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Savage is my all-time favorite wrestler. I considered starting a thread on him before and never got around to it, but the talk of the ICW cage match with Garvin earlier today finally provided the motivation. I just watched that match, so we may as well start this examination with something from the early years...

 

Vs. Ron ("the One Man Gang") Garvin, Cage Match, 1982 (?)

 

Not sure of the date nor the place. Lexington perhaps? Anyway, this is ICW, Randy's dad's outlaw promotion. Haven't seen much of this at all. Lanny Poffo provides post-production commentary in the most monotone manner possible. Savage, prophetically, comes to the ring to "Fame", and he is wearing a robe with snakes and dragons on it. Garvin is the heel, Savage is the face, which I understand was unusual for these two in ICW. We start with a mat-based stalemate for a few minutes. Equals! See Jerry, I told you. ;) Garvin takes over and things pick up. Savage is busted open and bloody only a few minutes in. Savage gains the advantage and Garvin is immediately bleeding as well. I can see why Matt D favours this match, as the selling is long-term, with both wrestlers getting weaker and slower as the match progresses. The match gets real violent when Garvin takes off the ref's belt and chokes Savage, eventually tying him to the top rope with it. Savage prevails in the end with a sweet piledriver after crotching Garvin on the top rope. Post-match, Pez Whatley enters the cage and delivers a beatdown on Savage. Then in a surreal moment, Lanny Poffo narrates himself making the save.

 

Pretty good match. Real heavy on the selling. You just don't see long-term selling in a match like this anymore and haven't for years. Savage won the match with the only ounce of strength he had left and was barely able to cover Garvin for the pin. Actually, one of my favorite Savage traits was his selling. Savage already looks pretty good here, but this is totally different from his WWF years, as he is very subdued compared to the bouncing-off-the-walls Macho Man we all know and love.

 

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I'm going to review Savage matches every now and then, and initially at least they will be matches I haven't seen before/matches that aren't talked about very much. I pretty much threw a dart on a map to come up with this one...

 

Vs. Rick "the Model" Martel, 3/26/91, Las Vegas

 

Well, this is kind of significant as obscure wrestling trivia if nothing else. So, as we all know, after losing to Warrior at Mania VII Savage was forced to retire. When was his next match? Against Jake Roberts at This Tuesday in Texas? Under a mask as "Mr. Madness"? Nope, it was two days later against Martel in Vegas, taped for CHV World Tour 91. The storyline explanation by Mooney is Savage signed for this match prior to losing the retirement match, so he had to "honour the contract". Not explained, however, is why pre-Mania VII heel Savage signed for a match with heel Martel. Anyway, Savage is accompanied to the ring by Elizabeth for the first time in two years. This is a match between two of my all-time faves, and I don't think they worked against each other very often over the years. Martel with the Pearl Harbor job to start. Savage sells for most of the match. Pretty much every move Martel uses is some kind of dirty tactic or another. This was a pretty quick match. Savage takes control, an attempt at a clothesline over the top rope spot is botched, Savage busts out his famous, but rare for the WWF, piledriver on Martel on the arena floor, and the flying elbow ends things at 6:01.

 

Not much of a match. Little heat, and the post-match bit with Randy and Liz doesn't get much of a reaction from the crowd. For completists only. Savage's selling continues to be top notch, though.

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Let's look at Randy in a tag team setting...

 

Savage/Honky Tonk Man vs Hulk Hogan/Ricky Steamboat, 1/5/87, Meadowlands, NJ

 

This was taped for International Wrestling Challenge, so I'm guessing this wasn't broadcast in North America at the time. Vince and Bruno on commentary. Steamboat and Hogan teaming just seems wrong for some reason. Savage and Honky together is pretty weird too. Savage tosses a chair into the ring that hits the ref and knocks him down before the match even starts, which establishes the mood for this match, which I would call "un-WWF like" for lack of a better term. The crowd is super hot for this one. Early on, Hogan forces Honky to tag in Savage, but Savage just runs outside, stalls, and then tags Honky back in without ever doing anything in the ring. The Savage/Steamboat feud is only incidentally referred to during this match and the big injury angle isn't mentioned at all. The crowd is just rabid for Hogan and anything he does. Savage is great throughout working on the apron, engaging the crowd and doing stuff to get heat, while Honky does all the in-ring work. Finally, more than halfway through the match, Savage officially gets involved, but only briefly before tagging back out. At one point Vince states "Savage is everywhere", and it's true, as Savage is running around outside, interfering, cheating, being a shit disturber. Hot tag to Hogan and he cleans house. He tags Steamboat back in and we finally get a one-on-one confrontation between him and Savage as the crowd goes crazy. Things break down--as Hogan and Honky brawl outside, Savage gets the bell from ringside, but Steamboat gains possession of it, leading to Savage and Liz bailing on the match. Hogan and Steamboat beat up Honky and Jimmy Hart in the ring, and the match just ends with no bell because there was no bell to ring anymore. Ref rules Hogan and Steamboat winners by DQ.

