Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Tribute Story to the Macho Man


by Dirty Dutch




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RANDY MACHO MAN SAVAGE
1953 - 2011
RIP



PROLOGUE: 

 
I've known Randy 'Macho Man' Savage for almost as long as I've been in pro wrestling.  A long, long time.  I first learned of Randy's passing when a friend on FACEBOOK messaged me and gave me the news.  I was shocked and stunned because Randy to me was the type of guy who would live to be 90 and then kick your ass.  I knew Randy's father, Angelo and his brother, Lanny.  My condolences to the entire Poffo family. 

In memory of Randy, this is a chapter of my first book,   THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DUTCH,  in which I wrote an entire chapter on about him,  Hell,  I could write a few more.  Randy was a reality show before reality shows were even a thought in anybody's mind.  The chapter was titled Savage Meets the Police Dog.  RIP Macho.  This is for you.


SAVAGE MEETS THE POLICE DOG.  
A TRUE STORY!!!  

Everybody knows Randy "the Macho Man" Savage from his days in the WWF. Not a lot of people know the Macho Man in his earlier years. I've written this story before but the story never changes. It is about an incident in Nashville, Tennessee where Randy took on the Nashville Police Department including their prize police dog. Authors disclaimer...this is a true story. I don't think even Steven King could make this up.

It was late on a Wednesday night in the late 70s when Randy "Macho Man" Savage walked into a Waffle House on the Harding Place exit right off I-24 East in Nashville.  Earlier that night,  Savage and I had worked the Nashville house show  in front of a sold out crowd. Randy was hungry and needed to eat so a Waffle house restaurant suited him just fine. It was right down the street from where he lived , easy in, easy out.

If you've never seen or been in a Waffle House, they're all over the South. On some interstates down south, you might be surprised to learn that you can find not one but two Waffle Houses on the same exit but on different sides. I guess that gives new meaning to the term, ' getting you coming and going.' Waffle Houses are 24 hour never close diner type restaurants which features fast food at a cheap price. When you mention cheap, that was exactly in Macho Man's price range.  Randy was noted for his frugality years before Mick Foley made it an art form. 

Actual photo taken by me
in a Waffle House somewhere.
In Waffle Houses,  its not uncommon to see a lot of things including music stars or famous people.  Kid Rock is a huge Waffle House fan as is Cathy Griffin.  On interstates,  I've seen a lot of country music bands in the customized buses stopped at 2 or 3AM while they were working their way to their next gigs.  Believe me, you can see a lot of crazy ass stuff in a 24 hour Waffle House. 


The time was around 11:30PM when Randy walked into the Waffle House. Usually, people who go to a Waffle House come in, sit down, order their food, get up and leave. Unless they're drunk and then they pass out. The Waffle House has also been noted as a sobering up place after a long night of drinking. But, for the most part,  it's a pretty laid back environment especially on a week night such as Wednesday.

Since the matches had just ended, Savage had come directly from the Fairgrounds Arena to the diner.  Savage was accompanied by Rip Rogers who at the time was going by the name of the Disco Kid.  I don't mean to date myself but hey, this was way back in the Donna Summers Boogie Nights era. 

Savage and Rip entered the Waffle House and sat down in a booth. When they entered, the place was empty. Unbeknownst to them, at the time, was that it would get real busy in about 15 minutes. 



Waffle Houses are compactly built.
Not a lot of space to move around.

Savage, according to Rip, who relayed the story to me afterward,  was not feeling any pain when he walked through the door. What that means is any body's guess. Let's just say Randy was feeling good.

Savage and Rip had only been sitting there for a few moments when their waitress came to take their order. While they were giving the waitress their order, a skinny little cowboy type walked through the door and in a loud voice boomed out the news that he had just GOTTEN MARRIED!!!  He intended this for the third shift Waffle House staff behind the counter and not for Randy.   I heard later that the cowboy was a frequent customer and knew all the Waffle House employees.

The waitresses were elated.  They immediately walked away from the table where she had been taking Randy and Rip's order and gave the cowboy a high five which Macho took as a sign of disrespect.  Randy was hungry and he wanted food not some bullshit happy go lucky story.  As all of the waitresses and cooks congratulated the cowboy, in Randy's mind all that was being accomplished was his food was being delayed.  On the surface, it was a feel good happy moment for all of them.  All of them...except Savage. Savage wasn't very happy.  The announcement had interrupted his meal order.  Savage wanted a waffle.  NOW!!! 

