Randy Savage has always been a favourite of mine ever since I started watching wrestling back in the early 90s.
From his ‘Mania 3 match with Ricky Steamboat right through to his departure from the WWF, he always stood out to me due to his outlandish character, his wacky interviews and great in-ring action. He has a spot on my personal Mt. Rushmore ahead of guys from that era like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior because the proof is in the pudding: when Savage was involved the match quality was better.
So with light at the end of the quarantine tunnel, I’ve taken a selfish stance this week for part 3 of our journey and looked at one of my favourites of all time and picked five good matches of the his that all went under five minutes. Randy Savage’s career spanned four different decades so the choices were there, but I have taken five from a span of eleven years which in itself is quite impressive.
So for those who are time-strapped due to the COVID-19 quarantine lockdown restrictions, whilst others laze about and look for things to fill their day with, I wish I could say relax sit back and put your feet up and watch some good Randy Savage matches, but all I’ll just say good luck, hope you get a break, and when you do here are some good matches to help fill that five-minute gap you have.
Randy Savage vs George ‘The Animal’ Steele – Saturday Night’s Main Event, January 4th 1986 (3 minutes, 44 seconds)
On the road to WrestleMania II, George Steele became infatuated with Miss Elizabeth which led to an eventual Savage vs Steele match at ‘Mania, but here is where it all kicked off. This was used as a warm-up and a preview to what we could expect, but what we got was more of a kick-start angle to a feud rather than a match.
Steele was continually distracted by Elizabeth, and between the moments of action that did take place, Savage even used Liz as a shield not only to guard himself against Steele and escape but to distract him again and delay his return into the ring. Savage used this time to climb the ropes and hit an axe handle to pick up the flash pinfall and escape (carrying Liz over his shoulder) relatively intact.
Other than Savage’s athletic dives over the top rope and around ringside, and Steele’s traditional eating of the turnbuckle padding the in-ring action was not much of a spectacle, but it all served its purpose to get over the obsessive Savage character, the new connection between Steele and Elizabeth, and it made you want to see Steele get his revenge on Savage.
Randy Savage vs Dusty Rhodes – Summerslam 1990 (3 minutes, 1 second)
Between the 1986 clash with George the Animal Steele and Summerslam 1990, Randy Savage turned face, won the WWF title, turned heel again on Hulk Hogan and dropped the title to the Hulkster at WrestleMania in 1989. A year and a half later we find ourselves with the “Macho King” deep in the middle of a feud with the American Dream Dusty Rhodes. At WrestleMania 6 Rhodes teamed with Sapphire to take on Savage and Sensational Sherri, and in the months that followed both valets were heavily involved in the ever-changing story and build towards this bout.
In the weeks leading up to Summerslam Sapphire had been receiving anonymous gifts and at the show itself, she no-showed a scheduled match with Sherri, which sent Rhodes into a suspicious frenzy before his match with Savage later in the night. But before he could lock horns with the Macho King another bombshell was dropped as the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase announced to the world that he had “bought” Sapphire before bringing her out onto Mean Gene’s stage as the shocked and heartbroken Rhodes looked on.
Savage jumped Rhodes and took control for most of the match. Rhodes did make a brief comeback but eventually succumbed to the constant interference from Sherri and lost the match after taking a loaded purse to the jaw. Rhodes tried to chase off DiBiase after the match, but DiBiase, Sapphire and Virgil sped off in a limo. This was the start to the build towards the Survivor Series match where the Undertaker famously debuted in the WWF as part of DiBiase’s team when they took on Rhode’s team.
Randy Savage vs The Belfast Bruiser/Fit Finlay WCW Monday Nitro, 25th March 1996 (4 minutes 58 seconds)
Fit Finlay (aka the Belfast Bruiser) is known as one of the unsung heroes of the wrestling business. Along with the likes of Steven/William Regal, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero and Dave Taylor they were the reliable group of wrestlers who could get a decent match out of some of the most unskilled or inexperienced workers out there. Do you think it was an accident that Finlay was paired with Batista so much during the Animal’s SmackDown title run, or with Bobby Lashley shortly after his debut on the blue brand?
And more recently Finlay was credited for his work backstage agenting the women’s division over the past several years. Here in 1996 against another great worker in Randy Savage, they put on a believable, rough but short brawl that was designed to open up this edition of Nitro and get the crowd set up for a night of non-stop Monday Night War action.
Selling injuries from the infamous Doomsday cage where he and Hogan battled the “Alliance to end Hulkamania” the night before on PPV, Savage sold for most of this match with the Bruiser as the brawl sprawled around ringside. However, it was one small slip that let opened the door for Savage to hit his flying elbow out of nowhere and pick up the win. If you want to see a good example of how to get over in a losing effort, watch Fit Finlay here.
Ric Flair & Randy Savage vs Arn Anderson & Eddie Guerrero – WCW Slamboree 1996 (4 minutes, 8 seconds)
As part of WCW’s Battle Bowl, this wild combination took place at Slamboree 1996. Being a “random” professional wrestling drawing, of course, enemies were “randomly” drawn together and alliances were “randomly” drawn in opposing teams, and this match was no different. Anderson and Flair made their feelings towards the tournament and the rules crystal clear as they both jumped Savage as the match started, disregarding the scheduled teams for the bout.
Push-wise Guerrero was the odd man out here, but what he lacked he more than made up for with in-ring exchanges with Ric Flair. Guerrero showed he could hang with the best, and in 1996 there were not a lot better than Savage, Flair and Anderson. Savage fired up on Anderson in typical fashion but the constant brawling with Flair stopped any real flow to the match. The numbers game played its part in the finish with Anderson flooring his partner Guerrero with a DDT and dragging Savage off Flair and running him headfirst into the ring post. Flair eventually picked up the pinfall win over Guerrero and they rubbed the win in Savage’s face by having Elizabeth slapping him after the beatdown.
La Parka vs Randy Savage – WCW Monday Nitro 7th July 1997 (3 minutes 10 seconds)
The story of the match was La Parka not being in Savage’s league, and also the upcoming PPV tag team match featuring a surprise opponent opposing the nWo team of Savage and Scott Hall taking Savage’s attention away from the in-ring action. Savage dominated most of the match, but Parka did show some flashes of being able to catch Savage off guard with a small package and getting his feet up when Savage came off the top for his big elbow drop.
And moments later La Parka floored Savage with a Diamond Cutter…
That’s right, “La Parka” hit Savage with a Diamond Cutter then unmasked to reveal himself as none other than Diamond Dallas Page. The crowd erupted as Page covered Savage and picked up the shock win and get one over on Savage and the nWo. Page and Savage were entwined in a feud throughout the summer of 1997 that produced some of the best matches in WCW during the mid-90s. And this little surprise beauty was an integral part of the story that showed that even the top stars in the nWo were not only touchable but beatable – if you were smart enough.
Macho Man Randy Savage was one of wrestlings all-time greats and was taken too early in 2011 at the age of 58. His legendary lengthy matches with Ricky Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Ric Flair will live on indefinitely, and his ability to work with wrestlers of all shapes, sizes and abilities and get great matches from them should ring true to how good a wrestler he actually was.
This article is timed perfectly to coincide with the WWE network release of a special “Best of” series featuring Randy Savage so if you have enjoyed this article then I would recommend you go there to watch many of his classics, more well known (and longer) matches.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @oli_iai. Thanks for reading!