macho man randy savage
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The Mega Powers Explode: Long-Term Storytelling Done Right

macho man randy savage
Photo by George Napolitano/FilmMagic

It was the second half of 1987, and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, who was one of the thickest heels in WWE, slowly began to get over organically. Sometimes, when a talent is so good, it’s hard to boo them, and slowly but surely, Savage began to gain popularity and organically turn babyface. It was his feud against Honky Tonk man in late ’87 that truly cemented him as a babyface.

In his pursuit of Honky Tonk Man‘s Intercontinental Championship, he would get ambushed by The Hart Foundation, with even Miss Elizabeth taking the fall. She sought the help of Hulk Hogan, who saved Savage and began their alliance, though “The Mega Powers” moniker wouldn’t be used until much later.

But when they shook hands, fans knew it was for real, and it was two of the biggest stars in the company forming an alliance that would never be replicated. They were a force to be reckoned with, and everybody knew that they were the most powerful force in the industry. The storyline itself was incredible and played out over a year, with some great moments and great character development. Their real alliance began around WrestleMania IV, where a lot of controversy from a few months prior. Andre The Giant had won the WWF Championship after sneaky tactics from the Hebner Brothers, and he “sold” the title to The “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, a move that was deemed illegal.

The tournament saw a lot of antics, but the final saw Randy Savage take on Ted DiBiase, with Andre The Giant on DiBiase’s side and Hulk Hogan and Elizabeth on Savage’s. While it was no classic WrestleMania main event as compared to today’s standards, the moment that saw Hogan help Savage to victory was an incredible one, and one that will forever be remembered in WWE history.

Though Hogan would take some time off, the duo’s first major rivalry was against DiBiase and Andre The Giant, essentially a continuation from the tournament. Their clash would lead to a blockbuster tag team match at SummerSlam 1988, dubbed as “The Mega Powers vs The Mega Bucks”. This was the first time that the Mega Powers moniker was really used, and it would technically be the first time that they really teamed together for a high-profile match.

It was a victorious outing for the Mega Powers, who used a little assistance from Elizabeth after she used questionable tactics to distract the heels. Jesse Ventura also featured as the special guest referee for the match. Interestingly, the first signs of a break-up were teased here when Hogan hoisted Elizabeth on his shoulders, with Savage looking visibly jealous.

Even though some consider that the storyline began around then, it really did start in October the previous year. However, it took full form around the summer of ’88 because Hogan began to be managed by Miss Elizabeth as well. Their next major challenge would be at the next PPV – Survivor Series. They captained their team to victory over “The Twin Towers”, led by Big Boss Man and Akeem.

Once again, signs of uneasiness began to show when Hogan acted friendly towards Elizabeth. On more than one occasion, Hogan had Elizabeth accompany him to the ring, with Elizabeth being put in compromising and dangerous positions more than once. Apart from just jealousy, Savage was concerned for Elizabeth’s safety.

But even then, the cracks had begun to show, and Savage’s insecurity began to come out little by little, for the whole world to see. While the storyline was obviously meant to put over Hogan at the end, Savage’s character work and facial expressions during the storyline are criminally underrated. Even Elizabeth played a fantastic role in the feud, essentially being the centerpiece of it.

Things went from bad to worse at the Royal Rumble, when Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage, and though Savage was ready to go right then and there, Elizabeth would be the voice of reason, and for the time being, their differences were put aside, though Savage couldn’t get over what happened.

The final straw would be at Saturday Night’s Main Event on February 3rd, 1989 when Elizabeth was knocked unconscious ringside when Savage was thrown onto her by Akeem. Hogan, out of concern for Elizabeth, carried her backstage to get treated, and when he went back, Savage slapped him and walked away with his title. Hogan would win the match, but as soon as he went to the back to check on Elizabeth, the Mega Powers were all but over. Savage would assault Hogan and the build to their epic WrestleMania feud would begin.

The WrestleMania V card in itself was quite a poor quality one, but the main event was something that they heavily invested in, and enough of a box office draw. It was a main event for the ages, and though the match itself may not be very well-remembered for being an epic one, it saw the conclusion of an outstanding storyline.

Hogan ended up dethroning and ending Savage’s 371-day WWE Championship reign. It’s the perfect example of long-term storytelling done right, and WWE patiently allowed it to play out for over a year. This is something that’s definitely lacking in modern times because in an age of instant gratification, it’s better if there are stories that get to play out over extended periods of time.