As a kid, one of the most influential men in my life was my uncle Kevin. I'm pretty sure he was sort of a family outcast, but no one would ever call him a black sheep to his face because if you did he'd probably knock your wind pipe out with a round house kick. By some strange grace, I found myself spending a lot of time at Kevin's house as a kid. The walls were cured with weed smoke, as Kevin was a chronic smoker. His sanctum was plastered with ads for Budweiser, large photographs of the Three Stooges, and Bruce Lee. One of the most coveted items in his house was a large three stooges rug he hung over a window to keep the light out. There are few true men I have ever met in my life, and Kevin was one of them. He liked beer, martial arts, kicking the shit out of dudes, reggae, pro-wrestling, weed, and his dog. For me, his home was a portal into the realm of counter culture, and the time I spent with him made me the man I am today.
When I was about ten, Kevin bestowed upon me a slim package. When I opened the envelope up, I discovered a bundle of black and white photos from the 70s. My uncle spent a lot of time at the Ventura county fair grounds going to wrestling shows as a kid, and it was there he'd collected photos of the great stars from that period. Most of the photos were even autographed, and included the likes of Freddie Blassie, El Santo, Pantera Negra, Don Carson, Mil Mascaras, Suni Warcloud, Man Mountain Mike, and many more. There was even an NWA program from one of the shows he had attended. Now, these photos hang on stairwell wall in my home as a tribute to both Kevin and the keen interest in the art of professional wrestling they sparked. After I got those photos, watching WWF at my uncle's house was always a far more profound experience than it had been.
I would frequently watch WWF at my uncle's house on weekends. The man who captured my imagination more than any other was Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Even though he most often wrestled as a heel, I thought he was one of the coolest guys I'd ever seen. No matter what he did, he captivated. One of my most vivid childhood memories was the thrill and concern I had when Savage knocked Ricky Steamboat's wind pipe out, which eventually lead to one of the most legendary and quality feuds in pro-wrestling history. As I got older, I became a much savvier fan, and I lost a lot of love for the guys I used to cheer for. While I used to mark out for Hulk Hogan, I eventually began to see him as cheesy and one-dimensional in the ring. On the other hand, my appreciation for Savage only deepened, as I began to really appreciate how dynamic and dramatic his in-ring performances were.
When revisiting things I used to revere in my childhood, I'm often disappointed. What Randy Savage accomplished on the other hand has only gotten better and more profound as I've gotten older.
Today, I was deeply saddened to hear of Randy's death. Randy was no longer an in-ring performer, but his legacy continues to impress each new generation of pro-wrestler. There is no such thing as a great performer who didn't take some thing away from what Randy did. Any time a great story is being told in the ring, Randy lives. He could weave a tale like no other. I can only hope Randy has been reunited by father Angelo today. Godspeed, Randy. Watching you made me feel like a kid no matter how old I was. No words can do justice the honor you did us any time you graced us with your presence.
Truly, one of the best wrestlers of all time. One of the best talkers of all time. One of the best of all time. Period.