5. VS. HULK HOGAN – WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (WRESTLEMANIA V)
One year after capturing the vacant WWF Championship in the final of a tournament against The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase with the help of Hulk Hogan, Savage found himself defending the gold against his former friend.
The Hulkster had aligned himself with Randy after WrestleMania to form The Mega Powers, famously defeating the team of Ted DiBiase & André the Giant at the inaugural SummerSlam.
After months of teaming together, Savage suddenly became jealous of Hogan and claimed The Hulkster was after Miss Elizabeth, turning heel on Hogan on the road to WrestleMania.
The stage was now set: one year after The Mega Powers were unoficially formed at the Trump Plaza at WrestleMania IV, it would end as the two larger-than-life superstars would go at it in the main-event of WrestleMania V for the WWF Championship at the same Trump Plaza.
In what was arguably one of the hottest wrestling matches in history up until that point, the heel Macho Man starts on top with the mind games and hides behind Elizabeth on the outside as soon as Hogan goes after him on the outside to generate heat.
Savage continues to cheat the whole match, grabbing hair when the ref’s back is turned and eventually busting Hogan up until The Hulkster makes the comeback.
That would make Liz look after Savage, who refused help and proceeded to turn the tables on Hulk, with Elizabeth going to check on Hogan this time and forcing the referee to send her out.
As soon as Liz leaves Savage goes to work on Hogan throat to set him up for the Elbow, which he then hits but Hogan (obviously) hulks up and puts Savage away with the usual to win his second WWF Championship.
There’s no doubt it delivered, but business and the product’s quality would soon go down with Zeus and all that… the less we talk about Zeus, the better!
With that said, with this show and the live events doing so well with Savage as the heel champion, what if Savage somehow managed to retain here at WrestleMania and they extended the program until SummerSlam where finally Hogan could have his big win and it would’ve given us three or four more months of intense promos between these two? That we’ll never know.
Match rating: ***1/2 (3.5)
4. VS. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR – WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (SUMMERSLAM 1992)
It’s not a secret The Ulimate Warrior was not a fantastic technical wrestler.
It’s also no secret Randy Savage was (and forever will be) one of the best pro wrestlers that have ever lived. So if anyone could have a damn fine bout with The Warrior, it was The Macho Man.
After dethroning Ric Flair and capturing his second and final WWF Championship at WrestleMania (more on that soon) a number of months earlier, Savage found himself being challenged by the returning Warrior at SummerSlam.
The story here was that Flair and Mr. Perfect were secretly working with one of the wrestlers, and no one knew who he was until the day of the bout at the Wembley Stadium.
It was not long until Flair and Perfect made their way to ringside and helped Warrior while the ref got bumped, showing Warrior had sold out.
A few minutes later while Savage was reviving the ref, Ric and Perfect betrayed Warrior and attacked him as the crowd nearly loses their minds, wanting neither babyface to turn to the dark side.
When Savage had Warrior in position for the Elbow, he left the ring and went after Flair and Perfect for the anticlimatic count-out ending. Savage would then get a beating by the heels until Warrior ran out to make the save.
Warrior was actually supposed to turn heel and go over here, but he declined a heel turn and thus the reason for this finish.
Not as f*cking amazing as their f*cking amazing retirement match, but still quite dramatic and one of Warrior’s finest matches ever.
Match rating: ***3/4
3. VS. RIC FLAIR – WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (WRESTLEMANIA VIII)
A super underrated WrestleMania bout that should get way more love than it does.
The Nature Boy obviously found himself with the gold after winning the 1992 Rumble Match, considered by many to be the best Rumble Match ever.
He’d then claim “Elizabeth was mine before she was yours, WOOOO” in the build-up to this match, showing pictures of them together and running his mouth while Savage remained silent until the day of the big show.
The Federation’s Champion made his way to the ring first, with a pissed off Savage immediately running into the ring ready to give the arrogant Flair the beating of his life.
Flair was able to smartly turn Savage’s agression against him to take control in the beginning, working on the leg to set up for the Figure Four.
