REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS WRESTLEMANIA HERITAGE SERIES "MACHO MAN" RANDY SAVAGE
It's been my observation that, generally speaking, Mattel's line of WWE Superstars figures, which is arguably their most basic, straightforward line of WWE action figures, tends to focus on currently-active WWE Superstars -- people like Kane, Ryback, John Cena, CM Punk, The Miz, and so forth. Other, more legendary WWE Superstars tend to be reserved for the Elite Collection or the Legends line.
So imagine my surprise when I came across a figure, in the Superstars line, of -- MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE! As it turned out, this was a very specific set of WWE Superstars figures, listed as the "WrestleMania Heritage Series". So, okay, from that standpoint, it made sense. Macho Man certainly had a presence at WrestleManias over the years, and this particular Macho Man figure represented him as he was at WRESTLEMANIA V.
Regardless of that being a long time ago, I was certainly more than willing to add a figure of Randy Savage to my growing collection of WWE Superstars. Let's have a look at the career of this late, great, WWE Legend, and then consider this action figure of him.
Randy Mario Poffo (November 15, 1952 – May 20, 2011), better known as "Macho Man" Randy Savage, was a professional wrestler and occasional color commentator best known for his time in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now the WWE, and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
Savage held twenty championships during his professional wrestling career. He held six world titles between the WWF and WCW, having won the WWF Championship twice and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship four times. He also won the ICW World Heavyweight Championship three times and the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship once. A one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, WWE has named Savage as the greatest champion of all time and credited him for bringing "a higher level of credibility to the title through his amazing in-ring performances."
He was also the 1987 WWF King of the Ring and the 1995 WCW World War 3 winner. A major pay-per-view attraction in the 1980s and 1990s, Savage headlined WrestleManias IV, V and VIII, as well as the 1995 edition of WCW equivalent, Starrcade. Hulk Hogan, face of the WWF during the professional wrestling "Golden Era" of the 1980s and early 1990s, described Savage as being "so influential in this business, especially in the WWF", and recalled, "He's the only guy we could pass the belt to, and we wouldn't lose money... things would stay the same, or get better."
For most of his tenures in the WWF and WCW, Savage was managed by his real-life wife "Miss Elizabeth" Hulette. He was recognizable by wrestling fans for his distinctively deep and raspy voice, his ring attire, intensity exhibited in and out of the ring, his entrance music, "Pomp and Circumstance", and his signature catch phrase, "Ooh yeah!".
Randy Mario Poffo was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 15, 1952, the elder son of Judy and Angelo Poffo. Angelo was a well-known wrestler in the 1950s and 1960s, who was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not! for his ability to do sit-ups for hours on end. His younger brother is professional wrestler Lanny Poffo, better known by his ring names "The Genius" and "Leaping Lanny Poffo." Randy also lived in Zanesville, Ohio where he attended Grover Cleveland Middle School. He graduated from Downers Grove North High School in a suburb near Chicago, Illinois. He later moved to Lexington, Kentucky and lived there for many years.
Savage was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a catcher out of high school. He was placed in the minor leagues to develop, where he mostly played as an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox farm systems. Savage was 18 when he began playing minor league baseball; one of his teammates on the 1971 Gulf Coast League Cardinals was Larry Herndon who was also his roommate. Savage would swing a bat into a hanging car tire as a regular training exercise in order to strengthen his hands and make sure he utilized his legs during swings, the technique was so effective that Herndon adopted it and used it during his own career as a baseball coach. Savage injured his natural (right) throwing shoulder after a collision at home plate, and he learned to throw with his left arm instead. The team was managed by Jimmy Piersall. Savage's last season was 1974, when he played for the Tampa Tarpons. He played 289 games in four minor league seasons, batting .254 with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs.
Savage first broke into the wrestling business in 1973. His first wrestling character, "The Spider", was similar to Spider-Man. He later took the ring name Randy Savage at the suggestion of Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) booker Ole Anderson, who said that the name Poffo did not fit someone who "wrestled like a savage". Savage eventually decided to end his baseball career and become a full-time wrestler, working with his brother and father. Savage worked with his father and brother in Michigan, the Carolinas, Georgia, the Maritimes, and the eastern Tennessee territory run by Nick Gulas.
