Text By Jed Shaffer
This week’s RTB comes to us from very constant reader Joseph Violet
What if…Randy Savage beat the Ultimate Warrior in their WrestleMania VII retirement match?
Our story begins in the closing moments of the retirement match at WrestleMania VII. After failing to put away Savage with his gorilla press/big splash combo, the Warrior has gone outside the ring. Savage gives chase, but the Warrior is ready, and the attack continues both outside and in the ring …
March 24, 1991: WrestleMania VII
The Ultimate Warrior whips Savage into the ropes and lunges in a lineman-style shoulder tackle; Savage crumples in a heap on the mat. Warrior drapes his leg over Savage and listens to the sweet sound of the ref’s counting, a for-sure three-count … that ends a beat early. Warrior’s eyes radiate shock and horror; he has given everything he has to put down Savage, and nothing has worked. He struggles to his feet, out of ideas and the strength to pull them off. He pulls up Savage with him and whips him into the ropes to hit the shoulder block again, but Savage holds onto the ropes, and Warrior sails through the air, hitting the mat with a thud. Savage shakes out the cobwebs, and when Warrior gets to his feet, he quickly puts him back down with a body slam. Savage makes his way to the turnbuckle and ascends, intent on delivering what will be the sixth big elbow of the match. He climbs the turnbuckles, struggling as if he might be climbing K-2, but wastes no time with poses when he gets to the top; he just gets in position and flies. The point of Savage’s elbow drives into Warrior’s chest. The ref drops down, ready to count, but Savage stands up and stumbles to the turnbuckle again. Behind him, he can her the referee screaming to stop, but he couldn’t care less. He gets to the top, and drops another elbow, the seventh, and is right back up and walking to the corner for another. The referee catches up with him and pulls on his arm, trying to keep him from doing it again; Savage shoves the referee away and climbs. The ref drapes himself over Warrior; Savage stops at the top, arguing with the ref, telling him to move. When it becomes apparent that the ref won’t move for anything, Savage takes a tentative step down; the ref turns his attention back to the Warrior, signaling for medics … but Savage quickly climbs back up the one step and flies. The collision crushes the referee between Savage and the Warrior, rendering him unconscious. Savage gets up and takes a quick look around; no ref, and the medics have halted in their tracks with Savage looming over the Warrior. Savage slides out of the ring and grabs a chair; the medics try to get closer, but Savage is back in before they make it a foot. Savage moves the body of the ref out of the way and proceeds to lay into the Warrior, hammering his torso with shot after shot. Sherri’s cackles from the ringside area drive Savage on; he drops the chair on the mat, picks up the Warrior, and proceeds to drive him headfirst into the steel with a piledriver. Seizures rack the body of the Warrior, but Savage refuses to stop; he climbs the turnbuckle one more time and drives his elbow into the heart of the Warrior. Savage grabs the referee by the scruff and hauls him close by, then makes the pin; the ref, blurry-eyed and dazed, makes the count and stills the cheers of the crowd when his hand hits the third time. Savage celebrates outside with Sherri, taunting Miss Elizabeth, who bore witness to the proceedings from a ringside seat; Elizabeth runs away, tears streaming down her face. Medics finally get to the ring and help the Warrior, but the most lasting damage is done: The Ultimate Warrior has been retired.
But for Savage, the night is not over. He waits patiently, watching the outcome of the main event, the battle of the American hero Hulk Hogan over the Iraqi traitor Sgt. Slaughter. Savage’s interest is purely greed: there is a promised title shot against Sgt. Slaughter should he win. But when Hogan hits the big boot and drops the leg drop over Slaughter’s chest, panic grips Savage. It has been two long years since he lost the WWF World Title, and, he can feel his chance of regaining it slipping away bit by bit, until the referee counts to three, and fear and paranoia are replaced with a blast of steel-cold reality; his promised shot is gone, a vapor of a memory. He has struggled and clawed and fought through one person after another, all to see Hogan, the man who ended his one and only title reign, come along and crush his dreams again.
Savage grabs a chair on his way out of the locker room, running through the halls of the arena at full speed. When he hits the aisle, Hogan is posing with the belt and the American flag. When Savage hits the ring, Hogan’s back is to him, playing to the crowd and basking in the moment. He has no clue anything is amiss, and until he is told of what happened, he doesn’t know it is Randy Savage who cracked a chair across his back. Hogan stumbles and falls, but Savage is on him, pounding away at any part of Hogan his fists come in contact with. Hogan cannot even roll over to protect himself from the rain of fists on his body. When Savage finally lets Hogan up, it is only to hit him between the eyes with the chair. Hogan goes down like a falling tree; he is out before he hits the mat. Savage grabs the title belt off the mat and looks at it with almost an alien confusion, as it he has never seen it. He holds it aloft to the rising chorus of jeers from the packed house, draping it across Hogan’s chest on his way out of the ring.
Gene Okerlund lands an interview with Savage and Sherri on the first edition of Superstars following Wrestling. In the days after Savage’s big evening, his fragile frame of mind his disintegrated more then before. Even in the ring, Gene has to constantly fight for Savage’s attention, as he keeps looking around, wild-eyed and paranoid.
“Macho King Randy Savage, what on earth were you thinking last night, attacking Hulk Hogan like you did? And don’t forget what you did to The Ultimate Warrior!”
Savage tears off his sunglasses and directs his piercing gaze right in Gene’s eyes. The much smaller Gene almost stumbled backwards. “What was I thinking … What was I thinking … You wanna know what was the Macho Man thinking? Dig it! I was thinking it’s been two years, two years, since I was WWF Champion. The Macho Man was thinking the past two years, guys like Hogan and Warrior have been stealing my spotlight! The Macho Man was thinking it was time to take some drastic action, ooh yeah!”
“Drastic? You could’ve seriously injured The Ultimate Warrior and the Hulkster! You’ve gone mad, Randy Savage!”
“But that’s what the Macho Man is all about, all about, ooh yeah: madness! It’s time for me to get back, get back to the nuts and bolts, the madness, dig it! The madness helped me beat up The Ultimate Warrior and send him packing! And if the madness can help me beat the man who beat Hulk Hogan, then ooh yeah … the madness will help The Macho Man beat Hogan himself!”
Sherri pokes her head in, looking confused. “What about me, Macho King? What about your queen?”
Savage turns to her, a look of scorn and derision on his face. “Was The Macho Man talking to you? I’m getting just a little tired, a little sick and tired, of your mouth, Sherri.” Savage turns back to Gene. “Being The Macho King never got me nothing. No title shots, no respect, oh no … that’s why I did what I did last night. When you look at Randy Savage, you won’t see some fool with a crown and scepter; you’re gonna see madness, dig it. The kind of madness that puts people in hospitals and—”
Again, Sherri butts in, this time grabbing Savage’s arm and turning him to face her. “But what about me? I wanna be queen!“
Savage’s eyes narrow to pinpoints, and suddenly, Sherri shrinks away. “You don’t wanna be manhandling the Macho Man, woman,” he says, advancing on her. “You just wanna do what you’re told and keep your mouth shut.”
Sherri’s voice is meek and barely audible; “But what about—”
Savage’s response is so sudden, it takes a few seconds for the crowd to register what he has done; he scoops her up and slams her down as quick as a hiccup, then sprints to the turnbuckle. Before Gene can even think about draping himself over Sherri to protect her, and before authorities can come out to try and put a halt on it, Savage is airborne. His massive elbow drives right into her much-smaller chest, driving the air out of her lungs. Authorities, as well as Hulk Hogan, burst out of the back like stormtroopers; Savage bails from the ring and slowly makes his way around as Hogan leads the medics in the charge to protect Sherri. Hogan’s eyes track Savage as he makes his way back to the locker room, but the hate is palpable, almost a physical force.
