‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage was larger than life. His on-screen OHHH YEAHH‘s and DIG IT‘s were not far off from his persona off-screen. According to Savage’s long-time friend Dutch Mantell (also known as Zeb Colter in WWE), “Randy was a reality show before reality shows were even a thought in anybody’s mind.” After reading today’s story, you’ll have to agree with this!
Macho Man gets Disrespected at Waffle House
So let’s set the scene. It was late on a Wednesday night in the late 1970’s and Mantell and Savage had just worked a Nashville house show in front of a sold-out crowd. Randy was traveling with Rip Rogers (who was going by the name the Disco Kid at the time) and Randy was hungry, so they did what many professional wrestlers traveling in the south do and pulled into a Waffle House. Waffle Houses are known for being open 24 hours and for their cheap diner food, perfect for someone on the road trying to get a quick bite before going home.
“When you mention cheap, that was exactly in Macho Man’s price range. Randy was noted for his frugality years before Mick Foley made it an art form.”
Savage had a penchant for pinching pennies. He was also not one to mess with once he had his mind set on something. In this particular case, he had his mind set on food. He was hungry, and not even an upbeat regular at the local Waffle House coming in proclaiming the best news of his life was going to take attention away from him ordering his waffle!
“Savage and Rip had only been sitting there for a few moments when their waitress came to take their order. While they were giving the waitress their order, a skinny little cowboy type walked through the door and in a loud voice boomed out the news that he had just GOTTEN MARRIED!!! He intended this for the third shift Waffle House staff behind the counter and not for Randy. I heard later that the cowboy was a frequent customer and knew all the Waffle House employees.
The waitresses were elated. They immediately walked away from the table where she had been taking Randy and Rip’s order and gave the cowboy a high five which Macho Man took as a sign of disrespect. Randy was hungry and he wanted food – not some bullshit happy go lucky story. As all of the waitresses and cooks congratulated the cowboy, in Randy’s mind all that was being accomplished was his food was being delayed. On the surface, it was a feel-good happy moment for all of them. All of them…except Savage.
Savage wasn’t very happy. The announcement had interrupted his meal order. Savage wanted a waffle. NOW!!!”
At this point, most people would allow the cowboy to have his moment of basking in the glory of others congratulating him on the exciting news of getting married, but Savage wasn’t like most others. He just wanted to order his night breakfast and nothing was going to get in the way of that.
“Savage had heard what the cowboy said when he entered. As the conversation about the marriage continued, the cowboy said that he was really in love with this girl. Savage, out of nowhere, had to add in his two cents.
Savage said, out loud and to nobody in particular but to everybody that could hear him, [Macho Man voice] ‘Who gives a fuck!’
The conversation in the Waffle House came to a screeching halt.
Everybody heard what Savage had just said…especially the cowboy dude. Everything just stopped for a moment. Waffle Houses aren’t that big, to begin with and when Savage made his comment, the cowboy and Savage were only about 15 feet apart.
The skinny little cowboy didn’t like what Savage had said. He looked squarely at Randy and asked, ‘What did you say?’
Savage looked back at the cowboy and repeated what he had first said – not that there was much doubt in what he said – but this time, he slowly oozed the words out just to put more emphasis on them.
With the fighting words of ‘who gives a fuck?’ delivered in typical Savage form, things were about to go from calm to conflict very soon. The cowboy had been tested. Was he to respond in an aggressive way after being challenged by the crazy wrestler he likely saw on television numerous times before or was he to put his manhood and testicular fortitude aside and step away from the situation?
“The cowboy walked just a few steps toward where Savage was sitting, looked down at him and asked, ‘You got a problem?’
Savage arose from his seat like an old western gunslinger and stood up facing the cowboy eye to eye. The cowboy, who weighed in soaking wet at a buck fifty, listened as Savage countered with a question of his own in the gravelly ‘oh yeah dig it’ voice that would years later be his trademark sound:
‘I don’t know…DO we?’
Both men now stood facing each other. They looked like two cats ready to fight. As they stood eyeball to eyeball with their body English giving every indication of turmoil, the fight just broke out.
I don’t know who swung first but – according to Savage – it was the other guy. Savage grabbed the cowboy in a headlock, which I didn’t even know he knew how to do, and they both went down on the floor and were punching and kicking and screaming at each other right in front of a huge Wurlitzer jukebox.