Everytime Savage showed signs of life, he’d immediately be stopped by Mr. Perfect who was unquestionably fantastic at playing his role, giving Flair brass knuckles behind the ref’s back and hitting Randy with a chair to the knee.
Savage was able to knock Flair out of the ring with a double axehandle for the color (which almost got Ric fired), but he’d eventually get back in control and lock in the Figure Four while Elizabeth made her way down to ringside.
Flair would break the hold and instead beat up Savage in front of Liz while telling her “this one’s for you baby, WOOOO” until Savage rolled him up for the win and the strap.
Flair would kiss Elizabeth after the match and they’d all continue to brawl (with Savage amazingly selling the leg ALL THE TIME), celebrating with Elizabeth in the end.
They had the crowd at the palm of their hands and it was just a beautiful pro wrestling bout.
Match rating: ****1/2
2. VS. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR – RETIREMENT MATCH (WRESTLEMANIA VII)
The story heading into this one was that Savage had Sensational Sherri as his manager and he was now The Macho King.
Sherri would try to seduce the then-WWF Champion Warrior into giving Savage a title shot and, when he refused, Savage helped Sgt. Slaughter dethrone Warrior at the Royal Rumble.
The stage was now set: Warrior vs. Savage at WrestleMania in a retirement match where the loser would be forced to leave with Miss Elizabeth in the audience.
The wrestlers immediately tell us the match is special on the way to the ring, with Warrior walking instead of running down the isle.
Savage would try to hit him from behind, but he’d hesitate since he didn’t want to take the risk of missing and having Warrior run wild on him.
Instead Savage would spit in Warrior’s face, run away from him in fantastic heel fashion and have Sherri beat up Warrior while the ref’s back was turned.
Sherri sold every Warrior nearfall like she was having a heart attack on the outside, doing a fantastic job of telling the story she didn’t want to lose her meal ticket.
Savage would eventually connect with the Elbow, delivering five of them as the crowd got more and more sure Warrior was done… and then he kicked out for a big pop!
Warrior found himself shocked a few minutes later, with Savage kicking out of the Splash and making Warrior question himself and PRAY in the middle of the match (not bad storytelling but quite ridiculous to see).
Instead Savage would get hit with two flying shoulderblocks, selling them like a like a champ. Warrior delivered a third, which Savage sold like a gunshot, literally falling out of the ring until Warrior brought him back in and pinned him.
After the bout Sherri (who had lost her meal ticket) got in and attacked Savage until Elizabeth made the save, clearing the ring and helping Savage as the crowd cried legit tears.
Just like that, The Macho King was now The Macho Man again and Savage went from being the most hated heel in wrestling to the most beloved… Randy Savage is one of very few wrestlers that could pull this off.
Savage was legit done with wrestling at this time (hence Warrior kicking out of five of his finishers), but he’d be convinced by Vince to return later that year as Warrior left and Hogan was pretty much a part-time special attraction.
Match rating: ****1/2
1. VS. RICKY STEAMBOAT – WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (WRESTLEMANIA III)
This is not a Nespresso ad and I’m not George Clooney but, seriously… what else?
The aforementioned bouts were all classics in their own right, but this was unquestionably THE classic. Arguably the first WrestleMania masterpiece ever and still one of the best matches in the history of that show and the sport itself.
The story heading into this bout was that the heel Savage had “crushed” Savage’s throat with a ringbell on TV a number of months earlier, and The Dragon was back to take Randy’s belt.
Pay attention to the simple ways Savage could do to get heat, such as simply throw Steamboat out of the ring for the count-out win and clothesline him back out as soon as he was able to barely break the count back in. Lovely!
The selling by both men is absolutely perfect, particularly Ricky’s babyface selling of the throat that got him more and more sympathy as the match went on.
Near the end Savage went for the ringbell on the outside to repeat the injury spot from TV, but George The Animal Steele shoved Savage off the top rope, dazing the champion. That would allow Steamboat to turn a slam into the famous pinning combination that gave him the win.
About this match’s rating, again I repeat: what else!?
Match rating: *****
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Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you next time. Oooohhhh yeaaahhh!