Macho Man and Elizabeth: The Romeo and Juliet of the Ring

Today, I make my return to blogging with a deeply personal, emotional, yet fun topic. It will be my first ever wrestling related blog. On this day 13 years ago, Elizabeth Hulette passed away, you may know her as Miss Elizabeth. She and her ex-husband, the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage (real name Randy Poffo) gained international fame throughout the 80s and 90s. They are without question the most successful wrestler manager combo in wrestling history. I thought it would be great to look back at their careers. They gave so many people so many great memories.

Elizabeth’s life on camera began in 1985. The Macho Man shunned the services of managers like Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan and shocked everyone by naming the then unknown Elizabeth his manager. In the pre-Internet era, no one knew that Liz was his actual wife. They married a few months before Randy’s big break.

From there, their careers took off quickly. Savage won the coveted Intercontinental title. He held it for almost a year before losing to Ricky Steamboat in an all-time classic match at WrestleMania 3, which is Liz at ringside for. It was shortly after this loss when their on-screen dynamic began to change. Savage slowly went from being a major heel (wrestling slang for bad guy) that would not allow Elizabeth to speak on camera to a baby face (good guy) that held the ropes open to allow Elizabeth to enter the ring, rather than the other way around.

The crowning moment of the Macho Man’s transformation was Wrestlemania 4 where he won 4 matches in one night to capture the WWE title. Liz also wore 4 different outfits that night. She also played a major role in allowing the couple’s budding alliance with megastar Hulk Hogan to blossom that same night. Hogan helped Savage win his final match. He stepped out of the spotlight for one of the most iconic snapshots in wrestling history (pictured below). The Mega Powers of Savage, Hogan, and Liz were formed.

randy-savage-and-miss-elizabeth-celebrate-at-wrestlemania-iv

Elizabeth did a fine job of managing the massive on and off screen egos of Hogan and Savage for a while. She helped them win a tag match against Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase at Summerslam 88 by ripping off her skirt bottom cause a distraction, very risqué for 1988 (pictured below)

Liz skirt

Unfortunately, Savage eventually went back to his heel ways and became very suspicious of Hogan’s intentions regarding Elizabeth. Depending on who you ask, this is not far off from what happened in the real-life marriage of Randy and Elizabeth. This culminated in a match between the two for the WWE title at Wrestlemania 5, which Hogan won to regain the belt while Elizabeth watched the early part of the match from a neutral corner.

The loss sent Savage off the deep end. He kicked Elizabeth to the curb in favor of her polar opposite, “Sensational” Sherri Martel. Martel played crazy character very well and was tough as nails. The perfect counter to the lady like Elizabeth who embodied grace and poise. Elizabeth stayed on TV for a brief period managing the Hulkster. However, for the latter part of 1989 and all of 1990. Elizabeth only appeared sporadically to foil Savage and Sherri. While Elizabeth cut back her time on the road, Randy continued wrestling almost every night. They were still married off-screen.

 

Savage and Sherri engaged in a heated rivalry with the Ultimate Warrior in early 1991. The feud reached its apex in a retirement match at Wrestlemania 7. Whoever lost would supposedly hang up their wrestling boots for good. Savage lost to Warrior in one of my all-time favorite matches. Afterword, Sherri literally kicked the “Macho Man” while he was down. Elizabeth was watching the whole ordeal from the crowd and hopped the barricade to toss Sherri from the ring. What followed was arguably the most emotional moment in wrestling history. A reunion of the first couple of wrestling (video below). I watched this moment for the first time in well over a decade after it happened. Yes, I still cried.

Eventually, Savage would work his way around the retirement stipulation and be reinstated. His on-screen reunion with Elizabeth led to the first and to my knowledge only WWE wedding that was uninterrupted at Summerslam 91. Finally, Randy and Elizabeth were married both on and off camera. Unfortunately, while their on-screen relationship was stronger than ever, their real-life marriage was crumbling. Shortly after managing Randy to another WWE title win at Wrestlemania 8, Elizabeth filed for divorce and left the WWF in 1992. Her departure was without fanfare. The only acknowledgment by the company was a hand written letter by Savage in WWF magazine where he thanked both the fans and Elizabeth. Most thought that is where this love story would end… They were wrong.