As Savage and this cowboy guy wallowed around on the floor, the Waffle House people panicked and called the cops because their friend was in a fight with Randy Savage, ‘the crazy wrestler.’
They knew who Randy was. They thought he was crazy. Everybody in Nashville thought he was crazy.
Hell, I even thought he was crazy.
Rip thought that Savage was crazy too. What did Rip do when all this was going on? From all accounts, Rip did what all good friends do when their buddy got into a fight.
He bolted out the door to the parking lot.”
With Rip out of harm’s way and now enjoying the show from the outside looking in, Macho Man and the cowboy continued their tussle on the inside. Soon enough the cops would arrive. But before that would happen, weapons were introduced.
“On the floor, Savage and the cowboy were kicking and punching each other but no real damage was being done. Somehow, the cowboy guy worked his way free from Savage, reached down in his pocket and pulled out a knife…
When Savage saw the knife, he panicked because Savage didn’t have a weapon. As the cowboy brandished the knife in front of him, Savage took a good look at the silver blade and then in a split second, he jumped over counter to the grill area and grabbed the nearest knife he saw…
Savage jumped back over the counter and both men squared off against each other with both of them doing their best fencing moves at each other.
Savage then looked at his ‘weapon’ that he had picked up behind the counter. It was a butter knife.”
Macho Man and the Keystone Cops
Before Savage was able to inflict any real damage with his weapon of choice, the cops arrived. The cowboy took this as his cue to leave, so he jumped on the back of his horse and rode off into the sunset. Well, not really, but you get the picture. Meanwhile, Randy did not. In his mind, he was not at all fault. More importantly, he was still upset by the fact that attention was taken away from him when he was ordering his food and he strongly felt that he was in the right all along and that the cowboy was the instigator, not him. The Waffles House staff disagreed.
“Right as the police entered, the entire Waffle House staff all stooged Savage as the instigator of the whole thing. Randy had made a serious impact on the TV viewing audience in Nashville in only a short few months. The police knew who he was. They were all wrestling fans too. He was the ‘Macho Man’, the guy who acted like a complete crazy man on TV.
Actually, Randy was very convincing in his interviews because he had the whole town thinking he had mental problems. Savage blurred the lines between reality and make-believe. Now the cops were more wary than they really had a right to be because not only were they dealing with a wrestler but a wrestler they thought was crazy…
The cops turned their attention to Randy telling him to turn around, he was under arrest. Savage didn’t see it that way. In Randy’s view…it was he who was the victim, not the aggressor.
In his mind, the cowboy was the one who started it, not him. Randy pleaded his case and tried selling his story but the cops weren’t buying.
Randy started getting louder and again, the cops told him that he was under arrest…
Randy wasn’t cooperating.
The cops now had no choice but to physically try to overtake Savage and handcuff him. Randy was having none of that nonsense. A struggle ensued.”
At this point, a crowd started forming outside. With sirens and lights going off, an unexpected show was being presented for free outside of the local Waffle House in a town usually sleepy at this time of night on a Wednesday. This was the kind of storyline many of the onlookers were used to watching on TV, but not in person. On one side of the bout was the crazy Macho Man Randy Savage, on the other, the local Nashville police.
“The police were struggling with Randy as they attempted to put the handcuffs on him but it wasn’t working. Macho kept resisting. Randy kept screaming at the cops that they were letting the guilty one get away and he was the one who had been attacked.”
The police tried using force to get Randy in handcuffs, but he fought back. The police upped their game by introducing mace. Again, this would not help in subduing Savage. In fact, during the ruckus and free-for-all, one of the cops managed to mace another cop! You can’t make this stuff up…
“The cops were having no success handcuffing the Macho Man so they decided to amp up their strategy a bit. Mace or pepper spray came into the picture. Mace’s appeal to cops was that it would change most suspect’s minds of resistance if used properly with ‘properly’ being the keyword. But using the mace turned out to not be a wise decision.