Savage had heard what the cowboy said when he entered. As the conversation about the marriage continued, the cowboy said that he was really in love with this girl. Savage, out of nowhere, had to to add in his two cents. Savage said, out loud and to nobody in particular but to everybody that could hear him,  "who gives a f**k!!!"

The conversation in the Waffle House came to a screeching halt.  Everybody heard what Savage had just said...especially the cowboy dude.  Everything just stopped for a moment.  Waffle Houses aren't that big to begin with and when Savage made his comment,  the cowboy and Savage were only about 15 feet apart. 

The skinny little cowboy didn't like what Savage had said. He looked squarely at Randy and asked,  "what did you say?"

Savage looked back at the cowboy and repeated what he had first said, not that there was much doubt in what he said but this time,  he slowly oozed the words out just to put more emphasis on them.

"I...SAID...WHO...GIVES...A...F**K," Savage slowly replied.  Now dem's fighting words down South especially at 12AM in a Waffle House. 

Why Savage even said anything to the cowboy in the first place is beyond me. But Savage just didn't give a f***.  Savage, I learned later, liked confrontation.  I'm sure this wasn't the first that Savage had uttered some words to really tick someone off nor the last.  But now the cowboy was on the spot.  His manhood was being challenged in front of his buddies.   Savage not only had disrespected and embarrassed him in front of his friends but Savage  also disrespected his marriage and the woman he loved. Down South, that behavior can't be ignored.  Whether the cowboy wanted to make an issue of the statement or not,  or whether he knew who Savage was,  he was being forced to make a stand.   He, more or less had to do something because he had testicles between his legs.  Testicles sometimes make a man do things he wouldn't ordinarily do like act stupid at 12 Midnight.

The cowboy walked just a few steps toward where Savage was sitting, looked down at him and asked "You got a problem?"

Savage then arose from his seat like an old western gunslinger and stood up facing the cowboy eye to eye.  The cowboy, who weighed in soaking wet at a buck fifty listened as Savage countered with a question of his own.  

"I don't know, do we?"  Savage answered in the gravelly 'oh yeah dig it' voice that would years later be his trademark sound.

OK lets slow down for a bit and analyze this. Savage goes to eat after he had just wrestled a 40 minute match with me that night at the Fairgrounds Arena. He's hungry and tired and wants something to chow down on before he goes to bed. That's innocent enough I think. So he walks into a Waffle house diner, sits down and within 5 minutes of sitting down, makes a comment to a guy he doesn't even know nor has  ever seen  before in his life and now both of the men are confronting each other over a remark that Randy had made just moments earlier.  That escalated much too quickly for me. But that was the way it went down and it was about to go down a lot more.

This story I got from Rip himself as he was an eye witness to the whole thing so hey, I'm just relaying it. 

Both men now stood facing each other. They looked like two cats ready to fight. As they stood eyeball to eyeball with their body English giving every indication of turmoil,  the fight just broke out.

I don't know who swung first but. according to Savage, it was the other guy. Savage grabbed the cowboy in a headlock, which I didn't even know he knew how to do, and they both went down on the floor and were punching and kicking and screaming at each other right in front of a huge Wurlitzer jukebox.

Time out. In case some younger folks are reading this, Wurlitzer jukeboxes were, in short, over sized "record" players and yes, I said record players. Jukeboxes were pay as you play music machines in which you could drop a quarter in a slot and in return, you could select three songs that you wanted to hear. Nowadays, you don't see jukeboxes at all except in antiques or collectible shops.  No we didn't have MP3 players or Ipods in those days. Hell, we sometimes felt lucky to have AM radios in our cars. 

Anyway, back to my story. As Savage and this cowboy guy wallowed around on the floor in front of the jukebox, the Waffle House people panicked and called the cops because their friend was in a fight with Randy Savage, the crazy wrestler.  They knew who Randy was. They thought he was crazy.  Everybody in Nashville thought he was crazy.  Hell, I even thought he was crazy. 

Rip thought that Savage was crazy too. What did Rip do when all this was going on? From all accounts, Rip did what all good friends do when their buddy got into a fight.  He bolted out the door to the parking lot.

