The John Report Review: A&E Biography of “Macho Man” Randy Savage
The A&E Biography on “Macho Man” Randy Savage premiered last night on A&E TV. It started at 8pm ET with a runtime of two hours with commercials. They talked to all the key people needed to tell Randy’s life story including some comments from his brother and his brother Lanny Poffo was featured a lot. You can tell in a lot of cases that some of the comments were likely recorded many years perhaps when WWE did their own documentary on Macho Man. Others featured in the documentary were Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Jerry Lawler, Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Lex Luger, Natalya (who knew Randy when she as a kid), Curt Hawkins, comedian Dan Soder, Peter Rosenberg and more.
They told the story that Randy was a very competitive athlete that was very focused on sports right away. Randy tried to be a professional baseball player, but he wasn’t able to make it to the big leagues, so that’s when he got into professional wrestling since his father was a famous pro wrestler. Lanny and Jerry Lawler were really good at talking about how talented Randy was from the moment he started in wrestling. Randy was a natural that could do it all and it was evident early in his career.
From there it was onto the WWE run. It was great that they covered WrestleMania 3 in detail with Ricky Steamboat talking about the meticulous detail that Savage put into the match, which is considered one of the best matches ever. Even Vince McMahon was on there saying it was one of the greatest matches of all-time. Anyway, Ricky was tremendous in this part talking about how Randy liked to lay out the matches in detail and Ricky was recounting some of the steps as the clips were shown. There were also people talking about how Randy didn’t care about winning or losing as long he could have great matches. If you recall when I wrote about the Steve Austin documentary, I complained that they left out WrestleMania 13 as the breakout match in Austin’s career. At least, in this case, they did mention Savage’s breakout match at WrestleMania 3.
After the WrestleMania 3 part, I was confused because what about WrestleMania 4? Randy Savage winning the WWE Title was the best moment of his career and they skipped it over. Main eventing WrestleMania 5 with Hulk Hogan was huge too, but that was ignored as well. The WrestleMania 7 match with Ultimate Warrior that was one of the best storylines of Randy’s career was barely touched on at all as well. Winning the WWE Title again at WrestleMania 8 was completely ignored as well. I just feel like you have to cover these stories when talking about his career, yet they were not a part of the documentary.
The show also covered Miss Elizabeth a lot. Their relationship was covered both as one of the most on-screen couples ever and also a married couple that had a lot of great times, but then it ended in divorce. There were the same stories you always hear about how Randy loved her, she was great for his character (she definitely was) and he was also very overprotective of her. They legitimately got married in 1984, they had the SummerSlam 1991 wedding for WWE fans as part of the storyline and the marriage fell apart shortly after that. As the marriage was ending, Elizabeth was hanging out with Hulk Hogan and his wife a lot, so that led to Randy getting mad at Hogan a lot.
It was weird how they chose to not talk about those great Savage moments at WrestleMania, yet they took a few minutes to trash him on commentary. That led to Savage leaving for WCW because he wanted to keep wrestling while Vince McMahon wanted him to stop wrestling, so that’s the main reason Savage left unless you want to believe other rumors.
There was a big issue with the story that Jerry Lawler told about how WWE found out that Savage left for WCW. I’m going to share what Mike Johnson of PWInsider wrote about it because frankly, he wrote it perfectly, so if you didn’t see it you’ll know what happened. Here’s what Mike wrote.
“The story Jerry Lawler told about Randy Savage jumping to WCW and how Vince McMahon learned is incorrect and appears to be Lawler misremembering Lex Luger’s jump to WCW on the first episode of Nitro. Lawler’s version is that McMahon was looking for Savage to go over the Raw format but he was not there and was told to watch TV. Lawler then described Vince’s non-reaction to seeing Savage on TV on WCW that night. The only problem with that is that Nitro didn’t exist when Savage left the WWF in November 1994, which was when McMahon, live on Raw, bid farewell to Savage and thanked him for his contributions to the WWF. Savage didn’t debut for WCW until a December 1994 episode of WCW Saturday Night, which was taped, and certainly did not run opposite a WWF broadcast the same evening. While one can’t fault Jerry Lawler for misremembering something from decades ago given how much he’s seen and done in the business, it’s surprising that made air without being double-checked.”
I was dumbfounded that the documentary would air that comment from Lawler. Jerry got confused with Lex Luger’s jump, yet somehow the director and producers left this in. Most fans would recall Vince McMahon’s message to Randy Savage after Savage chose to leave WWE. This was on Raw on November 7, 1994 and they did air part of this in the documentary. It’s more proof that WWE wasn’t surprised that Randy showed up in WCW. They likely expected it since Hogan went to WCW earlier in 1994 as well.
They didn’t do a great job of covering the WCW run. They didn’t even mention how instrumental Savage was in terms of elevating Diamond Dallas Page, which was probably one of the best WCW feuds ever and another example of how great Savage was even in his mid-40s. Instead, they tried to trash him some more by saying he was in Hulk Hogan’s shadow again, by 1999 he was doing too many steroids and trying to put a negative spin on everything. They did cover Elizabeth working with him in WCW again and that Randy loved it while both of them had moved on in their personal lives.