The two incidents, coupled with Savage’s defeat of Ultimate Warrior, are enough for WWF officials to sign a WWF World Title match at the next Saturday Night’s Main Event on April 15th between Hogan and Savage in a no-holds-barred showdown. The hatred between the two grows with every passing show as the two trade blows every time they meet, and words when they don’t.
“Ya know something, Randy Savage,” Hogan says in a taped promo on the final edition of Prime Time Wrestling before their epic match, “it takes a big man to attack a defenseless woman. It takes a big man to attack a guy after he’s lost the match of his career. And it takes a big man to attack a guy after he’s just won a match, too. But you attacked the wrong guy, Randy Savage, cause when it comes to big men, I got the 24-inch pythons backing me up, and that makes me as big as they come. You say you’re gonna unleash the madness? It’s too late, brother, cause the World Wrestling Federation is filled with mania …Hulkamania! So whatcha gonna do, Randy Savage … whatcha gonna do, when the mania and the pythons run wild on you?”
Savage’s final words to Hogan are as chilling as his attitude. “Ooh yeah, Hulkster, do you hear that? That’s time, Hogan, and it’s tick-tick-ticking away on your championship. Oh, you can bring your pythons and your Hulkamaniacs … but I got the secret weapon, Hogan; I got the madness, ooh yeah! I got the madness, and that means I’m willing to go that little bit further, take that extra risk, until I wipe you from the face of the WWF! Saturday Night’s Main Event! The Madness and the Mania, one more time … the last time, Hogan, the very last time. You know why? Because it’ll be the last match you ever have, Hogan! Dig it!”
The hatred is once again a palpable entity when SNME rolls around, as the two men exchange hateful glares across the ring while the announcer explains the rules (or, in this case, the lack thereof). And when the bell sounds to officially begin the match, the hatred finally boils over when Savage rushes Hogan, clobbering him in the back of the head while he is turned away, giving his belt to the timekeeper. Savage’s fists move in a blur, battering the larger Hogan down to one knee. Hogan gets in one shot to Savage’s midsection, but it isn’t enough to deter the frenzied attack of Savage. Even when Hogan pushes Savage away, it is only a momentary respite; Savage comes right back again like a pitbull. Savage whips Hogan into the ropes; Hogan reverses it, but Savage ducks the Hogan clothesline on the way back and hits one of his own. Savage quickly climbs the turnbuckles and threatens the elbow, but Hogan bails for the floor. Savage follows and sets to work on Hogan, using the lack of count-outs and disqualifications to press his advantage. Hogan is thrown into the guard rail over and over, his head smashed into the ring post, and driven back-first into the ring itself. Hogan avoids sure defeat when Savage tries to use a chair to crush his head between it and the guard rail, but instead of getting the punishment on the head, he gets it across the back. Savage tosses Hogan in and makes the pin, but Hogan’s will not to lose is too strong, and kicks out at two. Savage doesn’t miss a beat and goes right back on the offensive, working over with a variety of slams and suplexes. But the onslaught still isn’t enough to put Hogan down, and Savage is infuriated at his inability to put away the champ. With no rules to stop him, Savage rips off the protective padding off a turnbuckle and whips Hogan into it. Hogan hits the turnbuckle as if shot out of a cannon, falling to his knees in agony. Savage pushes him down, but gets only two again, and the frustration gives way to anger. He screams at the referee, but the ref stands firm in his two-count, and Savage has no choice but to go back on the offensive. He picks up Hogan and goes to slam him headfirst into the exposed steel, but Hogan blocks it with a foot on the lower turnbuckle. Savage tries again, but Hogan blocks again, and somehow, he finds enough in him to drive Savage into the turnbuckle instead … but collapses from exhaustion. The ref starts the mandatory ten-count. Both men are still as corpses until the ref gets to five. By eight, Savage has made it up to his feet; Hogan is up to his knees, shaking and convulsing. Savage pounds Hogan a couple times in the head, but for all the good it does, he might as well have been using a flyswatter. Hogan gets to his feet as Savage continues to try and pound him back down, but it’s too late: Hogan is going through the all-too-familiar motions of getting his second wind. He stomps around the ring in large circles, shaking his fists as the crowd cheers him on. Finally, Savage steps in and punches; Hogan comes to a stop and levels a finger in Savage’s face. Savage tries to strike, but Hogan blocks it; another punch attempt it blocked and returned in kind. A few more punches rock Savage back on his heels, and Hogan uses this to whip Savage into the ropes. A big boot to the jaw drops Savage, but before Hogan can go for his leg drop, Savage rolls out of the ring, holding his jaw. Hogan yells at Savage from the ring and starts to follow him when, out of the corner of his eye, he sees movement in the aisle. The pasty white visages of Paul Bearer and The Undertaker come clearer as they move closer; Hogan’s attention diverts from Savage to The Undertaker and his handler, who is moaning and yelling about the demise of Hulk Hogan. Hogan yells back at Bearer, who keeps up his moaning and wailing; the commotion keeps Hogan’s attention away from Savage, who sneaks back in the ring and rips the belt off the referee’s waist. He wraps it around his fist, climbs the turnbuckle and waits until Bearer and Undertaker back off. Hogan turns around just in time for Savage to come off the turnbuckle; the buckle hits Hogan in the forehead, and he drops like a sack of potatoes. Savage cinches the belt up around his hand and over his elbow, climbs back up and jumps. The buckle drives deep into the chest of Hogan; Savage makes the cover, and to the shock of the world, Savage gets the three-count. A chorus of boos all but drowns out the ring announcer’s proclamation of Randy Savage as the new WWF Champion. Savage takes the belt greedily, clutching to his chest as if it might up and run away. Hogan draws himself up, but is put right back down again when Savage clocks him between the eyes with the title belt, splitting Hogan’s head open. The Undertaker comes into the ring; Savage grabs a chair and puts it down on the mat. Undertaker grabs Hogan, picks him up and puts him over his shoulder. The referee tries to step in, but Savage pushes him away like a child, so that The Undertaker can finish his task; and, with a sickening thud, he drops Hogan onto the chair head-first in a Tombstone. Hogan collapses, his body twitching uncontrollably. Paul Bearer comes back to the ring holding a body bag, which he drops beside the fallen former champion. The Undertaker rolls Hogan into it and zips it closed, trapping Hogan inside, while Bearer screams about how Hulkamania is dead and buried. The Undertaker drapes Hogan over his shoulder and carries him away, while Savage celebrates in the ring.
As April winds to a close, the hopes of Hogan making a comeback to wrest the title away from Savage are grim; a concussion will keep him out indefinitely. Randy Savage proudly crowd to all who will listen that he is responsible for killing Hulkamania, and establishing the madness as the true force in the WWF. And he extends an open challenge to all comers big and small to try and counter the madness.
The first man to step up to the plate is the Big Boss Man, who declares that Savage needs to be taught about law and order. The two tangle on an episode of Superstars, and for a while, it looks as though the heavy but spry former prison guard has the title within his grasp. But when Savage sees his chances of retention slipping away, he resorts to desperate tactics: the Boss Man’s nightstick. Savage buries it in the gut of the Boss Man, drawing the DQ, but saving his title. But Savage continues to abuse the Boss Man, battering his opponent with the nightstick until he is an unconscious mass on the mat. Medics carry away the big man, another victim of Savage’s psychotic rage.