On the floor, Savage and the cowboy were kicking and punching each other but no real damage was being done. Somehow, the cowboy guy worked his way free from Savage, reached down in his pocket and pulled out a knife. Now, this fight was going a little too far at this point.  But the cowboy wasn't stupid.  He knew who Savage was.  Everybody in Nashville had seen this crazy character on the Saturday afternoon wrestling show.  The wrestlers were as recognizable as the 5 o'clock news anchors and a helluva lot more entertaining. 

When Savage saw the knife,  he panicked because Savage didn't have a weapon.     As the cowboy brandished the knife in front of him,  Savage took a good look at the silver blade and then in a split second, he jumped over counter to the grill area and grabbed the nearest knife he saw.  

Savage jumped back over the counter and both men squared off against each other with both of them doing their best fencing moves at each other. The cops had been called and about this time, one of the waitresses started yelling at the cowboy that the cops were coming. Outside,  the sound of sirens could be heard off in the distance.  The cops had gotten a distress call from the Waffle House that a fight was in progress. 


Butter knives are good for butter. 
Inflicting damage, not so much. 

The cowboy, when he heard the sirens, had the sense to take off and he ran out the door. Savage, however, didn't feel the same urge. Savage believed that he was the victim of this whole incident and it was the other guy's fault totally. Savage then looked at his 'weapon' that he had picked up behind the counter. It was a butter knife.


The police car screamed into the parking lot and two officers rushed into the Waffle House. By this time, Savage was in full Macho Man mode saying "oh yeahhhhhhhh" and "can you dig it" at no one in particular. I said earlier that Savage was feeling no pain, didn't I?

Right as the police entered, the entire Waffle House staff all stooged Savage as the instigator of the whole thing. The cops looked at Randy and knew exactly who he was.  Randy had made a serious impact on the TV viewing audience in Nashville in only a short few months.  The police knew who he was.  They were all wrestling fans too.  He was the Macho Man, the guy who acted like a complete crazy man on TV.  Actually,  Randy was very convincing in his interviews because he had the whole town thinking he had mental problems.  Savage blurred the lines between reality and make believe.  Now the cops were more wary than they really had a right to be because not only were they dealing with a wrestler but a wrestler they thought was crazy.

Randy wasn't as big or muscular as he would become later on in his career but he was still 6'1 and 215 and no fat on him   

The cops turned their attention to Randy telling him to turn around, he was under arrest. Savage didn't see it that way. In Randy's view...it was he who was the victim.  not the aggressor.  In his mind,  the cowboy was the one who started it, not him.     Randy pleaded his case and tried selling his story but the cops weren't buying.    Randy started getting louder and again,  the cops told him that he was under arrest.

Randy wasn't cooperating. The cops now had no choice but to physically try to overtake Savage and handcuff him.  Randy was having none of that nonsense.  A struggle ensued.   With a police car outside with its flashing blue lights on and more sirens in the background, a crowd started gathering outside to see what the problem was. It was easy to see the action from the street as Waffle Houses have floor to ceiling full pane glass windows.  You can see every inch of the place from the parking lot outside.  Most of the onlookers saw who the cops were fighting with. They were fighting with the Macho Man.   I'm sure some of them thought that this was better than the matches on Wednesday nights. 

The entire incident moved with blinding speed.  In real time, Randy had just walked through the door  about 10 minutes earlier.  But there was a lot more to come.  

The police were struggling with Randy as they attempted to put the handcuffs on him but it wasn't working.  Macho kept resisting.  Randy kept screaming at the cops that they were letting the guilty one get away and he was the one who had been attacked.

The cops were having no success handcuffing the Macho Man so they decided to amp up their strategy a bit.  Mace or pepper spray came into the picture.   Mace's appeal to cops was that it would change most suspect's minds of resistance if used properly with 'properly' being the key word.  But using the mace turned out to not be a wise decision.

These two cops apparently could have had starring roles in the Keystone Cops series.  They were as inept in using pepper spray as they were in using handcuffs.  As one cop went to Mace Randy in the face, Randy ducked and the Mace got the other cop right in the eyes.  But, at least Mace proved its claim that it took a lot of fight out of whomever received the Mace. From that point on, the Maced cop was out of the melee.  The scoreboard now read...COPS 1...SAVAGE 1.  Randy had tied up the game.  Randy was left fending off the one remaining cop while the other one was screaming on the floor behind him.  It was a friggin clusterf**k. 

