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SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM – With Gepp and KON (Savage, Elizabeth, Luger)

July 12, 2012

Here’s a little behind the scenes peak at what goes into making one of these interviews:

 

GEPP: CB said to email you about the Macho Man thing for your revolving door interview type thingy.

KON: I’m in the middle of a Wild Pegasus one with Blair right now, but i’d be happy to do it any time after…

OOOH YEAH!

 

KON: What’s your first memory of The Macho Man?

GEPP: I first remember watching one of the WWF shows and this guy came out. He was fast in the ring, but we didn’t know if he was a heel or a face. He was just dazzling. We guessed he was a heel because all the heel managers were courting him. And then he had this big conference with them in the ring. He praised them, and then told the world that his manager would be…

And out walked Miss Elizabeth. Wow. The managers looked stunned. Heenan looked like he was about to cry. She didn’t say anything, but he took her by the hand and walked off with her. Whoever was on copmmentary was having a fit, not believing it was happening. Such an awesome way to introduce her, and it makes me nostalgic for managers in today’s wrestling climate.

I wish we got territory wrestling in Australia, though, because I’ve seen some of his earlier stuff on YouTube and it seems like the guy was a star right off the bat.

KON: You watched his début? Damn. Talk me through those early years.

GEPP: When he started, he really did play the cowardly heel bit. He ran out of the ring a lot, and drew his opponents after him, and then attacked when they came back in, things like that. He got a lot of heat in those early days by simply walking away a lot.

But then he won the intercontinental title from Tito Santana, and we had a new reason to hate him. And we did. Using that foreign object to knock Santana out when he could have won by wrestling was just such a dick move that everyone wanted to see him get his come-uppance. This led to the feud with George “The Animal” Steele, and the first time Miss Elizabeth got involved in a story. Of course, Steele never won the title, but then Savage did something that made us hate him all the more. I have friends and relatives who screamed at the TV when we watched him ram that ring bell into Ricky Steamboat’s throat. And then came Wrestlemania 3. George Steele came out with Steamboat in a nice piece of continuity, and they then proceeded to put on a wrestling clinic.

I know Steamboat thinks it was not as good as his Flair matches because it was so rehearsed, but to me it is one of the best 3 Wrestlemania matches ever.

This led to something odd, though. Because of his skill, Savage was starting to be treated less like a heel by the fans. And this led to Wrestlemania 4 and his first WWF title in that rather long and surprisingly dull tournament, where he was cheered and supported by the crowd. Of course, his win was overshadowed by Hulk Hogan’s antics and Hogan was there to absorb some of the cheers (see also his 1996 Nitro WCW title win for something similar). This led to their show-down at Wrestlemania 5, as Wrestlemania 4 was also the start of what I called Savage’s Star Wars story-line that lasted from WM 4 till WM 7. (It’s in one of my old columns somewhere.)

What about yourself? What are your early memories of Savage?

KON: I want to say the wedding, but I might have caught that on VHS.

I definitely remember Flair v Savage at Wrestlemania VIII. I re-watched it last year and everything was great. The promos were fantastic, the match was amazing and the interviews after it ended… Savage was still selling the Figure Four in the post-match interview (at least fifteen mins after the bell had rung).

GEPP: Savage v Flair was awesome. Mind you, my favourite ever Wrestlemania match (not necessarily the best, but my favourite) was from WM7 – Savage v Warrior. Everything about that match from the story-telling to the interference to the feel-good ending after Savage had lost – it was wonderful. I recently introduced my young son to it, and he was lost in it as well.

It seemed, though, that after WM8 Savage became the selling guy. Between him and Curt Hennig, it was who could take the most punishment in a match and still win. Look at that Survivor Series match when Savage and Hennig faced Flair and Razor Ramon. Savage was slaughtered. Hennig went to walk away, and then it wa sa big clusterf**k ending, but still a great match.

And then there was the Royal Rumble where Savage went to pin Yokozuna, and was tossed off over the top rope. That made Savage look like something of an idiot (mind you, in 1992 he jumped over the top rope to tackle Jake Roberts, and they let him back in because he hadn’t been thrown over, even though Bossman eliminated himself earlier).

What are some of your other memories of Savage in the WWF?

KON: Savage really was the complete package during his WWF run. The voice, the outfits, the valet, the wrestling ability… You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t enjoy watching him.

I have fond memories of the commentary run towards the end of his time with WWF as well. My dad used to do impersonations of Savage that were spot on (well, at least to a five-year-old me), I kinda inherited that from him. I do a mean Hogan as well (as at least four of our readers will attest to).

GEPP: My son’s started doing “Ooooh Yeeeah!” a bit. As a commentator I think he was underrated, although even he seemed bored by WM 9.

