Like Bruno, Randy Savage resisted a Hall of Fame induction … but is now going in

Yes, you could argue about the historical veracity of the WWE’s Hall of Fame. No Lou Thesz. No Jim Londos. No Ed “Strangler” Lewis.

But Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Vince McMahon, Sr.’s driver, James Dudley, have gotten the nod.

Those arguments aside, within the WWE’s own history book, until recently no names were bigger omissions in the hall than Bruno Sammartino and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Sammartino finally got his due in 2013 after Triple H personally interceded to break the deadlock between Bruno and Vince McMahon, Jr.

And now, nearly four years after his death, the WWE will induct Savage.

Sammartino long resisted overtures into the Hall of Fame, and Savage also indicated he was against going in unless McMahon met certain conditions.

Bruno had years of bad blood with Vince stemming from his treatment in the mid-1980s and the subsequent steroid use and Attitude Era environment.  He didn’t want to be associated with the product, even though many long-time fans considered Sammartino and Hulk Hogan to be the backbones of the WWE. Triple H eventually got Sammartino to reconsider after convincing him the WWE was more family friendly and monitoring drug use.

Savage defied the Hall of Fame for several reasons that his brother, Leaping Lanny Poffo, detailed since his death. If Savage agreed to go in, he also wanted Lanny and their father, Angelo, to be inducted with him as a family. Savage’s reasoning was that if Mike Von Erich could get with his more deserving brothers, than Angelo surely was allowable, Lanny has said.

Lanny carried that cross for Savage and the late Angelo for years, but now has relented from fighting the WWE on it.

It’s possible that Savage will become the first posthumous induction who stated he did not want to go in under the circumstances. Would he be in the 2015 class if he was alive today? I don’t know.

Easily among the most recognizable wrestlers from the WWF’s 1980s heyday, Savage was a hell of a worker, a fantastic personality, and perhaps the best opponent Hogan ever faced. Further, Savage had Miss Elizabeth, his then wife, by his side well before hot women became a WWE staple. Elizabeth, who herself died young, played a huge role in Savage getting over.

It’s fitting that Savage will be inducted by Hogan. The period between WrestleMania IV (when Savage won a tournament to become WWF Heavyweight Champion as a babyface) and WrestleMania V (when a heel Savage defended the title against Hogan) was one of the greatest slow build-ups in wrestling history.

Hogan and Savage had a hot-and-cold real-life relationship, but Hogan tweeted shortly after Macho Man died that he and Savage had at least been talking in the months before his death.

Aside from Hogan and Lanny Poffo, the only other worthy person who could have inducted Savage would be Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. He and Savage had one of the most well-remembered WWF matches of all time at WrestleMania III in 1987. That bout still stands up today as great encounter, made even more impressive by the 70,000 or so people in attendance to see Steamboat beat Savage for the Intercontinental Title.

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6 comments

  1. Joe Lowry

    One more tidbit on this classic cage match between Roddy Piper and Bruno Sammartino. If anyone does get to witness this match again you will notice the incredible “blade job” Piper inflicted on himself. Undoubtedly one of Pipers bloodiest matches. If you watch closely Piper blades himself early on in the match and does a sloppy job so to speak. Instead of a proper (if there is such a way in this realm) blade job he basically scratches and blades himself as if he has a wiping away dirt on his forehead. You can tell he was going to need medical attention afterwards. Either way there are epic scenes in which Bruno is manhandling Piper and the blood continues to flow. And you will notice the matches that followed, the entire ring mat and apron was loitered with Pipers blood and it was noticeable for the rest of the night. Piper did in fact serve the wrestling world justice that night as he did in fact wear the infamous “Crimson Mask.”

  2. Joe Lowry

    It is interesting to say the least that it was only a month ago that “The Boss” Vince McMahon was on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast and one of the first questions Stone Cold asked Vince was will “Randy Savage ever be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame?” And Vince said “yes” very quickly. And Austin’s reply was “when?”, then Vince reiterated “soon.” I knew right there that the Macho Man Randy Savage would be the first inductee into the class of 2015 WWE Hall of Fame class. I feel that if Bruno Sammartino and hell even Brett The Hitman Hart can put there differences aside, then its quite possible that anyone can. Although it is well known that Vince’s and Macho Man’s relationship was soured at some point, who else in the WWE Hall of Fame has not had somewhat of a soured past with “The Boss?” Take a peek at the WWE DVD on the Ultimate Warrior, you would never even think he would be put in the WWE Hall of Fame, but yet there he stands. Would the Macho Man be inducted if he were still alive today? I honestly believe so. But I am still somewhat a little disappointed that Hogan is inducting Randy Savage into the Hall of Fame. I don’t know about you, but why is Hogan everywhere these days when it comes to the WWE? I understand he was the main event in the inaugural WrestleMania. But does this mean he has to be associated with every thing that involves WrestleMania? Don’t get me wrong, I loved and appreciate Hogan and his contributions to the industry. But as for inducting The Macho Man, I feel it should be someone else. Yes, Hogan was one half of the Mega Powers and their feuds were classics. But they were more storyline feuds. As for wrestling, maybe it should be noted that Ricky The Dragon Steamboat and the Macho Man stole the show at WrestleMania 3. The record setting pin fall attempts have yet to be replicated to this day. Maybe his brother Lanny Poffo should induct him as well. According to Lanny, the WWE contacted Savage and wanted him to come to the WWE and Savage said “only if my brother can come too.” I am sure there will be debates on who should or who shouldn’t induct The Macho Man, either way, I am glad that he is going in to the hall of fame..PERIOD!

  3. david

    I have wondered for a while if the story about Randy and Stephanie are true and that was one of the reasons besides the ones in the article that he was not in the Hall of Fame he deserves to be in there. besides being a great wrestler he did some of the best promos . I saw him beat Tito Santana for the Intercontinental title at the Garden it was the first live title change I ever saw.

    • bostongardenbalcony

      Man, that a Garden card I wish I was at in person. I remember reading about the title change in the scoreboard section of the Boston Globe the next morning. It was the same show that Bruno fought Piper in the cage.

      • david

        Yes it was Piper got the crowd wanting to kill him that night the patriots were getting ready to play the Bears in the Super Bowl and he came out with posters of William Perry and Jim McMahon and taped them to the cage Garden went nuts.

    • Joe Lowry

      David, yes I too was in attendance that night The “Macho Man” Randy Savage defeated Tito Santana for the WWE Intercontinental title. I knew something was up that night because this was one of the first cards at the old Boston Garden that was being broadcast for NESN. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “the body” Ventura were doing the commentary. I also remember that Savage used a taped up piece of some type of object which he pulled out of his trunks to secure the pin fall. Funny part was that a photographer at ringside picked it up the object and examined it and this was all caught on camera. This card was held in February of 1986 shortly after the New England Patriots lost to the Chicago Bears in the Superbowl. Of course the sell out crowd of over 16,000 fans were treated to a classic cage match between The Living Legend Bruno Sammartino and The Rowdy One Roddy Piper. I do recall my ears were ringing with deafening crowd noise when Piper came to the ring wearing a Chicago Bears T-Shirt and hung up a Jim McMahon and William Perry posters inside the cage. Of course the posters ended up going up Pipers ass courtesy of Bruno. This was certainly one of the memorable nights at one of the loudest in Boston Garden history…

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