Viceland’s documentary series Dark Side of the Ring has been the talk of the wrestling world for the past few weeks now. I had the opportunity to take part in the filming of the inaugural episode which focused on the relationship between my brother Randy Savage and my former sister-in-law Miss Elizabeth Hulette. Many fans have asked what my thoughts were of the episode. Did the producers of the show and those interviewed portray the real-life story of Randy and Liz factually, or did they get some aspects of the story wrong? In my second installment on Pro Wrestling Stories, I give a behind-the-scenes look of the filming process, share my thoughts on the episode itself as well bestow a few other musings to boot.
Randy and Liz: “A Match Made in Heaven” — or was it?
To start off with, everybody from Viceland was polite and professional. They came to my house in January of 2018 and since I have hardwood floors, they had to throw piles of blankets on the ground to stop the echo. My floors weren’t designed to muffle sound and they recognized this right away. Everybody from the lighting to the sound people did everything professionally.
Throughout the day, they asked me question after question and I tried to represent my brother as best as I could though I have to admit, it was a whole day of filming and I was beginning to feel worn out by the end of it!
For a big part of the day, we did what they call b-roll. For those who do not know what b-roll is, instead of only rolling interview footage face to face indoors, it’s when they film somebody attempting to look natural while walking around outside with cameras on them. If you’ve never been filmed for b-roll before, it is quite an awkward experience! We did this for a few hours and went to the place where Randy hit the tree which made the cut into the documentary, but the majority of the other b-roll we filmed did not.
Around mid-day, we had lunch. I guess they’re union so we had to cease working for a short while due to that, but even so, it was a long day. I thought it would only be for an hour or two but we ended up filming for the entirety of the day.
I was very apprehensive before the show aired because I didn’t know how much of what I said would end up on the cutting room floor but I was very happy with what they chose. I thought it was better than the WWE Macho Man DVD because that was contaminated by Pat Patterson who had not one good thing to say about my brother and not one good thing to say about my father! When he would start to say something nice about both of them, he wound up damning them with faint praise.
The ironic thing was that Pat Patterson is one of the main reasons Randy left WWE. He couldn’t stand him for another minute. It’s not that he didn’t respect his work or his brain, he just felt Pat was an enemy each day of the years he spent there. Randy never forgave Pat Patterson for not including our father in WWF’s 1987 Legends Battle Royal at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey despite my brother asking a few times that he be included. Obviously, Tony Garea and Nick Bockwinkel were still too young to be amongst that ancient group! So rather than beating Pat Patterson up, Randy went to the WCW and took Slim Jim with him to the tune of $750,000.
My thoughts on the inclusion of Linda Hogan in Randy and Liz’s episode of Viceland’s Dark Side of the Ring
When I saw that Linda Hogan was in the documentary, I thought Uh oh! What’s she going to say? But she ended up telling the truth and she gave a very credible side of the story. I thought she did very well. I was afraid of what might come out of her mouth because when she wrote her book, she accused Hulk Hogan and Beefcake of being homosexual lovers. In my eight years of working with the both of them, that’s absolutely 100% not true. It’s one thing to out somebody but another to out somebody falsely just to sell books. Because she had done that, I was afraid of what she might say about Randy but I was relieved that she gave a very fair account of the situation in Miami before and after. She had done a good job and represented it very correctly.
I was very happy with Eric Bischoff because he was the one who validated what I said. When Randy left the then-WWF for WCW, he brought with him Slim Jim. What I didn’t know was that it was a $750,000 contract. I never knew this amount. While Randy always confided in me, he never mentioned specific dollar amounts about anything. That was one of his quirks.
“My brother Randy had more personality in his little finger than Bam Bam Bigelow had in his whole fat body!”
Vince McMahon is the most successful person I have ever met. Even when he’s wrong, he always seems to somehow turn it right. The one exception that I can name is that while he didn’t like that he lost Randy Savage, Slim Jim, or the $750,000 that came along with it, to try to replace Macho Man with Bam Bam Bigelow was not only stupid but pathetic.
Bam Bam was run of the mill while Randy was special. Nobody imitates Bam Bam Bigelow because it’s just a screaming fat guy. And I’ve seen a million of them. That’s all I remember from the 60s and 70s, screaming fat guys screaming into the microphone and spitting on it too while Randy had actual personality. Every time I go to a meet and greets, I always find that there are fifteen guys imitating Randy (some of them doing a really good job, by the way!) while I never see anybody imitating Bam Bam because it’s just a screaming fat person. If he had any talents, I didn’t notice any but it was just one of those things where Vince was trying to put a square peg into a round hole where he’d say, “If he’s not a star, well, let’s make him one!”
I never noticed it.
My brother had more personality in his little finger than Bam Bam had in his whole fat body which he had to cover up in the ring, but I’ve seen it. Trust me, you wouldn’t buy a ticket to see it!
I’ll admit that Bigelow did run into a burning building and saved a lot of kids receiving burns all over his body as a result. This is commendable. But if you look at his Wikipedia page, he was just another guy that got overpaid, stayed at the Ritz and Waldorf-Astoria hotel but couldn’t pay his fucking child support!
Going back to the Viceland documentary, I loved Bruce Prichard in it. I knew he would do a good job because I have never known him to lie about anything. And while I don’t know Eric Bischoff all that well, the few times I have met him, he’s made a favorable impression on me. The two of them, their accounts of what happened was excellent. I even learned stuff!
The Snake Bite: “Jake Roberts is not knowingly lying but his memories and my memories are very different.”
