Randy "Macho Man" Savage died Friday morning after suffering a heart attack while driving and crashing his car. As KPCC's resident pro wrestling fan, here are some of my thoughts.
The Wrestling Observer's Bryan Alvarez described his impact in an email. "Randy Savage was one of the most famous wrestlers of all time, a cultural icon of the '80s alongside Hulk Hogan who became even more famous as the public face of Slim Jim."
Randy Savage Slim Jim commercial with his famous "Snap into a Slim Jim!" catchphrase:
Savage was arguably the number two star in the company. He was also known for his signature delivery of catchphrases like "Ohhhhh yeeeeaaahhh" and "Dig it!"
For wrestling fans, he was the embodiment of charisma, as well as a talented athlete. While wrestling's staged, the moves do take a physical toll and require a degree of athleticism to perform. His signature move was climbing to the top of the ring's corner turnbuckle and flying down onto his opponent with an elbow drop.
"Randy Savage had that 'it' factor that megastars of all genres possess," writes ProWrestling.net editor Jason Powell. "His voice, his look and his dynamic in-ring performances were so special that if you just happened to have the television on in the background, you would stop whatever it was you were doing" when Savage came on.
The Wrestling Observer's Alvarez describes one of Savage's most famous storylines. "He was involved in a storyline with Ricky Steamboat in the mid-'80s, where he supposedly crushed Steamboat's larynx with a ring bell." Alvarez says the storyline was so intense that it was the first memory of wrestling for many 30-something fans and the storyline that got them hooked. "He later went on to have a match with Steamboat at WrestleMania III that many have voted the best match in Mania history."
Twitter lit up with messages from fans and colleagues, including Hulk Hogan, the Rock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the Honky Tonk Man, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Mick Foley. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper initially wrote "Too sad to tweet." Mainstream celebrities like Ryan Seacrest, Alyssa Milano, ESPN's Bill Simmons and others also tweeted about the death.
Savage was 58 years old; as Pro Wrestling Torch editor Wade Keller put it, "It's the type of death at a young age that should give pause to wrestlers who have used steroids for years or plan to use steroids for years." It's unknown at this time whether Savage's death was caused by the car crash or the heart attack preceding the crash; an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. You can see footage of the crash below:
Randy Savage's brother, fellow pro wrestler Lanny Poffo, set up an email account for fans to leave their condolences at InMemoryofRandy@gmail.com.
Randy "Macho Man" Savage video:
Randy Savage pro wrestling interviews:
Hulk Hogan saves "Macho Man" Randy Savage:
Randy Savage turns on Hulk Hogan:
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage:
One of the last interviews with Randy Savage:
More on Randy Savage's death: