411’s Top 30 WrestleMania Matches of All Time: #21 – Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (WM 8)
Posted by Larry Csonka on 03.16.2014
411 continues its Countdown to WrestleMania 30 by looking at a match featuring two all time greats. Today we look at Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage from WrestleMania 8…
Welcome back to 411Mania, and welcome to 411's official countdown to WrestleMania 30! Every year, the 411 staff comes together in some way to bring you, the fine readers of our site, a special countdown to WrestleMania. In past years we have done special countdown columns, ranking the shows, rating them overall, discussing special aspects of the big event, and even columns that have served as odes to the matches and moments that are etched into our minds.
To some fans, WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, and the way that WWE has transformed the event into a near weeklong party, it may as well be a holiday to the fans that love our special brand of entertainment. Call it sport or call it a specially designed male soap opera, we love it and we love to talk about what makes things special. WrestleMania is an institution, and this year, as the WWE gets prepared to put on their 30th WrestleMania event, we decided to go big. Starting on March 7th, and running all the way to April 5th, 411 will present the top 30 matches in WrestleMania history.
Each writer on the 411 staff was given the opportunity to nominate 30 matches of their choosing. #1 on their list received 30 points, #2 received 29 points, and so on and so forth. Writers were asked to base their lists on both match quality and historical significance to create their nominations. The final list was created, and there was a ton of competition for the top spot. In fact, the voting was so tight that the top FOUR matches were separated by a mere 16-points.
Each day we will present a match from the list, which will include a full recap of the match from the 411 archives (from Scott Slimmer, JD Dunn, and Robert Leighty Jr.) as well as thoughts from the writers. Thank you for reading, and we hope that you enjoy our presentation…
If you want to listen to some of the most awesome biased announcing in your live, just listen to Heenan during this match. Only thing that has come close to topping this was Heyman during the Main Event of Survivor Series 2001. Savage sprints to the ring, and looks to kill Flair, but he bails. He chases Flair down the aisle and starts rubbing his face into the floor. Perfect grabs Savage by the hair and pulls him back to the ring. They head back into the ring and we got some chops early, but Savage gets a clothesline. He knees Flair into the corner and starts pounding away with some rights. Flair misses an inverted atomic drop, and Savage drops him with another clothesline. Savage takes a huge fucking bump as he is back dropped over the top to the floor. Flair goes out to meet him and rams him back first into the ring apron. For those wondering: the crowd hates Flair. He continues to work the back as they head into the ring. Flair hits a delayed suplex (showing some power), but it only gets a two count. A nice side suplex gets another two count while Heenan screams to see the pictures of the big screen. Savage gets tossed from corner to corner to continue the damage to the back. Flair drops a knee to the head, and sends Savage to the floor. He rams Savage into the apron again as he has focused all his energy on the back at this point. Flair brings Savage back into the ring with another delayed suplex, but again it only gets a two count. Flair argues with the ref and it would have been a nice touch if Hebnar would have shoved him. The crowd is getting restless with the beating Savage is taking, and is just begging for any signs of life from Macho. He responds by firing away with rights and countering a backdrop attempt with a reverse neck breaker. The rights continue to flow, but a well timed thumb to the eye kills that. Flair heads up top, and you can guess what happens next. Now the crowd is back as Flair begs. Savage is having none of that and drops Flair with numerous clotheslines. Flair takes the flip in the corner, and runs the apron to the top rope. He comes off, but Savage catches him with a clothesline with a hot near fall. The crowd is pissed about that one. Flair hits the floor and Savage comes off the top with the double axe to send Flair into the railing head first. That's where Flair blades, and Heenan is in tears. This is just so awesome. Savage continues the ass kicking on the floor, and beats Flair into the ring so he can beat on him some more. A double axe from the top gets another hot two count, and the crowd is even more pissed than last time. Savage heads to the top again, and drops the flying elbow. Perfect has the balls to pull Savage out of the ring to break the count. The crowd and Monsoon want to kill Perfect at this point. Perfect slips Flair some brass knux, and Savage gets waffled. He is able to kick out at two, and Flair has lost his mind. He pounds away and then just starts choking the life out of Savage. Perfect shows he can be an even bigger dick as he grabs a chair and blasts Savage in the knee. Liz finally makes her way to the ring, and a rather young Shane McMahon tries to talk her out of it. Savage's knee is gone and that's blood in the water for Flair. The crowd has gone insane at this point, and even after seeing this match over a 100 times, I'm still marking out. Flair locks in the figure four, and naturally he gets an assist from Perfect. Those two were made to work together. The officials give up on trying to get Liz to the back and leave her alone. Savage turns the hold, but Perfect even attempts to stop that. In a wink-wink moment to the Savage/Steamboat match, Savage gets a small package off a slam attempt, but Flair is able to kick out at two. Flair takes time to flirt with Liz between chops. That's a real champ there. Flair crushes Savage's knee with a knee breaker, but makes the mistake of giving one too many Woo's to Liz. Out of nowhere Savage blocks a punch and rolls Flair up with a handful of trunks to get the win and title @ 18:03. Heenan bails the announce booth to go be with Flair. Things get even crazier now as Flair confronts Liz and gives her a kiss. She fires back by slapping him, and Savage is all "That's my Kool-Aid, bitch" and dives on Flair. He is outnumbered though and gets the shit kicked out of him by Flair and Savage. The crowd chants for Hogan, but he's on the phone negotiating his Mr. Nanny movie deal. Officials finally separate everyone, but Savage (still selling the knee) wants to fight. The Fink finally makes the announcement and he does so in grand style. Savage gets a proper celebration with nobody else in the spotlight (outside of Liz), and it's a pretty awesome moment.