One by one, people line up for Savage’s challenge, and one by one, Savage either defeats them soundly, or gets out the back door with cheating or a DQ. Kerry Von Erich, Davey Boy Smith, Virgil and Jake Roberts all join the victim’s list of those who succumb to Savage’s madness. Sometimes, as in the case of Von Erich and Virgil, he merely defeats them, as if they are too beneath him to value a perception as a threat. Others, like Roberts and Davey Boy, are treated much more harshly, receiving thrashings much like the ones Savage put on the Boss Man and Hogan … and the now-retired Ultimate Warrior. Continual chants for the Warrior plague every match Savage wrestles, and as each week passes, he gets more and more nervy about the chants; the crowd hates how he was screwed out of his career, and the power of the crowd, Savage knows, can move mountains in the WWF … and maybe bring back lost, lamented favorites.
But instead of the Warrior, another triumphant return is announced toward the end of June. Gorilla Monsoon shocks the world when he announces that, on the last episode of Superstars, Rowdy Roddy Piper will bring back Piper’s Pit, and will have none other than the World Wrestling Federation Champion Randy Savage as his first guest. And when it rolls around, even with Piper still limping on a bad leg, they know he won’t take the kind of abuse other wrestlers will. They know that, if there is anyone who can match Randy Savage in craziness, it is the rowdy Scotsman.
The crowd welcomes Piper back to the WWF like a hero back from the war. He basks in the applause, almost bashfully (a rarity for Piper), and thanks the crowd a couple times, which elicits another round of applause. When it subsides, he gets down to business. “Tonight,” he says, “I got me a real special guest here in the Pit. This guy, he may be crazier then me! But we’re gonna find that out right now, ain’t we? Let’s all give a warm welcome to the WWF Champion, Macho Man Randy Savage!”
Savage comes out to a vicious round of jeers. Piper extends a hand when Savage comes in, but Savage, from behind his colorful sunglasses, only peers down at it, as if it might come up and slap him instead. When Savage turns away from Piper’s hand, Piper shrugs and starts firing off. “Ya know, that’s really not very respectful, Randy. I mean here I invite ya on my first show back, and you ignore my gesture!” All this gets for a response is another from-behind-the-sunglasses glare from Savage. “Okay, maybe you’re just not a handshake type of guy,” Piper says. “How bout we move on, okay? I seens you come at WrestleMania VII, and you beat up the Ultimate Warrior … and then you beat up Hogan …” Piper chuckles his little maniacal chuckle. “You’re on quite a roll, kid! Ya beat Jake Roberts, ya beat the Big Boss Man … you’re doing great! But I gotta ask ya … do ya think you bit off more then you can chew?”
Savage’s head whips around as if slapped. He slowly advances towards Piper, who holds out the microphone. “Let me get one thing clear with you, Piper,” Savage says through gritted teeth. “You don’t wanna question what the Macho Man has, okay? Last time I checked, you ain’t never been WWF Champion. So how would you know what it takes?”
Piper looks surprised. “Gee, I, uh, alls I was trying to ask you, Randy was if you think you bit off a little too much. I mean, you’re defending the belt, like, every other week, and it looks like it’s getting harder and harder to do. I mean, if it hadn’t been for that nightstick, the Boss Man mighta beat you. I—”
Savage gets up in Piper’s face. “You’re treading a fine line, Piper, ooh yeah. You want to be careful where you put your foot, you understand me? Don’t go crossing no lines, Piper.”
“You wanna talk about lines?” Piper says, his voice getting higher and more gravelly, his eyes going wild. “You wanna talk about crossing lines, Randy? Who was the guy who cracked open a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head? Who was the guy who chased around Liberace at the first WrestleMania? Who was the guy who hosed down Moron Downey Jr. with a fire extinguisher? Baby, don’t talk to me about lines, cause I’m a human eraser; every time you wanna draw a line, I’ll make sure that sucker vanishes!”
“I don’t think you—”
“I don’t really care what you got to say anymore, sparky!” The crowd explodes, while Savage rips off his glasses, his ice-cold eyes tracking Piper. “I’m here giving you the chance to explain yourself, Randy. And not that me and Hogan are buddy-buddy or anything, cause him and I go way back, but you’re running around here, you’re attacking people with nightsticks, putting guys in the hospital … so when I ask you if you bit off more than you can chew, what I’m trying to say is, do you realize that sometime soon, you’re gonna make the wrong guy angry?”
Savage gets right back in Piper’s face, noses almost touching. “Are you saying the madness and the Macho Man don’t have what it takes, Piper? The madness put the Ultimate Warrior out of this company. The madness helped kill Hulkamania. If I can get past the two of them, who’s left to stop me? How can I make the wrong guy angry when there ain’t nobody left I ain’t beaten?”
Piper’s and Savage’s eyes are locked on each other, until Savage, content that Piper has no reply, starts to walk away. In true Piper form, he picks then to issue his response. “Ya know something … my momma, boy did she have her hands full when I was a little Hot Rod. I was the biggest hellraiser you ever done saw; I put M-80′s in mailboxes, shot birds with a pellet rifle, threw rocks through windows. Why, I think I gave my momma every gray hair she ever had. And every time I would get caught and have to come home and face the music, boy, would I get the whippin’ of a lifetime. She’d tan my hide and say, ÔRoddy, I hope someday you learn your lesson, cause one day, you’re gonna get yourself into a heap of trouble, and you’re the wrong guy to be getting into trouble, cause you don’t know when to stop.’ And ya know what? My momma was right. I am too stupid to know when to quit.” Piper marches over to Savage, hand extended again. “Randy, you crazy freak, if nothing else, by god—”
But before Savage can react, Piper pokes him in the eyes. Savage grabs at his eyes, and Piper uses the moment to hit Savage in the head with the microphone. Savage goes down to his knees, and Piper falls on him, bashing Savage in the head over and over again with the microphone, until officials pull Piper off of Savage, keeping the two apart. Savage kicks and screams like a caged animal, trying to get loose to attack the still-injured Piper. All Piper can do is laugh maniacally, his wild eyes full of gleeful rage.
At first, WWF officials remain tight-lipped about Savage’s opponent for the upcoming Summerslam event in August. With Savage’s list of victims growing by the week, there are few people left in the company he hasn’t run through (Davey Boy Smith, Kerry Von Erich), put in the hospital (Big Boss Man) or, in one special case, retired. And the few people that Savage hasn’t crossed paths with are none too eager to do so anyway: Ted DiBiase, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig and The Undertaker all beg off, citing they have “no beef” with the reigning champion. The fans and the partisan announcers hold out hope that, come Summerslam, Hulk Hogan will return to vindicate his tainted loss in April.
But on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling in two weeks into July, a taped message from WWF President Jack Tunney kills the hopes of the fans. “Due to injuries sustained at the hands of Randy Savage,” Tunney says, “and outside commitments agreed upon during his time off, Hulk Hogan is neither medically cleared not physically available to appear at Summerslam on August 26th, and therefore, will not be challenging Macho Man Randy Savage for the World Wrestling Federation Championship. WWF officials are reviewing all eligible competitors, and will announce a decision in the coming weeks. In the meantime, officials have made the determination that, due to Randy Savage’s behavior both in and out of the ring in the past few months, we are left with no choice but to seek the services of a special referee who can handle Mr. Savage in a manner according to him.”
The message from Tunney does little to quell debate about Savage’s opponent; instead, the rumor mill only begins to circulate more. When Roddy Piper begins using his Piper’s Pit segment to interview potential candidates—first Bret Hart, then Ricky Steamboat—authorities, at the behest of Savage, order Piper to cease and desist anything that could be construed as “campaigning” for a contender. The gag order ruffles the feathers of the rowdy Scotsman, who vows to do whatever it takes to knock Savage off the throne.