These two cops apparently could have had starring roles in the Keystone Cops series. They were as inept in using pepper spray as they were in using handcuffs. As one cop went to mace Randy in the face, Randy ducked and the mace got the other cop right in the eyes. But, at least Mace proved its claim that it took a lot of fight out of whoever received the Mace. From that point on, the maced cop was out of the melee. The scoreboard now read…COPS 1…SAVAGE 1. Randy had tied up the game. Randy was left fending off the one remaining cop while the other one was screaming on the floor behind him. It was a friggin clusterfuck.”
With a few knuckleheaded cops out of the picture, Randy was left one-on-one with one remaining cop.
“The remaining cop pulled out his billy club and tried to subdue Randy which met with the same result as the earlier attempts to overcome the Macho Man. When the cop pulled out his club, Randy looked for a weapon himself and conveniently saw the downed maced cop on the floor behind him. Beside the cop was his club that he had lost possession of. Quickly, Randy grabbed the club.
To the Macho Man’s credit, he didn’t use the club against the cop but only used it as a shield against the cop’s attempts to subdue him. Randy was holding his own – but for how long? The sirens in the background got louder and closer…
The crowd outside, which was getting bigger and bigger, was getting a helluva show. There was not a bad seat in the parking lot.
In less than 60 seconds, more cops arrived with their sirens screaming. To an observer just coming onto the scene, it was CHAOS. Sirens, flashing police lights, cops, pandemonium, crowds watching. When the other police cars screamed into the parking lot, cops piled out of their cruisers ready to combat this incident who the police would call a 5150 call. A 5150 call is police code for ‘crazy man’.”
German Shepard Police Dog Takes a Bite out Macho Man Randy Savage’s Burr
When further cops arrived, Savage’s heart was still pumping and he had no intention of backing down or giving up the club he was now brandishing for protection. The police had no choice but to unleash their best weapon, a 75-pound German Shepherd police dog!
“This dog I learned later was one of the most aggressive dogs in Nashville police department history. The handler, who had brought the dog inside the Waffle House, now ordered Savage to surrender or the dog would be set free. Well, Savage was never good at waving the white flag.
The dog was in attack mode. When Savage didn’t comply with the police orders, the handler unleashed it…
Well, what fight was left in the Macho Man suddenly went south as the police dog came after Savage. Savage didn’t have a chance against this dog but he told me later that he did, ‘Get one good kick in…’
Savage also admitted that was a ‘…BIG MISTAKE.'”
Ultimately, the dog was the police’s best defense, the antidote to Randy Savage’s kryptonite. After taking a rather large bite out of Savage’s back end, Savage finally gave in. The battle was over. Savage had submitted to the most overpowering force on the police force, their dog. He was handcuffed and thrown into the back of a police car and later arrested. Dutch Mantell would later write:
“He was taken to the Davidson County Night Court and booked on a charge of resisting arrest, assault on a police officer (including the dog), failure to comply with police orders, disturbing the peace and all other kinds of regulations and rules that he broke that night.”
All of this because he couldn’t wait a few moments for a happy-go-lucky cowboy to have his moment of adulation! Mantell continues:
“Rip ended up calling Randy’s father, Angelo, who bailed Randy out a couple of hours later. After that, Savage was treated at a local hospital and sent home.
Savage didn’t work for a couple of days due to the soreness and the stitches in his butt area. I saw him a couple of days later in Chattanooga as we prepared for the Saturday night show. He even pulled down his pants to show me the bite. The bite was covered in gauze but he pulled that back so I could get a good look as it was time to redress the wound. I had never seen a dog bite before but it looked nasty. The bite had to be at least 9 inches long and I could plainly see the puncture wounds where the dog’s teeth had dug in.
Randy said he wanted to give me some advice. He said if you’re ever confronted with police officers, just give up and do what they want.
He also said he didn’t recommend picking a fight with a police dog. Randy said, ‘They are quite serious animals…'”
They are quite serious animals, indeed! With that poignant understatement ends the epic 1-on-4 battle of ‘Crazy Man’ Randy Savage vs Hunger, Cowboy, Police and Police Dog. We do hope Savage learned a lesson from all of this. If not, at least he ended up with a pretty gnarly scar and a good story to tell. There’s just something amusing and absurd about the thought of Macho Man showing off his battle wound to the guys in the back. “Oooooh yeeeah, have I told you the story about how I got this scar?”