Macho Man: Untamed Life of Randy Savage – An Honest Review

Award-winning author Jon Finkel’s highly-anticipated book, “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage,” zooms into the heart of the Macho Man, revealing the man beneath the flamboyant attire and larger-than-life persona. In our honest review, we navigate through the fast-paced chapters, peeling back the layers of neon clothes, shiny costumes, wild hair, and sunglasses of a deep, complicated, and contemplative icon.

"Macho Man" Randy Savage over the years. He had a colorful life, explored in the book "Macho Man: Untamed Life of Randy Savage." Montage by Pro Wrestling Stories.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage over the years. He had a colorful life, explored in the book “Macho Man: Untamed Life of Randy Savage.” Photo Credit: WWE. Montage by Pro Wrestling Stories.

Lanny Poffo’s Valuable Role in “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage”

Author Jon Finkel’s tome, “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage,” released on April 2nd, 2024, through ECW Press, is a deep dive into Macho Man Randy Savage’s life.

Dedicated to Randy’s brother, Lanny Poffo, the author explains his importance to the story.

“I couldn’t imagine doing a book on Macho without interviewing his brother,” Finkel writes.

They were best friends. They were tag team partners back in the day. They grew up in wrestling together, from the small territories to the ICW to the WWE, and they grew old together. They had a wonderful relationship with each other and their parents until the very end.”

Lanny Poffo (seen here alongside Pro Wrestling Stories' editor-in-chief and co-host of The Genius Cast podcast JP Zarka and long-time writer and senior editor Evan Ginzburg) played a valuable role in author Jon Finkel's book, "Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage."
Lanny Poffo (seen here alongside Pro Wrestling Stories’ editor-in-chief and co-host of The Genius Cast podcast JP Zarka and long-time writer and PWS senior editor Evan Ginzburg) played a valuable role in author Jon Finkel’s book, “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage.” Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Stories.

The much-loved Lanny Poffo was a dear friend and contributor to Pro Wrestling Stories and was introduced to Finkel through PWS Editor-in-Chief JP Zarka, who also co-hosted Lanny’s podcast, The Genius Cast.

Finkel told me, “JP was crucial in getting this book off the ground. I couldn’t imagine writing the definitive Macho Man biography without talking to his brother, Lanny Poffo.

“I’d hit several dead ends trying to get in touch with him, and things had stalled. Then I reached out to JP, who worked his magic and vouched for me. After a little back-and-forth, I finally was able to interview Lanny, and it was great.

“Without JP hooking me up, there wouldn’t have been a book.”

Lanny sadly passed away during the writing, but his contributions were invaluable.

The Family Poffo Explored

Judy and Angelo Poffo on their 50th Wedding Anniversary on June 5th, 1999, alongside their proud sons, Randy (Macho Man Randy Savage) and Lanny Poffo.
Judy and Angelo Poffo on their 50th Wedding Anniversary on June 5th, 1999, alongside their proud sons, Randy (Macho Man Randy Savage) and Lanny Poffo. Photo Credit: Poffo Family.

“Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage” goes well beyond Randy’s wrestling career.

The book starts with the story of Randy’s father, Angelo Poffo, shattering the world record for consecutive sit-ups (pounding out 6,033 sit-ups in four hours and ten minutes). We quickly learn that Randy inherited his father’s dedication and drive.

We also discover that Angelo and Judy were loving parents who helped their boys at every juncture.

Angelo evolved into a successful heel before Judy became pregnant. He considered getting a regular job, but the ever-flamboyant Gorgeous George convinced him otherwise. As author Finkel ponders, had it not been for George, we may never have known Randy Savage.

Ironically, neither Randy nor Lanny seemed destined for a life in professional wrestling.

Finkel notes, “Randall Mario Poffo never sees his dad wrestle. He never sees the reaction his dad gets from a crowd. Never hangs backstage with headliners, babyfaces, and heels. Never falls in love with the performance, pageantry, and pain of it all.”

Home Run: The Baseball Career of Randy Savage Explored

Before there was a "Macho Man" Randy Savage, there was Randy Poffo, an aspiring baseball player.
Before there was a “Macho Man” Randy Savage, there was Randy Poffo, an aspiring baseball player. Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Stories.

Before following in his father’s footsteps, Randy Poffo embarked on a baseball career, which he loved even more than professional wrestling.

While other wrestlers spent their money on spirits, girls, and other distractions, Angelo spent his money on his family, installing a batting cage for his sons—not just any cage, but one fit for MLB players to train in.

“Baseball was Randy’s entire life back then,” Judy remembered.

A friend noted, “He was a phenomenal hitter. Even when we were kids, he had these shoulders like an adult. He was doing all these sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups while we were all at home eating Pop-Tarts.”

Finkel details Randy’s obsession with baseball. He excelled locally but wasn’t drafted to MLB in 1971. However, he got signed by the St. Louis Cardinals at a free-agent tryout.

A devastating right shoulder injury changed the course of his baseball tenure.

