This was the feud that first introduced me to wrestling. Before seeing this, I had seen no wrestling whatsoever. I was lent a VHS, a recording of Sky TV broadcasts of WWF shows from 1991. The opening segment was this famous one, where Damien’s snake bites Randy Savage: I was instantly hooked.
The angle worked brilliantly, and all started back in early 1991 when Randy Savage lost his career ending match to Warrior at Wrestlemania. His devastation at losing the match was palpable, but led to one of the greatest Wrestlemania moments of all time. Elizabeth came running to console him, and the two reunited in an epic and touching moment in the centre of the ring. These days, people would find that mawkish. It was pulled off so well, though, that people were genuinely moved by it.
The story of Savage’s redemption had been great. Elizabeth had brought him peace, turned him back on the path of righteousness and helped him through the dark period of forced retirement. It was a beauty and the beast story, and through Elizabeth’s devotion and forgiveness, the audience, too, learned to forgive Randy Savage’s years as a despicable heel and welcome him back to the side of the baby face! When Savage and Elizabeth kissed and made up, it was as if Savage was kissing and making up with the fans as well. It was one of the swiftest, sweetest and best executed face turns of all time.
It’s kind of ironic that one of the most beloved eras of his work, when he was arguably at his biggest, was after he lost a Career Ending Match. Also ironic that the man he lost it to left the company less than six months later, while Randy Savage wound up winning the WWF Championship. The popularity of Savage at the time goes some way to explaining Savage and Elizabeth’s PPV wedding; billed as one of Summerslam’s main events. The wedding at Summerslam was booked as a ‘Match made in Heaven’, but the ceremony soon turned to Hell. Jake Roberts highjacked the occasion and wreaked all kinds of Hell. Check it out:
Impassioned fans called for Randy Savage to be reinstated – they want retribution for him. In the storyline, Savage seemed to leaving the company with a happy ending; he had to leave the WWF but he had the love of his life to share his retirement with, and was all set to ride off into the sunset with her when Roberts, the cowardly heel, the vicious bully, attacked him and tormented him, mercilessly. I remember being outraged at the time, yelling at the screen “he’s retired! He can’t even wrestle you! He’s not allowed!” To me, it felt like somebody kicking a cripple. Man, I hated Jake Roberts.
Jake Roberts was king heel at this point. Ric Flair hadn’t really made any waves in the WWF, and the Undertaker (though getting a big push) wasn’t as over with the fans yet. Roberts did some of his best work at the time. His mind games with The Ultimate Warrior would’ve led to something amazing if Warrior had stuck around. As it was, Savage got to work with a heel at his peak. Fresh from trying to bury Warrior alive, Roberts was in full psychotic mode at the time. Aligning himself with the mysterious Undertaker only served to enhance his image as the glorious prince of darkness.
Oh, how Savage was tormented. Roberts hassled his woman; he almost slapped her, he bragged about hassling her, he was a master manipulator worming his way into Savage’s mind. Which, in itself, is a pretty weird place to me. I mean, seriously, imagine trying to play mind games with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage!? That’s like going on a psychedelic safari.
Anyhow, long story short, Savage was re-instated. The two men faced each other but, bizarrely, it wasn’t at Wrestlemania. It wasn’t even at a proper pay per view. They had a rather short, underwhelming match at This Tuesday In Texas and a better, though not as climactic as it could have been, rematch on Saturday Night’s Main Event.
Savage went on to win the WWF title at Wrestlemania, while Jake Roberts became the second victim of ‘The Streak’ and left the company not long later. It’s a real shame because these two guys had laid the foundations for a very long, very satisfying future rivalry. If only!