Randy Savage Dead at 58, Ric Flair Reflects: “He and I clashed in business, but outside of the ring we were great.”

May 23, 2011 – 11:15 am by Michael Bean

The show business and wrestling world lost an iconic figure on Friday with the tragic death of Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage. Best known for his legendary performances in the Wrestlemania showdowns of the 80s and 90s, Savage (real name Poffo) suffered a massive heart attack while driving his car in Tampa, Florida. He was 58 years old.  For those who may have never been interested in wrestling, you likely still know of Savage’s persona through his boisterous ‘Snap into a Slim Jim!’ commercials.  You might also be interested to learn that Savage’s first love was baseball, and that he spent a number of years in the minor leagues before giving up the dream and turning his attention to wrestling, a more financially promising pursuit that was rapidly growing in popularity.  Several years would pass before Ric Flair, the man many consider to be the greatest wrestler ever, crossed paths with Savage and grew to know him in and out of the ring. But from the sound of it, the two men who captivated the wrestling world with their infamous clash at Wrestlemania VIII, developed a fairly close relationship over time.

(Part 2 ; Part 3 )

Flair joined WFNZ in Charlotte to talk about the news of Savage’s death hitting him extremely hard, what he remembers about his famous Wrestlemania VIII showdown with Savage, what his lasting thoughts of Savage will be both  in and out of the ring, if he agrees that Savage belongs on any top ten list of the greatest wrestlers of all time, how he didn’t always agree with Savage when it came to business but always enjoyed his company away from work, and how Savage had probably stashed away enough money with his thrifty ways to last him another 200 years.

On how hard the news hit him when he learned of Savage’s death:

“It sure did. It’s pretty sad. He just recently got married, it’s been a little over a year, and was happy and, you know, really seemed to be at peace with himself. He just had a phenomenal career and to have this happen is just really, really sad.”

What he remembers about his famous Wrestlemania VIII showdown with Savage:

“That was a huge day for me and my first dance at Wrestlemania, of course. It was just a tremendously well-written program. It was like he was married to Liz back then and she was a huge commodity and a huge star with the WWF, or that’s what they were called back then, of course. And the thought process was, ‘She was mine before she was yours.’ It was well-written and done and Randy worked hard at it and I worked hard at it. We had a really good match. Curt Henning, God rest his soul, managed me and Liz managed Randy and we gave them a helluva show and it was awesome. That was my first Mania and one of the finest memories of my career.”

On what his lasting thoughts of Savage will be in and out of the ring:

“My thoughts about Randy are different. I think he was such a competitive guy. Randy had a really hard time relaxing and I feel bad. I think about the times I used to say to him ‘Hey man, just calm down and don’t worry about this and this and this… whatever happens is going to happen.’ If you go to sleep at night worrying about what’s going to happen the next day, it’s just too hard. You know, he worked like I did, 365 times a year back in the old days. He actually broke in in Charlotte in 1975. I’d only been here a year when Randy moved in down here. He played semi-pro baseball, I think, in St. Louis and had done  fairly well but wasn’t blowing up the ladder like expected. So he came here and broke in the business. The irony in that is when I first moved here in ’74, I actually traveled with his dad  (wrestler Angelo Poffo) several times. I knew the whole family very well. His dad just passed recently and I think that hurt Randy really bad. They were very close. Randy just dropped out of sight when the company was sold from WCW (to WWE). The thing I feel worst about, of all of the guys that are available and eligible to be in the WWE Hall of Fame — there must be something that I’m unaware of that’s gone on and they’ve never inducted him because Randy certainly was a major player for the WWF in the mecca days of the eighties and nineties.”

