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Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan: Top Two WWF Icons of the Late 80s
Randy Savage in 1986
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 addicted to 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?
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"
Savage Winning His First WWF Championship at Wrestlemania IV
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
Top Two WWF Icons of the Late 80s
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 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 "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 champ 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.
Biographical 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
© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn