Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan: Top Two WWF Icons of the Late 80s

Randy Savage in 1986

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Returning to Professional Wrestling in the Late 80s

The late 1980s was a great time to be watching professional wrestling. I had recently returned from a year abroad and finally signed up for TV cable service. On one Saturday evening while channel surfing, I came upon a very exciting wrestling match. It had been 30 years since I had watched anything so spectacular. Although I can't remember who the grapplers in the ring were, I was hooked on professional wrestling again for the next four years. While recalling the wrestling and wrestlers that I knew as a boy in the 50s, my purpose in this article is to first point out the main differences between professional wrestling in the 50s with that of wrestling in the late 80s. Next, I will highlight two of my top World Wrestling Federation (WWF) icons of the late 80s: Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan.

WWF Icons of the Late 1980s

Who was your favorite WWF icon of the late 1980s?

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How Was WWF Action in the Late 80s Different from the 50s Wrestling?

WWF action in the late 1980s was much different from professional wrestling in the 50s. For starters, the wrestlers were much bigger in the 80s and the action appeared much more exciting. In the 80s, you also had a more colorful and showy performance of the wrestlers which was promoted much better than that of the 50s.

In the 1950s, wrestlers like Dick "The Bruiser" and "Crusher" Lisowski who weighed in at 250 pounds were considered big men. My favorites such as Vern Gagne and Angelo Poffo only weighed about 220. By 1986, it was amazing to view such behemoths as Andre "The Giant" at 520 pounds and Hulk Hogan at 6'7" and 305 pounds. Grapplers such as Randy Savage at 6'2" 245 pounds were considered fairly small.

The WWF was definitely more exciting in the late 1980s. There seemed to be endless action both inside and outside of the ring. When the wrestlers weren't body slamming and pile driving each other on the canvas, they were hitting each other with chairs outside of the ring. In addition to conventional ring bouts, such spectacular events as steel cage matches and 16 wrestlers in the ring at once were staged on special occasions such as for Wrestlemania.

Performers in the 80s also put on a more colorful and showy event. This was reflected in the costumes worn, entrance into the ring with music, and managers accompanying wrestlers. Jake Roberts would always bring a python snake into the ring, and many grapplers came into the ring with sexy female managers.

In the 80s, there were organizations like the WWF, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and Intercontinental World promoting professional wrestling. Matches at big sporting venues were successfully promoted on cable TV and at spectacular showings such as Wrestlemania.

Jake Roberts with His Snake and Andre "The Giant"

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Top Wrestlers of the Late 80s

During the late1980s, I would watch WWF performances promoted by Vince McMahon about two nights a week. Some of my favorite wrestlers included Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Andre "The Giant." I loved how Jake put his python on vanquished opponents, and Andre was so amazing with his size.

The matches of George "The Animal" Steele, Ricky Dragon Steamboat, Junkyard Dog, and Rowdy Roddy Piper were also enjoyable to view. How I delighted in seeing Rowdy Roddy Piper put the sleeper hold vintage Vern Gagne on his foes. My two favorite wrestling icons, however, were Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan who I highlight next.

Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat Dragon

Savage Winning His First WWF Championship at Wrestlemania IV

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Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. in 2005
Hulk Hogan at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. in 2005 | Source
Hogan as WWF Champ Wrestling with Brutus Beefcake
Hogan as WWF Champ Wrestling with Brutus Beefcake | Source

Top Two WWF Icons of the Late 80s

Randy Savage

Randy "Macho Man" Savage also known as Randy Mario Poffo was the oldest son of professional wrestler Angelo Poffo who I remember seeing wrestling in the 50s. Before becoming a professional wrestler, Randy Savage was a minor league baseball player right out of high school. At 6'2" 245 pounds, "Macho Man“ wasn't that big, but he was a very skilled wrestler trained by his father, Angelo. During the 80s and 90s, Savage held 20 championships among the WWF, WCW, and Intercontinental League. In 1987 he was the WWF "King of the Ring." Savage wrestled with WWF 1985-1994 and was Intercontinental champ 1985-1987.

In the ring, "Macho Man" was managed by his first real life wife, Miss Elizabeth Hulette. His entrance into the ring for every event was very spectacular. Upon playing of the music "Pomp and Circumstance," Savage would make his way to the ring with his manager, mount the ropes, flex his biceps, and in a deep and raspy voice shout, "Oh yeah." He always wore colorful ring attire and was known for his patented "flying hammer" or "flying elbow" delivered from the top rope to subdue his opponents. Some of "Macho Man's" best matches were against Hulk Hogan and Ricky Dragon Steamboat. Savage also appeared as a tag team partner of Hulk Hogan.

Hulk Hogan

Hulk "Hollywood" Hogan AKA Terry Gene Bollea is a 12 time WWF and WCW world heavyweight champ. In 2005 Hogan was elected to the WWF Hall of Fame. He is also the longest reigning WWF chanp of the 80s.

