In the 1980s, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage became two of the most iconic stars in professional wrestling history. Rather than just appealing to the wrestling audience, the two crossed over to mainstream consciousness. They were at the top of the wrestling business when it became wildly popular. They got endorsement deals, like Savage’s iconic participation in the Slim Jim advertising campaign. They even went on to appear in movies including No Holds Barred, Mr. Nanny, and Spider-Man.
Hogan and Savage became known as on-screen allies when they teamed up to form The Mega Powers. Then, they grew even more famous as rivals, building up to their showdown at WrestleMania V. The most impressive factor of all, though, might be the longevity of the twosome. While they dominated the better part of a decade in WWE programming, against all odds, they went on to become the top stars of WCW, too, in the mid-to-late 1990s, again splitting time between playing friends and arch-enemies.
But what about Savage and Hogan’s real life relationship? Interestingly enough, it was little less turbulent than their lives on screen as they became friends, business partners, and bitter rivals at different points in their careers. Jealousy was a factor, given that Hogan was undeniably the more famous and popular of the two at their peak, while Savage was generally accepted as the better athlete. But the issues between the men transcended the sphere of professional wrestling to their personal lives as well. This article traces the up-and-down history of The Hulkster and The Macho Man through all manner of twists and turns, before Savage’s untimely passing just a few short years ago.
15. Hulk Hogan Claims He And Randy Savage Made Amends Before He Passed Away
There was a well-known beef between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, but according to Hogan, it was all water under the bridge by the time that Savage passed on. He spoke about their reconciliation in a variety of interviews, citing that the two of them ran into each other at a doctor’s office, buried the hatchet, and talked about getting together for a cookout.
There have been some doubts shed on Hogan’s account, including Bret Hart claiming he’d spoken to Savage not long before his death and that he didn’t seem to have much good to say about Hogan then. Aside from those closest to Savage, we may never know for sure if the two really had made amends, if Hogan only thought they had, or if The Hulkster might have been fibbing. In lieu of any concrete evidence, though it’s nice to think they put their issues behind them as older men.
14. When They First Wrestled, Randy Savage Beat Hulk Hogan Three Straight Times
When fans think of the on-screen rivalry between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, they tend to think of Hogan as the decisive winner. After all, Hogan won their most famous showdown at WrestleMania V, and when Hogan turned heel in WCW to launch the nWo, he kicked things off by beating up Savage. Despite Hogan coming out the better when the lights were on brightest, he didn’t always beat Savage. When the two first squared off, Hogan was in his first world title run and Savage was a brand new talent.
To get The Macho Man off to a hot start, he actually defeated Hogan in back-to-back-to-back matchups, each time via count-out. The series of matches set up Savage as a main event level player and established the groundwork for the two to do battle again.
13. Randy Savage Challenged Hulk Hogan To A Fight Via His Rap Album
In 2003, Randy Savage made the unlikely transition to rap artist. His music wasn’t particularly well-received, and the most memorable element of it was a challenge to fight Hulk Hogan. The title track, “Be A Man,” targeted his old in-ring rival. Producers claimed that they thought the insults toward Hogan were all for show, but those close to Savage have confirmed that the stern words were for real.
Lanny Poffo purportedly got caught in the middle—forever loyal to his brother, Savage, but also positive toward Hogan who was good to him earlier in their careers. According to a report from Complex, Poffo struck a compromise, steering clear of most of his brother’s project, but penning the lyrics to one song, a tribute to late colleague Curt Hennig.
12. Hulk Hogan Paved The Way For Randy Savage To Sign With WCW
In 1994, Hulk Hogan signed with WCW, in a huge turn for the wrestling business. After building his name with WWE, the biggest star in wrestling took his talents to the competition. In the process, WCW boosted its profile with a national audience and changed its aesthetic direction toward the more cartoonish WWE style of the 1980s.
As Hogan took up residence at the top of the company, WCW started building around him, which included recruiting a lot of old WWE stars. Randy Savage was among the talents WCW went after, and Hogan was purportedly key in swaying The Macho Man to come over. The overtures came at just the right time as WWE limited Savage’s role, transitioning him to the commentary booth and out of the main event scene. In WCW, he had the opportunity to compete for world championships again, and be apart of top storylines for years to come.
11. Andre The Giant Got Along With Hulk Hogan, But Not Randy Savage
Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage each engaged in major storylines with Andre the Giant towards the end of the big man’s career. Each had one-on-one encounters with Andre, and then engaged in Andre’s last true main event program as The Mega Powers, against Andre and Ted DiBiase, as The Mega Bucks.