After a while, his father felt that his sons were not getting the pushes they deserved so he started the International Championship Wrestling (ICW) promotion in the mid-American states.
Eventually, ICW disbanded and Randy and Lanny entered the Memphis scene, joining Jerry Lawler's Continental Wrestling Association (their former competitors). While there, Savage feuded with Lawler over the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. He also teamed with Lanny to battle The Rock 'n' Roll Express; this feud included a match on June 25, 1984 in Memphis, where in the storyline, Savage injured Ricky Morton by piledriving him through the timekeeper's table, leading to the Express winning by disqualification (though Savage's brother Lanny later said that Morton was not injured in the attack). Later in 1984, Savage turned "face" and allied with Lawler against Jimmy Hart's First Family alliance, only to turn heel on Lawler again in early 1985 and resume the feud with him over the title. This ended when Lawler beat Savage in a Loser Leaves Town match on June 8 in Memphis, Tennessee.
In June 1985, Savage signed with Vince McMahon. Billed as "the top free agent in pro wrestling," Savage's first appearances on Tuesday Night Titans featured several established managers (including Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, and "Classy" Freddie Blassie) offering their services to Savage. He eventually declined their offers and chose Miss Elizabeth as his new manager. His gimmick was a crazed, ego-maniacal bully who mistreated Miss Elizabeth and threatened anyone who even looked at her. He made his pay-per-view (PPV) debut at The Wrestling Classic on November 7, 1985, participating in a 16-man tournament. He defeated Ivan Putski, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, and the Dynamite Kid before losing by a countout in the finals to Junkyard Dog.
In late 1985, Savage started a feud with Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana over that title. On the November 2, 1985 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he unsuccessfully challenged Santana for the title. In a rematch on the February 24, 1986 edition of Prime Time Wrestling, he won the WWF Intercontinental title at the Boston Garden by using an illegal steel object stashed in his tights to knock out Santana. Early in his WWF career, Savage also won two countout victories in Madison Square Garden over his future tag team partner, WWF champion Hulk Hogan as well as engaging in feuds with Bruno Sammartino and George "The Animal" Steele.
At WrestleMania 2, Savage defeated Steele in a match to retain his Intercontinental title. He resumed his feud with Steele in early 1987, culminating in two Intercontinental title matches, both won by Savage.
Savage wrestled Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III in the Pontiac Silverdome. After 19 two-counts, Steamboat pinned Savage (with help from George Steele) to end his near 14-month reign as Intercontinental champion. The match was extremely choreographed, as opposed to the "on the fly" nature of most wrestling matches at the time. Savage was a stickler for detail, and he and Steamboat laid out and rehearsed every spot in the match prior to WrestleMania, at his home in Florida. The match was named 1987's Match of the Year by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer.
Savage won the King of the Ring tournament later in 1987. He also started acting less hostile toward the fans and Miss Elizabeth. When The Honky Tonk Man declared himself "the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time", Savage began a feud with him to get the title back, becoming a fan favorite in the process. On the October 3, 1987, edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he got his shot at The Honky Tonk Man and the Intercontinental Championship, but lost out on the title when The Hart Foundation, who along with Honky were managed by Jimmy Hart, interrupted the match, getting Honky disqualified. In the ensuing beatdown, Miss Elizabeth got Hulk Hogan to save him, leading to the formation of "The Mega Powers."
At WrestleMania IV, he participated in the 14-man tournament for the vacant WWF Championship. He had successful matches against Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and One Man Gang, and then went on to the finals, in which he defeated "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, by pinning him with the help of Hogan. Savage retained the WWF title for over a year, defending it against the likes of One Man Gang and André the Giant.
The Mega Powers' main feuds were with The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant), whom they defeated in the main event of the first-ever SummerSlam pay-per-view event, and The Twin Towers, a tag team composed of super-heavyweights Big Boss Man and Akeem. In the case of the latter feud, Savage frequently became involved in Hogan's matches involving one of the two villains (and vice versa); the two rival factions captained opposing teams in the main event of the 1988 Survivor Series, which was won by the Mega Powers.