When "Hulk" was younger, he attended college and also played the guitar. Hogan started his career with Japan Professional Wrestling 1980-1985. I remember seeing Hogan for the first time when he accompanied singer Cyndi Lauper to the 1985 Grammy Awards.

Hulk Hogan really helped Vincent McMahon who owned the WWF to get this wrestling organization very successful during the late 80s. Hogan was always portrayed as an all-American character in contrast to Randy Savage who was usually the villain. He attracted a lot of fans with his Hulkamania. The "Hulk" also entered the ring with a yellow and ring colored shirt which he would take off and then flex his muscles. Some of his most memorable matches were against the 7'4" 520 pound Andre "The Giant." In Wrestlemania III, Hogan body slammed "The Giant" and won the match with a leg drop. What is interesting is that Miss Elizabeth, Savage's manager, also became Hulk Hogan's manager. This added a lot of theater to the relationship between Savage and Hogan.

Biograhical information about Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan was taken from Wikipedia.

WWF entertainment in the late 80s was very exciting and spectacular. Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Hulk Hogan were two of the icons of this era who have played a big part in elevating professional wrestling to the popularity which it has today.

Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan

Cast your vote for Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan

© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 33 comments

buddhaanalysis 3 years ago

Sir.You have missed Bret Hart. Wasn't he belong to 80's?


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great entertainment for sure!


Miller2232 profile image

Miller2232 3 years ago from Florida

Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Those were two entertaining wrestelers. "Watcha gonna do when hulkamania and Macho Mania run wild on you? Ooh Yeah!"


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

buddhaanalysis,

Thanks for reading this article and your comment. You are correct. I did not include Bret Hart who belonged to the 80s. Was he your favorite?


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Billy,

Thanks for stopping by and your comment. Good wrestling has always been good entertainment.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Miller2232,

Thanks for reading this article and your comments. I appreciate them.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Paul.....OK..now I know that men take this very seriously and wrestling is a fun sport. I get it. But....all due respect, it makes me laugh. And I see all comments are by men, thus far...except for me.

That MAMMOTH arm on Randy Savage is ....Whoa.

I have "heard" all the names and listened to the conversations...but can't seem to make it through a match without laughing. So, basically, I'm not allowed in the TV room when wrestling is on....correction: When any sport is on. Except Baseball. I love baseball..........Great hub.....ah....I'm sure, if you're INTO this. OK, I'm leaving. UP+++ LOL


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 3 years ago from Cape Cod

Great Hub Paul. I loved watching pro wrestling from the 50s right up through the Hulk Hogan years. I got to meet 601 lb Haystack Calhoun, Professor Tanaka, Walter (Killer) Kowalski and several others - both as a fan and as a young broadcaster and print journalist. Hogan was my favorite of the modern wrestlers and Bruno Sammartino (The Boston and New York title holder for the WWF) was my favorite from the 50s and 60s. Did you like Roddy Piper? I thought he was a great wrestler and a top entertainer.

When I met Killer Kowalski, he said in a soft voice, "Call me Walter". He ran a wrestling school in the Boston area for many years. An acquaintance of mine was kicked out of Walter's school for fighting!!!!

He was sent in the ring and proceeded to beat the crap out of his opponent so Walter went in and dragged him out.

"What were you thinking!!! " I asked him.

"I thought it was real, Bill, I didn't know you're not supposed to hurt the other guy," he said.


buddhaanalysis 3 years ago

Paul Kuehn ,

Bret hart was fairly popular in my siblings and Indian sub continent for his talent. Most of time i was confused that he looks like Indian(country).

Hulk Hogan was good entertainer and in childhood i though that he was old man(due to black & white tv) who can not bear pain but in reality he was too big for an average wrestlers to defeat.

Few years back McMohan did everything to kick him out from WWE when he keep reappeared as Mr.America.I really don't know what is real and unreal in WWE regarding this one.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Paula,

Thanks for reading this hub and your very interesting comments. Yes, I agree that wrestling is a fun sport which one shouldn't take seriously. Just the same, it can be so exciting, especially if the acting and moves are choreographed well. Have you ever watched women wrestling? This is more hilarious than men wrestling. I'm not into wrestling now, but certainly will not forget the enjoyment it brought into my life. I wrestled for real in high school and it was really hard and a lot of work.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Bill,

Thanks for reading and the great story about Killer Kowalski! Although I didn't see him wrestle much, I did like Roddy Piper a lot. I especially liked the sleeper hold which Piper put on his opponents.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

buddhaanalysis,

Thanks for your insightful comments about Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan. I stopped following wrestling around 1989, so I really don't know about the feud between McMahon and Hogan.


buddhaanalysis 3 years ago

Actually when WWF was at the pick of popularity, due to some match fixing or politics wrestlers shifted themselves to (warner brother's) WCW. WCW became too much popular almost made WWF vacant of stars.

