The next match in my countdown of WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches is the first time that the WWE Title was on the line at a WrestleMania where it wasn’t the main event of the show. At WrestleMania 1, the WWE Title wasn’t on the line. At the other WrestleManias before this, it was always the main event.
If you’ve missed anything in the countdown so far, the WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.
Who: “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 8
When: April 5, 1992
Where: Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana
Ric Flair won the vacant WWE Title at the 1992 Royal Rumble. Most people thought his WrestleMania opponent would be Hulk Hogan to set up a dream match for a lot of fans, but WWE went in another direction.
Randy Savage lost a retirement as a heel at WrestleMania 7 one year before this. He had an on-screen marriage to Miss Elizabeth at SummerSlam 1991 even though he was already really married to her in real life for several years before that. Savage was back in the ring later in 1991 as one of the most popular guys in the company again.
The storyline for this match became personal as Ric Flair claimed that he dated Savage’s wife, Miss Elizabeth, before she was with Savage. There were photos that appeared in WWF Magazine at the time where Flair was photographed with Elizabeth. They also showed the pictures on television all the time.
What I Thought Back Then
Savage was my favorite wrestler at this time, so I was happy that he was back in the ring and in the title hunt again. I was about 11 years old at the time. I didn’t know if what Flair was saying about Elizabeth was true, but I probably believed it because I didn’t know any better.
It was a storyline that gave the rivalry a personal feel. It was more than just good guy trying to get revenge against a bad guy. It was a man fighting for his wife with the biggest prize on the line since Flair was the WWE Champion going into the match.
As for Flair, I didn’t have much exposure to him in NWA/WCW because we didn’t get those shows until a few years after this. I had seen some tapes, but not a lot. He was a new guy to me. It was hard not to be drawn to him because he was such an entertaining character.
I was really excited about the match. It was easy to get into it when you have performers this good in a title match.
Here’s my full review of the match plus the analysis, which was written in 2012.
WWE Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair (w/Mr. Perfect) vs. Randy Savage @ WrestleMania 8
In the locker room, Sean Mooney interviewed World Champion Ric Flair along with his executive consultant Mr. Perfect. Perfect was dealing with an injury at this point in his career although he would return. They had threatened to show pics of Elizabeth. Flair cut an awesome promo about how Savage was going to try to capture the most coveted trophy of them all. He told Randy that when it’s over Randy should look at the big screen because Mr. Perfect will be showing the centerfold to the world.
Backstage, Mean Gene was standing outside of Macho Man’s locker room door saying that Macho Man didn’t want to talk to anybody.
There was a big entrance for Ric Flair as Heenan told lies about how expensive Flair’s robe was. Even though Heenan was an announcer, he also dabbled as a manager of Ric Flair as well. He was very biased towards Flair as an announcer, which made the 1992 Royal Rumble even more fun. This of course is Flair’s WrestleMania debut. Savage got a huge pop as soon as his music hit. He was pissed at Flair for what he was threatening to do regarding the photos of Elizabeth. He ran to the ring.
Savage chased Flair at the beginning, attacking him up the aisle. In the ring, Savage hit a clothesline and then his knee to the back that sent Flair to the turnbuckle. Savage was relentless, countering an atomic drop into a clothesline. Savage charged in and Flair gave him a back body drop over the top rope all the way to the floor. Flair drove his back into the side of the ring apron. No sign of Elizabeth yet. Heenan was putting over the angle that Elizabeth was with Flair a long time ago. Flair hit a couple of suplexes that earned him two counts. Heenan: “Come on Ric, show me the pictures!” Flair continued the assault, kicking Savage out to the floor. He drove his back into the side of the ring again. Flair hit a delayed vertical suplex for a two count. Flair continued the beatdown, stomping on him in the corner. After getting beat up for about five minutes, Savage hit a neckbreaker. Flair used a thumb to slow him down, then Flair went up to the top and of course he got slammed off the top because that’s what usually happened. It was a bigger bump than normal too. Savage hit him with a back body drop as well as a couple of clotheslines. He whipped Flair into the corner, Ric did the upside down bump, landed on his feet, ran to the other turnbuckle and leaped off only to get hit with a Savage punch to the head for a two count. That was almost comical. Savage hit a clothesline to knock Flair out of the ring again. Savage to the top and he hit Flair in the back with the double axe. Flair went into the guard rail. He came up bleeding. Flair got heat backstage for the blade job apparently. Like I said, they were told not to bleed. Savage continued the attack on the floor, ramming Flair into the post and Ric did the Flair flop on the floor. Savage hit a suplex on the floor.
