When the discussion comes up of who is Mr. Wrestlemania, there are two names that always rise to the top of the list: the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. While it’s true that these two are probably the best options for this name overall, there’s another name that needs to be considered when you look back at the first decade of Wrestlemanias. Therefore today, we’ll be looking at the Wrestlemania career of one of the all time greats: the Macho Man Randy Savage.
Next up is a match that I think you’ve seen a few times before as Savage defended his Intercontinental Title against Ricky Steamboat at “Wrestlemania III” in what has been called one of the greatest matches of all time. This was a cruiserweight style match before anyone knew to call it that in this country with both guys never stopping for the slightest break throughout. The ending is legendary, the buildup is great and it’s one of the most famous matches of all time. There’s very little that hasn’t been said about this match and I’m sure you’ve seen it before so we’ll move on from this masterpiece.
After that amazing performance, we’ll move on to something that’s just very impressive instead. At “Wrestlemania IV”, Savage wrestled a remarkable four times in a single night en route to winning the WWF World Title. People remember his match against Ted DiBiase but forget his matches against Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and the One Man Gang. While most of these were nothing all that impressive, just coming out and working that many times in a single night isn’t very common. It’s something no one else has ever done at Wrestlemania and it was quite the way to bring Savage to the top of the company.
Savage would be back in the main event at “Wrestlemania V” but as a heel once again. This is another match that doesn’t need a lot of explanation as Savage came in as the hottest thing in the world to defend his title against Hulk Hogan. While Savage lost in a very questionable decision (imagine Savage retaining the title by countout or DQ and then holding the belt until “Summerslam 1988” or so when Hogan wins), the fact that he held the belt for over a year in the Hulkamania era tells you everything you need to know about how great Savage was at this point.
Things would take a step down at “Wrestlemania VI” as Savage would be involved in one of the first mixed tags in the company’s history. Now a king, Savage would team up with his Queen Sherri to face Sapphire and Dusty Rhodes. The match was nothing to see in the slightest from a quality standpoint but this is arguably the second most memorable match on the show (which to be fair is a big dropoff after a huge main event). Either way, this was a fun enough match that made Savage look like a big deal against a popular act in Rhodes and Sapphire.
That would be it for Savage’s trip down into the upper midcard as he would be back near the main event the next year at “Wrestlemania VII” in the second biggest and by far the best match on the card. Savage would put his career on the line against Ultimate Warrior, who put in the performance of his career. As amazing as some of the other things Savage has done over the years at Wrestlemania had been, this was very close to the top. However, after pulling a classic out of Warrior, it was the post match moment that makes this one so memorable.
After losing the match and his career, Savage would be attacked by his former manager Queen Sherri. However, Miss Elizabeth would come in from the crowd and help get rid of Sherri (one of the only times she would get physical) before reuniting with Savage. This led to Savage’s huge face turn, though he would be out of the ring for months due to the match stipulations. This is one of the most emotional moments in wrestling history and one of the few moments that brings a tear to several fans’ eyes.
It would be back to the WWF World Title the next year as Savage would get into an amazing and sadly underrated feud with Ric Flair. As usual it was over Elizabeth, who Flair claimed would be leaving Savage for him. Like so many other villains have done over the years though, Flair was lying and Elizabeth would stick with Savage, who won the title in a great match with a handful of trunks. As a bonus, both guys gave sweet interviews after the match, full of emotion to make it clear that this wasn’t over.
After taking “Wrestlemania IX” off to do commentary, it would be back to the midcard for Savage’s Wrestlemania swan song. In this case it would actually be a gimmick match called falls count anywhere but really closer to a last man standing match. This was the culmination of a hot feud with Crush, who didn’t forgive Savage for not visiting him while he was out with an injury. Savage went even more insane than usual and vowed revenge, ultimately defeating Crush in an entertaining match which would have been better had they gotten the stipulation right.
I don’t think Savage was around long enough to be considered the all time greatest Wrestlemania performer but it would be a LONG time before anyone was on his level. Winning two WWF World Titles at the show was a rare enough feat and it wouldn’t be until Michaels that anyone reached Savage’s level of success on the grandest stage of them all. Of course Savage didn’t have the longevity of Undertaker (But to be fair who does?) but he had as strong of a run as anyone else had for a very long time.
It’s a safe bet to put Savage third on the Mr. Wrestlemania list (your actual choices may vary) but with only one truly bad match and main events, World Title matches and classics all over the place, Savage has a resume second to very few. His work over the years has been overshadowed but I’d take Savage as Mr. Wrestlemania for the first ten years over anyone, including Hogan, who got all the praise but didn’t do most of the heavy lifting in the quality department.
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