McMohan then purchased WCW and made it 'Smack down' and 'raw'.

Therefore superstars did not returned to WWE but hulk returned. May be due to this reason McMohan had grudge for Hulk Hogan and not allowed him to stay back.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

My nephews wrestled in High School...and they were ACE!.....That was,of course, REAL. I enjoyed going to watch them and cheer them on. My sister was CRAZY at the meet (matches?).....so involved with her sons....I sat AWAY from her! LOL!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Paula,

Thanks for the comments!


Elias Zanetti profile image

Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

Grew up with all of these guys. The Undertaker was scary :) Cool hub.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Elias,

Thank you very much for reading this hub and your great comments. I appreciate them.


AWAFlashback profile image

AWAFlashback 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Macho Man and Jake the Snake had huge followings, but I never understood their appeal. Very interesting Hub. Late 80's had so many Superstars because the territories were virtually gone so there were all these well trained wrestlers and no place to wrestle for them...So they went to Vince and Atlanta. Great era.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

AWAflasback,

Thanks for reading this comment and your interesting comments. I liked Macho Man for the show he put on before matches. I especially liked Jake's snake and the DDT which he put on his opponents.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 3 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

This hub brought back some fun memories! lol. I remember most of these and "Brett the hitman heart", just because he had my name (hell, I was a kid ok ha ha). I also remember the guy who always tried to 'kill' his opponents, putting them in coffins etc .... just can't recall his name. Was certainly entertaining at the time, but would get laughs now.

Shared, up, awesome, pinned and tweeted.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Brett,

Thanks for reading, your interesting comments, and especially sharing, pinning, and tweeting this hub. Wasn't the "Undertaker" the guy who tried to "kill" and put his foes in coffins?


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Paul, I loved watching Randy Savage as well as Hulk Hogan. I believe both were good wrestlers in their own ways. And good showmen too. Though I have missed watching Andre.

Interesting read. Voted up and interesting and shared.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Rajan,

I haven't watched wrestling for many years, but I will always especially remember "Macho Man" and Hulk Hogan. Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub. I appreciate your votes and sharing!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I used to have a dear friend who loved wrestling and I can remember seeing these guys, Randy Savage, Jake the Snake, Hulk Hogan, and other stars of World Wrestling, on television and at actual matches.

Your hubs are always well written and informative. Always learn something from them. Voted up, interesting, and will share!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Aufait,

I'm glad you like this hub and have seen the wrestlers I write about. Thank you for your praise of my writing. Just like you, I always try to educate when I write. I appreciate you sharing this hub.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I don't watch wrestling but I use to watch Hulk Hogan's family on tv. My grandfather loved wrestling and he would get so excited over it. One day when all the family was home he was in the living room with his son's watching wrestling and got so excited over it he had go tell my grandmother what was going on. On his way back to the living room he dropped over and died right there. He had a bad heart and should not have been watching. That was in 1959. Sad story I know but we still talk about him and his favorite pass time. Voted and sharing.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

moonlake,

Thank you very much for reading this hub and the interesting comment about your grandfather watching wrestling and dieing with a heart attack. I'm sorry to hear this news. I appreciate you sharing this hub.


ParadigmEnacted profile image

ParadigmEnacted 3 years ago

A wrestling hub too?

The Hogan/Savage saga was the first truly great angle following wrestling's going mainstream. My bet is that Hogan had a lot of sleepless nights fearing that the Macho man was going to surpass him as the man. He only fell short by a little bit.

The only synergy that is more telling than theirs in the modern day is Cena and CM Punk.

It's interesting that Savage is said to be upwards of 245 pounds, because I couldn't have been more than 9 or 10 years old when he was talking on a payphone right outside the venue where a show was about to take place. The lasting impression was how small he was.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

ParadigmEnacted,

Thanks for your great comments on this wrestling hub. Randy Savage was just as interesting to watch as his father Angelo Poffo who I followed a lot in the 50s. No, Macho Man wasn't that big, but neither was his father. Savage definitely could put on a good show both before and during a match,


MasGnosis profile image

MasGnosis 3 years ago

I remember going to see Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, and Andre the Giant back in the early 80's when I was just a little guy. It was such a rush to see them in action. It was so different then because they played on it being "real" and a sport whereas today it is similar to a soap opera. Much of the draw today is on the drama and behind the scenes incidents. I can see the entertainment value of today's product but it just doesn't have the same feel to it as it did back in the 80's.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

MasGnosis,

Thank you greatly for your comments on this hub. You are correct. Pro wrestling today just doesn't have the same feel and appeal for me as it did in the 80s.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 8 months ago from North Texas

Came back to share this great article again. Also pinned to my "Sports" board. An excellent walk down Memory Lane!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 8 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

I am very happy that you enjoyed this article and are sharing and pinning it again. Thank you very much.

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