Back in the ring, Savage didn’t want to cover him. He beat on Flair with punches. Savage went to the top and hit a great double axehandle for two. Savage hit a body slam and then went up for the Flying Elbow. He hit the elbow to a thunderous ovation. As he went for the cover, Mr. Perfect pulled Savage out of the ring. The ref didn’t see it. Savage chased him and they went into the ring. Perfect threw brass knucks to Flair while the ref was distracted. Flair punched Savage in the face and then he threw it back to Perfect. One…two…no. I remember thinking that was it when I was a kid. Gorilla: “What a match!” Indeed. With Flair distracting the ref, Perfect grabbed a steel chair and jabbed Savage in the left knee with it. At this point, Elizabeth came running the down the aisle although she was stopped by officials including Shane McMahon. He was 22 years old at this time. A bunch of other officials emerged to tell Elizabeth to go to the back. Flair worked over Savage’s knee and applied the Figure Four Leglock. Flair cheated with Perfect because Earl Hebner was staring at Savage only. I don’t know if Earl Hebner was the best ref ever, but he was the best at looking like a dumbass. Savage turned over the Figure Four, which put the pressure on Flair. They got back up to their feet, Flair went for a slam, Savage turned it into a small package and I thought that was it too. Nope. Flair kicked out. The suits continued to tell Elizabeth to leave. She did not. Heenan was saying that Liz was there to cheer on Flair. “It’s for you baby,” yelled Flair to Liz. Flair hit a knee breaker. Savage blocked a punch, rolled him up and hooked the tights for the 1…2…3 at 18:02.
Winner: Randy Savage – New WWF World Heavyweight Champion
The reaction to Savage’s win was a loud ovation by the 60,000+ people. Amazing noise when the ref’s hand hit the mat for the third time. Elizabeth went into the ring to celebrate. The blood was in Flair’s hair looking like only he can look…woo! Flair went up to Elizabeth and forced a kiss on her. She slapped him repeatedly. Macho attacked him. He almost knocked Liz over when he went after Flair. The officials helped Savage to his feet. He was still selling the knee injury. The feud would continue into the summer.
Analysis: ****1/2 The intensity was very high in this match that featured two of the greatest wrestlers ever. In terms of having all the tools as an overall performer, few were better than Flair & Savage. The emotion displayed in the match was tremendous. You could really break it down into three acts with Flair dominating early, Savage brutally assaulting him leading to the blood and then finally the conclusion when Elizabeth made her way to ringside. Flair was fantastic in terms of drawing heat, focusing on the knee of Savage and doing everything he could to rile up the crowd. Savage was the perfect babyface here, showing tremendous courage and doing what he had to in order to win. It was a great story that wasn’t finished by any means, but the result of this match was something the fans really enjoyed. When I was a kid I wondered why they would have the World Title match so early. When you see what happens in the main event it makes sense, but this would have been a fine way to end the show too.
In the locker room, Mooney interviewed Perfect and Flair. “Shut up Mooney!” Perfect said it the other time he talked to Mooney too. I agree with Perfect. He complained about Savage having his tights. All of a sudden, Bobby Heenan showed up from the booth and mentioned Savage holding the tights. Flair said that he got lucky this one time, but it won’t last. Perfect called Flair the greatest WWF Champion of all time. They replayed the finish. Savage definitely held the tights. Flair said he was going to beat him bad and every time he sees Elizabeth he’s going to kiss her on her moist lips. Did he use those same lines on the four wives he accumulated over the years?