In 1996, Savage and Hogan brought Elizabeth in to Ted Turner’s WCW. She quietly managed them for about a month. She then shocked the world and turned against Savage to help Ric Flair win the WCW title. The real-life divorce was brought into storyline to an almost uncomfortable level. Liz would go on TV each week asking for more alimony and cuddling with Flair.

The Elizabeth/Flair alliance dissolved after a few months. Through a series of complicated events, Savage and Elizabeth reunited in Hogan’s heel New World Order (NWO) faction. They both did a pretty good job of acting like they were “just friends.” Every now and then though, you could see that the spark was still there. Case in point, the photo below snapped during a commercial break from the night they join forces again in early 1997. Do they look like they are over each other?

screen shot

This was right about the time I got into wrestling. I was five or six. Elizabeth’s on-screen character had changed dramatically from her WWF days. She started getting physically involved matches. She would rake eyes, choke Savage’s opponents with everything from bandannas to extension cords. This time in their careers is not viewed favorably by some fans. Personally, I loved it and they both seemed to enjoy it too. Savage and Liz were a part of 1997’s best feud with Diamond Dallas page and his then real-life wife Kimberly. The feud had 3 fantastic no holds barred matches between Savage and Page. One of which even featured a cat fight between the 2 ladies.

The couple remained united on-screen until the spring of 1998. The match in the video below between Savage and Sting is not the greatest, but it is a special one for many reasons. First, Liz takes a big time splash from Sting like a champ. Second, I have the shirt that Liz is wearing here. Third, the five-year-old me watched this live at my late grandparents’ house and was on top of the world when the Macho Man won the title once again. However there was no way for anyone to know the significance of this night. Savage tore his ACL in this match. He would lose the belt the next night and be off of TV soon after. Sadly, while Savage and Elizabeth would each stay in the business a few more years, they never did anything meaningful on screen together again.

 

This is where the story gets sad. The divorced couple amicably moved on with their lives. They were both basically out of the spotlight for good by mid-2000. There are all kinds of internet stories about the jealousy that ran rampant throughout the entirety of their relationship. You won’t find those here. Randy and Liz had their issues, but clearly loved each other deeply, even after the divorce. Considering what happened to each of them after they were no longer part of each other’s lives, it is fair to say they were never quite the same without each other.

 

After a second failed marriage to an attorney, Elizabeth began a relationship with wrestler Lex Luger whom she managed at the tail end of her time in WCW. Little is known about the relationship. However, it proved to be toxic for both parties. Elizabeth passed away on 5/1/03 after an accidental overdose when mixing prescribed pain medication and Vodka. She was just 42. Even at 10 years old, I was used to hearing about the death of my favorite wrestling personalities. However, Liz’s death hit me like a ton of bricks. It just made no sense. I know the Elizabeth I grew up watching with the character on TV, but she was so highly thought of behind the scenes by everyone in the business. No one expected her to find an early grave the way she did. Bret Hart called her “a flower among the weeds” Luger was cleared of any wrongdoing in her death, despite initial suspicion. He has since had a stroke and is now a born-again Christian. He has accepted a certain level of fault in Elizabeth’s death saying he was a bad influence on her at the time.

The story of Savage’s life post Elizabeth is a little better than the one above, but not much. After a few failed wrestling comeback attempts, he launched a rap music career, which also failed. After that, he became a recluse who was rarely seen by anyone outside his family. To my knowledge, he never spoke publicly about his ex-wife’s demise. He did remarry in 2010 and according to his brother, was happy. It did not last, he suffered a heart attack while driving and passed away on 5/20/11. He was just 58. Like many others, my first thought was “Randy and Elizabeth back together again.” Savage was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame last year. Elizabeth still awaits that honor.

 

For a failed baseball player and a shy college-educated Kentucky gal who knew nothing about wrestling before she got into the business, Randy and Elizabeth sure did leave their mark on the world. Any time these two worked together, the crowds went bat shit crazy. Here is to hoping they are indeed back together again. Thanks for the memories Randy and Liz. You both are missed by fans everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements