Wrestling the English Language. Transcribing a Macho Man Randy Savage Promo
When I was a child I was mesmerized by professional wrestling. As an impressionable five-year old, nothing captured my attention more than these Herculean men waging epic battles over belts of gold inside a roped battlefield. Why did I care so much about this rather odd spectacle? I guess you could chalk it up to a desire to bond with a father who loved it just as much, but that was only part of the reason. You could postulate that my young brain was naturally attracted to the carnival-like nature of wrestling, but in the interest of full disclosure, even now at twenty-seven years of age that feeling of awe has never actually left or dissipated in the least. So, what in fact caused my infatuation with this form of entertainment more than anything else? It was the personalities.
When a professional wrestler is let loose on a microphone it is safe to say that absolutely anything and everything is bound to happen. Some wrestlers can give interviews that are as eloquent and deep as any classical prose. Other wrestlers will go off on such a maniacal tangent that viewers can only be left in slack-jawed awe at the unbridled insanity that just unfolded before their eyes. The latter of the two are my personal favorites, and they are the ones we will be dealing with in this column.
On a recent online trip into the past, I stumbled across an interview with the one and only “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Some may argue, but the Macho Man is and always will be my favorite person to watch cut a promo (wrestling jargon for promotional interviews). Seeing him spin and jerk with uncontrollable energy and let loose some of the most outrageous and fantastical phrases ever heard by the human ear always made him the highlight of any show he was ever on. At any time he came on the screen, I stopped everything and paid extra close attention. His personality was that magnetic.
This particular Macho Man promo that I stumbled upon was from the fall of 1987. As interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund asks his questions with a serious and straight face, Savage goes off on a legendary verbal tirade that can only be described as quasi-philosophical. The more I heard these hysterical words slip off the Macho Man’s tongue, the more they drove me to think: what would all of this look like in the written word? I was physically laughing out loud as I watched and listened to Savage ramble and rant, but would they have the same effect when they were read?
Here we arrive at the goal and the purpose of this column: to transcribe the words of men and women inside the world of professional wrestling and marvel at the results. We will use the aforementioned Savage promo as a jumping off point and discuss the results after. Without further ado, the Macho Man in all his insane oratorical glory.
GENE OKERLUND: In the World Wrestling Federation, here is a man that has not only turned it around 180 degrees…
RANDY SAVAGE: 180 Degrees!!!
OKERLUND: …but he’s gone another 360…
SAVAGE: Another 360!!!
OKERLUND: …and then another 180…Macho Man Randy Savage. You have changed over the last couple of months like I cannot believe, sir.
SAVAGE: I’m a chameleon. Yeah huh huh.
OKERLUND: A chameleon?
SAVAGE: Uh huh yeah! I’m talking about the beat goes on, yeah. And the beat goes on, yeah. And the beat goes on! And the videoscope, yeah, I am looking right into you right now. Macho madness, right now. Sugar is sweet and so is honey. Macho madness is on a roll and it can’t be stopped, no. Elizabeth understands what I’m talking about, yeah uh huh!
OKERLUND: Why is it, Macho Man, when I sit and talk to you, stand and talk to you for that matter, that I think of old Sonny and Cher hits? Why is that?
SAVAGE: Unbelievable. Time Distortions. Space is the place, Mean Gene Okerlund. Go down that lonesome highway, yeah! But don’t be hypnotized, no. Reincarnation doesn’t have to be. You can concentrate and you can, uh, mental telepathy, yeah!
OKERLUND: But the beat goes on?
SAVAGE: But the beat goes on.
OKERLUND: That beat in particular has got to include, maybe the Honky Tonk Man, the Intercontinental Champion of the World. I know you’re not getting along real well with member of the Bobby Heenan family, Macho Man. Not at all.
SAVAGE: Let me tell you something right now. Talking about the greatest Intercontinental Champion that ever lived, the Honky Tonk Man is out of line, yeah! Cause I am the greatest Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion that ever lived, and I’m the greatest professional wrestler that ever lived. And I’m living now, yeah! Right now, uh huh.
OKERLUND: You know, he makes no bones about making the proclamation that he is, I’m talking about the Honky Tonk Man, the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time.
SAVAGE: He says I can’t sing and I can’t dance, but I can make romance, yeah! Right there the fork in the road. I said go right, Elizabeth said go left. I went right and then, and then, I understand what the situation was. I went over that one bridge, yeah. And then, when I crossed that bridge I found out that I was on the right side. And I said Elizabeth follow me, yeah! Because I’m going straight to the top! The stars, yeah the stars. One shining star in the night shining brighter than all the other ones! And I’m talking light years away, yeah.
OKERLUND: You’re talking Macho madness.
SAVAGE: Macho madness, yeah. Macho madness rolling, yeah. You thought so, but I know so. And Macho madness is coming straight at you, Honky Tonk Man. And I like it, yeah! Cause I’m on a roll and I ain’t stoppin’, yeah! Elizabeth go right and I’m going left!
OKERLUND: Can I ask a question, Macho Man?
SAVAGE: No more questions!
Well, where do we start? Okerlund tries to steer Savage into talking about some of his rivals a couple of times, but the Macho Man quickly descends right back into waxing philosophic on…what exactly? Savage was in the midst of a turn from being a heel to a face, and there seems to be a thread of that in his words, however loose it may be.
At first glance all these words appear to be some sort of incoherent rambling, but upon further examination there seems to be an overriding theme. “Go down that lonesome highway, but don’t get hypnotized,” Savage says at one point, seemingly alluding to his evil actions in the past and his subsequent change of heart. He then makes mention of his main squeeze at the time, Elizabeth, and says she tried to tell him to go down one path but he wouldn’t listen. Furthermore, Savage says that he crossed a bridge, implying that he has seen the light and crossed over to where Elizabeth told him to go in the first place.
So, as crazy as the Macho Man comes off when seen through the judgment of the eyes, there is an overriding point buried in his verbosity after all. Maybe seeing it all written down has helped bring out a meaning that was lost in Savage’s blizzard of words.
Now, why on Earth the Macho Man is looking into a videoscope, or what time distortions have to do with anything, I have no idea. And why exactly is space the place? I guess we’ll never know.
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