Friday, May 20, 2011

Randy Macho Man Savage

Pro wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage, 58, was killed Friday morning in Florida when the Jeep he was driving jumped a median and hit a tree, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

His wife, Barbara L. Poffo, 56, who was in the passenger seat, was injured, the patrol said. She was expected to be released from a hospital, said Highway Patrol Sgt. 1st Class Steve Gaskins.

Savage's real name was Ralph Mario Poffo, according to the wrestling federation for which he performed. The couple lived in Seminole, Florida, authorities said.

An investigation is under way, but a Highway Patrol report said that Ralph Poffo "lost control" of his 2009 Jeep Wrangler for "unknown reasons" as it was traveling westbound on Florida State Route 694 near 113th Street North in Pinellas County.

The highway patrol report said Poffo "may have suffered a medical event; however, this cannot be confirmed until an autopsy is performed."

As a pro wrestler, he was known for his catchphrases "Ooooooh Yeaahhhhh!" and "Can you dig it?"

After he retired from wrestling, he became known for his Slim Jim commercials.

The wrestling federation and the maker of Slim Jim meat sticks expressed sympathies.

"WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of one of the greatest superstars of his time, Randy Poffo, aka Randy 'Macho Man' Savage," the wrestling federation said in a statement. "Poffo was under contract with WWE from 1985 to 1993 and held both the WWE and Intercontinental championships. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends. We wish a speedy recovery to his wife, Lynn. Poffo will be greatly missed by WWE and his fans."

"We're saddened by the loss," ConAgra Foods, which makes Slim Jims, said in a statement. "Randy was a beloved ambassador for the Slim Jim brand for many years and will be greatly missed.

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It was Mr. Savage, along with fellow World Wrestling Federation headliner Hulk Hogan and a few others, who in the 1980s made professional wrestling into a pop-culture touchstone. Their matches attracted millions of television viewers for over-the-top confrontations that mixed violence with cartoonish dramas and implausible costumes. Some said the outcomes were fixed.

Outfitted by a designer who had worked with rock acts Jimi Hendrix and Vanilla Fudge, Mr. Savage wore outlandish duds featuring feathers and gold lamé, giant goggles and often a neon cowboy hat.

He played a jealous lover who assaulted anyone who came near his manager (and wife), "Miss Elizabeth." In interviews, he liked to conclude his comments with a lusty "Oooohhh yeaaaaah!"

Backing up the bravado was an impressive record that included a score of championships, including two stints as world heavyweight champion.

In one celebrated match, Mr. Savage in 1987 took on Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac, Mich., Silverdome, an event The Wall Street Journal hailed as Woodstock for Middle America. The two wrestlers had been feuding since a year earlier, when, using innovative tactics, Mr. Savage went after Mr. Steamboat's throat with the ring bell, crushing his larynx. In the 1987 match, Mr. Steamboat pinned the Macho Man, getting his revenge.

Born Randall Mario Poffo, Mr. Savage was the son of Angelo Poffo, a wrestler who often played a villain known as the Masked Miser. He was crowned national heavyweight champion in 1958, and wound up in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. A physical-fitness buff, Angelo Poffo at one point held the world record for consecutive sit-ups.

Mr. Savage was signed to a minor-league baseball contract out of high school and spent a few years as a catcher in the Reds and White Sox systems. In the mid-'70s, he began wrestling alongside his brother, Lanny "The Genius" Poffo. In the early days, he wore a mask and billed himself as "The Spider."

In recent years, Mr. Savage starred in wrestling videogames, appeared in movies including "Spider-Man" (2002) and produced a rap CD.

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Remembering Randy Macho Man Savage

Jim Ross memories

videos

Ric Flair on Randy Savage

Randy Savage remembered at Hall of Fame weekend

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