If he agrees that Savage belongs on a list of the ten greatest wrestlers of all time:

“Of course. Yeah. Of course. … I didn’t always agree with Randy. I’m not gonna lie to you. I didn’t sweat things out like he did. But I didn’t have to fight like a dog in that race they had to be whoever they were in the eighties in that show, where everybody was fighting for position everyday of their life. I didn’t have to evolve from that. I never had personal differences with him, nothing about lifestyle. It was just about business and it doesn’t stop my opinion (of him) — he always did favors for me, he came in and opened some of my Golds Gyms. We were great friends. He and I clashed in business, but outside of the ring we were great. He could drink beer and have a good time. And I made him laugh and helped him take his mind of things that bothered him. We got along great and had a lot of fun together. I used to say to him all the time, he probably died with 300 million dollars in the bank. I’m not exaggerating. I’m being facetious. But, Randy was very thrifty. I used to say to him all the time, because he would stay at hotels that were less cost effective than where I stayed. (laughs) I used to say ‘you can save all that money brother, and you can criticize it all you want but I’m going to enjoy the moment because you never know, you know? The irony in that is Randy was only 58-years-old. That’s sad because I guarantee you he’s got enough money to live 200 more years. He made it. He worked hard to earn it. He worked very hard to earn it. He deserved it. But I always used to say to him, ‘Man, you live for the day buddy.’ Today’s another example of why you have to live for today. You never know.”

Listen here to Flair on The Drive on WFNZ in Charlotte (interview begins at 36:00 mark)

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  1. 11 Responses to “Randy Savage Dead at 58, Ric Flair Reflects: “He and I clashed in business, but outside of the ring we were great.””

  2. Nice to see that Ric has a respect for Randy in spite of any differences they might have had in the past. Growing up in the 80’s Savage was always one of my biggest Icons. I will never forget the first time I saw him reach out and touch someone with his trademark flying elbow drop. I executed many in my pajamas on my brothers from off elevated areas in the house 🙂 I despised Ric Flair as a youngster but after getting older and looking back it has made me realize just how good he was at being the bad guy. Also if the Naich says you deserve to be in the HOF, you deserve it! Get Macho Man and Elizabeth in there pronto!

    By Ultrasquid on May 23, 2011

  3. He was a great man ” the best ” rip

    By patrick lenihan on May 23, 2011

  4. hey was a true icon i cant belive this happened what a loss in wrestiling histroy his name will be remembered

    By anna on May 23, 2011

  5. i met randy savage and liz back in 1989 in buffalo,ny at the buffalo auto show.me and my dad and one of my friends we were leaveing and so was randy asnd liz it was in a hall way and he took time to talk with us for at less a half hour he talk with us he and liz were so nice to do that and iam very sad that a nice person like savage is gone and wwe show have in the hall of fame.

    By rob on May 23, 2011

  6. WOW!! What a loss! I used to love watching him with his outrageous outfits (where did he get the sunglasses – outstanding!) talking and giving interviews in his inimitable style and walking slowly on his tip-toes – Oh yeah! Damn this is a sad day.

    By simeon on May 23, 2011

  7. Randy was the only wrestler to ever take it to Andre-the-Giant and over power Andre man-o-e-man-o. That’s how powerful Randy was. Nobody else compares. What he accomplished in life cannot be killed or taken away.

    By Dave on May 23, 2011

  8. machomania dies,but his legacy doesnt.that will never die.

    By Will on May 24, 2011

  9. Randy Savage was my favorite wrestling when I was young and following wrestling.I saw him many times at the local wrestling events as well as t.v..He always gave 110% and was very exciting to watch in and out of the ring.
    He happened to be from the same hometown as me (Sarasota,Florida) and I always got a kick when they would announce that when he was introduced on a televised match.
    I also got a big kick out of the fact that they picked Randy Savage as the wrestler whom Spiderman fought in the first Spiderman movie.It really was fairly close to how his matches really were. Anyways I never knew Randy
    Poffo but Randy Savage gave me years of enjoyment and I am sadden by his early death.

    By Diggy on May 25, 2011

  10. See ya brother! A man, An Entertainer, A legend. The heavens deserve you, we will miss you but always we will remember you. Best to your family and as always……..RESPECT.

    By Chocolate on May 28, 2011

  11. Randy Savage is the wrestler that got me interested in wrestling. He was always my favorite. He had tremendous athletic skills and was strong and powerful at the same time. He had tremendous charisma and was actually a much better wrestler than Hulk Hogan or some of the other big stars. The Macho Man brought me much happiness and entertainment. Without out a doubt, one of the top ten wrestlers of all time. Tremendously talented in all aspects .

    By Don Bellezzo on Jun 10, 2011

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