Randy Savage vs. Shawn Michaels: The feud that never was

“Macho Man” Randy Savage is a Hall of Fame wrestler regardless of whether he’s ever officially inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame.

He is a pillar of the wrestling business, whose contributions are unmatched. His resume and accolades essentially speak for itself.

The main reason why Savage, born Randy Poffo, isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame stems from a long-standing rift between him and WWE head honcho Vince McMahon.

Savage left the then WWF on bad terms and spent the next several years in World Championship Wrestling — a company that made no bones about wanting to put McMahon and the WWF out of business.

McMahon was understandably miffed about Savage’s decision, but the hatchet should have been buried years ago and Savage should have taken his rightful place while he was alive. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us.

What remains to be known is some of the details behind the rift between Savage and McMahon. Why did McMahon essentially turn his back on a performer that made him so much money?

Why did Savage go on about his business as if McMahon didn’t give him his first big break in the wrestling business?

How come Savage and the fans that supported him all of those years were forced to miss out on great moment of him being inducted and giving his induction speech.

As it turns out, that wasn’t the only thing the world missed out on. We also missed on a program that could have set the wrestling world on fire: Randy Savage versus Shawn Michaels.

Apparently, the rift between Savage and McMahon had a lot to do with this, according to Savage’s brother, “The Genius” Lanny Poffo, as he shed some light on this and many other things during a recent interview with the “The Ministry of Slam” podcast. [h/t to the TV Trax channel on YouTube for posting the audio clip.]

It was widely known that Savage was not happy with being forced into an announcer’s role during his last couple of years with the WWF. He believed, despite the good amount of tread on his tires, he still had some good matches left.

According to Lanny Poffo, Savage was also bored. Savage felt he could never top the match he had with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at WrestleMania III. That was until he saw Michaels.

When Savage saw Michaels in the ring, he instantly saw an opponent he could have that caliber of a match with.

So he devised a program that would have taken place over the course of two years and two WrestleManias. At the end of this program, Savage would put Michaels over and officially sit behind the announcer’s desk for the rest of his career in the wrestling business.

How great would that have been? Do I even have to ask that question? Of course it would have been great.

According to Poffo, it didn’t sound so great to McMahon and the rest of the WWF booking committee. Savage was told that the company was going in a youth movement and that he didn’t fit that requirement.

“It’s true that Randy couldn’t keep up WrestleMania III athleticism his whole career,” Lanny Poffo said. “He had hurt his knees and he had a few miles on him. I’m not saying he didn’t. I’m also saying even a 60 percent Macho Man is better than nothing.”

That much was true. The WWF even dubbed that particular time period the “New Generation.” The company was also going away from big, muscle-bound wrestlers in the wake of a huge steroid scandal.

Instead they leaned toward younger, smaller wrestlers like Michaels and Bret Hart.

Savage didn’t take any of that kindly. Lanny Poffo said that he immediately called up WCW and wondered if the offer that was extended to him numerous times, but turned down numerous times, was still on the table.

It was and Savage headed south. Savage believed he had a lot left in the tank and it turned out he was right. He went on to have another couple of great years in the ring, including an extensive feud with Diamond Dallas Page that turned him into a breakout star.

But back to this program that never was. Back to what if. Back to what could have been between two great showman, workers, Hall of Famers in Savage and Michaels.

Let’s say Savage was granted his wish and was married to Michaels for the next two years.

The logical timeline for this to occur in my opinion would have been WrestleMania IX and X. Savage took on Flair at WrestleMania VIII. Michaels took on Tito Santana at the same event, leaving that night out of the equation.

Savage spent the next two WrestleManias behind the announcer’s table. What could have happened was Savage defeating Michaels at WrestleMania IX only for him to return the favor to Michaels the next year.

How fitting would it have been? Michaels becoming a made man at the 10th anniversary show in Madison Square Garden no less. It would have been a perfect passing of the torch moment to move the company into the next decade with Michaels at the forefront while Savage rides off into the sunset.

All of that wouldn’t have come without ramifications, however. If Michaels took on Savage at WrestleMania X, that means there wouldn’t have been a ladder match between him a Razor Ramon at that show.

If that match didn’t occur, who knows if the ladder match would ever become as popular as it was? If the ladder match doesn’t become that popular, what happens to the careers of Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz, who all walked into the limelight because of the ladder match?

If Savage faced Michaels, lost to him at WrestleMania X and retired from in-ring action that would more than likely mean he would have stayed in the WWF. So what happens to DDP? Who makes him into a star?

There weren’t a ton of people in sitting around in WCW trying to make a guy into a star and Savage was one of those few guys.

All of this is hypothetical of course, but it’s crazy think about.

But what could have happened was that Savage stayed in the good graces in the WWF and was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame while he was alive.

Unfortunately, Savage passes away May 20, 2011. According to Lanny Poffo, Savage had one wish when it came to the Hall of Fame. That not only he is inducted, but also his brother and their father Angelo Poffo are inducted as well.

“He got that idea after the Von Erichs were inducted as a family […] I know that neither my father or myself have the notoriety or the distinction that my brother had, but it was my brother’s wishes that we got inducted as the Poffo family together and I held firm to that,” Lanny Poffo said.

Lanny Poffo told this to John Laurinaitis when the former senior vice president of talent relations offered to put Savage in the Hall of Fame before WrestleMania XVIII in 2012.

For whatever reason, that wasn’t going to fly with WWE. Lanny Poffo said that he told Laurinaitis that they could induct Savage into the Hall of Fame, but he would not go to induct him because he wanted to uphold his brother’s wish.

“He was very, very nice to me on the phone,” Lanny Poffo said. “But never mind what I want. I’m trying to do what Randy wanted.”

“I said, ‘Go ahead. I give you permission to do it without my permission,’” Lanny Poffo said. “In other words, ‘Go ahead and do it. There’s only two requests that I have: Don’t invite me because I’m not coming and whatever you do don’t pay me because if I accept money that’s dirty pieces of silver to betray my brother.’”

“If you want to induct him, if it makes you feel a little more manly go ahead and do it,” Lanny Poffo added. “But you didn’t do it when he was alive.”

That didn’t fly either and Savage has still yet to be inducted into the Hall.

There are more reasons as to why Savage isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame, which Lanny Poffo delves into during the interview.

At the end of the day, who loses? McMahon surely doesn’t lose. His company is still making money hand over fist. Some of that money comes from Savage’s legacy as he is promoted in video games and DVD releases.

Savage doesn’t lose anything because he’s a legend regardless.

The only people that really lose out on all of this are the fans. We missed out on what could have been a feud that would have been talked about until this day, and we missed out on possibly the most deserving Hall of Fame induction ever.

What could have been?

Listen to the full audio clip as Lanny Poffo talks about this and more.