It is during an edition of Piper’s Pit that the whole situation comes to a head. In a special “first-look” granted by Jack Tunney, Roddy Piper is given the opportunity to introduce to the world the man that will keep the peace in Savage’s title defense at SummerSlam. “It is my great pleasure,” Piper announces, “to introduce to the world the man who will make sure Randy Savage keeps his nose clean at SummerSlam … against who, we don’t know yet, but that’s another story. Anyway, without further ado, Piper’s Pit proudly presents … Sid Justice!“
Through the curtain steps a mountainous man, nearly seven feet tall, with a mop of kinky blonde hair, and from the build, cut from pure rock. When he gets to the ring, Piper extends a hand, and almost winds up with it crushed from the power of Sid. Piper laughs, trying to mask the pain. “You’re a big boy!” Piper proclaims. “Can you hear me up there? Never mind, just funnin’ ya. Listen; the world wants to know how you intend to handle that fruitcake Savage. What if he gets out of line?”
Sid’s smile seems miles long, but something in the eyes says it, like Piper’s, isn’t one of someone who’s all there. “Ya know, Rowdy Roddy Piper … I was brought to the World Wrestling Federation to do a job! Randy Savage! This is your notice! I won’t tolerate you acting crazy! I won’t let you walk all over me! They call me Sid Justice, cause that’s what I’m all about, Roddy Piper: justice! There won’t be—”
Sid’s sentence trails off as his attention turns to the aisle as two men are walking down. In the front is Savage, walking fast and with purpose. Behind him is WWF President Jack Tunney, trying to catch up. Savage hits the ring, and immediately, Sid moves into place, standing up to the temperamental WWF Champion. Savage tears off his sunglasses and tosses them aside, looking up into Sid’s eyes wild-eyed fury. Sid’s eyes are cold, calm, but forceful. Behind Sid stands Piper, who keeps peeking his head out from behind the mammoth protector, razzing and ridiculing Savage. “Come on, Savage! Cross that line, Randy! I’m right here!”
Tunney finally makes it into the ring and joins Sid in between Piper and Savage. He gets a microphone from an attendant and immediately sets about diffusing the ticking time bomb he is in the middle of. “Mr. Savage,” says Tunney, “it is in your best interest to keep a cool head and not incite further hostilities.” Tunney turns to Piper, who looks like the Cheshire Cat. “Mr. Piper, you’ve already been warned about provoking and antagonizing Randy Savage. Need I remind you the verbal warning and gag order can easily become a suspension if you insist in continuing your campaign of harassment. There is nothing for you to gain from it, and everything to lose.”
Piper is so riled up with excitement, he can’t even stand still; he hops, his head shakes, his hands shake, and he cackles like a loon. “Oh, Jack … ohhhhhhhhh, Jack!” Piper’s laughter drowns out the shouts coming from Savage for Tunney to do something to restrain Piper; all the while, Sid keeps Savage from coming out of his boots at Piper, pushing him back as far as Savage will let him. “Jack, you can’t unlight a firecracker, and you know I’m the biggest stick of dynamite in the WWF! And, baby, I’m fixing to go off!”
“The WWF can handle finding Randy Savage’s opponent for SummerSlam. We do not need your help, and your efforts are only succeeding in making the situation more volatile. I am warning you for the final time—”
“Warn me? Warn me?!? Don’t you remember who you’re dealing with? If you could patent craziness, baby, I’d hold the papers! I’m not gonna watch this wannabe half-wit put people in hospitals and drive good men away from the business! I’ve seen who you’ve thrown at him, boss, and buddy, lemme tell ya, you done a bang-up job. I can see why your wife probably handles the checkbook! If you’re gonna be serious about putting a stop to this lunatic before he cripples half your locker room, you gotta let somebody who knows what foot goes in what shoe lead the fight. You can’t think like a businessman, Jackson. If you wanna fight a dog, you gotta get a dog to do the job, not a puppy.”
Savage’s eyes are narrow lasers of rage, his jaw clinched so tight, air couldn’t pass through his teeth. Sid braces for Savage to jump, but he doesn’t. Instead, he just puts out his hand and spits out a request for Tunney’s mike. Tunney grudgingly gives it up. “Your mouth seems to talk up a good fight,” Savage says through his ground teeth. “So since you’re so intent on fighting for everyone else, why don’t you actually fight?”
Piper’s eyes go wide, as do Tunney’s. Tunney starts shaking his head, and grabs Piper’s hand and the microphone. He manages to get out “You’re not medically cleared to—” before Piper wrenches his hand back. He starts to pace, scratching his head; Tunney tells Piper he can’t, he isn’t cleared yet. “So lemme see if I understand this right … you’re challenging me to step in the ring … with you.” Piper stops and looks up at Sid. “Do you think you can handle that, big boy? Two guys, crazy as a couple of cats on fire, beating the living daylights out of each other …” Tunney waves his arms in the air and shakes his head vigorously. Piper looks at Tunney and smiles. “You got something to say, Jack?” He puts out the microphone, and Tunney gets out one unintelligible syllable before Piper pulls the mike back. “I didn’t think so.” The crowd laughs; Piper continues to pace. “So, is that what I’m led to understand you’re saying, Randy? You wanna fight me, cause it’ll be a fight, there won’t be no hammerlocks or takedowns or submission moves, unless I’m trying to gouge your eyes out. You wanna fight me at SummerSlam for the WWF World Title?” Savage gives a single nod of confirmation. Piper’s grin gets even bigger. His eyes never leave Savage’s. “Better call your lawyers, Jacky-boy, cause I think we need us some contracts. Oh, and you might wanna call the Army, or the Marines, cause it’s gonna take more then police to break up this fight.”
Tunney tries to resist the pressure, but within a week, the clamor from all parties—not including letters from fans, and pressure from other wrestlers—forces Tunney to authorize the match, under two caveats: the first is that Piper cannot hold the WWF liable for any injuries suffered at SummerSlam. The second says that, since Piper’s doctors won’t release him until SummerSlam itself, he and Savage are not to engage one another in a physical altercation, under penalty of indefinite suspension, and, in Savage’s case, forfeit of his title.
Thus, for the remaining weeks until SummerSlam, the two engage in an escalating series of mind games. For Piper, he has two venues with which to issue verbal attacks: his assignment to the commentary booth with Vince McMahon gives him further opportunity to get under the skin of Savage. And, naturally, Piper’s Pit, which becomes home to an anti-Savage crusade, where Piper brings out a parade of people all connected to Savage: Sensational Sherri is the first to come out and discuss his “inadequacies”. Old opponents, including Davey Boy Smith and the Big Boss Man join in the fun, as does one of Savage’s oldest nemeses, Ricky Steamboat. For Savage, the restraints put on him by Tunney force him to take Piper’s abuse without retaliation; the best he can do is call out Piper in promos and, on one occasion, throw coffee in Piper’s face as he does commentary for a match. But the rules laid down favor Piper so heavily, Savage can do little but stand by and be verbally punked out week after week. With every passing show, Savage gets closer and closer to snapping, so much so that Sid is assigned to tail Savage wherever he goes, should he and Piper cross paths. Luckily for fans, the two are kept at arms length, keeping their first-ever one-on-one match on the card. But with Piper having pushed Savage’s buttons for weeks, speculation stirs about whether Piper will be able to handle the tempest he has created. Piper answers all this in a final taped promo leading up to the big event.
“People stop me on the street or in the mall and they ask me, ÔDid you push Randy Savage too far?’ ÔCan you handle him, Hot Rod?’” Piper chuckles that familiar Piper chuckle. “There ain’t a dog on this earth that can’t be housebroken, kids, and Randy Savage may be crazy enough to make Cujo look like that dog from Garfield, but I know how to break a dog. Crazy people don’t scare me; I’m the Hot Rod! I’m too stupid to know any better! I said it before, and I’ll say it again: just when you think you know all the answers, I start changing the questions, and the question of the day, Savage, is so simple, even you can understand: can you beat me at my own game? I guess we’ll see come Sunday.”
