Sadly, news broke today that Randy “Macho Man” Savage died in a car accident.
I wanted to share a few thoughts on the impact that Savage had on my childhood and college years, as an anecdote that sheds a little light on a cultural force that had an impact on people – and especially guys – who grew up during the 1980s.
As we who lived through the ‘80s well know, the television landscape was quite different back in the day. The weekend meant lots of cartoons, lots of sports, the occasional crappy movie (some of which are now being produced as crappy modern remakes), and “pro” wrestling. “It’s soap opera for guys,” one of my good friends calls it affectionately.
I always loved that description, and no one epitomized the showmanship and soapy adrenaline-drenched spirit of professional wrestling like Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Thanks to his Slim Jim commercials and other later celebrations of retro ‘80s culture, most people know about Savage’s trademark goofy hair metal-meets-aerobics warrior outfits, and gravely over-the-top beseechments such as, ooooh yeah!
I recall as a kid though that the best “story lines” were reserved for Savage back on the old pro wrestling circuit as well, including those involving his manager and “girlfriend” Miss Elizabeth. Macho Man’s opponent would inevitably make a rude or suggestive comment about Miss Elizabeth, the arena would erupt in outrage, and Savage would swoop in to avenge all that was good and right and noble about the United States of America. And wrestling, of course.
Years later, when I was a college senior, Savage had another and more unusual impact on my life. While goofing off one day, one of my housemates stumbled across an ancient VHS tape that featured none other than the Macho Man himself. We sat down to watch… and it was magic: The set up is that he’s in the backyard of his house, “unaware” that the camera is on him. He’s twisting his torso this way and that, announcing that he’s constantly working out, yeah!
That was all we needed to hear. Constantly working out, yeah! morphed into a catchphrase that would carry us through the winter and into the spring. And that was just the beginning: it was determined at some point during the late winter that the tenth anniversary of Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s ascendency to the title of WWF intercontinental championship needed to be celebrated in proper and debaucherous fashion. A two-day epic fiesta ensued (we were in college, let’s recall, so we literally didn’t have anything else more press to do) replete with pig roast, party flyers, and other WWF-themed paraphernalia.
So to wrap, on this sad day I raise a metaphorical plastic cup that has been just filled afresh with keg brew and say, “Here’s to you, Macho Man.”