Problems between Savage and Hogan developed, however, in early 1989 after Hogan also took Elizabeth as his manager. At the Royal Rumble, Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage from the Royal Rumble match and they started to fight until Elizabeth separated them. On the February 3, 1989 edition of The Main Event, Savage turned on Hogan, getting jealous over Miss Elizabeth and his self-perceived third wheel standing in the Mega Powers, becoming a villain once again. He later abandoned Hogan during a tag team match against the Twin Towers, though Hogan picked up the win in the end.
At WrestleMania V, Savage dropped the WWF title to Hogan after a reign of 371 days. Savage would co-main event SummerSlam 1989, teaming with Zeus, a character from Hulk Hogan's movie, No Holds Barred, against The Mega-Maniacs (Hogan and Brutus Beefcake). Savage and Zeus faced Hogan and Beefcake in a rematch contested in a steel cage at No Holds Barred and lost again.
Savage adopted the moniker "Macho King" after defeating Jim Duggan for the King of the Ring title in September 1989. On a later wrestling episode, he had a coronation as the new "King of the WWF", in which Ted DiBiase gave him a scepter as a gift. Savage would use that scepter as a weapon numerous times. The "Macho King" and Hulk Hogan met one last time, intended to end their ongoing year long feud), when Savage got a shot at Hogan's WWF Championship on the February 23, 1990 edition of The Main Event. The pinfall was counted by new heavyweight boxing champion Buster Douglas despite Savage kicking out at two, Douglas then punched Savage in the face after Savage confronted and then slapped Douglas.
In late 1990, Savage started a feud with then-WWF champion The Ultimate Warrior. The feud escalated at Royal Rumble 1991, when Warrior refused to promise Savage the right to challenge him for the title, should Warrior defend it successfully against Sgt. Slaughter (Slaughter had already granted Savage this opportunity, should he beat Warrior). Savage had sent Sensational Queen Sherri out before the match to try to persuade the Warrior to promise this in a face-to-face interview laced with sexual innuendos, but was unsuccessful. Outraged, Savage promised revenge, which he got during the Slaughter-Warrior title match. Before the match began, Randy "Macho King" Savage attacked the champion, resulting in the Ultimate Warrior having to crawl to the ring. Later, Savage ran out to the ring and smashed the sceptre over Warrior's head, (knocking him unconscious for Slaughter to pin), and then immediately sprinted back to the locker room.
The events at the Royal Rumble led to a career-ending match at WrestleMania VII, which Savage lost. After the match, Savage was attacked by Queen Sherri as he lay dejected in the ring, This was too much for Miss Elizabeth who happened to be in the audience. Elizabeth rushed to Savage's aid, fighting off Sherri and reuniting with her one-time love to huge crowd appreciation, with Savage becoming a fan favorite again. Despite his retirement from active wrestling, Savage stayed in the WWF in an non-wrestling capacity while the Ultimate Warrior was fired by Vince McMahon after SummerSlam later that year.
When Monday Night Raw began in January 1993, Savage served primarily as a color commentator, wrestling only occasionally against characters such as Doink, The Repo Man, Rick Martel, and Crush. However, he was the runner up in the Royal Rumble match at Royal Rumble 1993, where he was eliminated by Yokozuna. He returned to pay-per-view at Survivor Series 1993 as a substitute for Mr. Perfect and competed in the 1994 Royal Rumble match. His last WWF pay-per-view appearance as a competitor was a victory over Crush in a Falls Count Anywhere match at WrestleMania X.
Savage also made periodic appearances in Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion in fall 1994. Meanwhile, Savage was also a color commentator for the 1994 King of the Ring and made his final WWF pay-per-view appearance at the 1994 SummerSlam, where he served as the master of ceremonies. At the end of October 1994, Savage's WWF contract expired and he abruptly left to sign with the competing World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Randy Savage's final WWE appearance was on October 17, 1994 In Burlington, VT.
Savage signed with WCW, and his first appearance was on the December 3, 1994 edition of WCW Saturday Night prior to Starrcade. Savage made reference to the love/hate relationship he had with Hulk Hogan, then the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Savage eventually saved Hogan from an attack by the 3 Faces of Fear, shaking hands with his friend and rival. His first WCW feud was against Avalanche. At SuperBrawl V, he teamed up with Sting and took on Avalanche and Big Bubba Rogers in a tag team match, which Sting and Savage won.
