The Genius on Savage’s reigns

While conducting research for my 2009  WWE Championship book, I was lucky enough to speak with Lanny Poffo (aka The Genius) about his brother’s time in the company, particularly his two WWE Championship reigns. Of course, as you probably already know, Poffo’s brother was none other than Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Much of our conversation wound up in the book. But you can read the “cutting room floor” excerpts right here. Please keep in mind that this interview was conducted prior to Savage’s death in 2011:


Were you there at WrestleMania IV to celebrate with your brother?
I wasn’t any where near Atlantic City at the time, so I don’t know what was going on there. My mother, father and myself and my wife and daughter were all very thrilled for him. It was an intense evening.


I was there in 1971 when he as ignored in the Major League Baseball draft and I was there when he made up his mind that he was going to be at a free agent tryout in Busch Stadium in St. Louis and out of 300 free agents, he was the only one signed. He signed for no bonus and $500 a month. He supplemented his income by playing cards with the bonus babies. After five years, he got cut from every team he played for. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox.


Then in 1975, he started over as a professional wrestler. Ten years later he made it to MSG. Two years after that he’s a world champion. That’s phenomenal. I’ve seen him overcome so much diversity; he’s a tremendous example to me as a younger brother. We may get disappointed, but we never get discouraged.


Were you ever jealous of your brother’s success?
I speak at a lot of schools … I’m a public speaker. That’s the question that everybody asks me.


I could take the attitude to be jealous, but I would have a big hole I’m my liver right now because that’s no way to live. I also believe that God didn’t make a mistake when he made me. I’m very proud of my career and my accomplishments. At the age of 55, I consider myself healthy, wealthy and free. I owe it all to wrestling. To be jealous of my brother would be ridiculous because my career would never have reached the heights that it did without him. He got me into WWE, I knew I would make it to the top spot.


One of the greatest moments of my career is when Randy Savage became “Macho King” Randy Savage and I wrote a poem for him. That’s the only time we were in the ring together. They kept us apart.


I believe there is no such thing as a jabroni in this business. We’re the ones who make you look good. And eventually my turn came too. I had a seven-year run and I’m not ashamed to talk about it.


How important was Elizabeth to Randy’s success?
He was going to be successful anyway because he was there three months before. Then she came and got over like brand new money. She made Randy look large and when you stand next to somebody who is diminutive, you look larger, which is something that Sensational Sherri could not do, she was a big woman. I believe Randy would have succeeded anyway. It was garnish that she was there. She became an amazing star and it’s sad to say that both of these valets are gone now. But Randy is 57 years old and he’s doing well now.


Did Randy have any apprehensions over the WrestleMania VIII storyline with Ric Flair?
[Randy and Elizabeth] put business ahead of everything. I imagine there were a couple of things they wouldn’t do, like pose nude in Playboy. They did draw the line at a few places. But they believed that the show comes first. Even if you don’t like the position that you have, you do the best you can with what you got.


Later in WCW, even after the divorce was public, since so many people were asking about Elizabeth, Randy brought her in as part of a storyline and turned her heel. No matter how they felt inside, they were never above doing things like that.


I thought the worst thing Randy did that I would have never done was let Jake Roberts’ snake bite him. He got a 103 fever and the snake died. Jake “The Snake” Roberts was the greatest talent to ever throw it all away. But he was different, unique, special.

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The Royal Rumble draw

Heading into this year’s Royal Rumble, there are still 14 draws that have yet to produce a Royal Rumble winner. On the flip side, the famed No. 27 is still the number that has produced the most winner. Here’s the complete list of draws and the corresponding years that won (or not) at that number:

1. 1995, 2004
2. 1999, 2006
3. 1992
5. 1997
8. 2009
13. 1988
18. 1996
19. 2013
22. 2002, 2012
23. 1994
24. 1991, 1998, 2000
25. 1990
27. 1989, 1993, 1994, 2001
28. 2005, 2014
29. 2003, 2010
30. 2007, 2008
38. 2011

For facts and tidbits that are considerably less boring than this, pick up a copy of the WWE Encyclopedia.

WWE predictions for 2015

With the year quickly coming to an end, it’s time to make some predictions for 2015 and take a look back at my prognostications for 2014 (original post). Overall, I went 10-for-20 with my picks, which is not bad … but not great. But come on, who really thought Undertaker would lose at WrestleMania? And how in the world did Erick Rowan & Luke Harper not win the WWE Tag Team Titles? Anyway, let’s start with the picks I got right. Note: The Ziggler one at the end was more of a joke than anything else:


  • The Shield as we currently know them will break up.
  • Ultimate Warrior will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
  • Cody Rhodes will turn heel.
  • Brad Maddox will assuredly lose his position as Raw GM.
  • Konnor will be called up from NXT.
  • Viktor will be called up from NXT.
  • Christian will retire (according to the 12/29 Raw, he’s retired).
  • Big Show will turn heel, then babyface, then heel… (you get the point).
  • Undertaker will not face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania (this was a big rumor around this time last year).
  • Dolph Ziggler will unfortunately lose matches (but he’s rebounded nicely toward the end of the year, hasn’t he?).

