The opening segment of this particular DVD collection could be seen as a tad heartless. Many fans will remember that Savage died from a heart attack while behind the wheel of his Jeep. This DVD opens with the spinning tire of a Jeep going faster and faster as a heart beats progressively louder -- not exactly the most subtle touch by the normally excellent staff in WWE's Home Video department.
The documentary begins with a look at Savage's birthplace of Downer's Grove, Illinois, as friends and family (including Randy's brother Lanny Poffo and mother Judy Poffo) describe a happy childhood. Soon, the future Macho Man becomes passionate about baseball - enough so to have brief runs with the farm systems in Cincinnatti, St. Louis and Chicago.
When baseball doesn't pan out, Randy quickly gives up on the sport in favor of his father Angelo's chosen profession - professional wrestling. Along with Lanny (who also went into wrestling, most notably as Leapin' Lanny Poffo and The Genius), a wide variety of Savage's contemporaries talk about his earliest days in the squared circle, including Hulk Hogan, Bret "Hit Man" Hart, Jerry "The King" Lawler, "Mean" Gene Okerlund, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Ric Flair and Jimmy Hart.
In no time at all, Savage moved beyond the independent circuit in favor of the World Wrestling Federation. Everyone from Hogan, Ricky Steamboat and Pat Patterson to Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus and CM Punk comment on the profound impact he had on the company during the Rock 'n' Wrestling Era, for a variety of reasons - his distinctive, growling voice; his unpredictable promo style; his colorful ring outfits and particularly his professionalism and dedication to the business.
Savage's rise through the ranks of the WWF are chronicled in detail, with feuds against the likes of Tito Santana, George "The Animal" Steele, Ricky Steamboat and The Honky Tonk Man over the Intercontinental Title, and rivalries with Ted DiBiase, Bad News Brown and Hulk Hogan over the WWF World Title. It's explained that when Savage was made the World Champion at WrestleMania IV, he was truly expected to lead the company into the next generation.
Of course, no story about Randy Savage would be complete without chronicling his relationship with Miss Elizabeth, the crush of many teenage wrestling fans during the 1980's. While she has long-been recognized as one of the top managers in that era, it's fair to say she was also one of the top wrestling characters at that time, too. Many wrestlers discuss how notoriously overprotective Savage was of his wife - locking her in a dressing room when he was busy and leaving frozen TV dinners for her at home so she wouldn't go out for groceries - allegations that Lanny Poffo disputes.
As the WWF began looking to a new generation in the early 1990's, Savage's duties were reduced to color commentator, goodwill ambassador and infrequent competitor. Lanny Poffo discusses how Savage proposed a two-year program with Shawn Michaels in which Savage planned to pass the torch to The Heartbreak Kid, but the program never happened quite like that.
Frustrated with his place in the company, Savage signed with WCW towards the end of 1994, shocking Vince McMahon and others. While much of his WCW run is glossed over (typical for a WWE documentary), rivals such as Diamond Dallas Page, Lex Luger and Kevin Nash talk about how important he was to WCW's product at the time.
Lanny Poffo notes that, despite his brother's success in WCW, he was particularly hurt by the WWF's "Billionaire Ted" skits that made fun of his age, his bald spot and the failure of his marriage to Miss Elizabeth. According to Lanny, Savage never quite forgave Vince McMahon for that.
(Additionally, a comment made by Triple H calling Savage a "dinosaur" also set The Macho Man off and in one video clip, Savage threatens that he will steal Triple H's girlfriend -- which is as close as we get to addressing the rumors that Savage once had a relationship with a young Stephanie McMahon and his subsequent blacklisting from the company up until recently.)
The final years of Savage's life are then chronicled as he suffers through the tragedy of Elizabeth's death (as well as his father's), falls in love with high school sweetheart Lynn Payne and becomes a philanthropist in his home community of Tampa. One touching scene has a young girl (the daughter of The Macho Man's doctor) remembering how Savage befriended her and became like a surrogate uncle. Local television and radio personalities also comment on Randy's big heart and sense of community; the type of stories that most wrestling fans don't typically hear about.
We close with the car accident, shortly after Savage had come to terms with his retirement and made peace with his life. Former and current wrestlers all agree that there will never be another personality quite like Randy Savage in the squared circle.
In terms of extra features, the DVD collection has two discs filled with Savage matches. I wouldn't necessarily call them "classics", as many of those were already covered off on the earlier Macho Madness DVD set. Still, you have two matches against Ricky Steamboat (including one from my hometown Maple Leaf Gardens) and bouts featuring Bruno Sammartino, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, The Ultimate Warrior, Harley Race, Ted DiBiase and others -- certainly a who's who of top wrestlers from Savage's era.
Despite any negativity I may have here, this DVD set was well done and long overdue. Is it worth your time to pick it up? Oooooooooh yeah!