Author of upcoming Randy Savage biography discusses the 'Macho Man's' early life, career 'what ifs'

Originally published at Author of upcoming Randy Savage biography discusses the 'Macho Man's' early life, career 'what ifs'

There are so many layers to the life of Randy Savage that aren’t known by the public. A part of Savage’s career that is less discussed is how he almost never even became a professional wrestler.

Savage, also known by his real name Randy Poffo, spent his teenage absolutely obsessed with baseball. He had promise in the sport, inking a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals fresh out of high school and playing in the minor league system for a few years.

But after struggling to move up in the baseball world, Savage’s lifelong dream came crashing down. John Finkel, the author of Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage, was surprised through his book research by how Savage suddenly and successfully made the switch from baseball to wrestling.

“He was on the path,” Finkel said about Savage’s baseball career, in an interview with POST Wrestling. “When it ended, it wasn’t like he got his cut slip from baseball and said ‘Oh, no problem.’ … He tore up the locker room. He exploded. He got home and destroyed all of his bats and said ‘I am never touching a baseball bat again.’ And the next day, somehow, which I think is one of the most remarkable mental tricks that he was able to pull and it speaks to his mental tenacity, he truly closed that door.”

Savage went “all in on wrestling” after that moment. He went full steam ahead with wrestling in the mid-70s and scored a contract with the WWF a decade later. He became one of the most popular names in wrestling during the late 80s and early 90s, teaming alongside Hulk Hogan to form The Mega Powers.

Savage’s transition from being a minor league baseball standout to a wrestling legend is just one of the many stories that Finkel explores in his upcoming 328-page book. In the biography, the experienced writer puts together a deeply researched timeline of one of the most recognizable pop culture names to come out of wrestling.

Finkel had to deal with a clear challenge when covering Savage: How do you obtain fresh and original information on a man who passed away more than a decade ago? After Savage died in 2011, the main source for so many stories on the “Macho Man” was gone.

A big addition to the book was discussions with Savage’s brother, Lanny Poffo. After spending more than a year working to get in touch with him, Finkel started to ask an endless list of questions about Savage’s life.

“We spoke for hours,” Finkel remembers. “He was like ‘Hit me, how many questions do you have?’ I was like, ‘A hundred?'”

Unfortunately, Poffo passed away amid the book’s production, dying of heart failure in early 2023. Finkel never got to finish his list of questions for Lanny, but acknowledges his massive resource as an interview subject for the story.

After writing the book, Finkel theorized “What could have been” scenarios for Savage? He was told by Lanny that Savage hoped to have a massive final feud while in the WWF, although the rivalry never came to fruition

“He had this plan that Lanny tells in the book where he wanted to finish his career with one my story arc and one big final loss,” he said. “That’s the beauty of Randy. At the end of the day, his pinnacle was doing something legendary for the fans.”

Savage was somewhat shifted away from in-ring competition in 1993, with WWF putting him in a commentary role instead. He went from performing as many as 15 times per month to working as little as just three or four matches in a month. He moved over to WCW once his WWF contract expired the following year.

Another big “What if” that Finkel discussed was how Savage could have been present in wrestling had he lived a longer life. The famous wrestler tragically died in 2011 at the age of 58 after suffering a heart attack that was ruled due to atherosclerotic heart disease.

While he was considered a reclusive figure in his post-wrestling life, rarely making appearances following the end of his WCW run in 2000, Finkel believes that a lot of Savage’s story had yet to be told.

“I firmly believed, if he lived, didn’t have his heart attack while he was driving, there is a universe where he has a grand second act with wrestling. Where he is that beloved legend. That storyline that we all want where he shows up, the pop is insane, and he does his whole thing and probably comes out at Wrestlemania wearing his gear and christening the next version of him.”

Finkel’s upcoming book, which he considers a “bucket list biography,” will officially be released on April 2 by ECW Press.