He participated in the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship tournament and went on to defeat The Butcher in the first round and "Stunning" Steve Austin in the quarterfinals. He interfered in Flair's match against Alex Wright, attacking Flair and causing Wright to get disqualified, which set up a tournament semifinal match in which the winner would face the winner of the Sting and Meng match for the United States Championship at the June 1995 Great American Bash. Savage and Flair's tournament semifinal match never took place however, due to Savage and Flair brawling in the backstage area prior to the match and being eliminated from the tournament. They were instead given their own match in the main event, which Flair won. Savage defeated Flair in a later Lifeguard Lumberjack match at Bash at the Beach.
At World War 3, Savage won his first WCW World Heavyweight Championship by winning the first-ever 60-man three-ring battle royal. He lost the title to Flair a month later at Starrcade 1995: World Cup of Wrestling. Savage won his second WCW World Heavyweight Championship back from Flair on the January 22, 1996 edition of Nitro.
In January 1996, Savage brought Elizabeth with him into WCW as his valet once again, but she turned on Savage in his last title loss to Flair. Thereafter, Flair claimed that Elizabeth had given him a sizable amount of Savage's money, taken in their divorce settlement, which Flair used to set up a "VIP section" at Monday Nitro events. Flair and Savage continued to feud until June 1996.
At Bash at the Beach, the nWo was formed when Hulk Hogan turned on Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger and joined "The Outsiders", a tag team of former WWF wrestlers Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. After their inception, one of their main enemies became Savage himself, who was one of the leaders of the WCW crusaders against the nWo before joining them a year later. At Halloween Havoc, Savage faced Hogan for the WCW title but lost when the Giant interfered and chokeslammed him. Savage left WCW following the event, when he was unable to reach a new deal with the company.
Savage returned to WCW in January 1997. In early 1998, Savage started a feud with Lex Luger which culminated in a match at Souled Out, which Luger won. Luger also won a rematch between the two at SuperBrawl VIII. When Hogan failed to recapture his "nWo" Title from Sting, it was Savage's turn, and he got his shot at Spring Stampede. Hogan tried to make sure that Savage would not win the title because Hogan felt that he was the only nWo member who should be World Champion, since he was the leader of the stable. With the help of Nash, however, Savage beat Sting for his third WCW World Heavyweight Championship, despite tearing his ACL in his knee during the match.
After the June 15 edition of Nitro, Savage took a hiatus from the company to recover from at least two major knee surgeries. He made only one more appearance in 1998, helping Ric Flair defeat Eric Bischoff for the Presidency of WCW on the December 28, 1998 edition of Monday Nitro. When Savage returned, he debuted a new look and theme music, sporting a slicked back ponytail, earrings, and a new villainous attitude (though still embracing the fans).
Savage made his final WCW appearance on Thunder on May 3, 2000, where he participated in the 41-man battle royal for a title shot at The Great American Bash.
Savage made his return to professional wrestling at TNA Wrestling's Victory Road by confronting Jeff Jarrett. At Turning Point, he teamed up with Jeff Hardy and A.J. Styles to defeat the Kings of Wrestling (Jarrett, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall), in his last in ring match. The main event of Final Resolution in January 2005 was scheduled to be Jarrett and Savage for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Savage's plan was to win the belt and then drop it back to Jarrett at the next pay-per-view. On February 18, 2005, Savage left TNA amid health concerns.
On the morning of May 20, 2011, Savage died after suffering a sudden heart attack while driving with his wife in Seminole, Florida, a town on the Pinellas County side of the Tampa Bay area. He was 58 years old. Savage became unresponsive and lost control of his Jeep Wrangler, crashing into a tree. An autopsy performed by the Pinellas-Pasco County medical examiner's office found that he had an enlarged heart and advanced coronary artery disease. Savage had never been treated for heart problems and there was no evidence that he was aware of his heart condition. The cause of death was officially ruled as "atherosclerotic heart disease".
On May 30, 2011, ten days after his death, WWE chairman Vince McMahon, with whom Savage had irreconcilable differences upon his departure from the company in 1994, paid tribute to Savage in a Time magazine article. There, he described Savage as "extremely charismatic" and as "one of wrestling's all-time greats".
And indeed he was.