- By Robert Leighty Jr.
Chad Nevett: Forever shadowed by the Match That Might Have Been and overshadowed on the card by not getting its rightful main event spot (despite promotion trying to bill it as such), there will always be an unsightly presence lurking over the WWF Championship match between Ric Flair and Randy Savage at WrestleMania VIII. It's the match that just sort of happened: not the one that fans really wanted and not the one that the WWF wanted to spotlight. Yet, it was the true main event of the WrestleMania VIII that got booked and a far better match than the WrestleMania VIII that fans wanted to get booked. When Ric Flair left WCW for the WWF in the summer of 1991, the match that everyone wanted to see was him taking on Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania. In early 1992, the stage was set with Ric Flair winning the vacant WWF Championship at the Royal Rumble, but the match never happened for a variety of reasons. Instead, Randy Savage was slotted in to take on Flair and, while the iconic symbolism of the NWA/WCW top star of the ‘80s taking on the WWF top star of the ‘80s may have been lost, one of the greatest WrestleMania matches happened.
The build of Ric Flair taunting Randy Savage with pictures of himself and Elizabeth, claiming that they were intimate in the past, was a hallmark of the best Savage feuds. Savage was amazing in the ring, but never more so than when there was a story involving Elizabeth in some way. A subtext of passion was always on display, hanging over every move. When the match starts, Savage goes after Flair with a viciousness and it almost looks like the match will be over in record time for a world title WrestleMania contest. The title is secondary: Savage just wants to tear Flair apart for what he's been saying. And, of course, there still remains that ambiguity that, maybe what Savage is so angry about is that Flair is telling the truth. None of us believe that; the small shred of doubt remains. In the world of black-and-white face-heel feuds, that small bit of ambiguity colors the entire thing. Something I've always loved is that the pictures Flair shows are ones where he looks like a classy guy. His promos are full of innuendo, but those pictures are straight class: sweaters and horses and romantic dinners. Again, a weird bit of tension that only adds to the intrigue. There's another odd tension in the match where the officials seem set on Flair winning somehow. It goes beyond the usual ‘ref can't see what's happening in front of him' when Elizabeth comes out followed by half a dozen backstage officials determined to keep her from ringside – after we've seen Mr. Perfect help Flair cheat three or four separate times with no consequences. Even the post-match brawl between Savage and Flair sees the officials more focused on holding Savage down while Flair escapes than anything Flair or Perfect are doing.
These tensions all give Flair and Savage's match an odd energy. Even Savage's victory is somewhat conflicted as he wins with a quick rollup and a tug on the tights, but fails to tear Flair apart as he wants. He wins the match, but doesn't seem like the true victor. It wasn't the real main event, Flair might not have been lying, and all Savage got was a title while the bad guy escaped only a little bloodied with the help of the WWF officials. Nothing is cut and dry, nothing is settled, or made entirely clear. The more you watch this match, the more it confounds with its contradictions.
Ryan Byers: Remember when I said that we'd be talking more about unauthorized blood further up on the list? Well, here it is. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair was one of the co-main events of WrestleMania VIII from Indianapolis, and perhaps one of the things that it is best remembered for online today is the fact that, during the match, Ric Flair violated company policy by blading, something that Bret Hart had done earlier in the same show in his match. However, there was a difference between the two incidents, in that, while both men claimed that the blood was hard way as opposed to planned, company brass only believed Hart but not Flair, causing the legendary Nature Boy to be chastised heavily by none other than Vincent Kennedy McMahon. (As an aside, this lead to a GREAT underrated promo ten years later when Flair and McMahon had their singles feud in the WWF, as Flair slammed Vinnie Mac for having the gall to tell Ric Flair of all people how to have a professional wrestling match.) The story about the blood might be the thing that current "smart" wrestling fans associate most closely with the match, but, for those watching at the time, there was so much more. First off, there was a very memorable angle between the two men that was much more mature in its content than the standard WWF fare of the day, as Flair displayed a series of photographs of himself with Miss Elizabeth in a variety of romantic situations, infamously taunting Savage with the line, "She was mine before she was yours." Naitch even claimed that he was going to take things a step further with some more, ahem, boudoir-esque pictures of wrestling's first lady, but word on the street is that the Macho Man's well-documented real life jealousy involving Elizabeth put the kibosh on the angle before it could be fully realized. Yet, even though the storyline wasn't entirely brought to fruition, it still created an air of intensity between the two wrestlers that added something special to their match. There's still one more thing that made this match memorable, which I oddly haven't gotten to yet . . . the two competitors in the ring were both freaking awesome. Even though they were considered two of the best in-ring competitors of their generation, Flair and Savage had really avoided meeting up with one another until they feuded in the early 1990s in the WWF, and the anticipation made things all the sweeter when they finally locked it up and put on the classic that they all knew they could. Even though it contains two matches that have made this list, WrestleMania VIII is historically considered to be somewhat of a disappointment, but you certainly can't say that it's because of the ring work in the championship matches.