On May 20th, professional wrestling legend ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage passed away at the age of 58. Eleven year old me had three passions (in no particular order): Baseball, WDW, and the World Wrestling Federation (now, WWE). My first live event in December 1985 at the Nassau Coliseum featured Savage (accompanied by the lovely Miss Elizabeth) in a 30 man battle royal. It was awesome.
In early 1995, the now-defunct wrestling organization World Championship Wrestling (WCW) began filming some of their television at the Disney-MGM Studios (nope, not Hollywood Studios). We were on a trip, staying at the Vacation Club (Old Key West Resort) during one of their string of tapings. The first one we attended, we caught of glimpse of Steve Austin backstage (before he was ‘Stone Cold’), who clearly was showing concern in the direction of his knee. But, it was the last taping my sister and I went to, where they pulled a big surprise out of the bag – Savage & Hulk Hogan in tag team action…the MegaPowers reunited! Oh Yeah!!! Brother!
A year a half later, The Genie got to meet ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage backstage. This was the summer of 1996, when Monday NIght Nitro was on fire and the formation of the NWO was literally days old. I had been in attendance at the Bash at the Beach in Daytona and it was mayhem when Hulk Hogan turned bad. I was also in attendance for this encounter between El Genio, Savage, and other WCW wrestlers…
The Soundstage Restaurant in the Animation Courtyard featured a lovely buffet-style character dining experience featuring characters from the recent string of Disney hits: Genie, Rafiki, Meeko, Jafar. Characters from ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ being incorporated fell flat when the film did and, ironically, Quasimodo was not well received.
Those characters when leaving the restaurant had to pass a cast member commissary to head backstage. This was the same commissary the wrestlers from WCW were also dining in. Cast members were directed to not go star-gazing during lunch and to leave Hacksaw Jim Duggan alone while he read his newspaper and not to comment on The Giant’s (Big Show’s) two meal (full roasted chickens!) dinner. The luchadors had it the easiest because they could walk around without their masks on…I saw Rey Mysterio without his long before the world did!
One afternoon in July, The Genie was walking towards the Soundstage Restaurant when, out of the commissary came Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Ray Traylor (Big Bossman), & Rick and Scott Steiner (before he was ‘Big Poppa Pump’). They all greeted The Genie enthusiastically. Me? I knew what we directed to do. And though, it was awesome that these guys were standing before me, I knew it was best to not interact.
The Genie waved back.
The wrestlers admired The Genie’s physique. Savage chimed in, ‘yeah look at those muscles’. Each wrestler got a good grip of The Genie’s upper body when Scott Steiner stepped in…
“You got a good build, Genie…You think you can take me?”
Genie is non-responsive.
I am excited…and scared for my life.
“You think you can take me?”
Steiner is now smacking The Genie’s arms. Right, then left, then right…
The Genie shrugs.
The collegiate athlete turned professional wrestler then wound up and, with full force, hauled off and chopped El Genio squarely across the chest. There was no Ric Flair like ‘Whooooo’ following it – just an indented chest that caused an instinctual grabbing of his head to keep his wits on.
I was shocked – and thought it was awesome. The gang had a good laugh and was somewhat respectful to the fact that 1) The Genie didn’t fall down & 2) The Genie played along (to an extent). They all thanked him for his time and, with The Genie, walked off together towards the Soundstage Restaurant. Macho Man mumbled, ‘You’re a good guy, Genie.”
As they were walking, Rick Steiner – the ‘dog faced gremlin’, always portrayed as not the brightest bulb in the box on television – leaned over to The Genie and asked…
“Is it hot in there?”
One of my favorite days backstage at The Diz ever.
Rest in Peace, ‘Macho Man’.