Randy “Macho Man” Savage had among the more interesting WWF Title reigns during his first run as champion in 1988-89.
I wouldn’t swear to this (particularly because of how hard it is these days to keep track of the WWE champions due to frequent switches), but Savage may be the only WWF or WWE world champion to start the reign as a babyface and end it as a heel. Savage won the WWF Title tournament at WrestleMania IV, beating “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase in the finals, before eventually losing it to Hulk Hogan a year later at WrestleMania V. As I’ve noted elsewhere, Savage and Hogan had a great rivalry.
But a look at some of Savage’s other opponents during his title run shows a pro wrestler who had to adapt to many different styles, judging from Savage’s matches at the old Boston Garden as champ:
- DiBiase–Savage fought him twice in July and August 1988. DiBiase had the total heel package, with a great antogonistic personality and excellent working shoes.
- Bad News Brown–Savage also wrestled Brown twice in October and November 1988. Brown was decent in the ring, although mostly a kicker and puncher (or at least that’s what the WWF wanted out of him at the time). Brown, who was also known as Bad News Allen elsewhere, played a mean dude well, and his interviews referring to the fans as “beer-bellied sharecroppers” were memorable.
- Ultimate Warrior–Warrior, who at the time held the Intercontinetal Title, faced Savage (now a heel) in a rare title-versus-title match in February 1989. Savage won by countout after Rick Rude interfered. Needless to say, Savage had to earn his money bycarrying Warrior on this night.
Reviewing the Garden results, it’s clear that when Savage was champ, he and Hogan never appeared on the same house show card together unless it was against each other. The WWF was trying out two tours with the top babyfaces headlining, with either Hogan or Savage headlining their cards.