And then WM10 came and his feud with Crush, and he went off to the greener pastures of WCW, following Hulk Hogan. I remember Hogan’s debut in WCW. He came down in a motorcade with confetti and everything, and Kevin Sullivan cut a bizarre and vaguely threatening promo where he kept calling the guy ‘Terry’. And then Savage came in, and he was treated like Hogan’s pet boy. Mind you, it gave us some good Flair-Savage matches (involving Angelo Poffo at one stage and Flair in drag at another), and then that horrendous Doomsday Cage match at Uncensored 1996, where Savage and Hogan defeated 8 men in a triple decker cage which they kept on leaving. And who got pinned? Ric Flair. At least Hogan let Savage do it.

Of course, in January of 96 at a Nitro Savage pinned Flair for the title, then got pinned at the next night’s Clash in a tag match. Savage was just thrown around by stupid storylines at this point in time. I think my favourite Savage match from his early WCW run was he and Sting v John Tenta (he might have been the Shark at that point) and Ray Traylor (who was either a Boss [man, is he big!] or a Big Bubba Rogers at that point). Just stupid and over the top, but kinda fun. But, really, Savage was messed around in WCW. I actually thought something cool was going to happen when he joined Sting (when Sting was in full Crow mode) watching NWO v WCW, until Savage went off and joined the NWO and, then left.

That initial WCW run was a waste of opportunities, even if some good matches and a few title reigns came out of it.

Did you ever catch Savage in that first WCW run?

KON: I remember Savage and Luger kinda feuding. Mega Powers 2.0 was going on due to the whole “alliance to end hulkamanaia” thing and Savage didn’t like Luger for some reason. Sting and Luger were tight, so Savage would roar at Sting one week, telling him to chose between Luger and team Hogan and the next NITRO would have all four of them dressed in red and yellow. Savage would get pissed off again, luger would accidentally hit him… I’m sure this was pre-Outsiders as well. I guess the Macho Man character could predict the future or something.

I remember Flair stealing Elizabeth and Woman, which was repeated about a year later when the nWo “kidnapped” Elizabeth and took her to the set of whatever terrible moving Hogan was filming at the time.

The whole nWo thing was weird. Even re-watching, I’m not sure if Liz was supposed to be in on the plan to lure Savage in, if she didn’t give a shit or whatever. They had divorced by that point in real life and Randy kinda blamed Hogan for it, so maybe it was one of those “art imitates life” moments (also known as “lazy booking”).

GEPP: That always confused me as well. Almost as much as the infamous reviving elbow at Clash 30 in ’95 (the elbow that killed everyone else woke Hogan up in their tag match… seriously). Savage left and, like half of WCW at that time, the storylines he was involved with were just ignored, especially with the NWO dominating everything.

But then Savage came back in, what, 1998 or so? And he had the new Gorgeous George with him (she was a bit of a cutie), as well as Miss Madness and Madusa. And Savage was jacked. He couldn’t even get his arms by his sides. But he came back during a time of hyperactively insane booking. So his first PPV appearance was when he was the special guest referee in the 4-corners match between Hogan, Sting, Flair and DDP. And then, after Hogan went out with a “knee injury”, Flair had Sting in a figure 4, and Sting got to the ropes. Savage kicked Sting’s hands off the ropes, dragged Flair back into the middle of the ring, then hit an elbow on Flair, enabling DDP to get the pin and his first world title. (Guilty pleasure admission: I liked this match.)

Other matches he was involved with in this second WCW run were the match with Rodman at Road Wild where he trapped Rodman in a port-a-loo and pushed it over, and the match between Little Naitch (referee Charles Robinson) vs Gorgeous George (another guilty pleasure match, and probably the match of the night at Slamboree 99; mind you, at a Nitro not long after Savage hit Robinson with an elbow that injured Robinson quite badly), and the tag match where whoever pinned Nash (if anyone pinned Nash) was the champ, including his own partner, infamous more for Gorgeous George’s prominent black eye than the abomination that occurred in the ring. And then – again – it was over, Savage left, and apart from a few odd appearances in TNA, we only saw Savage in the movies.

Do you remember anything about his last WCW run?

KON: Haha, I remember watching the “reviving elbow” show in the Fistpump Screening Room a few months ago.

I was way into WCW during his return, ’97 was a great year for the company. I don’t want to jump ahead, but the Luger thing repeated it’s self around the time Hogan v Sting happened. Cut to a few months later and the two of them were in the Wolfpac together…

Anyway, Page v Savage was great. I’m sure everyone has already said that those matches made DDP, even Page himself, but it wouldn’t be right if I neglected to mention it.

I remember the battle for NWO leadership between Savage and Hogan that never really amounted to anything. It seems like any time Hogan’s name appears in this, things go un-resolved.