Savage’s final words, however, are nothing less then a chilling warning. “Roddy Piper … the legendary Hot Rod, ooh yeah … the guy who invented craziness. The most unpredictable man in the World Wrestling Federation. You think you’re full of surprises, just full of tricks, don’t you, Hot Rod? You think you got me where you want me? I don’t think you realize how dangerous I am, Piper. You like to think you’re full of surprises, but Hot Rod, ooh yeah, you ain’t had to deal with the Macho Man before, oh no. And Sid Justice, ooh yeah, you just better do your job and not get in the Macho Man’s way; you don’t want no problems with me, big man, cause I’ll chop you down to size. Sunday at SummerSlam, Hot Rod, I’m gonna beat you so bad, you’ll wish you never came out of retirement. Dig it!”
Summerslam: August 26th
Sid Justice is introduced first, easily the biggest referee in history (so large, his referee shirt is a tank-top). He stands in the dead center of the ring, waiting as the wrestlers are introduced. Piper is first, led to the ring by a bagpipe player. Piper amiably shakes Sid’s hand, and submits to the motions of Sid checking his boots and tights for foreign objects. After he finishes searching Piper, Savage is introduced, and he too submits to the search. Once he has searched both men, Sid signals the timekeeper to ring the bell and start the match.
Immediately, Savage charges Piper, who casually steps out of the way. Savage runs into the corner chest-first; Piper turns him around and goes to work, alternating between chops across the chest and punches. Savage brings his arms up to protect himself, and that draws over Sid to break it up. Piper gives Savage a couple feet to get out, then slings him into the ropes, and hits a series of clotheslines, sending Savage to the floor for sanctuary. Piper follows him out, and the two brawl outside; Piper reverses a whip into the guard rail, and stomps on Savage, then dumps him onto the rail with an atomic drop, and slides into and out of the ring to break the count (even though Sid wasn’t counting), then gets back in to wait. Piper and Sid exchange a couple words waiting for Savage to get back in, and when he does, Piper is on him, stomping and kicking, keeping Savage on the mat. When Piper lets Savage get up, he puts him back down with a bulldog, but the pin attempt only gets two. An overhead suplex and an atomic drop follow, but only get two. Piper picks up Savage again and puts him down with a kneelift, but again, Savage kicks out at two. Piper picks up Savage once again and slings him into the ropes; when Savage rebounds, Piper wraps his arms around Savage’s head, cinching on the sleeper. Savage fights to get to the ropes, but ring positioning is not in Savage’s side; Sid checks in on Savage to see if his arms start to droop, but Savage slips around side and gets out of the sleeper with a belly-to-back suplex.
Savage is the first to get up, and starts raining down the punishment with stomps. He brings Piper up only to put him back down with a suplex, and stomps him again a few more times for good measure. When Savage starts to climb a turnbuckle, the crowd holds their breath, but Savage lets Piper stand up; when Piper turns around, Savage jumps, hitting the axe-handle. Savage goes for a pin, but Piper kicks out, so Savage goes back to work, focusing on weakening one of Piper’s arms to neutralize the sleeper. Savage stomps on it for a bit, then hits a few legdrops to further weaken it. When that gets repetitive, he brings Piper up to his feet, puts him in a hammerlock and body slams him. Savage picks up Piper again and rams him into the turnbuckle, sending him in damaged arm-first. A backdrop (with the arm tucked behind) gets Savage another two count. Savage tosses Piper in the corner and pounds away, so much so that Sid has to step in and push Savage away. Savage starts to argue with Sid, who points to himself and yells loudly enough for everyone to hear; “Who’s the man? Who’s the man?” When the arguing proves fruitless, Savage goes right back on the attack, kicking and punching; a neckbreaker sends Piper into a fit of pain, but gets only a two count, and Savage is up like lightning, arguing with Sid about a slow count. Sid reiterates his two count; Savage is incensed, but again, Sid reminds him about who is in charge of the match. Savage walks away from the argument unpleased, and takes his frustrations out on Piper, stomping away again. He whips Piper into the ropes and goes for a clothesline, but Piper is thinking the same thing, and the two collide, ending up on the mat together.
Both men struggle to their feet to beat Sid’s (slow) ten-count, rising at eight. Savage swings first, but Piper blocks and scores with a punch. Savage tries again, but Piper blocks and retaliates, and follows it up with a series of punches. Piper throws Savage into the corner hard, and when he stumbles out, Piper suplexes him down. When Savage gets back to his feet, Piper, waiting behind like a cat stalking a mouse, hits another bulldog. Piper lets out a primal yell, and picks up Savage; he slings him into the ropes and works through the pain to slap on the sleeper again. When Savage tries to turn into it, Piper turns with him, keeping Savage facing the center of the ring and away from any ropes. Savage swings and struggles, but his arms slowly start to droop; Piper drops with him, and Sid comes down to do the check. Savage’s arm drops once. On the second try, it drops. Piper cinches the hold on as hard as his aching arms will allow and screams out for Sid to check for the last time.
But instead, Sid grabs a handful of Piper’s hair and pulls. Piper releases the hold instinctually; Sid kicks Piper in the stomach, puts his head between his legs, and drives him down with a powerbomb. Sid laughs maniacally, tapping his forehead as the crowd explodes in a chorus of boos. Sid picks up Savage, still reeling from the effects of the sleeper, and drops him on Piper as effortlessly as if he were picking up a pillow. He gets down and makes a melodramatic three-count and signals for the bell. Savage struggles to stand, staggering back into the turnbuckle as he tries to shake out the cobwebs; Sid hands him the belt with a grin and sticks out a hand; Savage takes it with a weak but cunning smile, and the two embrace. Sid holds up Savage’s hand in victory, standing above the unconscious Piper, bathing in the hatred coming from the audience.
Savage and Sid are too busy celebrating to notice someone coming down the aisle. It is not until the person is coming through the ropes do they see that Savage’s former escort, Elizabeth, is in the ring. She is no longer the shrinking violet she once was, no longer the delicate flower; in her eyes is a fire of immeasurable heat. Her face is a mask of emotionless determination. And in her hands are a microphone, and a large, felt sack.
“Hello, Randy,” says Elizabeth. “I’m sorry to interrupt your celebration and all. I won’t take up much of your time.” Savage’s demand of what she wants can be heard bleeding over the microphone. Despite his bluster and intensity, she shows no sign of intimidation. “I just wanted to give you a message. You forgot how much I contributed to your success, Randy. How crucial I was, and how smart a businesswoman I am. Well,” she says, patting the sack, “I just wanted you to know that I’m coming back to work.” She unties the twine keeping the bag closed and discards it. In her hands is an object that sends a shockwave through every person in the building, most especially Randy Savage and Sid; it is a large gold belt, but it most certainly not a WWF title. “And I’m bringing a realchampion with me. And believe me, Randy, the only thing Ric Flair has on his mind when he gets here is showing you what a real champion is made of!”
Our story resumes shortly after SummerSlam, where Randy Savage retained his WWF World Title against Roddy Piper, thanks to some surprising assistance from the special referee, Sid Justice. But Elizabeth’s shocking post-match announcement of the coming of Ric Flair has set the entire federation, and the increasingly unstable Savage, on it’s collective ear …
There is no afterglow for Randy Savage in the wake of his defeat of Roddy Piper; there is only a hastening of his descent into paranoia and psychosis. Even the news that Piper would be laid up again, courtesy of the beating put on him by Savage’s bodyguard, Sid Justice, does nothing to alter Savage’s mood. In his first post-SummerSlam match, a non-title encounter with Marty Jannetty on Superstars, his fear becomes pervasive, and Jannetty has more then one near-fall against the World Champion. It takes Sid interfering on his behalf for Savage to escape with his dignity, and winning record, intact. But for Savage, the possibility of the loss is nothing compared with the specter he feels looming overhead, cast by his former manager, Elizabeth, and her proclamation of bringing Ric Flair to the WWF. Thoughts of such a ludicrous idea (never mind the fact that she shoved Flair’s belt in his face at SummerSlam) distract Savage; he constantly checks over his shoulder, looking for any sign of Elizabeth or Flair.
