Former pro wrestler Randy Savage died today. Apparently he had a heart attack while driving, lost control of his car and crashed into a tree.
I actually met Randy on numerous occassions. My initial take away was that he was a lot smaller in person than I expected. I'm 5'11" and either he was the same height or a tad smaller, but it surprised me that he wasn't this huge, hulking figure. He was, of course, twice as wide as me -- he was a pretty muscular dude, after all.
When he was dating that Gorgeous George chick, she lived across the street from a friend of mine. And when I would visit my friend, there would be Macho, sitting in the front yard in a lawn chair, cooler of beer and a boom box -- his big ass honkin' Hummer pulled up in the grass.
Randy's Hummer was one of the original Hummer's that came out. Not the domesticated version people drive now. When he fired that thing up it sounded like a M1A Abrahms firing up! Something my friend used to bitch about constantly.
I was always taken by how awkward he seemed in public. It always seemed to me like he couldn't decide if he should be "in character" or not, when he met someone. When I would shout out to him, he'd strike that pose -- arms akimbo, thumb in the belt -- for a second, then he'd loosen up and chat a bit. I can't decide if that was sad or not, but it's something you don't think about with celebs -- how they should be around the fans, you know?
I was at his condo one time, and there was a box from Harry & David's sitting by his door. I asked if it was his Christmas bonus from WCW, and he cracked up big time. A genuine moment.
People alway rag on pro wrestlers, about how the fighting is fake and all. Yeah, they aren't really fighting. Obviously. But those 20ft falls onto the hard concrete floor aren't fake. The broken bones and ruptured discs aren't fake. The stitches aren't fake. Owen Hart is really dead from a fall in the ring. The blood isn't fake, though often not as serious as it appears. Pro wrestlers are like stunt men, they're getting busted up doing stunts at each event. And those events come 4 and 5 nights a week, up to 50 weeks a year.
Pro wrestling is a cruel business. If these guys can't go, someone like Vince McMahon won't hesitate to toss them aside and use someone else. The promoters are heartless. And these guys (and gals) get chewed up by it all the time. They take pain killers, steroids, whatever it takes to keep going. And that takes a toll. Remember how Chris Benoit spiralled downward until he murdered his family and took his own life. It can be a tragic business.
Also of note -- Jack Brisco died monday from complications from heart surgery, I think. Another local guy. And yeah, I met him a couple of times as well at the auto shop his family ran in Tampa.
I know these guys aren't world leaders or earth shakers, but they were larger than life entertainers and local celebs. It's just tough to see them go so suddenly.