Wrestling legend Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage died in a car accident in Florida on Friday. As Jen Chaney reported:
Randy “Macho Man” Savage — the famous WWF and WCW wrestler known for his antics in the ring, his flashy bandanna and his “Oooooh yeahhhhh” catch phrase — has died in a car accident in Tampa.
In addition to achieving superstar wrestling status, Savage became a cultural figure outside of that world, as the intentionally aggressive spokesman for Slim Jims and an actor who occasionally appeared in movies, most notably the first “Spider-Man” film.
Savage was married to Elizabeth Ann Hulette, aka Miss Elizabeth, for many years. She also acted as his manager and was involved in several of Randy Savage’s wrestling feuds, most notably his showy showdowns with Hulk Hogan. Hulette and Savage divorced during the ‘90s, and she died in 2003. Savage married his longtime girlfriend, Lynn Payne, last year; they had recently celebrated their one-year anniversary.
Savage rose to fame as a professional wrestler in the 1980s, during which time he was most known for his rivalry with fellow wrestler Hulk Hogan. As T. Rees Shapiro explained:
Mr. Savage thrived in a multimillion-dollar industry that merges show business and athletics.
He cut a distinctive figure on the mat — at his prime he was 237 pounds of sculpted, oily muscle — and had an outlandish wardrobe, even by the standards of wrestling. He wore sequined cowboy hats, face-wrapping sunglasses and chest-hugging leather tank tops.
The wrestler’s antics in the ring — he finished off opponents with a high-flying elbow drop from the top rope — attracted millions of television viewers.
His flamboyant personality and raspy voice helped bring Mr. Savage an endorsement deal with Slim Jim beef jerky. “Gotta have beef? Gotta have spice?” he said in one commercial. “Need a little excitement? Snap into a Slim Jim.” He concluded with his signature phrase, “Ohhh yeah!”
The son of a wrestler, Mr. Savage was signed in 1985 by Vince McMahon to the World Wrestling Federation, now World Wrestling Entertainment.
He quickly emerged as one of the organization’s rising stars and won a championship in 1988. He and Hulk Hogan teamed up and were known as the “Mega-Powers,” but wrestling executives wanted to create a rivalry over their glamorous manager, Miss Elizabeth — who was Mr. Savage’s real-life wife, Elizabeth Hulette.
Randy Savage’s death is not the first to shock the wrestling world. As AP reported:
Savage’s death was not the first to catch the wrestling world by surprise.
Chris Benoit killed his wife and son and then committed suicide in their Georgia home in 2007; Benoit was 40.
Eddie Guerrero was 38 when he died of a heart attack in 2005 after a history of alcohol and drug problems.
Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig died of a cocaine overdose in 2003 at 44. That same year, Michael “Road Warrior Hawk” Hegstrand died from a heart attack at 46. He had battled alcohol and drugs, as well as steroids.
In 1999, wrestler Owen Hart, 33, was killed when he fell from an apparatus as he was being lowered into the ring from the ceiling of Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.
The WWF made Savage their champion after a win over Ted DiBiase in the main event at WrestleMania in 1988.
Savage had not appeared for a major wrestling organization since 2004, when he performed for Total Nonstop Action.
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Early Lead: ‘Macho Man’ dies after car accident