“Macho” Randy Savage was one of the biggest WWE stars of the 1980s until he left the company in 1994, never to return. One of the elite class of professional wrestlers who has become an icon of popular pop culture, Savage most likely has at least heard of someone, even if they have never watched a wrestling show. While Hulk Hogan led WWE to the top from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s thanks to the power of his 24-inch pythons, Savage has always been close to his level of popularity and fame.
Unlike Hogan, who was WWE’s all-American resident superhero, Savage was a real wildcard. Even when he was nominally on the side of good, Macho madness always reigned supreme, and Savage was prone to get angry at anyone who looked at him or his manager Elizabeth the wrong way. Savage, who later played Bone McGraw in Spider-Man, became a favorite for those who were attracted to the darker facets of the wrestler characters who found the Hulkster too useful for themselves.
Savage had classic feuds and matches with Hogan, Ric Flair, Absolute Warrior, Ricky Steamboat, Ted DiBiase and others during his nearly ten-year career in WWE. By 1994, however, it was rare to see Savage don his multicolored gear and enter the ring, as he spent most of his time giving color commentary alongside boss Vince McMahon. The problem was that Savage still felt he had something to offer in the ring and wanted to return to wrestling on a permanent basis. This led him to join Hulk Hogan in the rival WCW promotion, once again becoming the star of the main event. Savage and McMahon became personally close over the years, and for McMahon it was a betrayal. McMahon held a grudge and no longer wanted to work with Savage.
While this may seem like a strange excuse for McMahon not wanting to do business with Savage in the future, especially since Hogan also moved to WCW but later returned to WWE, Savage is said to have promised McMahon that he would not follow Hogan. McMahon took Savage at his word and felt that Savage had lied to him. This makes a lot more sense than the widespread urban online legend claiming that Savage was blacklisted by WWE after he was caught having sex with teenager Stephanie McMahon. It is unclear exactly where these rumors came from, but there has never been any concrete evidence to support this.
In the 2010s, it became commonplace to see Vince McMahon and WWE forge relationships with many previously exiled performers, including Bret Hart, The Ultimate Warrior, Bruno Sammartino and Jeff Jarrett. Probably the same thing would have happened to Savage if he had not tragically died in May 2011 at the age of 58 after a heart attack while driving. Shortly before his death, Savage signed up for WWE video games for the first time in over a decade, starting with WWE All Stars. This showed that he was open to working with WWE, and reports at the time claimed that a dialogue had taken place between the two sides about fully welcoming the “Macho” back into the WWE fold. Savage will be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015, and he can still be played in most WWE video games released after his death.