Team Madness was iffy. He obviously wasn’t going to be having the best matches of his career by then, but, yeah, a tag match with the big gold belt on the line? not the worst stipulation a WCW match had that year, but still…

Why did Savage always have a woman (or three) by his side? Was that part of the “macho” thing?

GEPP: I reckon it was. I also think that since Miss Elizabeth he had this mystique thing about women, and felt he had to carry it on. But in TNA and his later short-lived rap career, that seemed to be let go. Maybe it was part of the powers-that-be definition of Savage that gave him those women? He seemed always to be willing to do whatever was asked of him, so maybe it was just something else foisted onto him.

Back to Savage and Page, I think the reason Savage and Page clicked so well was the fact both of them were notorious for carefully scripting and rehearsing their matches. When two of them get together, it generally works well because they are both on the same page. Mind you, I’d also say Page getting the run against Benoit and Raven helped his career.

The Luger stuff felt like filler for both men, giving them both a high profile feud that meant very little in the long run, but kept them both visible and on top. Sure, it resulted in some good matches, but it really meant not a lot.

KON: He left WCW (a smart idea at the time), probably sat at home for 8 months while still getting paid, then appeared as Bonesaw McGraw in the Spiderman movie. Did you see it?

GEPP: This is a rather embarrassing admission, but I wasn’t going to see it as I’d found a lot of superhero films up to that time were not good. But when I heard Savage was in it, I bit the bullet and went, and actually really enjoyed it.

Even worse, I own only four rap albums – Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five, Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill, Luke’s Banned In The USA, and Savage’s Be A Man. (My musical tastes are classic rock, 80s pop and 50s/60s everything). I actually liked ‘Perfect Friend’ from Savage’s album. Sad, I know…

KON: I probably own about 100 rap albums, but I can’t say Be A Man is one of them. I like the stuff I’ve heard via youtube, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d blast at full volume. I can’t shit on your musical tastes though, I’ve been in a sort of New Wave rut for the last seven years.

The TNA run, is it worth mentioning?

From what I managed to find on youtube, Savage came down at the end of what should’ve been a 3 vs 3 match and The Kings of Wrestling (Jarrett, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall)(also known as nWo version MMIV) shat themselves as the show faded to black.

GEPP: I think I read somewhere that Savage left because he heard Hogan was going to get involved in the whole thing, and he just didn’t want to be part of what he thought was going to be WCW v2.0.

Having said that, his brother Lanny said after his marriage to Lynn (about a year before he died), he had made peace with Hogan and McMahon, so maybe he mellowed in his old age.

KON: Randy and Vince certainly made up, The Macho Man did a few adverts for (and appeared in) the WWE All-Stars videogame and was a downloadable character for WWE ’12.

Some people say they fell out because Randy took the Slim-Jim deal with him when he left for WCW, others say Randy fucked Stephanie. Whatever happened, it was great to see him in those advertisements. He looked older because he’d stopped dying his hair, but it was still the same Macho Man we’d came to love over the years.

GEPP: You know, I never even heard the Stephanie rumours until I started reading another website in the early 2000s. The Slim Jim one was one I’d heard before, as well as him leaving right before a huge programme was about to start, and also holding Vince up for more money.

Which I guess leads us to the question of the WWE Hall of Fame. I recently watched a video where Lanny Poffo denied Savage refused entry to the HoF unless Lanny and Angelo were also inducted. I’d never even heard that, but I was sort of thinking Macho would be a post-humous induction in 2012. What do you think of his HoF chances?

KON: I’ve heard that he wouldn’t do it unless Angelo was inducted. I guess it’s up to the Randy Savage estate now.

It would be nice for WWE to induct him, but lets be honest here, the HOF is actually a short-term no-compete contract, a small payout and a cheap-as-fuck picture frame.

I’d really like to see things like a Mega Powers DVD set, a WWE doc on The Macho Man with his top ten matches on the bonus disks, things like that.

GEPP: Speaking of top Macho Man matches – what are yours?

KON: Steamboat at WrestleMania III
Flair at WrestleMania VIII
WCW vs The Outsiders at Bash At The Beach ’96
Anything from the DDP series

You?

GEPP: Steamboat at WM 3
Warrior at WM 7, and again at Summerslam
Hogan at WM 5
Any match against Flair or DDP
Arn Anderson (first Nitro of 1996)

Look, there’s so many. He really is/was one of my favourite wrestlers.

KON: This feels like a natural point to end on.

GEPP: Thanks for doing this. I was fun to reminisce.

KON: Thanks for taking part.

 

Previously:

****** – With Blair A. Douglas and KON

Rest in Peace – With Gojira and KON

Hulkamania – With CB and KON

Destrucity – With CB and KON

 

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