The story of wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage contains multitudes. It has stories buried under stories, mostly set to the excesses of 1980s wrestling and the extravagances of being a supreme physical being everyone not only recognized but also wanted to sound like. Macho Man’s voice is the stuff of legend and everyone who’s ever had the chance to emulate it has indulged in the opportunity. The man is an icon, pure and simple, deserving of documentaries that keep his memory and legacy alive.
A&E’s Biography program has been releasing a series of documentaries on some of the biggest personalities in wrestling, with one episode dedicated to Stone Cold Steve Austin and another to Rowdy Roddy Piper. The third one of the bunch goes to Macho Madness, Randy Savage himself, and his rise to superstardom in the WWE all the way up to his WCW days and into his final years outside of the business before his tragic death.
The show manages to bring in an admirable amount of wrestling personalities to tell stories about Macho Man (real name Randy Poffo), Vince McMahon among them, but it’s Hulk Hogan, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and Randy’s brother Lanny Poffo who offer the most insight.
Hogan’s real-life beef with Macho Man has been well documented and was even the force behind Randy’s 2003 rap album Be A Man, in which he disses Hogan in the title song. The Hulkster seems more laid back here, not interested in fanning flames or causing controversy. In fact, we learn that there’s a lot of water under the bridge between them and that there might’ve been some encounter between the two where lingering issues were addressed. I appreciated the documentary showing no interest in building controversy over rumors.
Ricky Steamboat’s segments are special on a whole other level. The documentary chooses to dive deep into his famous match against Randy Savage in Wrestlemania III, one of the best wrestling matches in sports entertainment history. Steamboat details the degree of planning that went into the fight and how Savage revealed his obsessive perfectionist side during the collaboration.
It’s a rare look into the nitty-gritty of the sport, on how the illusion is put together, and it’s a wonderful part of Macho Man’s story. Steamboat’s recollection is so vivid you’ll want to watch the classic match again. Believe me, you’ll appreciate it even more after watching this documentary.
Lanny Poffo carries the emotional weight of the Macho Man story, commenting on his brother’s childhood, his real personality, and his family life. Lanny’s relationship with his brother is presented as unique and honest. He’s a reliable source and is careful not speak for Macho Man or on his behalf. Lanny is another character in Savege’s life, who was also a wrestler himself (although not as successful as his brother).
Lanny offers scores of small family details that round out the overall narrative, that contextualize it. The same goes for the process behind the creation of the Macho Man persona, something he also sheds a lot of light on.
For better or worse, the towering presence of Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring looms over A&E’s show. The very first episode of Dark Side’s first season, titled “A Match Made in Heaven,” centers on Macho Man and his then wife Miss. Elizabeth as it explores their journey through the wrestling world both as one of the industry’s most explosive power couples and as a real married couple.
The episode is focused on that couple dynamic more than anything, keeping the actual wrestling in the background to allow for their partnership’s trials and tribulations to take centerstage. A&E’s approach to the Macho Man story goes for a more holistic approach, shedding light on that same topic but not allowing it to become the driving force. Both documentaries add to the overarching story and are individually important. I recommend watching both to get a more comprehensive look of the wrestling icon.
The Macho Man Randy Savage story Biography put together is a fair, brutally honest, rough, and essential viewing experience that fans both old and new should watch. It shows just how imperfect an icon can be, but also how those imperfections shouldn’t be taken as the sum of a person’s story. You take the good, you consider the bad, and you reach your own conclusions after considering the facts.
There’s a lot more behind the Oh Yeah’s and the flying elbow drops here. The Macho Man requires nothing less than to be considered in all his glorious and dark complexity. The documentary allows viewers to do just that.