Begin Transmission: Dec. 28 2016
Rolling back through Satellite Archives I happened upon an old match I hadnt seen in quite some time. My joy for wrestling in the good old days was large in part due to the Macho Man Randy Savage. I was so excited when he first captured the championship at WrestleMania 4…I was then horrified when he lost it at WrestleMania 5 back to Hulk Hogan. Depressed when he lost a retirement match years later to the Ultimate warrior at Wrestlemania 7. Then as the hands of fate would have it he would recapture the world title again in 1992…I remember loving it but always found it strange when he won it again. Little did I know HOW strange the circumstances were in which he was given the opportunity. Strap in heroes as we go behind the scenes of the WWF political landscape of 1992..
We are about to discuss the seemingly little know back story to this controversial title change that is virtually lost in the storage closet of the WWE Video Library. This is the weird tale of the 2nd WWF title reign of Randy Macho Man Savage, how it was never meant to be and was born out out of a weird series of events and would end in the same bizzare fashion it began.Those who think they know how booking in professional wrestling works really needs to think again and sit back and study this extraordinary series of events that changed the WWF Title picture forever.
For a bit of perspective we need to flash back months before said title match. Randy Savage had recently won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship April 5th 1992 at WrestleMania 8 from Ric Flair following a very well played out storyline which suggested that Ric Flair had photos of a previous relationship with Randy’s wife Elizabeth. Of course those who knew how protective Randy was of Liz in real life knew that despite this being a storyline persay it touched a very real nerve in Randy. This was a revenge match at the highest level and Randy came out on top..However suddenly only several months removed Savage would be booked to drop the belt on a episode of Prime Time Wrestling (WWF Superstars in Canada) Sept.1st of the same year! It seemed out of place..Something didn’t sit well with me, almost as if it was suddenly improvised. This match and the reason it played out like it did is one that may surprise even the most hardcore wrestling fan.Savage was never meant to win the title at WrestleMania 8 in the original booking plans.
The Savage vs Flair WrestleMania 8 match was not on the original card..In fact Randy Savage was not even scheduled to wrestle!? The scheduled main event match was a Champion vs Champion match, Ric Flair vs Hulk Hogan, the ultimate dream match for wrestling fans at the time. WWF had done a couple of dry runs at the time with Hogan vs Flair on the house show loop but the matches didn’t draw or receive the reaction the WWF was looking for in the proposed main event at Mania. So the course of matters changed. First Flair has arrived in the WWF complete with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship which eventually legally would be mixed forcing the WWF to video distort any visuals of the title on WWF TV.
On top of the WCW legal ramblings WWF would find themselves in they were also being subjected tothe beginnings of a steroid investigation and Hulk Hogan would also put the company in an undesirable light by shining a light on steroid abuse by lying on public TV (On The Arsenio Hall show in 1991)
Hogan lied about not taking steroids which spiraled into further investigations into steroid abuse within the WWF and led to a full on Steroid trial in 1993-1994. The company could not risk putting the title on Hogan in the interim as he was toying with the idea of stepping away from the limelight to pursue other opportunities while some speculated he was hoping to let the heat die down from the steroid fire.
Once the Hogan and Flair proposed match was aborted the Wrestlemania booking plans changed.The company decided to put the WWF strap on Ric Flair at the 1992 Royal Rumble while also setting up a feud between Hulk Hogan and the then face Sid Justice.
Now with Hogan paired with Sid..The company needed someone to pair with Flair.There were no clear contenders worthy of a WrestleMania main event as the WWF had just recently finished a series of matches with Ric Flair and Roddy Piper so they could not go back to that well easily. The call was made to Savage who toiled behind the announce table. He would easily fill the Co-Main event slot and be a contender that fans would buy into.
So due to some internal politics and a Hulk Hogan steroid scandal brewing on the horizon the decision was made to not give Hogan the title back from Flair but to have a blow off match with Sid Justice and re-introduce the Ultimate Warrior back into the mix as the companies number one face.
With that Savage vs. Flair was set for WrestleMania 8 with Randy walking away with the belt in one of the best WrestleMania matches especially of that era.
Savage was chosen to win the strap for a number of reasons outside of the Hogan vs Flair decision. The WWF had “retired” Randy Savage one year earlier at WrestleMania 7 and had placed him in an announcer position to keep him on-screen..A position that Savage was good at but he disliked not being an active wrestler and felt marginalized behind the mic.
Savage was beloved by the WWF and particularly by Vince McMahon. As a favor to Savages loyalty the decision was made to give Randy another run as a in ring wrestler and put the strap on him at the biggest show of the year in the “Co-Main Event”
Things looked good for Savage after WrestleMania 8 as a wrestler ..He had officially returned to the ring and was once again the world champion. However in real life Savage’s legit marriage to his Manager and spouse Elizabeth was falling apart and WrestleMania would be their swan song. Amongst the roars of thousands of fans, and a full on fireworks celebration and his shiny new championship..Savages relationship with the love of his life was over...on live PPV this would be the last the fans would ever see of the couple in the WWF.
While Savage headed back to the road as a full time wrestler Elizabeth would not join him and this would lead eventually to a divorce for the long time beloved couple. Randy would never be the same. Reports of his demeanor and in ring professionalism changed. Randy struggled without his Liz..and it was apparent to everyone including Vince McMahon and the quick decision was quickly made to take the title away from Randy and put it temporarily back to Flair until a suitable suitor to the title could be found! (It would later be Flair dropping the title to Bret The Hitman Hart)
So the decision was made that Savage needed to get his personal life together before the company seriously used him in a reliable full time capacity. So it was set on Sept.1st 1992 on a taping for WWF Prime Time Wrestling that Ric Flair vs. Randy Macho Man Savage would be the main event for the WWF Heavyweight Championship.
Both Flair and Savage were informed of the title switch and were given their finish of where Savage would lose to Ric Flair’s figure 4 leg lock after interference by Razor Ramon and Mr. Perfect. Randy would “Pass out from the pain” as a way of protecting Randy even in a loss situation. This match only existed as a result of political jockeying, personal marital issues , and an impending company steroid scandal was about to be marred by yet another bombshell. Apparently as Vince McMahon watched the match play out backstage he ordered the wrestlers to the back and was quite upset about the quality of the match and ordered the wrestlers out to the ring to reshoot the match in front of a confused television audience who had just watched the same match play out. The audience was informed that as a result of the match finish the match would be restarted. It was the second match that would eventually air on Sept. 14th 1992 edition of Prime Time. This sequence of events would be very important to the business as it represented the changing of the guard as Flair would go on to drop the strap to a younger Bret Hart and the WWF would never be the same..
That’s your history lesson wrestling fans..thanks for reading. Strap in heroes 2017 has so much more in store for us…so to all my readers Happy Holidays and Happy New Year..thanks so much for your support all year. See ya Next Year!!