“The Macho Man” Randy Savage is regarded as one of the greatest North American professional wrestlers of all time, a once-in-a-generation talent who was able to captivate fans both with his work inside of the ring and with the legendary promos that he would cut on opponents before and after matches. That Savage remains such a popular figure among sects of the wrestling fan base decades after he was such a major player in one of the top-two organizations in North America speaks to how fondly he has been remembered years after he was in the prime of his career.
Of all of the admirable traits that Savage possessed, it was perhaps his ability to flip a switch and go from heel to babyface and back without making massive changes to his overall character that helped propel him to greatness. Outside of his short-lived run as the Macho King, Savage was essentially always the same character: A crazed and narcissistic individual who was able to harness all of that energy for when he needed it most, either during televised promos or during in-ring action. Savage was also, to his credit, one of the more-underrated story-tellers during matches through his selling and his offensive maneuvers.
Casual pro wrestling fans will mostly recall Savage's work when he was with the World Wrestling Federation and with World Championship Wrestling. While Savage made his name in front of a national audience with the WWF/WWE, his work while he was with WCW should never be overlooked. In fact, one of Savage's best feuds, not to mention his most underrated feud, came when he was “down south” in WCW. His best overall moments as an active in-ring performer, as any diehard fan of the product could easily have guessed, involved his famous manager, the First Lady of Pro Wrestling.
10 Savage Makes his WWF/WWE Debut
Long before he was associated with the bombastic music that would hit as he made his way out from behind the curtain and even before the beautiful manager, Savage was just a guy who wore a majestic robe and massive sunglasses as he walked into the ring. Savage, who donned his famous pink tights on his debut night, was understandably a bit rough around the edges, but he was so (storyline) dominant during the encounter that heel managers came out from the back to watch the newcomer. To finish things off, Savage hit not one but two elbow drops from off of the top rope. Quite the impressive first impression.
9 The Revival Elbow
Pro wrestling is often ridiculous and in many ways. Suspending your disbelief is necessary if you are going to get beyond the absurdity and appreciate the business for what it is. Hogan and Savage were in WCW when Hogan had been “choked out” during a match. Savage, looking to revive his fallen teammate, did what any rational person facing a similar situation would have done: The Macho Man went to the top rope and hit the “Revival Elbow,” and it worked to perfection. If you cannot chuckle at this, pro wrestling probably isn't for you.
8 Savage Invades Nitro
Savage had, in storyline, been “blackballed” from attending WCW events when he emerged from the crowd and informed anybody who was listening that he had no intentions of leaving the ring until he got what he wanted. Several midcard wrestlers who had been booked to participate in matches made their way to the ring as scheduled, only to then be taken out by the angered Savage. “The Icon” Sting then descended down from the rafters, giving Savage a bat and then daring the Macho Man to hit him. To finish things off, the two left together into the crowd. Incredible television.
7 Savage vs. Ric Flair
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair toyed with Savage in their feud leading up to WrestleMania VIII, suggesting that he and Elizabeth had been involved romantically in the past. Flair even went so far as to produce what we would now refer to as Photoshopped pictures of he and Liz together during promos that were ahead of their time and also classic old-school wrestling booking. The truth eventually came out, of course, and Savage got his revenge on “the dirtiest player in the game” and won the WWF World Championship at the biggest stage in all of North American pro wrestling.
6 nWo Attacks WCW
WCW was the hottest promotion in all of wrestling in 1996 because of the nWo storyline. Part of the entertainment value of the product was the – pardon the pun – madness that would occur during editions of Nitro, such as when the heel group would utilize weapons to attack unsuspecting WCW talent. One of the more famous nWo beatdowns concluded with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, “The Outsiders,” retreating back to their limousine, only for Savage to make a leaping attempt to get into the vehicle. His plan of attack, in storyline, lacked some thought, but it also made for phenomenal television.
5 Savage Wins his First WWF Title
A 14-man tournament was utilized to crown a new WWF Champion at WrestleMania IV, and Savage and the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase were left as the final men standing. Savage, after getting an assist from Hulk Hogan that the Macho Man was unaware had occurred, ascended to the top rope to hit his famous high-flying finisher, the elbow drop that won Savage his first world championship. The two friends along with Elizabeth celebrated the historic moment, one that, even at that time, hinted at the two eventually facing off against one another with the title on the line.
4 Randy Savage vs. DDP
Of all of his feuds that occurred after Savage jumped ship and left the WWF to go to WCW, it is his work with Diamond Dallas Page that remains fresh in the memory two decades after it began. The feud lasted close to a year, with the two having several battles. While their matches at pay-per-view events were spectacular, it is one that occurred on Nitro that often gets mentioned whenever one is reading or speaking about this WCW feud. Page got the best of Savage and of the nWo on that night, a moment that resulted in the master of the Diamond Cutter getting the last laugh.
3 Mega Powers Implode
WWE would, were this story to be written in the modern era and not when it was, have Savage turn on Hogan after about a week of hinting of the breakout. This feud was given an appropriate amount of time to build, however, and thus it made sense when Savage was irate with his then tag-team partner during The Main Event when Hogan and his “jealous eyes” cared for Elizabeth and, in turn, abandoned Savage during a tag-team match. After the two argued behind the curtain, Savage hit Hogan with a blindside belt-shot to the head to turn heel on his former best friend.
2 Savage vs. Steamboat: WrestleMania III
The feud involving Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat heading into WrestleMania III was pro wrestling at its finest. Savage, the dastardly heel, went out of his way to inflict a serious injury on Steamboat, but the heroic babyface made an earlier-than-expected return to the ring in order to take on his rival who was also holding the Intercontinental Championship. Savage, minutes before making his trek down to the ring at WrestleMania III, cut one of the best promos of his WWF career, insisting that history had beckoned the Macho Man to greatness on that night. That, however, was not the case when the five-star classic match was finished.
1 Savage and Elizabeth Reunite
Savage and Elizabeth went their separate ways multiple times during their careers, and yet the two often found themselves back by each other's sides sooner rather than later. Their most famous conscious re-coupling occurred at WrestleMania VII, where Liz ran into the ring to play the role of savior for the Macho Man. Savage then hoisted Elizabeth up on his shoulders to the delight of the in-house crowd following a brief stare down, signaling the end of Savage's heel turn for that time of his career and also the reuniting of what could still, to this day, be pro wrestling's greatest couple.