The “Macho Man” invades Memphis: Randy Savage, Jerry Lawler and the battle for Tennessee

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March 01, 2013

Jerry Lawler wasn’t home on the night Randy Savage showed up at his house in Nashville, Tenn., looking for a fight.

Eight years before he’d gain international fame as the WWE Champion, the volatile “Macho Man” had marched into Lawler’s Tennessee territory and used both physical aggression and verbal intimidation to get “The King’s” attention. On the evening Savage arrived at Lawler’s front door, the WWE Hall of Famer was at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, headlining a big card as the star of his own promotion, the Continental Wrestling Association. “Macho Man” most likely knew this, but that’s beside the point. What mattered was this — Mr. Madness was loose in Nashville and he was looking for “The King.” (RARE PHOTOS OF SAVAGE)

“He was saying, ‘I know you’re in there, Lawler! Come out and face me! Are you a coward?’ ” Lawler remembered. “We were always of the mindset that the best thing to do is don’t even acknowledge them, just completely ignore them. But Randy just kept trying to get our attention.”

At that time in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the CWA, owned by Lawler and Jerry Jarrett, was the dominant wrestling product in states like Tennessee, Kentucky and parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana and Arkansas. In 1978, though, a renegade group known as International Championship Wrestling rolled into Lexington, Ky., with intentions of knocking Lawler off his throne.

“What happened was Randy Savage, his brother Lanny Poffo and his father Angelo Poffo got the idea that they wanted to start a little promotion of their own,” Lawler told “When you’re on the bottom rung of the ladder, you usually think the way to get attention is to try to get the rub off the established guys. Well what Randy and his group did is they started making challenges.” (WATCH SAVAGE'S BEST INTERVIEWS)

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