Now it was a one on one situation. One cop and one Macho Man. The remaining cop pulled out his billie club and tried to subdue Randy which met with the same result as the earlier attempts to overcome the Macho Man.  When the cop pulled out his club,  Randy looked for a weapon himself and conveniently saw the the downed maced cop on the floor behind him.  Beside the cop was his club that he had lost possession of due to the macing that had just gone down.   Quickly,  Randy grabbed the convenient club to defend himself.   To the Macho Man's credit, he didn't use the club against the cop but only used it as a shield against the cop's attempts to subdue him.   Randy was holding his own but for how long.  The sirens in the background got louder and closer.

The crowd outside, which was getting bigger and bigger, was getting a helluva show. It was easy to see the action from the parking lot due to the huge windows that Waffle Houses are noted for. There was not a bad seat in the parking lot.

So the scorecard at this point read, an out of control wrestler fighting two inept police officers or one if you count the cop that got maced by his own guy...with more cops expected to arrive shortly. The people watching hadn't seen such a spectacle since Muhammad Ali and Georga Foreman in Rumble in the Jungle. 

Inside it was a standoff between Savage and the lone remaining cop.   In less than 60 seconds,  more cops arrived with their sirens screaming.  To an observer just coming onto the scene,  it was CHAOS.  Sirens,  flashing police lights,  cops,  pandemonium,  crowds watching.    When the other police cars screamed into the parking lot,  cops piled out of their cruisers ready to combat this incident who the police would call a 5150 call.  A 5150 call was one that all the police know all too well.  Its police code for 'crazy man'.  

When the cops entered the Waffle House,  Savage, who just minutes ago was giving his order to the waitress now had 6 Nashville Metro cops looking at him including the Shift Supervisor.   As the cops entered,  Savage backed up into a corner as they tried to negotiate his surrender.  Savage had no intention of surrendering and he wasn't obeying their command to lay the weapon down and give up.  The cops were screaming for Savage to give up but Macho Man wasn't obeying.   Apparently,  somewhere along the way,  Savage had missed reading the manual on the protocols of surrender. The Waffle House by this time was only filled with cops and Savage with all the employees in the back of the restaurant and a parking lot full of spectators. 

So as the cops confront Savage, the Shift Sergeant walked through the door.   Ironically, I found out later that the Shift Sergeant had actually worked the wrestling matches earlier that night as security.  He knew who Randy was.  As he called for him to give up,  he used Randy's name in addressing him.  In a calm voice,  he said  "Randy drop the club and turn around."

Savage's adrenaline was pumping and he had no intention of dropping the club.  If you knew Randy,  not only was his heart beating 150 beats a minutes, his brain had shifted into overdrive.  As he looked at the people who he thought should be protecting him,  he instead saw a group of people intent on doing him harm.

The shift Sergeant repeated his request using Randy's name for the second time . Needless to say, Savage didn't comply. More police cars arrived at the scene.

This was a wild scene.

Finally, the shift Sergeant ordered his men to back up.  In through the door at that very moment entered a 75 pound German Shepherd police dog. WHOA!!!  This dog I learned later was one of the most aggressive dogs in Nashville police department history.   The handler, who had brought the dog inside the Waffle House, now ordered Savage to surrender or the dog would be set free.  Well,  Savage was never good at waving the white flag.  Surrender just wasn't in the Macho Man's vocabulary.  In not giving up,  a change of events was unleashed...not to mention the dog.  The dog was in attack mode...and was straining at to be unleashed. When Savage didn't comply with the police orders,  the handler unleashed the DOG who had been trained for years to subdue humans in physical confrontations. 
Well, what fight was left in the Macho Man suddenly went south as the police dog came after Savage. Savage didn't have a chance against this dog but he told me later that he did get one good kick in. Savage also admitted that was a BIG MISTAKE.  Right after the kick which did very little to slow the dog down,  the dog ripped into Savage and held on long enough for the other officers to overtake Savage and handcuff him.    Randy was handcuffed and taken immediately to the police car and thrown into the back.  From all accounts,  Randy was bleeding from the dog attack from a gash that was in his right butt cheek area that would later require medical attention.   The old saying "I'm going to tear you a new a**hole" suddenly took on a whole different meaning to Savage after that.

After Savage was arrested, he was taken to the Davidson County Night Court and booked on a charge of resisting arrest,  assault on a police officer including the dog, failure to comply with police orders,  disturbing the peace and all other kinds of regulations and rules that he broke that night.   Rip ended up calling Randy's father,  Angelo who bailed Randy out a couple of hours later.  After that,  Savage was treated at a local hospital and sent home.   