“One night after the injury,” Finkel pens, “Randy committed himself (an oath, really) that if he were going to wash out of minor league ball, it wouldn’t be because of his bum right arm. That following day, he woke up and brushed his teeth with his left hand. He ate cereal with his left hand. He combed his hair, opened doors, and even held drinks with his left hand.

There’s no fairytale ending, though—just crushing disappointment.

His ups and downs in baseball prepared Randy for the perils of a grappling career.

A Star Is Born

A young Randy Savage early in his professional wrestling career.
A young Randy Savage early in his professional wrestling career. Photo Credit: WWE.

Then, following in their father’s footsteps, pro wrestling careers began for both brothers.

The Pensacola Journal described their grappling journey:

“The Poffo Brothers may be the stars of the future. Blond Randy is talkative and muscular. Brunette Lanny is silent and even more muscular. And there is Angelo Poffo, their macho, muscular father. Randy proudly states that he is the first pro baseball player to turn pro wrestler. Under the watchful eye of their father, the Poffo Brothers are shooting for the big time.”

Angelo’s outlaw promotion, International Championship Wrestling, became a training ground for the young brothers.

Multiple stories of how he became the Macho Man are revealed. He also details Pampero Firpo’s influence on Randy with his “Ohhhhhhhh Yeaahhhh!” catchphrase.

A character that would shape the business for the next few decades was forming.

Fighting Randy

Macho Man Randy Savage
“Macho Man” Randy Savage. Photo Credit: WWE.

In the book, Dutch Mantel, a longtime friend and opponent, observes, “He was still developing the Macho Man character. But every time you saw Randy—I don’t care if it was 6 o’clock in the morning—he was Macho Man. You saw him at midnight—he’s still Macho Man. He was always in full-blown Macho Man Mode.”

Mantel continued, “With each persona, he went deeper and deeper into character, almost like a method actor. Just as Daniel Day-Lewis famously stayed completely in character as Abraham Lincoln while filming Steven Spielberg’s biopic and Jim Carrey transformed into Andy Kaufman for the entirety of shooting Man on the Moon, Randy Poffo disappeared into Randy Savage, who disappeared into Macho Man, almost never to be seen again.”

Close friend Rip Rogers revealed, “I thought he was nuts. All the twitches and moves. And he would fight anybody. If there was going to be a fight, he’d be involved. I was a little scared of him.”

Bruce Prichard told Dark Side of The Ring on Vice, “You had to live your gimmick, and Randy played crazy really well. He lived it 24/7.”

A whole chapter is devoted to a Waffle House fight that involved four cops, three Billy Clubs, two Mace sprays, and one German Shepherd.

There is also a fight with Bill Dundee involving a firearm, in which author Jon Finkel chronicles both sides of the story.

The WWF

The always colorful "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
The always colorful “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Photo Credit: WWE.

Randy Savage entered the WWF in 1985. Thus began an unforgettable run.

In “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage,” Dutch Mantel paid tribute to his talent with the ultimate compliment.

“I’ve gone 45 minutes with Savage and 45 minutes with Ric Flair. Give me Flair. At least with Flair, at some point, he would slow down. Savage had no speedometer. He was wide open all the time.”

He was immediately groomed for a role atop the card.

Randy Savage: Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

"Macho Man" Randy Savage faces off against George "The Animal" Steele.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage faces off against George “The Animal” Steele. Photo Credit: WWE.

Randy Savage was notorious for meticulously planning his matches in advance, whereas most didn’t work like that at this point in time.

“While most guys would prepare for a match with a two-or three-minute chat, Randy would insist on hours-long conversations,” Finkel writes.

The late-great George “The Animal” Steele, a former opponent of Randy’s, stated this in his autobiography, Animal.

“Randy showed up in the locker room with a script that was probably four or five pages long. I felt like he wanted me to audition for something by Scorsese. What was this, pro wrestling or Broadway?

“Now, I was an old-school guy. I learned the business in the backseats of cars going to and coming back from shows in places like Kalamazoo and Muskegon. I went to school between bites of bologna sandwiches and swigs of [drinks]. Everything was impromptu.

“There were no scripted scenarios, there were only instincts. To be honest, I took offense to what Randy was proposing, so I pretended to read the first page, slowly crumpled the paper, and tossed it in the trash can.

“I did the same thing with the rest of the pages, very slowly and very deliberately. All the while, Randy was going ballistic. I just told him to calm down, listen to me in the ring, and we’d have a great match.”

Thankfully, as Jon Finkel writes, the legendary Ricky Steamboat felt differently.

“Steamboat blended with him effortlessly, like chocolate syrup and milk. Even better, he cared as much about every bit of the performance as Savage did.

“He was a perfectionist, after the Macho Man’s own heart. So this time, when Savage put together pages of notes in preparation for his match, he was dealing with someone who also had their pages of notes. It was a match made in heaven.”

The Pinnacle: Instant Randy Savage Classics in WWE

"Macho Man" Randy Savage faces off against Ricky Steamboat in their classic match at WrestleMania 3.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage faces off against Ricky Steamboat in their classic match at WrestleMania 3. Photo Credit: WWE.