Jake Roberts, well, it’s not a lie if you believe it. I believe Jake Roberts is not knowingly lying but his memories and my memories are very different. My memories are not clouded by drugs while his are. Even though he is very entertaining, he is factually incorrect.
Randy got a 103-degree fever after that snake bite. This never gets mentioned. And the snake died after the snake bite. The paranoia that Jake claims Randy had was actually very, very real. That’s a king cobra. How many fans would allow a king cobra to bite them like that just to create entertainment? Randy was very interested in creating a spectacle. He believed that wrestling should be a spectacle and he loved that angle, but I think credit should be paid to Randy for giving more to the business than the average person would give. I would only compare it to Mick Foley throwing his body off the top of the cage to certain doom just to thrill the fans. Randy’s snakebite was just as good as Mick Foley in the Hell in a Cell. Mick Foley now lives a life in pain. Some credit needs to be given to the talent that has gone to extremes in order to entertain the people.
“Randy’s match with Steamboat ruined his life because he could never top it.”
At the risk of sounding redundant, WWE could have kept Randy. Randy loved Vince McMahon and didn’t want to leave. But the reason he left, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the fact that his match with Steamboat ruined his life because he could never top it.
When you have a perfectionist, it’s a psychological problem because nobody is perfect. In order to have a match as good as the one with Steamboat, you would need an opponent as good as Steamboat and there just was not any. Half the reason that match was so great was that Steamboat was so great. But when they relegated Randy to the announcer’s booth, he witnessed the emergence of Shawn Michaels leaving the tag team division and becoming a great star on his own. He would say, “That’s the guy I can finish my career with!” He wanted the last part of his career to have a match greater than the one with Steamboat and then go out on top.
When you consider that everybody else is more concerned about getting their hand raised, like with the Montreal Screwjob, here was a guy that lost to Steamboat and wanted to lose to Shawn Michaels to pass the torch and they said, “You’re too old to do that.” His answer was, “Well, I think I’ll get a second opinion on that!” That’s when he went to WCW.
This is something people hate to hear because it vilifies the WWE and it makes a martyr out of Randy, but the truth is, that IS the truth. Can you imagine? He was ultimately trying to do something that would be good for the company while at the same time finish his career and go to the announcing booth having had the two best matches ever, one with Steamboat and one with Shawn Michaels. Maybe the match with Michaels wouldn’t have been as good as the one he had with Steamboat but wouldn’t you have paid to see him try? And since WWE is concerned with giving the best product to the people, to not let him do that, he blames Pat Patterson who was nothing but a thorn in his side from the day he got there until the day he left.
Sometimes egos get in the way of great matches because, “I want to get my hand raised,” or, “Well, I did most of the selling!” Everybody is squabbling instead of worrying about having a good match and that is all my brother was concerned about. He didn’t mind losing. Not to Steamboat and not to Michaels. He was going to pass the baton, unlike the Montreal Screwjob which was based on selfishness.
Randy’s feelings on Lex Luger and his relationship with Elizabeth
When Randy got to WCW in 1994, everybody asked Where’s Liz? How’s Liz?
Randy, being the professional that he was, brought Elizabeth in in 1996 and got her a contract because he thought that they could do storylines continuing the saga of the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth. That was all Randy’s doing because he always had the pulse of what the people wanted. Since they were all asking about Elizabeth, hell, why not bring her back?
When Randy found out that Lex Luger and Elizabeth were a thing, let’s put it this way, Randy liked Lex Luger. When Elizabeth died, Randy held no grudge against Lex. Elizabeth was 42 at the time and Randy believed that everybody was responsible for their own drug use or lack thereof. If somebody overdoses, one doesn’t blame Lex Luger. And besides, a thimble full of drugs is going to kill Elizabeth while it wouldn’t even get somebody like Andre high due to the volume of the person. Lex did everything that he could and even until the day he died, Randy held no animosity towards him. Besides, Randy and Elizabeth divorced in 1993, ten years before she passed away.
To all the people who question my brother’s sanity, I would like to say that not once in his entire life did he ever touch or harm Elizabeth in a way that was to hurt her. You can’t say that about Lex Luger. For all the bellowing and posturing and whatever you think of my brother, not once did he ever raise a hand to Miss Elizabeth or any other woman alive or dead.
Life After Elizabeth
A lot of people say that Randy got with his high school sweetheart before he died. Let’s put it this way, not even the Macho Man can go to high school in Downers Grove, Illinois and have a sweetheart from South Pittsburg, Tennessee!
They met after high school when Randy was on the St. Louis Cardinals organization in Sarasota, Florida and she was a student at Ringling which is an art school in Sarasota. They met on Lido Beach and thirty-six years later they married on Lido Beach.
We are back on the beach where they met long ago
In honor of Randy and Lynn
A beautiful couple who loved and lost
But now they decided to win
“Nice tan!” was my brother’s smooth opening line
“What?” was Lynn’s thoughtful reply
Surviving the time and the distance between
Is the knot they’ve come back here to tie
Here’s to the union of Randy and Lynn
A couple I greatly admire
May the years bring you health, satisfaction, and happiness
More than you’ll ever require.
A lot of the fans have asked me what my thoughts were of the Viceland episode on Randy and Liz and my thoughts are the same as the fans. From everything up to the delicate moments that were reenacted, I thought it was done tastefully. Bravo to all involved in the making of the Dark Side of the Ring documentary series and thank you for preserving wrestling history for the fans.
You can watch the first episode of Viceland’s Dark Side of the Ring docu-series on Randy and Liz entitled, “A Match Made in Heaven” here.
And in case you missed it, be sure to read my first article on Pro Wrestling Stories: Vince McMahon Saves the Day for Future Endeavored Workers