Andre got along and believed in Hogan. Rumor has it the Giant intended to retire but prolonged his career for the very purpose of playing the villain to Hogan’s super hero, including their iconic WrestleMania III match. Apparently, Andre wasn’t such a fan of Savage, though. According to interviews with Lanny Poffo, Andre had a specific grudge against Savage because he was so committed to wearing baby oil in the ring, which was one of Andre’s pet peeves. Savage purportedly refused to go without baby oil, seeing it as an essential part of his look. So, the Giant never enjoyed working with The Macho Man.
10. Their On-Screen Rivalry Lasted Well Over A Decade
In the contemporary wrestling landscape with its monthly PPVs and rigorous TV schedule, it’s not unusual for feuds to begin and end inside a few weeks. Fans complain when rivalries stretch for months. Just look at the backlash for John Cena vs. Randy Orton when their 2007-2009 rivalry grew unwieldy. The two were aggressively booed by the live audience at Royal Rumble 2014, and there was a ton of social media backlash when WWE teased they might revisit their issue yet again for WrestleMania 33.
Savage and Hogan worked in a different era in the business, though, and their natural chemistry as performers kept the fans from souring on their feud. So, the two first squared off with Savage as the heel underdog when he first showed up in WWE, then returned to grudge for WrestleMania V. The two feuded pretty consistently for about a year to follow, including Savage teaming up with Zeus from No Holds Barred to try to get the better of The Hulkster.
The rivalry reached beyond WWE, though, when Hogan and Savage found themselves in WCW in the years to follow. They started out in WCW as face friends who didn’t quite trust each other, before Hogan turned heel against the face Macho Man. And finally, Savage turned heel to re-spark the reluctant allies who don’t get along dynamic. A series of heel and face turns followed such that the two, cumulatively, spent over a decade at odds.
9. Randy Savage Planned His Matches With Hogan Meticulously
Randy Savage was known backstage as a meticulous planner. Other top wrestlers, like Ric Flair and Steve Austin, have spoken openly about the value of calling matches in the ring to feed off of the crowd’s reactions. Savage liked to map out what would happen from move to move, especially in big matches. This tendency resulted in some excellent bouts. It also purportedly drove Ricky Steamboat crazy, for having to memorize so many steps in match, as he did for their encounter at WrestleMania III.
Given Savage’s tendencies and the quality of his bout with Hogan at WrestleMania V—in particular compared to Hogan’s other matches in that time period—one can only assume that Savage was in the driver’s seat again. His colleagues have touted The Macho Man’s keen sense of storytelling in matches and that ability would have been key to getting the most out of such a high-profile encounter with Hogan.
8. Randy Savage And Hulk Hogan Are One Of Only Two Pairs To Finish Two Consecutive WrestleManias In The Ring Together
Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan were mainstays in WWE’s main event scenes for the late 1980s and early 1990s. While other performers have enjoyed similar standing over time, it’s noteworthy that few have been so high profile for an extended stretch, and particularly spent a full year at the tip-top of the company to justify closing out consecutive WrestleManias together.
Savage had Hogan in his corner when he defeated Ted Dibiase to win his first world championship at the end of WrestleMania IV. The two finished the show celebrating together, but the writing was on the wall that they might clash in the future. Sure enough, they were competing over that same world title in the main event of WrestleMania V.
It would take over 20 years before a pair of wrestlers duplicated this feat, when John Cena and The Rock wound up closing down WrestleManias XXVII, XXVIII, and XXIX in the ring together.
7. Randy Savage Was Deeply Offended When WWE Poked Fun At Him And Hulk Hogan
After Randy Savage jumped ship for WCW, WWE launched a comedic campaign against its former stars, featuring The Nacho Man, The Huckster, and Scheme Gene. The promos had a particular focus on Savage and Hogan being over the hill. According to interviews with Lanny Poffo, Savage was very sensitive about his age. It was a part of why he was upset to be relegated to the broadcast table in WWE, and jumped to WCW in the first place.
According to Poffo, Savage was hurt that WWE would make fun of him at all, and especially angry that they played the age card. There’s always been a degree of mystery and rumors about why Savage never returned to WWE, even after WCW folded. This specific beef seems like it might have been one of the issues at play.
6. Randy Savage Blamed Hulk Hogan For Miss Elizabeth Leaving Him
The relationship between Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth was up-and-down both on camera and off. Savage’s well-documented jealousies and over-protective nature were surely a part of the issue. Savage reportedly blamed Hulk Hogan and his then-wife Linda, too, for befriending Liz and even letting her stay at her house. While Hogan has professed that they were just being hospitable to a friend, Savage accused the Hogans of turning his wife against him. After eight years of marriage, the two officially divorced in 1992, which Savage acknowledged for the fans in a note for WWF Magazine.
