantage it was become another’s mistake, it told the tale of two evenly-matched wrestlers. But wait there is more…

Sherri is pissed, I mean ripshit, that Savage lost. She begins kicking him while he is down and berating him. Liz cant stand to see anymore and hops the barricade. (Swarm! Swarm! Swarm! Whoops, she is part of the act.)  Liz in her first physical moment  takes Sherri by the hair and throws her out of the ring. To say the crowd is going wild at this point is an understatement. Remember, Savage and Liz have been separated for exactly two years. When Savage gets up, he almost decks her because he doesn’t realize who is behind him. He teases being pissed at seeing her and the whole crowd just wants that embrace. When they embrace it is not so much a pop, but an extended cheer of joy and a standing ovation. Then Savage hoists her up on his shoulder in one of the most iconic shots in wrestling. The camera pans to all the women crying and even I am moved each time I see this segment. Savage was such an effective bad guy, none of the fans ever wanted to see him go. There it was all these emotions of Savage losing his career, Liz saving him and their reunion, a perfect confluence of wrestling theater. As Liz goes to hold the ropes for Randy, he waves her off and in a true showing of class, holds the ropes for her. This sends the crowd and me into a whole new tizzy. ***** for the whole thing, you can’t beat this shit. May favorite Savage match/moment all wrapped into one. Macho Madness Lives Forever in this moment.   

The Greatest Wrestling Image Ever

No comments:

Post a Comment