And with good reason; as soon as his match is finished, he spies Elizabeth standing by the entranceway, holding that belt over her shoulder, smiling.
Sean Mooney is dispatched to get the Macho Man’s thoughts on Elizabeth’s incredible statement shortly thereafter her appearance on Superstars, and gets much more then an earful. It is Sid, however, who does most of the talking, as Savage is too busy pacing and scanning the arena for signs of Flair. Sid cackles madly before issuing a statement, then seizes Mooney’s hands, and the microphone, in his. “Yo wanna know what we think of Elizabeth and what she says she’s gonna do? We don’t give it the time of day! She thinks she can rattle the Macho Man and Sid Justice with promises of bringing some hero … some no-name wannabe to the WWF?”
“But Sid, with all due respect,” Mooney says, “Ric Flair is no wannabe—“
Sid grabs Mooney by the lapels and picks him up off his feet. His spits his words out through clinched teeth, eyes as bright and big as spotlights. “Are you calling me a liar, little boy? Do you doubt the word of Sid Justice?” Mooney shakes his head so empathically, it looks like it might fly off his neck. Sid sets Mooney back down on his feet and smiles as if nothing happened. “As I was saying,” Sid continues, “all Elizabeth has is empty promises and some worthless piece of tin she picked up at a garage sale! She can talk all she wants about a real champion … Randy Macho Man Savage is the champion around here, Sean Mooney! Every challenger he’s had, he’s put down! What makes anyone think that Ric Flair can do what everyone else hasn’t been able to do?” Sid laughs again; he locks his eyes on Mooney’s, who looks like he’d much rather be on a crashing plane then stuck in the same breathing space as Sid. “What makes you think she’s anything more than a liar?”
“B-b-but she said—“
“She can say anything she wants, Sean Mooney! Didn’t you know, she’s the ‘First Lady Of Wrestling’? The WWF won’t stop her, cause they don’t wanna stop her! But she don’t have the power, or the money …” Sid looks out amongst the hostile crowd, a gleeful maliciousness in his eyes. “… and she certainly don’t have the brains to pull off the promises she’s throwing around!” Sid turns to the camera. “Little girl! You’re in way over your head! Get out—“
Savage cuts off Sid, redirecting Mooney’s microphone. His voice is a low growl, cold and predatory. “Elizabeth …” he spits, “you’d do yourself a favor to remember what I did to Sherri. She ain’t been seen since! You want that to happen to you?”
Were it not for Savage’s hand clamped around his, Mooney would recoil in horror. “Are you threatening Miss Elizabeth?”
Savage doesn’t spare Mooney even a sideways glance. “I’m warning the little slut: stay out of my business. Stay home, make cookies, clean the house, andstay out of my way!”
The response from the WWF is immediate: a two-week suspension for Savage’s use of vulgar language. But the message is clear, and everyone from the announcers to Mean Gene Okerlund, and even a taped message from Roddy Piper in his hospital room, all tell Elizabeth the same thing: quit now, before you get hurt.
But Elizabeth doesn’t heed that message, and on Septembr 9th, appears on Prime Time Wrestling, with Ric Flair’s World Title belt in hand. Sean Mooney is alongside, but it is Elizabeth who does the announcing. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she says, beaming with pride, “at SummerSlam, I told the world, and promised to one man in particular, that I would bring a real champion to the World Wrestling Federation. Today, I am proud to show the world I was not boasting without cause. It is my pleasure to introduce to you”—the familiar music cues up under her words—“the Nature Boy, Ric Flair!”
For a few, heart-stopping moments, everyone holds their breath, waiting … and then, the curtains part, and through them walk a man dressed in a garish robe trimmed with fur. Flair gives the studio audience, who are all too stunned to do anything but clap politely, a “Whoo!” as he approaches center stage. He kisses Elizabeth on the cheek as Mooney starts talking. “Ladies and gentlemen, Ric Flair is in the building … and Mr. Flair, I gotta ask … what brought you to the World Wrestling Federation?”
“Ya know something, kid,” Flair says, “a couple months ago, I was sittin’ around the house, and I got a phone call. And this phone call was from a pretty little lady.” Flair chuckles and gives Mooney a nudge. “But then again, The Nature Boy is always getting’ calls from the ladies. But this lady wasn’t just any lady, no, no, no. This lady was the lady … The First Lady … whoo! … Of Professional Wrestling! And she says to me, ‘Ric, I need you to come to the WWF. I got me a problem, and it’s a problem only The Nature Boy can handle!’ And we talked about it, and I told her if the money was right, she could get herself a real Worlds Champion. And, brother, lemme tell ya, the offer was sweet, but when she told me about her problems, I told this one is on the house, sister.”
“Are you talking about Macho Man Randy Savage?” Mooney asks.
Flair chuckles again. “Well, now it seems there’s two problems, and I’ll get to Savage in a minute. First … Sid Justice! Big man … you’re running around, calling yourself a man of justice, a guy who calls it right down the middle. Big man! You’re just a little bug, a smear on the windshield of my limousine, a chump living in the shadow of the champ! Big Sid … don’t think for a second that I’m afraid of you, cause I’ve been taking down big guys like you for longer then you’ve been out of diapers! Now! … Randy Savage. The Macho Man. Gets his kicks scaring women and putting guys out of commission. I want you to listen up real good, Savage, cause I got two things to say to you; you lay so much as a hair, you even breathe in Miss Elizabeth’s direction …” Flair swipes at the wind with one hand, hitting his other hand. “Whack! Smack the taste outta your mouth! Now, the other thing, Randy Savage, it’s real simple; you like to go around injuring guys, running them out of the company. Well, buddy, for every guy you fought, I beat another two or three! For every guy you had to cheat to beat, I made beat every single one of mine straight up! You walk around, calling yourself Worlds Champion? Well … whoo! … I been winnin’ Worlds Titles since before you were good enough to even get on TV! So now, Randy Savage, you gotta ask yourself … are you prepared to deal with the real Worlds Champion? Do you got the guts to walk that aisle and face off against Ric Flair? I ain’t no figment of the imagination anymore, Savage; I ain’t a promise, or a rumor. I’m here, I’m live, and I’m calling you out, Savage! You got a loud mouth, champ, and you can’t duck me forever … and one of these days, I’m gonna catch up and slap it shut! Whoo!”
The appearance of Ric Flair on WWF television, the turning of a rumor into reality, is the equivalent of dropping a boulder in a swimming pool. Wrestlers line up to take their shots, and their chances, against a man whose name had long been anathema in the federation. The bleach-blonde playboy welcomes all comers, from Davey Boy Smith to The Warlord, and schools each and every one of them like the champion he is. And after every match, he reiterates his challenge to Randy Savage, a challenge that goes unanswered for weeks. In fact, once a dominant, almost pervasive force on WWF programming, Randy Savage all but disappears with the arrival of Ric Flair. Only Sid remains, terrorizing everyone he comes in contact with, leaving a trail of broken bodies behind him. Yet, for some reason, Sid never approaches Flair, neither during a match nor during interviews; he keeps his distance, and continues on his path of destruction.
Roddy Piper is released from the hospital as October begins, and takes a seat in the announce booth while his injuries heal. The animosity between the Hot Rod and the champion is as fiery as ever, as Piper uses his position in the announce booth as a bully pulpit to goad the missing WWF Champion. Repeated attempts to silence Piper, both by his fellow announcers, and the WWF front office, come and go, and Piper continues his campaign against Savage. But not once does Piper publicly endorse Ric Flair and his challenge to Savage. Piper’s thoughts and actions are geared towards one goal, and one alone: revenge.
