On Friday, I participated in a recognition ceremony for graduates of the programs in The New School for General Studies. When they played “Pomp and Circumstance,” I said to one of my buddies, “Macho Man’s theme song!” I hadn’t yet heard that Randy Poffo, known to all of us as The Macho Man Randy Savage, had passed away at the untimely age of 58. I got that news via text a while later.
The Macho Man was larger than life. His persona, his attire, his talent…everything about him epitomized the public face of professional wresting in the 80s and early 90s. My favorite era of the Macho Madness was when he began styling himself as the Macho King: so over the top, so outsized and grand and awesome. Godpseed, Randy Savage, son of Angelo Poffo, brother of Lanny “The Genius” Poffo. I’m deeply saddened by your departure. You were one of the greats, an icon in the hearts of so many fans, myself included.
It would be wrong of me to celebrate the life of this larger than life athlete and entertainer without saying what, by now, must always be said at the early passing of a professional wrestler: something needs to be done to protect these performers. I don’t know the medical details of the Macho Man’s passing, but, so often, these incidents are the result of the constant physical strain of their profession. Often these health issues have to do with performance enhancers: steroids to bulk up, amphetamines to stay awake on the road, sleeping pills to come back down, pain killers to keep going. If that’s true now, imagine how true it ways 20, 30, 40 years ago. Consider the things professional wrestlers felt compelled to do just to stay on the card. Consider the things they may have been forced to do by promoters. So many wrestlers have died prematurely because of the net toll these things have taken on their bodies. Sure, the WWE has health and wellness rules now, but everyone remembers the steroid and safety scandals of the not too-distant past.
I don’t know or need to know the cause of Mach’s car crash to know that he’s gone too soon, that he was one of the greats, that his passing is sad in and of it itself, or that it shouldn’t be noted without renewed pleas to the the wrestling industry to take care of its talent while it can.
Godspeed, Macho Man. Thanks for the memories, Your Highness.