Savage was one of the most recognizable wrestlers of his era. He had great success in the ring and he also did some acting and some spokesperson work.
I know several people who have met Savage over the years, but the best and most unique story comes from my friend Chuck Gekas. Chuck met Savage while working at the Chicago Sun-Times, shortly before he joined Lerner Newspapers and our friendship started to really grow.
I'll let Chachi take it from here...
When I headed Sales for the Chicago Sun-Times' special sections department, we wanted to do a section in August 1994 for the grand opening of the United Center. Originally Frank Sinatra was scheduled to be the arena's first show, but he had to cancel, which meant the WWF's SummerSlam 7th annual event on August 29th, 1994, would become the first ever event at the United Center.
I called the WWF (at the time, they had an office on Michigan Avenue) and asked if it was possible to have a wreswtler attend our ad sales meeting to help me pump up the staff to sell ads into the section. When they said of course, I was happy and assumed they would send a non-star. Not only did they not send a non-star, they sent a superstar, Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
We met a half hour before the meeting and he was extremely gracious and happy to help out. We spoke about his father, Angelo Poffo and his sit-up record, as well as growing up in the Chicago area (Downers Grove) and playing in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system as a catcher.
Prior to the weekly sales meeting, nobody knew who my special guest was. So when I addressed our 200 person ad staff and introduced Randy Savage, the place went up for grabs. He put on quite a show and really did a great job of helping me generate interest for the special United Center section. Afterward, he stuck around for photos and autographs. The cost to have the superstar was $0. He was truly a class act.
That's a great story, because it has Savage in an unusual situation for him, yet he still had the crowd cheering. It's even better when you hear Chuck tell it. You can see his excitement and his appreciation for Savage.
As documented here previously, I have worked with Lanny in the past and I know what a close knit family they had. My condolences go to Lanny and the rest of the Poffo family. My thanks go to Randy for some great wrestling memories. Thanks, too, to Chuck for sharing his wonderful story. Finally, for more information and to view his guestbook, check out Legacy.com.
RIP Randy Savage and ohhhhh yeahhhhhhhhh!
Randy Savage and Chuck Gekas in Chicago, IL-August 1994.