So when WWF President Jack Tunney makes an unscheduled appearance on WWF programming, Mean Gene is sent to interview him, and sort out the mess left behind by Savage.
“First of all,” Tunney says, “let me address Mr. Roddy Piper. Mr. Piper has been warned on numerous occasions to keep his opinions and volatile temper under lock and key, and thus far, he has failed to do so.”
“But, President Tunney, how fair is it to punish a man who wants justice?”
“I understand the feelings of the fans, and those of Mr. Piper,” Tunney explains, “but we cannot afford to have a loose cannon like Roddy Piper stirring up trouble when the World Champion is already unstable. But that—“
Tunney’s sentence cuts off as Piper steps up onto the dais. Mean Gene welcomes Piper to the platform, but Piper pays no attention to Gene’s welcoming gestures. “Mr. Piper,” Tunner says. “I’m glad you could join us. I have a special message for you.”
“You got a special message for me, eh, Jackson? You stand out here saying Savage is unstable, he’s put a bunch of people in the hospital, and he managed to warp the two brain cells still firing in your special referee’s head, which was agreat pick there, boss … he does all this, and you call me a loose cannon? I’mthe one stirring up trouble?”
“Mr. Piper, if you’ll—“
“I think you’re the problem around here, buddy boy. I think you’re the one who needs a gag order—“
“Mr. Piper!” Piper’s eyes go wide when Tunney bellows his name; it is the first time Tunney’s façade of all-business has managed to crack. “If you’d let me finish, I believe you’ll find what I have to say pertinent, and maybe even acceptable?”
Piper looks to the crowd, then looks to Gene and says; “Fine, let the old dude have his piece.”
“As I was saying, Mr. Savage is a very unstable man. But that does not give him the right to disappear at will, and take this company’s most valued possession with him. Therefore, I am demanding that Randy Savage appear on WWF Superstars next week, where we will discuss his opponent for our upcoming event, Survivor Series, or he will be fined, suspended and stripped of the World Wrestling Federation Championship.” Tunney turns to Piper. “Now, Mr. Piper; the executive committee and myself have discussed at great length your situation, and we have come up with a resolution we feel is both fair and just. We would like you to take part in our Thanksgiving tradition and participate in a Survivor Series match on November 27th, pitting Ted DiBiase, The Mountie, The Undertaker and Sid Justice against yourself, the WWF Intercontinental Champion Bret Hart, Virgil and a partner as yet undetermined. Is this acceptable?”
Piper looks to the crowd for reassurance, and they give it to him in spades; it may not be a piece of Savage, but he, and everyone else (including Savage and Sid) know that, had Sid not turned on him, he would have beaten Savage. It is all the reassurance Piper needs. “Big guy,” Piper says, thrusting out a hand, “you got yourself a deal!”
Piper’s deal for revenge calms him down (as much as Piper can be calmed down), but when Savage’s deadline for appearance comes due, Piper listens with perked ears, waiting to see if the champion will show up. When Okerlund and Tunney gather on the dais for their meeting, it is not Savage who shows up, but Sid, spastic with anger. “Who do you think you are, Tunney?” he demands from behind a wall of officials and security. “You can’t stick me in a match with Piper!” But Tunney and Okerlund remain calm, patiently waiting for Savage to show up.
But instead of the WWF Champion, they get the “real” Worlds Champion. Flair casually strolls up the steps, with Elizabeth right behind, carrying the Flair’s title belt. Flair offers a hand to Tunney, who regards it with confusion. “You’re not scheduled to be here, Mr. Flair—“
“Listen up, big man,” Flair says with his unique casual flippancy, “do you know who I am? I’m Ric Flair. Do you know what that is?” he asks, pointing to his title belt. “That’s the real Worlds Championship. Champions defend their belts, and I defend my every minute of every hour of every day. Can you say the same for your champion?” Tunney shakes his head and starts to speak, but Flair turns his back on him and faces the camera. “It goes like this, Savage! I gave you the chance to get in my face and prove me wrong about who’s a real champion and who isn’t! But ya didn’t do it! You took your belt and stuck it between your legs with your tail, and you went home, cause you know, heh heh heh … you know you can’t style and profile and walk that aisle like the Nature Boy! I made the offer, Savage … I said—“
Flair’s rant is cut off by a surprise ambush from Randy Savage. Tunney calls over security, but security is already spread thin keeping Sid at bay. Nobody, save the announcers, notices Piper take off his headphones and make tracks for the platform, where Savage is kicking at Flair. Flair crawls, and almost falls, down the steps to the arena floor; Savage tears the belt out of Elizabeth’s hands, mutters a warning about coming back for her, then follows Flair down to the floor.
Piper makes it to the wall of security but is stopped; Sid backs away enough to sneak behind Piper and attack him, pounding away at Piper’s back. While Sid works on Hot Rod, Savage puts Flair’s lights out with a shot to the head with Flair’s own belt. Flair hits the ground out cold; Savage tosses the belt onto Flair and spits on it, then climbs back up the stairs. Okerlund reluctantly leans forward with the microphone; Savage grabs it and pulls him closer, so he can not only address the crowd, but do so in Tunney’s face. “Let’s get one thing perfectly straight, Jack Tunney,” Savage growls. “You don’t call the shots around here; I do. You don’t go making the matches; I do. And you don’t threaten the Macho Man ever!” Savage points to Flair. “You see that? Each and every person you put up against me, I’m gonna do that to. I don’t care if it’s Ric Flair, or Hulk Hogan, or her”—Savage gestures to Elizabeth without even looking at her—“or even you … Nobody stops the madness, you got that? You don’t threaten me …” Savage suddenly switches his attention over to Elizabeth, backing her up to the edge of the dais. “And, ooh yeah, you don’t threaten me either, you got that, princess? Do you understand me? Nobody threatens the Macho Man.”
Savage walks down the steps, pausing to stomp Flair one more time, then continues on his way until the voice of Tunney stops him in his tracks. “Mr. Savage … by showing up today, you have fulfilled the deadline, and will remain WWF Champion without sanction. However, you will defend that title at Survivor Series, and as you have defeated virtually all other available competitors, you have left me, the executive committee, and yourself with no alternative but to order you to defend the World Wrestling Federation Title against Ric Flair!” Both the crowd and Savage explode at the announcement (albeit in different ways); security has to detain Savage and escort he and Sid from the building before they can cause any further disturbance, though they are both nearly frothing at the mouth.
The remaining weeks leading up to Survivor Series sees Flair ratcheting up his taunting of Savage, both verbally and through appearances during Savage’s matches; Flair never forgets to bring his belt, making sure Savage gets a good look at it to remind him of what’s in Savage’s future. Piper joins in on the harassment, accompanying Flair to needle the psychotic duo of Savage and Sid, going so far as to causing them to lose an opportunity to capture the WWF Tag Titles from the Legion Of Doom on Superstars. The mind games push Savage and Sid over the edge, driving the two to ambush their foes on repeated occasions. During one such fight, an ambush on Flair in the entranceway turns into a melee with all four combatants and a horde of security trying to keep the fighters apart. But Savage manages to grab a chair from the broadcast booth and inadvertently breaks it over the back of Vince McMahon, who had stepped away from the broadcast booth to try and help reign in the chaos. McMahon is taken away on a stretcher while the officials fight tooth and nail to pry the four men away from each other.
The hatred forces Tunney to give the crowd a preview of Survivor Series on the last Superstars before the big event, with Piper and Flair teaming up against Savage and Sid. Unfortunately, the match ends up disintegrating into a brawl and is thrown out; worse yet, Sid’s size and Savage’s insanity overwhelm Flair and Piper, and the champion and his bodyguard beat the two into unconsciousness with chairs, repeated powerbombs and elbow drops. And, to heap insult on injury, Savage spits on Flair’s title belt, beaming with pride as he and Sid leave his handiwork.