Savage, Elizabeth, and Hogan would all wind up working together again in WCW, proving they were all capable of working as professionals despite personal issues. Just the same, working regularly with Elizabeth, in the presence of Hogan, likely ate at Savage.
5. Hulk Hogan And Randy Savage Both Liked Diamond Dallas Page
WCW has often been accused of not creating its own stars, but rather depending too heavily on veterans who earned fame elsewhere, like Hogan and Savage. Diamond Dallas Page was one of the few bona fide, homegrown superstars the company put forth during its hottest period. While WCW was full of backstage tensions, it’s interesting to note that Page was that rare talent who had both Hogan and Savage’s backing.
As Page rose the ranks and wound up feuding with Savage, it was The Macho Man himself who ultimately proposed that Page pin him, cleanly, off of his signature maneuver, The Diamond Cutter. Later, Hogan lost the world title to Page in a multi-man match. Page has re-told the story that, backstage, Hogan looked at him with pride, and told him he’d earned the championship.
4. Randy Savage And Hulk Hogan Appeared Together On An Episode Of Baywatch
In 1996, Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan were among an elite corps of WCW wrestlers who appeared on the lifeguard-themed show, Baywatch. The special episode hinged on the faces battling the heels to determine the fate of a local youth center, and was highlighted by Savage and Hogan getting the best of Big Van Vader, Ric Flair, and Kevin Sullivan.
Yes, the premise of this episode was completely absurd, but from a marketing perspective, seemed to serve both sides well. Baywatch got a rating bump for wrestling fans tuning in. WCW got some additional mainstream attention for the crossover, not to mention an extra rub for Baywatch star, Pamela Anderson, appearing live on camera at the WCW show where the episode’s wrestling scenes had been filmed earlier in the day (Bash at the Beach 1995).
3. Randy Savage And Hulk Hogan Gave The Ultimate Warrior The Two Best Matches Of His Life
The Ultimate Warrior was one of the most iconic wrestling stars of all time, but he wasn’t known as a particularly good worker in the ring. In fact, in WWE’s The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior documentary, many of his contemporaries looked down on his in-ring talents, suggesting he was popular purely for his look, his charisma, and the way WWE booked him.
If there are two Warrior matches that stand out as objectively excellent stand-alone pieces of work, though, they’d be his WrestleMania VI match with Hulk Hogan and his WrestleMania VII match with Randy Savage. Some of the success is attributable to the star power involved, as these two matches involved three of the best celebrated stars of their generation. Another element, however, has to be careful planning. In his book, Accepted Pat Patterson wrote about being charged with crafting the Hogan-Warrior match, and he’s largely credited for planning it to be a success. Meanwhile, Savage was notorious for plotting out all of his big matches, and it’s no surprise that he’d chart a specific and artful course for himself and Warrior.
2. Randy Savage Thought Hulk Hogan Was Having An Affair With Miss Elizabeth
Amidst Randy Savage’s accusations that Hulk Hogan and his then-wife Linda had turned Miss Elizabeth against The Macho Man arose another, more specific point of paranoia. Savage suggested Hogan and Elizabeth were having an affair.
This part of the story is largely hearsay, but has surfaced on enough shoot interviews that it has some credence. And it makes sense. After all, Savage was fiercely protective of his wife, and Hogan did get close to her. Beyond that, there was always an underlying suspicion that Savage was jealous of Hogan’s level of fame and fortune, when Savage was generally considered the more talented athlete in the ring.
While there’s no evidence Hogan actually did anything inappropriate with Miss Elizabeth, this allegation seems to have been yet another source of tension between the Hogan and Savage.
1. Miss Elizabeth Ended Her Life With Neither Savage Nor Hogan, But Lex Luger
While Savage was suspicious of Hulk Hogan’s intentions around Miss Elizabeth, it was another famous colleague who Liz actually wound up romantically involved with, and living with at the end of her life.
After her second divorce, from a Florida attorney, Miss Elizabeth’s on-screen managerial partnership with Luger led to a real life relationship. The years immediately following WCW’s closure were rough on the couple, and 2003 in particular saw a bevy of legal issues follow Luger, ranging from domestic violence charges to a DUI. Ultimately, it was Luger who would call for emergency assistance when Miss Elizabeth passed on, in a death attributed to a drug overdose.
In interviews immediately following his ex-wife’s death, Savage indicated that he had closure with Miss Elizabeth and expressed his condolences to her family.
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