Soothing the Savage beast

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February 22, 2007

Let's not kid ourselves: Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Miss Elizabeth didn't have the storybook ending everyone thought—nay, hoped—that they would. After their divorce in 1992, the two would share a rocky working relationship at WCW, then finally part ways for good several years later. However, WWE.com chooses to cue up the "Pomp and Circumstance" and celebrate the couple's No. 2 Whoa-mance in World Wrestling Entertainment—through the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and the elements that, for a brief time, would bring every sports-entertainment fan "Together" for a majestic SummerSlam wedding in August 1991.

When "Macho Man" made the WWE scene in June 1985, he rebuffed offers from the company's elite managers, instead opting for newcomer Miss Elizabeth. WWE fans at first questioned the choice, though Elizabeth's beauty, elegance and grace quickly won everyone over. Unlike most of WWE's (loud)mouthpieces, Elizabeth remained quiet and reserved, from the moments she accompanied "Macho Man" down to the ring to those when she followed him out of the arena, usually victorious. On the rare instances when she'd almost speak, he'd usually cut her off at the quick, once again directing all the attention his way.

Nevertheless, one can't argue with Savage's incredible success, or the fact that it was inextricably linked to the beautiful "First Lady of Wrestling." Besides being as much a fan favorite as he—even more so at times—she understood that Macho was "too hot to handle, too cold to hold," and simply thrived in the spotlight.

By the same token, Savage often appeared much less sensitive to Elizabeth's needs. His erratic behavior was akin to that of an overcompensating, overprotective jock boyfriend—watching anyone else focus on her made him antsy, even downright mean. His 1986 rivalry with George "The Animal" Steele, the simple-minded WWE Superstar who had fallen in love with Elizabeth, was a year-long testament of this. Another was his rabid jealousy of Hulk Hogan in 1989, culminating in these once-unstoppable "Mega-Powers" to explode at WrestleMania V—and Elizabeth's ensuing departure from his side.

WWE's golden statistics also don't lie: with Miss Elizabeth in his corner, Savage enjoyed two memorable WWE Championship reigns, not to mention an extensive 13-month run as Intercontinental Champion. Without her (whether through an opponent's doing or, more likely, his own), his "Macho Madness" made him a bitter, ultra-volatile Superstar. Granted, upon defeating "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan to become the "Macho King" in 1990, Savage would enjoy more than a year of success with vicious valet Sensational Sherri as his queen. Yet it only seemed to make his fall from grace even more tragic after losing a classic "Loser Must Retire" Match to Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. The WWE crowd had booed him vociferously throughout the contest, while his queen poured on a humiliating hurting afterwards by literally kicking the dejected man when he was down.

Suddenly, in the midst of his darkest hour came a light Savage had believed diminished. Emerging from the WrestleMania audience, Miss Elizabeth ran to the ring and fought Sherri off, prompting an emotional reunion between her and the Macho Man that fans to this day remember as a timeless WrestleMania moment. More such moments followed in the months ahead, including a touching marriage proposal on live television that elicited a teary-eyed Elizabeth to reply, "Ooooh, yeeaah!" The result: an unforgettable "Match Made in Heaven" wedding at SummerSlam.

Yeah, yeah, we know—the reception afterwards was something of a downer (Damn you, Jake "The Snake" Roberts! Don't place your python among the wedding presents!), and come the New Year, Ric Flair would test their love by making false claims of an affair with Elizabeth. But for one special August night, more than 20,000 wedding guests in New York's sold-out Madison Square Garden would celebrate with a happy couple who vowed to love, comfort, honor and keep one another, in sickness and in health. And in World Wrestling Entertainment, that in itself can be considered a victory.

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