November 27th: Survivor Series
The Survivor Series match-up pitting Piper’s team (“The Pit”) and Sid’s (“The Madness”) are saved for late in the evening, right before the big World Title match. With all the attention given to the Savage/Flair match, the big 8-man tag match, with Piper’s mystery opponent, is almost forgotten until the event itself. Naturally, the mystery opponent is introduced last, but the surprise of seeing Hulk Hogan, after nearly 8 months, fails to disappoint. Even Piper and his teammates are surprised; the only person who doesn’t register any emotion, save a red, raging bloodlust, is The Undertaker, who drops down to the arena floor and goes after Hogan as he makes his way down the ring.
The brawl starts the match, and as The Undertaker had been picked as the leadoff man, his brawl with Hogan ends up removing him from the match by way of count-out. The brawl spills into the back, and Hogan is unofficially eliminated, since he never makes it to ringside. With both sides even at three, the match continues. Virgil is the first to be eliminated, submitting to the Million Dollar Dream from his former employer Ted DiBiase; Bret Hart rallies and manages to eliminate DiBiase (also by submission), but falls victim to a Sid powerbomb, thus leaving Piper alone against Sid and The Mountie. Piper fights valiantly, managing to fend off constant double-teaming and cheating, but the numbers game catches up; Piper faces pinning combinations one after another, having to expend precious energy to kick out.
But when the end seems certain, Hogan re-emerges, ever the conquering hero, and races to the ring in time to prevent a pinfall by The Mountie. Sid tries to argue with the referee about Hogan re-entering the match, but the referee’s ruling (which is announced over the PA) says that, since Hogan never officially took part in the match, he could not be eliminated, and therefore is still a viable competitor. With the reinforcements, Piper is able to tag out and the fresh Hogan easily eliminates The Mountie, and then weakens Sid up enough for Piper to exact his revenge and put Sid down with a sleeper. Piper and Hogan, once the most bitter of rivals, celebrate together, hands raised, basking in the cheers of the crowd.
But it is only a preamble to the main event. Elizabeth accompanies Flair to the ring, ever the playboy in his sequined robe. He struts and talks to the camera, reminding everyone who the real champion is, while Savage is introduced, sans the protection of his monster, Sid. The ring announcer barely has enough time to leave the ring before Savage stampedes towards Flair, running him down with a clothesline, sending Flair to the outside. Savage follows Flair out and begins to brawl, throwing so many punches, his arms are a blur. A clothesline leads to Flair eating the guardrail, and Savage tosses him back in, but the pin attempt only gets two. Savage knees him into the corner, then follows it up with a clothesline and a suplex; Savage rushes to the turnbuckle, but by the time he’s in position, Flair has rolled out of range, and Savage comes back down. Savage goes to the eyes and follows it up with a charge, but Flair backdrops Savage to the floor; Flair, however, is weakened, and by the time he makes it outside, Savage has recovered enough to brawl. When Savage wins the war of fists vs. chops, he throws Flair into the guardrail again. Savage tosses Flair back in, hitting a delayed suplex, but it only gets two. A backdrop suplex gets two, as does a double axe handle; Flair bails to catch his breath, so Savage follows and rams him chest-first into the apron. After a bodyslam on the arena floor, Savage tosses Flair in the ring again, but only gets two. Savage and Flair start slug it out; Flair ducks a haymaker and hits a neckbreaker, but is too drained to capitalize, and the referee stars the 10-count. Savage beats Flair to his feet and goes for a wild punch, but Flair ducks and unleashes with chop after chop after chop. Flair backs Savage into the corner with the chops, unleashing a few more before slinging him across the ring; Savage hits chest first, and Flair clips him from behind. Savage crumples, and Flair goes to work; first, he drives the knee into the mat repeatedly. When that gets old, Flair switches to knee drops on it, and even blatant kicks to the hamstring. A shinbreaker is followed up by an overhead suplex which gets two, so Flair goes right back to the knee, using the ropes as leverage to drop his weight on it. Flair signals for the figure-four and starts the twist, but Savage puts a boot on Flair’s backside and pushes, sending Flair through the ropes to the floor. Savage tries to walk off the knot in his leg, but gets too close to the ropes and Flair drags him out. They trade punches for chops, but Savage ducks a punch, kicks Flair in the gut, and suplexes him on the floor. Savage tosses Flair back in the ring, then scales the turnbuckles, wobbling just a bit on his troubled knee, but manages to hit double axe handle, drawing two. Savage goes up top for the flying elbow, but Elizabeth distracts the referee, drawing Savage’s attention. She argues with the ref for a few seconds, giving Flair time to catch his breath, before dropping back down when Savage threatens to come down and give chase. When Elizabeth drops back down to the arena floor, Savage resumes with his plan, leaping into the air, elbow poised for impact … but eats mat when Flair rolls out of the way. Flair doesn’t have enough to get to his feet and wisely rolls out of the ring … unaware that Sid has come down to ringside and takes advantage of a distracted referee (again by Elizabeth, this time trying to point out Sid) to clobber Flair into a fine paste. Sid tosses Flair back into the ring, but suddenly goes down, thanks to the timely interference of Hulk Hogan and a steel chair. Hogan slides in, playing to the crowd and pointing at Savage. The energy of the crowd is positively manic, screaming when Hogan points at Savage; Hogan checks all four sides and, when all four give him a confirming vote, he bounces off the ropes and drives the wind out of Savage’s chest with his massive leg. Hogan drops another leg for good measure, then bails out. Flair revives enough to drape an arm over Savage; Elizabeth sees it and drops away. The ref turns, dives and gets to two before Savage’s arm goes up. Flair and Savage both struggle to their feet; Savage tries a weak punch, which is blocked and returned as a chop. Another punch is stopped and returned; a third is stopped, and Flair kicks Savage in the knee. Savage’s leg disintegrates, and he drops to the floor. Flair goes after it with more kicks, stomping as if he were trying to crush an elusive spider. Savage tries to scurry away to the safety of the ropes, but Flair grabs his legs and holds on. After few more kicks to the hamstring, and Flair steps through as quick as he can, dropping down and cinching on the hold like a vice. Savage’s screams are audible, even over the crowd; he drops back a couple times, only for the referee to start the count. Savage is up before the palm can hit the mat, but Flair slaps him back down. Savage tries to reverse the hold, but Flair thrusts his weight in the other direction, countering Savage’s attempts to roll over. When Savage tries to pull away to the ropes, Flair pulls back and wrenches down on the knee even harder. Savage screams, trying to block the pain, the referee continually asking if he wants to quit. Every time Savage says no, Flair torques the grip of the hold a little more, until finally, Savage can take no more. The referee springs up and orders the bell to be rung, and the arena explodes. Flair releases the hold, and the referee helps him up, presenting him with the title belt. Through eyes clouded by sweat and tears, Savage rolls over and sees Hogan in the aisle; he is grinning, arms on his hips. Hogan mouths three simple, easy-to-read words: He’s coming back. Savage’s eyes go wide; he needs no explanation for that threat. There could only be one “he” Hogan could be referring to, and for Randy Savage, it is a nightmare come true; 8 months of hard work, of warring and injuring, and sending people into retirement … all coming to a crashing end, all in one night. And, Savage realized, those men he had driven away, or injured, or hurt, would now come looking for him, wanting blood and payback. What kind of payback would satisfy a man who had been pushed to the edge of his physical limits, all for naught, to be driven away from his career? What kind of revenge would satiate that maniac, that warrior?
For the first time in months, maybe years, Randy Savage felt a pang of fear.