So, how's the figure? Extremely cool, although admittedly, not as flamboyant in appearance as Randy Savage would later become known for. It's certainly worth mentioning that Randy Savage has appeared in the upper levels of Mattel's WWE action figure products, looking decidedly more flamboyant and intense. Let us remember two things about this particular figure: First of all, it is from the relatively basic "Superstars" line. These are very cool, well-made figures, but there's not a lot of frills here. Secondly, this represents Randy Savage as he appeared at WrestleMania V. This is close to 25 years ago as of this writing, and frankly, the WWE itself was a lot less fancy than it is now.
The headsculpt is excellent, very much looking like a younger Macho Man. He has his long brown hair, trademark mustache and beard, and an appropriate grin on his face. One of my criteria for buying any of these WWE figures is how much the figure resembles the actual person, and in this case, it's an excellent likeness. He's also wearing an early version of his trademark sunglasses. These would become especially colorful in later years, but here, they're a basic pair of white wraparound sunglasses with black lenses.
It should be noted that the sunglasses are removable, and Macho Man's eyes and eyebrows are fully painted underneath, and very neatly.
Mattel uses a variety of body types for most of their WWE Superstars figures, and the one chosen for Macho Man is entirely appropriate. It gives the figure a generous amount of muscle definition without making Savage look like an extreme powerhouse, which he wasn't. Make no mistake, he was an impressive and powerful ring competitor, but there were those that were larger and more muscular. The body type chosen for Randy Savage is very fitting.
Macho Man is wearing bright orange trunks -- which is a nice change of pace from the usual black ring attire that one encounters in this line -- and the trunks have the words "MACHO MAN" stenciled on the back, flanked by a couple of stars, in basic block lettering, purple in color. Again, it's nowhere near as fancy as the ornamentation frequently seen on WWE superstars these days, but we again must recall the time period which this figure represents.
Macho Man is also wearing large knee pads, which are also the same bright orange as the trunks. The knee pads are molded from a flexible plastic, and were molded separately, and attached to the figure during assembly. They're flexible enough so that they don't hinder leg articulation hardly at all.
Macho Man has white wristbands, painted on, designed to look like white athletic tape, and portions of his hands and fingers are also wrapped, as are his thumbs. I tend to be very impressed by the job Mattel does with these. It's not only rather intricate paint work, but it seems that most wrestlers who are inclined to wrap their hands and fingers in tape all have a different preferred method of doing so. Mattel does a good job of keeping them as accurate as possible.
Macho Man is wearing high white boots, and the lower portions of his legs, distinct from the boots, are also white. I'm honestly not entirely certain what this is supposed to represent. Socks? Tape? Leg warmers? In any case, the boots are superbly well detailed, with sculpted laces from top to bottom.
Any complaints? None whatsoever. The only very slight criticism I might have is that the head looks a little small relative to the body. And yet, it's no larger or smaller than most of the other heads of WWE Superstars figures that I have. I suspect this may also be a slight reflection of the time period this figure represents. As time went on, Macho Man's hair got frizzier and frizzier, which arguably made his head look bigger. For the time period of WrestleMania V, this is probably just about right.
The figure has an excellent level of articulation. Macho Man Randy Savage is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. The figure does not have mid-torso articulation, and the legs move forward and backward, but not out to the sides, but this is not really a problem. There are WWE figures, the Elite Collection, that have more articulation in these aforementioned areas, but they're also a lot more expensive. I'm perfectly content with what I'm getting in the Suprestars collection, and really, given the size of the figure -- Macho stands roughly 7 inches in height -- and given what most retailers charge for the Superstars line, these figures are a bargain in the entire action figure market.
So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely pleased to have this figure. I've always been a Macho Man fan. Granted, he represents a different generation than most of the Superstars figures, and it is a tragedy that he is no longer with us. It's a little unusual to display the figure with the likes of John Cena, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and other more recent WWE Superstars, and wonder what might have been. But he's still a great figure to have. He's well made, neatly detailed, and a great addition to the action figure collection of any WWE fan.
The WWE SUPERSTARS WRESTLEMANIA HERITAGE SERIES figure of "MACHO MAN" RANDY SAVAGE definitely has my highest recommendation! Ooooh, yeah!