The relationship between Randy Savage and his 1999 WCW valet Gorgeous George (real name was Stephanie Bellars) was featured. They met at a strip club in Tampa. She talked about how they had a lot of good times together, but there were bad times too. I question some of the things she said because she talked about how they traveled 300 days a year, yet she wasn’t even on WWE TV for a full year and Randy was just working some TVs, yet the schedule was way lighter than his WWE prime years. Stephanie also talked about Randy doing steroids and getting his dad to help him with it. Stephanie said they were doing a lot of other drugs and even appeared on Nitro once when both of them were really high. Stephanie and some of her family talked about how possessive Randy was even to the point that he had cameras at Stephanie’s house to keep an eye on her. Stephanie told the story about how she found out about that and the relationship fell apart. This part really made Randy seem like a terrible person. I don’t know what was true in this part and what may have been fabricated. I’m sure that she felt bad about their relationship going badly by the end. However, Randy was also like 20 years older than her when they dated and she was working at a strip club. Randy got her a job with a major wrestling promotion when she knew nothing about wrestling, so I think that’s something that was pretty good by him. It’s a better job than being a stripper.
I didn’t like the part where they made fun of Macho Man for putting out a rap CD. They also played clips of when Hulk Hogan and his DJ friend Bubba The Love Sponge making fun of Macho Man. The same Hogan and Bubba that were in headlines because Bubba recorded Hulk having sex with Bubba’s ex-wife, then the tape got out and Hulk made millions off it while also taking a huge hit on his career due to a recording. And they use Bubba on this documentary? What was the point of this? They covered people making fun of Macho Man, yet they didn’t even mention some of his greatest WrestleMania moments. That’s bullshit to me. It made it seem like Savage was a delusional idiot after he left wrestling. They put him over for being Bonesaw in the Spiderman movie in one moment and then you’re making fun of him? I didn’t like that at all. Randy Savage had a failed rap CD. Great. How many wrestlers had movies that failed miserably? A lot of them. That’s usually not mentioned, but they decided to try to tear him down in this documentary for some reason.
There were also several minutes spent on the death of Miss Elizabeth. It covered how she was dating Lex Luger and so many of the wrestlers knew it wasn’t going to end well. Elizabeth died of a drug overdose while at Lex’s house and then the cops went to Lex’s house where they found out he had a lot of drugs there. Luger wasn’t charged with anything about her death, but obviously, they were not good for each other since Elizabeth died at 42 years old in 2003. They showed comments from Randy at the time saying he felt terrible about it and was sorry for her family. It was not like Randy had anything to do with her death, though.
They talked about how Randy married his high school sweetheart and was happy again. Hogan said he saw Randy at a doctor’s office with Randy saying he was happy in his life and Randy forgave Hulk for whatever issues they had. A friend of Randy’s named Wendy Kelly talked about Randy and Randy had told her that Lynn was the love of his life. Lanny spoke about how they got married where they met 36 years before. Hogan said that Randy’s new wife wasn’t part of the wrestling business, so it allowed him to unplug from the business.
Randy’s friend Lynn talked about Randy’s death on May 20, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Randy was driving the Jeep while going home from a store with Lynn in the car with him. Randy pressed the gas, then Lynn had to steer the car and avoid other cars, so the car stopped when they hit a tree. Randy was dead on the scene while Lynn had some minor injuries. It was 9:30 AM when it happened and Randy was 58 years old. It was a heart attack that caused it with comedian Dan Soder (who des a great Macho Man impression) saying it was a Macho Man way to die while saying it was still a sad death.
The final few minutes featured clips of Macho Man in action while featuring comments from the talking heads talking about how special of a performer Savage was. Vince McMahon said that Randy was intense, he wanted to give his all and he respected a guy like that. Hogan said that Randy gave his heart and soul to this business. Some more Macho Man highlights were shown and that was the end of it.
The best way to summarize my feelings is to say I loved the first hour because it did a great job of covering what made Randy Savage so special. However, the second hour smeared his name a lot, took shots at him that were completely unnecessary and really left a bad taste in my mouth. They spent more time having Hulk Hogan and his dumbass DJ friend making fun of Randy post-wrestling career than they talked about WrestleManias 4, 5, 7 or 8 that were all highlights in Savage’s career. I also think some of the people on this documentary that were critical of Randy have a lot of credibility issues themselves, so I wonder what the director and producers were going for when they put this together. As noted above, they also left in that bullshit story by Jerry Lawler about Savage going to WCW, which was clearly a lie, yet somehow it made it into the final product.
Randy Savage was one of the best professional wrestlers that could do it all whether he was a heel or face, in the main event or the opening match and whether doing a promo or just making one of his grand entrances. Every pro wrestler should study him because they can all learn from him. I do think the documentary did cover his greatness as a performer well, so I’ll give them credit for that.
If you compare this documentary to the previous A&E documentaries about Steve Austin and Roddy Piper, they were way harder on Savage than either of those men, both of whom have a lot of faults of their own that were either completely ignored or barely mentioned. I realize there are different directors/producers in all of these documentaries, but I just feel like this was too negative at times when it didn’t need to be. When they cover Ultimate Warrior, will they mention all the terrible things that he said about so many different groups of people? Probably not because WWE has a Warrior Award named after the guy. That’s why I have an issue with this stuff. It needs to be consistent.
In my opinion, the WWE Network documentary about Randy Savage was better than this. I found it in the documentary archives. It was from November 2014 and it’s called “Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story.” I don’t know if it’s on Peacock yet, but I have it on WWE Network and I remember loving it when it came out. They actually focused on positive things in his career and life while also focusing on the incredible charity work that Savage did in his career. To me, that documentary did a better job of telling his story without trashing the man.
I think there were good parts in the documentary. I just feel like they veered off in the wrong direction in the second hour and it made it too sad by the end. This isn’t Dark Side of the Ring or something like that. They could have done a better job in telling this story. At least that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
Next week’s A&E Biography is about WWE Hall of Famer Booker T. I don’t know if I’ll review it. I only plan to review some of them, but not all of them.
Thanks for reading.