In 2010, WWE released a video game called WWE All Stars. Other than the DVD “Macho Madness“ in 2009 (which consisted of archive footage and no new interviews or commentary), WWE All Stars’ biggest selling point was the return of Macho Man Randy Savage as a playable video game character for the first time in twelve years (the last one being WCW Mayhem) and his first appearance for WWE in seventeen years.
With the game, plus a new line of action figures on the way, it appeared bridges were being built between the WWE and Savage camp.
So where was Randy’s head at during this time? Was he preparing for a WWE return, were there offers for this to happen, or was he not interested at all? We have Randy’s brother Lanny Poffo on board to give insight into his brother Randy’s mindset before his untimely passing.
Was Macho Man Randy Savage preparing for a WWE return before his untimely passing in 2011?
It has become somewhat of a tradition nowadays that a legend returning to a WWE video game heralds a return to the company itself. It’s also become somewhat poetic and bittersweet that the longer this has been going on, the more prolific and/or successful that comeback has been. To show you what I mean, let us take a look at the various returning superstars in reverse order.
2k19: Rey Mysterio, who is in better shape than he has been for years. Currently enjoying a full time run on the main roster.
2k18: Kurt Angle. Has only wrestled a few matches here and there, but has remained a consistent character on WWE television for over two years. At the time of writing, he is scheduled to have his farewell match at this year’s WrestleMania.
2k17: Bill Goldberg. Came back for a short run and a total of three pay-per-view matches, including a WrestleMania title match.
2k16: The Terminator. Which was weird. Moving on.
2k15: Sting. Came back for two big PPV matches.
2k14: Ultimate Warrior, who sadly passed away during the week after his Hall Of Fame induction. However, he did have one last goodbye promo at the post-mania Monday Night Raw.
A few years prior to Warrior, there was one superstar who made his return to WWE gaming but sadly passed away before any TV comeback could transpire. That man was The Macho Man Randy Savage.
Savage left the WWE back in 1994 and finished the remainder of his wrestling career in WCW. Other than a brief stint in TNA at the tail end of 2004, Randy had pretty much stayed away from the wrestling scene for a decade.
Although his time in the squared circle had come to an end, his popularity had not. Macho’s sheer charisma and iconic voice had made him a marketable star without the need to get physical in the ring. He released a rap album, did various voice work on many animated products like Space Ghost, Dial M for Monkey and the Disney feature Bolt, and continued to cameo in TV and film. His most famous role is probably that of Bonesaw McGraw in 2002’s Spider-Man.
Macho Man Randy Savage featured in the animated series, Space Ghost:
However, during that time, Randy was blacklisted by WWE and despite rumors and speculation, no one really knows why. Some say that it was something personal between himself and Vince. Reports suggest that Savage gave his word he would retire in 1994 and not jump ship to WCW, but he did the exact opposite of that. What’s more, Savage’s Slim Jim sponsor jumped with him. The fact that Slim Jim would rather keep on using Macho as the face of their brand rather than keep its business with WWE shows just how popular Randy was.
There are many other theories on what caused the distance between the two, but this article isn’t about how he left. It’s about how he may have almost come back.
WWE hadn’t released any new official Randy Savage merch since their break up, albeit one career retrospective DVD of which Randy was not used or contacted for any new interviews or commentary. At least the documentary stayed somewhat respectful, which is more than can be said for the company’s “Self Destruction Of The Ultimate Warrior” DVD that was released a few years earlier.
One year later, at 2010’s San Diego Comic-Con, fans in attendance for the Mattel/WWE toy line panel were in for a huge surprise. The panel moderator introduced a special announcement. The big screen and hall lights went dark and a familiar, gravelly voice was heard.
The camera then faded in to an all-new Macho Man figure, the first officially licensed WWE Randy Savage toy in sixteen years. As the shot panned back to reveal who was holding the doll, the audience went crazy in recognition of a legend.
