Friday, 20 May 2011 08:32
It’s sad to say, but pro wrestling deaths have almost become routine for me. It seems every couple of months, we get notice that a pro wrestler has died. I write up something for the latimes.com/sports site, we get a couple hundred comments, then that wrestler is forgotten and we start all over again a few weeks later with a new wrestler.
But when I heard today that Randy Savage died, it had a dramatic emotional effect on me. Randy Savage was different. This death is more personal. Because, you see, Randy Savage was the one wrestler my parents and I all loved watching together.
I was a normal teenager, which means I was moody, introspective and thought I knew everything. So there were many, many arguments between my parents and myself. But there was one thing we always agreed on: Randy Savage was the best wrestler in the business. My parents and I would watch wrestling together, in fact, if my dad was doing something, all it took to tear him away from it was to say, “Hey dad, wrestling is on TV.” He would drop everything and for the next hour or so we would sit and cheer, laugh or boo for our favorites. For that hour, there were no arguments or problems. My dad could do a perfect “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, yeahhhhhhhhhhhh!”
I took my mom to Wrestlemania VII at the L.A. Sports Arena. The main event was advertised as Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter, but to us the real main event was Macho King Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior in a “loser-must-retire” match. It is a testament to Savage’s abilities in the ring that he was able to drag a great match out of the Warrior. By the end of the match, the usually laid-back L.A. crowd was on its feet as the two traded near-pinfalls. My mom and I were cheering for Savage. Ultimately, he lost, but he reunited with Miss Elizabeth in one of the best wrestling moments I have ever witnessed live. There was a moment I’ll never forget. Savage escorts Elizabeth out of the ring (finally holding the ropes open for her after years of making her open them for him) and turns back around. The crowd, thinking this may be the last time we see him (this was when retirement stipulations meant something), opens their heart to him. And for a moment, standing in center ring, it seemed to me Savage was genuinely touched by the outpouring of love and respect we were giving him. My mom and I had tears in our eyes, and it is one of the best memories I have of spending time with her.
So rest in peace, Randy Savage. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for always giving 100% in the ring whenever I saw you. Thank you for being one of the best in the business. Another door to my childhood closes with your death, but the memories in my heart have gotten brighter because of you.
Asst. Sports Editor, Los Angeles Times