 

This was a fun little match, marred by your typical 80s WWF shitty non-finish. Savage played the chickenshit heel pretty well and the crowd ate it up. The match had a bit of a chaotic, Memphis/Southern feel to it, which I think Savage often tended to bring to his early WWF work.

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Randy Savage was such an incredible performer. What makes him better in my eyes than guys like Flair, Bret and so many others is his intensity. Randy could bring it and there's nothing he couldn't do in the ring.

Talk about telling a story in the ring. He was another Rembrandt but his canvas was the squared circle.

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Vs. Rick "the Model" Martel, 3/26/91, Las Vegas

 

Not much of a match. Little heat, and the post-match bit with Randy and Liz doesn't get much of a reaction from the crowd. For completists only. Savage's selling continues to be top notch, though.

Given how much I like both guys, this disappoints me greatly.

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Randy Savage was such an incredible performer. What makes him better in my eyes than guys like Flair, Bret and so many others is his intensity. Randy could bring it and there's nothing he couldn't do in the ring.

Talk about telling a story in the ring. He was another Rembrandt but his canvas was the squared circle.

Has anyone seen Randy work the mat? Legitimately curious.

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He kind of works the mat during the opening minutes of the Garvin ICW cage match, but yeah, he didn't do it often. If there was more footage of his 70s work there would likely be plenty of examples, especially when you consider he was apparently working 60-90 minute matches with Bobby Eaton at one point.

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Guest Andrews

Love Randy.

 

One of the most baffling things to me - ever - was that how in an era of pretty strict booking in the WWF (in the 4 PPV a year era) where there were long term plans, booking was changed on house show results...

 

 

How the fuck...

 

Can Randy be in the last two in the Royal Rumble....

 

Then a couple of months later not even be on the card for Mania 9...

 

How the hell can he win the world title at WM8....

 

And not evenbe booked on the following years card....

 

To me its just mental. Considering things were so damn thin in 1993, that they would leave out arguably the biggest name on their roster. Surely him teaming with Hogan would have trumped the Brutus inclusion. Or perhaps squaring off with Razor Ramon, considering they interacted in tags in late 92, and Razor cost Savage the world title...

 

BUT LEFT OF THE CARD??

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This is just me...but I didn't enjoy Randy's in ring work after his "retirement" loss to Anabolic (which was one of his all time great performances). His Ring gear changed and he was used more as a announcer or personality than as a pushed wrestler.

Don't get me wrong..I'm glad he beat Flair for the title..but I thought he wasn't the same and I didn't really appreciate him

again till he was in his WCW heyday. I especially liked when he came back all juiced up and he was essentially bigger than Hogan.

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I need to check the Observers from early 93 one of these days to see what Dave wrote about Savage's abrupt shift, other than a few matches here and there, to full-time announcer at that point. I remember being pissed at the time Randy didn't win the Rumble, because he could have faced Bret in a passing of the torch match at Mania IX. His feud with Razor was also never blown off, like Andrews mentioned.

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Randy Savage vs King Konga (Barbarian) - Early 84?

 

I don't know where this is, Missouri? Somewhere. Youtube says it's ICW but I don't think so. Savage has the NWA Mid American Championship. Anyway this is to set up a no DQ match later, and it's all about Savage making Konga look like a million bucks. He's super giving, eating hot shots and power moves and having a completely ineffectual offense. Savage gets a few hope spots but they amount to nothing. It ends with a DQ as Konga goes out of control and the visual of Savage having Konga ready for a pile driver before people come in to break it up and the question for the rematch remains whether or not Randy will be able to get him up now that the title is on the line.

 

If you ever wanted to see Randy vs a Brick Wall, I'd suggest this over the two Gonzales matches from 93.

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Another week, another random Randy match...

