Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the last book I ever read (David Shoemaker's The Squared Circle, excerpt ten)

from The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker:

Savage’s first noteworthy feud was with Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana, and he finally wrestled the belt from Santana at the Boston Garden on February 8, 1986 with the aid of an illegal loaded punch. He soon thereafter became embroiled in an oddball love triangle with burly dimwit George “The Animal” Steele, who had developed a crush on Elizabeth, who seemed too kindhearted to reject him outright. Though the storyline was farcical, Savage’s real-life paranoia and protectiveness, especially in regards to Elizabeth, was well documented. Hulk Hogan has said that Savage would make Elizabeth keep her gaze fixed on the ground backstage at wrestling events so she wouldn’t make eye contact with any of the other guys, and it’s frequently reported that he locked their home—from the outside—when he left, sometimes shutting her inside for days at a time.

Odd (and abusive) as this may be, it’s important to note that there was minimal distinction between Randy Savage the wrestling personality and Randy Poffo the real guy. To the extent that other wrestlers knew him personally, Savage was said to be the same person outside the ring as inside, sometimes to a fault. But in terms of his on-screen persona, his personal eccentricity was rendered as maniacal psychopathy, and it found a suitable venue in the WWF ring, which was even more an “arena for angry minds” (in historian Richard Hofstadter’s phrase) than the political realm. The “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy” of the average Savage interview functionally defined the Paranoid Style in American pro wrestling. He was McCarthy in spandex.

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