Macho Man gives fans a huge surprise at 2010’s San Diego Comic-Con
He may not have been adorned in sequined robes or a neon-colored cowboy hat, and his beard may have grown a little whiter, but there stood Randy, channeling his legendary in-ring character through the screen. Sadly I cannot find any pure footage of the promo, but the in-house cam picks up the electricity that was in the air when one of the biggest superstars in sports entertainment history made his first appearance in what felt like forever. It may have seemed like a long time, but Randy pulled it off like he hadn’t missed a day.
Wrestling legend and brother of Randy, The Genius himself “Leaping” Lanny Poffo is a friend of the site, so with the help of our editor JP Zarka, we managed to reach out and get Lanny’s perspective on a few things (you can listen to the brilliant Genius Cast with Lanny and JP here — a must for any wrestling fan).
“I don’t know how he felt deep in his heart, but I know that he took that interview seriously. I know he popped the crowd when he appeared and threw the crowd when he took off his glasses and said, ‘It looks just like me! Not now, but then!’ It was the biggest high spot ever in San Diego.”
Lanny also played an integral part in the actual recording of the video.
“Randy said to me, ‘Yeah, some people are coming over to do a video for that thing. I’ve got people coming over. What I need you to do is go out with them, entertain them until I call you to say that they can come over because I don’t need anybody watching me do this.”
“I cleared the field for him because the camera people came over to his home to shoot that, and I had to make sure that the company he had was not there during the shoot. “
Hindsight gives a poignant feel to the line, “2011 will be the Macho Man’s year.”
He was most likely only referring to the future figures that were coming. At the start of the video, he made a point that he was “Teaming up with Mattel, and Mattel’s partnership with WWE.” A sentence that confirms that there was still a middleman between him and World Wrestling Entertainment.
But what followed next gives somewhat of an impression that slowly but surely steps were being taken to reconstruct the bridge that burnt down between the two well over a decade ago.
On January 19th, 2011, just four months before Randy’s passing, WWE All Stars released a video of what would be Randy Savage’s last in-character promo.
The short video showcased everything that was brilliant about The Macho Man. An insane but comprehendible rant of brilliance that gets the game over, the other superstars over, and of course, Randy himself over as the greatest “OF ALL TIME! OF ALL TIME! OF ALL TIME, OHHH YEAH!”
Randy was back as a toy, a video game character and in some small way, an on-screen presence.
Now, this isn’t to say that Randy was going to return to WWE television full time, if at all.
At this point in his life, Randy was quite the introvert, making up for the time he lost with his family during his wrestling heyday. He valued his privacy, so he may not have had any desire to come back to WWE television at all.
In regards to whether Randy was looking at this as a stepping stone to return to WWE, Lanny opened up saying, “He said he wouldn’t return [to WWE], but he might have changed his mind later on. I would have to go with what he said, which was, ‘No, I’m done.'”
“He didn’t want to leave the house. He was happily married and he emphasized that the promo videos would be shot at his house or it wouldn’t have been done at all.”
Although Randy may have appeared somewhat to be reclusive, he still loved his fans. For eleven straight years, he would do a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” at George Steinbrenner’s annual Children Holiday Concert, a charity designed to help at-risk children get into the holiday spirit.
“Even when nobody knew who he was, because they were kids and he wasn’t on TV anymore, just the mere sight of him would pop the crowd,” Lanny proudly remembers.
“Of course he would dress all macho and everything, that’s how he would pop the crowd, but he never did anything halfway. He was always that way, he was always a role model to the kids.”
One can’t help but wonder what could have been if The Macho Man hadn’t left us so early. Maybe he would have been inducted into the Hall of Fame sooner. Maybe he could have appeared for one-off guest roles, such as commentary or even a manager/referee spot at WrestleMania.
There are hundreds of “maybes” and “what ifs” that could be speculated. The only thing for certain is in terms of character work, The Macho Man Randy Savage still had it and no matter how small the appearance may have been, it was an absolute pleasure to witness the madness one last time.