And now the ones I was oh so wrong on:

  • Roman Reigns will win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Cesaro will turn babyface.
  • Sheamus will turn heel.
  • King of the Ring will return as a WWE Network special.
  • Naomi will win the Divas Championship.
  • Mickie James will return to WWE TV.
  • Erick Rowan & Luke Harper will win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Shane McMahon will appear on WWE TV.
  • Sami Zayn will be called up from NXT.
  • Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak will remain intact.

And finally, how about some predictions for 2015? They’re a little less bold than the 2014 version … just trying to up my average.

  • Goldust vs. Cody Rhodes will finally happen.
  • Paul Heyman will become Raw GM.
  • Seth Rollins will become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
  • Tamina Snuka will become Divas Champion.
  • Sami Zayn will get called up from NXT.
  • Charlotte will get called up from NXT.
  • Renee Young will work color commentary on SmackDown.
  • WWE Network will reach 1 million subscribers.
  • J&J Security will work as a tag team.
  • Ray Stevens will go into the Hall of Fame.
  • Big Show will turn babyface.
  • Sheamus will turn heel.
  • The Shield will reunite.

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Favorite WWE things of 2014

Oprah Winfrey’s favorite things list has become an annual highlight for women across the nation. For us wrestling fans, however, it has very little value. So to alleviate that issue, I present my favorite things from WWE over the past 12 months.


Fans’ rejection of Batista

Presumably, WWE went into 2014 thinking Batista would return as a major babyface and he’d challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX. The only problem with that idea was that Batista wasn’t Daniel Bryan. So the WWE Universe sent a very important message to those running the show: We’re not going to just sit back and accept whatever you give us. As a result, WWE was seemingly forced to call an audible which saw Batista turn heel, Daniel Bryan get inserted into the main event picture, and the WWE Universe rejoice at WrestleMania as their guy captured the gold.


Paul Heyman

As the one behind the one in 21-1, Paul Heyman continued to do the best work of his career in 2014.



Easily my favorite show on the WWE Network, and worth $9.99 per month all by itself. Being able to build an affinity for these stars at a very early stage in their careers will pay dividends for WWE for years to come. It’s not all that unlike a fan of a MLB team becoming attached to their homegrown talent. That’s why so many fans in New York became upset when Robinson Cano left last offseason. They had been watching him since his days in the minors and built a strong appreciation for him. Similarly, I cannot wait to watch the careers of Enzo Amore and Sami Zayn develop along the way.


Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (Royal Rumble)

Historically, this match doesn’t hold much weight, especially considering it was fresh off the heels of Bryan being a member of the Wyatt Family, which many fans try to forget. But if you watch the match in a silo and choose to only grade it on its in-ring action, it’s hard not to appreciate it.


Bad News Barrett

We only got to enjoy him for a portion of the year, but what we did get was simply amazing. Talk about getting a catchphrase over.


Damien Mizdow

It takes a special talent to take a less-than-stellar idea and turn it into gold. For a while, it seemed like Sandow’s impersonation persona was the kiss of death. But he managed to turn it into one of the most entertaining characters we’ve seen in years. That’s talent. Sandow reminds me a lot of Cody Rhodes in that respect. On paper, Dashing Cody Rhodes, mustachio man, and Stardust didn’t necessarily look like winners. But Rhodes certainly made them incredibly entertaining. Sandow has been doing the same with his Mizdow character.


Scott Hall and Jake Roberts

It was great to see two of the all-time best take their rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame, but even better to see that they are healthy and doing well. Here’s to wishing them happy and healthy 2015 and beyond.


Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena (SummerSlam)

What made this match so unique was that it went against the grain of everything WWE has done over the past several decades. I can’t remember the last time I saw a credible main eventer manhandled the way that Cena was manhandled. Thanks in large part to that decimation, Brock Lesnar is recognized as the monster he is today. Very well done.


Stephanie McMahon

The self-deprecation Stephanie McMahon has shown over the past year has been a valuable lesson on how to get your talent over. Yes, she shines at times. But in the end, it’s all about building her up so that she can get taken down. Evidence: Her work with Vickie Guerrero and Team Cena this year.


Survivor Series main event

For me, the match was about as perfect as you could get. It combined several compelling storylines, amazing athleticism, and an iconic debut. Can’t ask for much more than that … but just in case you needed more, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler were the final two combatants. Very refreshing.


WWF scratch logo

I don’t know the specifics of how WWE was granted permission to once again use the old WWF scratch logo, and to be honest, I don’t really care. The only thing I care about is that I can now go back and watch classic Attitude Era matches without that pesky blur over all the logos.

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