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Back in 1994, WWF lead announcer Vince McMahon referring to Randy Savage as, "... without a doubt, future WWF Hall of Famer..." would surprise no-one. However, twenty years on, this seemed as far away as it ever had been from being true. Even after his shocking death in 2011, there was seemingly no movement on either the side of what had become WWE or the Poffo family. Very few names transcend 'The Business'. Hogan. Rock. Austin... Macho Man was, without doubt, one of those few.
On the show, there has been discussion over the recent reign of Bret Hart as WWF Champion. His technical abilities were arguably unrivalled, yet he didn't headline a single pay per view going in as Champion. At the fore-front of WWF's 'New Generation', he was the first babyface champion since Hulk Hogan's departure in 1993. You could argue, these two - whilst enjoying massive popularity amongst the Federation's target audience during their respective runs - could not be further apart as star quantities. Hogan was a larger than life personality, brimming with charisma, but lacking in technical proficiency. Bret was perhaps the greatest technical wrestler the Company had ever seen, but despite his popularity, could not match the firepower of Hulkamania. If only there was one wrestler, one bonafide Superstar, who could combine both electrifying personality with in-ring ability.
'Macho Man' Randy Savage was the embodiment of this ideal.
At the beginning of Monday Night Raw back in November of 1994, a sorrowful McMahon would announce that despite their efforts, WWF had not been able to negotiate a new contract with Savage. It was a rare insight for the time into the emotional side of Vince. The human side. It also showed this side in Randy, who had made such an obvious bond with his former boss. Contrary to the most apparent comparison in the Ultimate Warrior, this was not a departure that could be underplayed or, at times, even ignored. This had clearly made an impact and Randy was wished well for whatever the future would hold for him, and undoubtedly he would be missed.
When the news of Macho's departure broke, WCW's last two PPV's had both been headlined by two men in their forties. WWF's Summerslam closed, most disappointly, with the ultimate gimmick match of Undertaker vs Undertaker. The previous quarter, Jerry Lawler and Roddy Piper tried their best to roll back the years for the Federation. It was a strange time for the Business as a whole where few names held star power and previous "legends" were called upon to increase credibility and viewership.
Leading to his departure, Randy was known to most fans as an on-screen announcer as opposed to an active performer. Wrestlemania X aside, it had been a while since the 'Macho Man' had the opportunity to dazzle crowds with his in-ring work. He was still in shape, never seen without his ring-gear and had a look, voice and presence few - if any - could rival. WWF couldn't be blamed for trying to launch their 'New Generation'; but when it came at the cost of casting Randy aside, yet still finding in-ring spots for Nikolai Volkoff, Bob Backlund & King Kong Bundy, you can understand Macho's frustrations.
Shawn Michaels & Razor Ramon stole the show at Wrestlemania X. Their ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship was heralded and spoken of as perhaps the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time. When thinking of this plaudit, the one match that it competes most directly against occured seven years previously - ironically, for the exact same title. Wrestlemania III is remembered for a few things: Vince McMahon's opening welcome, the record-setting attendance figure, Hogan slamming Andrè... But history would remember it most for what could well be the greatest match of all time in Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat.
The match itself would unite fans of all generations. Whether old or young; the sheer athleticism, drama, crowd reaction, technical wrestling, high-flying spots and overall atmosphere would forever enshrine everything that was amazing about professional wrestling. History would record the unorthodox planning of the match and the fact Randy almost sent the Dragon to an early grave or an asylum in the build-up, but the match itself stands up to this day of just what these two were capable of.
But, Randy was more than just an in-ring icon. He transcended what a wrestler was. He was years ahead of his time. He inspired perhaps more future superstars than almost anyone else. His real-life relationship with Miss Elizabeth played out on-screen in front of the entire world and at times brought a tear to even the oldest, most-cynical of eyes. Trained by his father Angelo and brother to Lanny; Randy was unlike anyone before him and no-one will ever be able to capture the magical mixture of look, ability, personality and promo's that 'Macho Man' was truly blessed with. He means as much today as he ever did and wrestling fans from every corner of the globe can now happily say, "'Macho Man' Randy Savage, Hall of Famer".