 

Vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, 7/1/96, WCW Nitro

 

Where to begin? Well, I'm glad I didn't really get my hopes up, that's for sure. This is WCW Nitro, so actual commentary of the match we are watching is of course not a top priority for Tony and Larry Z. Anyway, this is Valentine's first WCW match in 4 years, and he comes to the ring to the Hollywood Blondes old music. This being the go-home show for the legendary 96 Bash at the Beach PPV, Savage comes to the ring wearing Sting's face paint and looking ready for war. Match begins and Valentine looks good, stiff as always. Like against Martel, Savage sells for most of the match. Tony and Larry Z talk about the upcoming PPV, the Outsiders, the impending start of the second hour of Nitro ( which, no joke, Tony hypes as the "most watched hour in the history of our sport"), and basically anything other than the match at hand. Savage takes control just as a countdown clock to the second hour obnoxiously appears on screen, and, what a coincidence, Savage ends things with the elbow just as the clock hits zero and fireworks explode for the start of the second hour.

 

Beneath all the hype and distractions, there was a match, but it wasn't good anyway. Just a quickie TV match, forgotten as soon as it was over. These guys probably had a great match in them at this point, but this was far from the place to have it in. Fuck you, Nitro-era WCW.

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Randy Savage vs King Konga (Barbarian) - Early 84?

 

I don't know where this is, Missouri? Somewhere. Youtube says it's ICW but I don't think so. Savage has the NWA Mid American Championship. Anyway this is to set up a no DQ match later, and it's all about Savage making Konga look like a million bucks. He's super giving, eating hot shots and power moves and having a completely ineffectual offense. Savage gets a few hope spots but they amount to nothing. It ends with a DQ as Konga goes out of control and the visual of Savage having Konga ready for a pile driver before people come in to break it up and the question for the rematch remains whether or not Randy will be able to get him up now that the title is on the line.

 

If you ever wanted to see Randy vs a Brick Wall, I'd suggest this over the two Gonzales matches from 93.

ICW was working with Jarrett by then, so yes, it is ICW.

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Watched that Savage/Garvin cage match and man is Poffo's commentary brutal. Sucks all the life out of the match. I switched it to mute and could appreciate the match more, but it wasn't just Poffo's commentary that made the match feel monotonous. I didn't think much of the rhythm in this match. It pretty much followed the same note all match long, and for as much crap as the WWF gets for its cage match rules I don't really see why the cage was necessary here. They could have had the exact same match without it. Pretty average.

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OK, time for something good. This is prime Savage, not the sad version El-P is subjecting himself to in 1999.

 

Vs. Nick Bockwinkel, 4/15/85, Memphis

 

This is near the end of Savage's run in Memphis and only a couple of months before he joined the WWF. Wild start with Savage attacking Bock before the bell. Savage is out of control and Bock is fired up, and only seconds into the match they are brawling outside the ring. Questions for those more familiar with Memphis history than I: 1) Who was the announcer? It's not Russell. 2) Who was Dutch Newman, Savage's manager? I don't think I've heard of him before. Savage and Bockwinkel are going at it like they are in a heated feud with each other. Were they? This is a total brawl. Savage takes a licking from Bock early, so more signature Savage selling. Savage breaks out his famous foreign-object-in-the-trunks spot and takes control. Even though Bock is the babyface he wrestlers very viciously, and this match is almost like a battle of two heels at times. Man, and no shock to those going through the AWA set, Bock was still really good in 85. And Savage looks every bit the star that would take NYC by storm in a few short months. Eventually interference from Newman leads to Bock being distracted, the ref turns his back to deal with Newman, and Savage nails Bock with the illegal-in-Memphis piledriver for the 1-2-3.

 

This was nice little brawl. Fast-paced, and both men looked good. Finish seemed a little rushed, though. I've liked pretty much everything I've seen of Randy in Memphis, and this was no exception.

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I liked that match a lot and I actually reviewed in the Nick Bockwinkel thread (the one drawback of these styles of threads). I really loved the pace they cut and how continuous the action was throughout the match. So I got the impression from the match that Bock was actually presented as a babyface in this match. I definitely remember th ecommentator remarking how weird it was that Bock was getting cheered in Memphis. So it may have been heel vs heel, but the fans choose the outsider Bock to root for, which demonstrates how bitchin Savage is as a heel. Savage is such a greta heel because he has no redeemable qualities. He is such a low-down, paramoid, jelaous, cowardly prick that you can even turn Bock babyface in Memphia against him. Savage is my favorite wrestler ever and he is so good at character work in matches. I loved the finish. There is just something epic about a ballshot-piledriver combo. It just seems so final.

 

Lastly, as always I want to mention how awesome Bock's knee lift and drop toehold are.

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