Backstage, Mean Gene talked to Macho Man with Elizabeth and the World Title. He was still selling the knee injury. Savage basically said he proved that he would do anything to win. Gene asked Elizabeth if she felt vindicated. Savage gave Liz the title saying it’s for her and went on a rant saying that his fist is for Flair. Not the greatest Savage promo, but still good.
You can read my full recap of WrestleMania 8 right here.
What They Said
Here’s Ric Flair talking about the match after Savage’s death in 2011. Thanks to Prowrestling.net for it.
“That was a huge day for me and my first dance at WrestleMania, of course. It was just a tremendously well-written program. It was like he was married to Liz back then and she was a huge commodity and a huge star with the WWF, or that’s what they were called back then, of course. And the thing was, ‘She was mine before she was yours.’ It was well-written and done and Randy worked hard at it and I worked hard at it. We had a really good match. Curt Hennig, God rest his soul, managed me and Liz managed Randy and we gave them a hell of a show and it was awesome. That was my first Mania and one of the finest memories of my career.”
In a Flair interview in 2015, he changed his tune to say it was just an average match.
“It’s funny because it was just an average match. There was so much tension at that time between Randy and Liz. As a matter of fact, that was the last time they were together, they split the next day. It was just very uncomfortable. Not working with Randy or Liz individually, they’re great people but there was just tension between them and that was the last time they worked together there. I thought the match was OK but it could’ve been better and it wasn’t out individual abilities there was just a lot going on behind the scenes that people weren’t aware of. I felt bad. I was honoured to be a part of it and be in a main event at WrestleMania but there was so much going on behind the scenes that I felt bad for everybody involved. Not for me, but they were going their separate ways and it was difficult. He cared for her a great deal.”
I thought it was an awesome match, so let’s go with his first comment as the one that I agree with more.
What I Think Now
It was an awesome match between two of the best in-ring performers ever. I know that since this match took place, Flair has talked a lot about Savage and how sometimes it was hard to work with him because Savage liked to plan everything out beforehand while Flair enjoyed calling it on the fly. Whatever happened here in terms of how they set it up, I think their chemistry was great. The match holds up well 25 years after it happened.
Flair got in trouble for the blade job. At the time, they had banned wrestlers from cutting themselves open, but Flair did it anyway because he felt the match needed it to help tell the story.
This match featured the outstanding commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. Any time Flair was in the ring, Heenan was at his best as the over the top heel announcer that was so supportive of Flair. Monsoon was fantastic in putting over how great the match was. Plenty of “Will you stop?” moments from Monsoon as well.
I thought the finish was unique with Savage winning with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! instead of a Flying Elbow drop off the top like he won so many matches with. The fact that he used the tights also showed he was desperate to win and was willing to do anything it took to beat Flair at his own game. I don’t think I would have don a finish like that, I understand why they went that route.
What Happened Next
They feuded for most of the rest of the year. Savage held the WWE Title for about five months and Flair beat him for it.
This feud was the last great rivalry that Savage had in WWE. A year later he was working as announcer, which disappointed me because I thought he could do more in the ring. Savage’s last WrestleMania match was at WrestleMania 10 against Crush. He left for WCW in the mid-90s leading to many more matches against Flair.
Flair ended up leaving WWE in early 1993 because he didn’t fit in with what they were doing. He went back to WCW where he was a top guy and returned in late 2001 after WWE bought WCW.
As for Savage and Elizabeth, they ended up separating and divorcing in September 1992.
That was a lot of fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it and I think I liked it more this time because they are two of my favorite wrestlers ever. It was easy to jump back into this storyline and remember what made it work so well.
The most difficult thing about watching a match like this is knowing that three of the key performers (Savage, Elizabeth & Perfect) have all passed away. Gone but never forgotten. That’s for sure.
Rankings So Far
- Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 8
- The Undertaker vs. Edge @ WrestleMania 24
- John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 23
- Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H @ WrestleMania 30
- Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit @ WrestleMania 17
- The Rock vs. Steve Austin @ WrestleMania 19
- Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins) @ WrestleMania 31
- Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle @ WrestleMania 20
- The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 18
- Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 24
- Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch @ WrestleMania 32
- Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper @ WrestleMania 8
- Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 6
WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.
John Canton – [email protected]