The duo of “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat stole the show at WrestleMania 3 in 1987, an Intercontinental Championship classic.

“When it was over, many of the biggest names in wrestling instantly believed they’d just witnessed the greatest match in the history of the sport,” the author expresses.

His successful reign as a lynchpin in WWF contrasted with his increasing paranoia concerning his wife, Miss Elizabeth.

This was all while the WWF was gaining mainstream attention and unparalleled popularity. Main Event 3 in 1990, with Randy versus Hulk Hogan, scored a stunning 12.9 rating and 20.9 million viewers.

Two main events in WrestleMania saw Savage win his maiden WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1988 and clash with Mega Powers partner Hulk Hogan in 1989, culminating in their long partnership and rivalry.

After nearly two decades in wrestling and thinking of nothing else since his baseball career ended, Savage had become the number-one wrestler in the world.

Drawing Power

"Macho Man" Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth, and Hulk Hogan. The real-life animosity between Savage and Hogan has been well-documented over the years.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth, and Hulk Hogan. The real-life animosity between Savage and Hogan has been well-documented over the years. Photo Credit: WWE.

With Randy Savage on top, there was endless pressure. Incredibly, Macho Man surpassed Hogan as a draw.

Bill Apter, senior editor for Pro Wrestling Illustrated at the time, noted that Savage was “drawing 8,000 and 9,000 in arenas where they were drawing 4,000 or 5,000 fans before.”

The Mega Powers colliding at WrestleMania 5 captured the attention of pro wrestling fans and the nation.

On the night of the event, there were 767,000 pay-per-view buys, smashing the WWF’s previous record,” writes author Jon Finkel.

“In no small part, the reason was the over-the-top rage of the Macho Man’s promos heading into the event, many of which are used as popular memes across social media to this day.”

By 1990, Randy Savage had become a household name, similar to Hulk Hogan, and had entered mainstream pop culture.

The Rise and Fall of Randy Savage

"Macho Man" Randy Savage lifting up Miss Elizabeth while she holds his WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage lifting up Miss Elizabeth while she holds his WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Photo Credit: WWE.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage was on top of the pro wrestling world.

There was a feud with Ultimate Warrior that led to their career-versus-career match at WrestleMania 7; another marquee bout at WrestleMania 8 against Ric Flair for the WWF world title; and the infamously graphic moment that Jake The Snake’s King Cobra bit Savage in the ring, resulting in the cobra dying days later.

“He was de-venomized, but maybe I wasn’t!” Savage joked.

But all wasn’t as it seemed.

All of this was happening while his marriage to Elizabeth was falling apart.

They split the next day,” Ric Flair explained, referring to the day after Savage defeated Flair to capture his second world championship.

WWE eventually wanted an aging Savage relegated to announcing, but Randy wasn’t ready to retire from the ring.

Randy departed WWF in November 1994.

“It was like announcing that Mickey Mouse was leaving Disney,” Finkel recalls.

A chunk of the book is also devoted to his following unhappy stint in WCW, where he saw minimal ring time and apparently didn’t have the support of management. It was his last major run in professional wrestling.

“The charisma was still there, the essence was still there, and the voice was mostly the same, somehow even more gravelly, but the joy appeared to be long gone,” Finkel sadly noted.

Is “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage” Worth Reading? Our Verdict.

Book cover of “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage.” Photo Credit: ECW Press.

Jon Finkel’s exploration into the world of Randy Savage in his book “Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage” provides readers with a definitive, intimate look at one of wrestling’s most colorful figures. It is absolutely worth adding to your collection if you’re a fan of wrestling books.

Finkel delves deep into Savage’s life beyond the ring, offering insights into his family, early ambitions in baseball, and the relentless dedication that propelled him to the pinnacle of professional wrestling.

This book does more than chronicle the highs and lows of a storied career; it pays homage to the man behind the “Macho Man” persona, revealing Randy Savage’s complexity, his passion for the sport, and the indelible mark he left on fans and the industry.

A Tragic End and Great Legacy

Randy Savage in later years.
Randy Savage in later years. Photo Credit: WWE.

Randy Savage tragically passed away on May 20th, 2011, in Seminole, Florida, after suffering a heart attack while driving with his second wife, Lynn.

As we reflect on Savage’s legacy, from his vibrant presence in the ring to his untimely passing, Finkel’s book is a testament to the enduring impact of Macho Man’s life and career.

You can now purchase Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage to have a ringside seat to dive deep into Randy’s life and more. You can also stay updated on Jon Finkel’s latest at JonFinkel.com and get your next book and weekly gym motivation in his Books & Biceps newsletter.

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Ian Aldous is a former International Boxing Organization fight commissioner and writer for BoxingNews24.com. He briefly covered pro wrestling in the late 2000s for WrestlingNewsWorld.com and the PWB Podcast before finding a home for his work on Pro Wrestling Stories.