The next morning I got up and unaware that anything like that had happened the night before,  I picked up my copy of the Nashville Tennessean as I sat down for breakfast.   In those days,  yes, we actually read the newspapers.   There was no such thing as the INTERNET.  It was either the paper or the TV news.   On the front page the headline read, "WRESTLER ARRESTED AFTER SKIRMISH WITH POLICE DOG"...story on Page 9.  What??? Wrestler arrested??? Police Dog??? What the hell???
I then quickly read the whole column about what had happened the night before. Of course the report didn't lay it out like I did above but the gist of the whole incident was there. The opening line of the report was good though. I almost laughed when I read it.
The first line read, "Apparently Randy "Macho Man" Savage didn't get enough action last night when he took on Dutch Mantell in the Main Event at the Fairgrounds wrestling event. He also ended up fighting a Nashville police dog as well." It then went on to detail what had happened.
I called Savage around noon that day just to check on his condition. He had to go to the hospital the night before to get checked and stitched up. He was still in Macho Man mode when I talked to him and he told me ALL the details even to the point of kicking the dog. I asked about what happened to the cowboy but Randy said he was the lucky one in that he got away.   But he was joking around and he said he wanted to give me some advice.  He said if you're ever confronted with police officers,  just give up and do what they want.  He also said he didn't recommend picking a fight with a police dog.  Randy said,  "they are quite serious animals."  

I told Randy that I had read about it in the paper that morning and Randy told me that he had read the same article.   After reading it and talking with me,  Randy couldn't just let that go by unchallenged or unanswered.  Later that day,   Savage actually called the reporter who had written the story to rebut the story and get his side out. The reporter was more than happy to have Randy in a rebuttal story.  This was in the days before TMZ but reporters love the idea of people in the news commenting on what happened.

In the report, Randy said that the situation had gotten completely out of hand but he persisted in his belief that he  had been the victim.  He had been the one that had been attacked by the cowboy and that the real culprit had escaped scot free.  Savage played the real babyface in the article even complimenting the Nashville police department and especially the dog.  I wish I still had the article as it was pretty funny reading it.

Savage didn't work for a couple of days due to the soreness and the stitches in his butt area.  I saw him a couple of days later in Chattanooga as we prepared for the Saturday night show.  He even pulled down his pants to show me the bite.  The bite was covered in gauze but he pulled that back so I could get a good look as it was time to redress the wound.  I had never seen a dog bite before but it looked nasty.  The bite had to be at least 9 inches long and I could plainly see the puncture wounds where the dog's teeth had dug in  
Randy went to court a few weeks later on the charge of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer when, in fact, it was battery on a police dog. But the law stated that a police dog is an officer of the police force just like a real policeman so technically, that was a correct charge.  Nick Gulas, the promoter, pulled some strings downtown in the police department and donated some money to one of their favorite charities and Randy was charged with a much lesser offense, found guilty. paid a small fine and put on probation.
I knew Savage and I knew how the thought about things.   Since he lived on the edge of paranoia,  the mere thought of someone getting the upper hand on him was something that he would never forget.  And even to this day, I still think Randy wonders about that night and still harbors a desire to get even with that dog.   The dog has probably been dead for over 25 years but I wouldn't be surprised if Randy didn't find out where the dog was buried and go out and dig him up just to even the score.

THE END


1953 - 2011
RIP



Editor's note:  Randy was one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.  He started out at 150 pounds but he worked at it so hard, that he perfected what he set out to do.  He embodied what this business was supposed to be.  His skill, technique and execution commanded attention and coupled with his personality and interview skills,  he was the total package.    He worked with the best that this business had to offer and with the top talent in the world.  From his days in running his own small independent company out of Lexington, KY. to the Glory Years in Memphis to his WWF runs,  he worked with everybody who was anybody.  His opponent lists resembles a Who's Who in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.  Steamboat,  Lawler,  Hogan, Jake,  Ultimate Warrior,  George Steele,  Flair,  One Man Gang,  Ronnie Garvin,  Rock and Roll...and the list goes on and on.  We've lost wrestling brethren before but this one hurts me just a little more than normal.  It still hasn't really dawned on me that Randy is gone.  I'll miss you Randy but I won't be the only one.  Hundreds of wrestlers mourn your passing as do millions of fans.  Macho Man was one of a kind and I predict there'll never be at another Macho Man again.   
RIP. 

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