I grew up with pro-wrestling. AS a young child, I remember fondly watching WWF every weekend and seeing colorful characters like Jake the Snake Roberts and The Big Bossman. In the early 90s, my love of wrestling had grown to where I would follow things pretty closely; when the mid 90s hit, there wasn't a week that passed that I didn't watch every WWF and WCW program on the air. The WWF Attitude Era was must see TV for me; Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were favorites; on the WCW front, I was torn between the now, led by a heel Hulk Hogan (in my opinion one of the best moves in his career) and the embodiment of old school wrestling, Ric Flair. WWF would prove the victor by keeping things exciting and unpredictable, by as the early 00s rolled around, Vince McMahon had bought his competition, WCW and ECW, and things would never be the same.
I quickly lost my love for watching the sport and felt things would never be the same. In early 2006, I happened across Raw on TV and decided to see how far things had changed. I was happy to see the storylines had slightly improved, there were still performers giving it their all, but it was still a shadow of its heyday. I casually follow the WWE, mostly for the brief moments were true athleticism is allowed to shine, but rarely do I see much that reminds me of the "good old days." Is it because I'm now an adult and I'm finally seeing how childish the business has always been? I don't think so.
Some wrestling fans would say "Macho Madness" is an indication that hell has frozen over. Long considered to be "unofficially blacklisted" by Vince McMahon, Randy Savage has remained a figure cherished by fans for his overwhelming talent, who has gone essentially unmentioned in WWE history. When I heard a three disc set spanning Savage's WWF/WCW career was being prepped, I was fully prepared for a character assassination piece, ala the Ultimate Warrior documentary. Much to my surprise and I'm sure classic wrestling fans', "Macho Madness" isn't a documentary, but rather three discs full of matches that speak volumes for the amazing career of a true wrestling icon.
The program is hosted by Matt Striker and Maria. I found this pair a very odd selection, but right away it becomes obvious that Striker is most likely a huge Savage fan and Maria is there to look pretty. The Striker/Maria segments merely serve as transition points between matches. The written scripts for these segments treat Savage with respect and build him up as the great performer he was. Things start off with his WWF debut and right away a smile crossed my face as I was treated to truly old school wrestling. Savage, still a while away from perfecting his complete persona, works the crowd to a frenzy as the cocky new heel. He shows right away he has incredibly in-ring psychology, and despite the debut match against a jobber lasting around ten minutes or so, Savage manages to make the guy look like a credible opponent. The focus then moves to his epic feud with Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat, culminating in the aptly defined "greatest match in Wrestlemania history." Their encounter at Wrestlemania III is the very definition of classic WWF. While I would safely say Steamboat was the better technical performer, Savage was far from a slouch and both men put on the show of a lifetime.
The first two discs in the set cover Savage's WWF debut and major feuds, including another historical epic with Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. I should note to fans that one of the biggest moments of the feud, Jake slapping Miss Elizabeth has been edited. My only speculation is out of respect to Elizabeth who unfortunately passed away far too young. Disc three concludes his WWF career and then politely transitions into his WCW run. Any fans expecting details to be shed on his departure, which is the driving force behind the mystery of his non-relationship with McMahon will be disappointed. Thankfully, there are no cheap shots thrown at Savage, and his absence is treated as merely being a change of scenery, career wise.
The set concludes with the pinnacle of his WCW run and in a way, is a fitting close to his career. Savage retired shortly after WCW folded and was bought out by Vince McMahon, although he had left the company prior to these events. Although he had a brief cameo-like run with TNA a few years back, his career 31-year career is best remembered for the 15 years he spent in WWF and WCW. While I'd have loved to have seen Savage been able to work out a deal with McMahon and turn this set into a full documentary, the breadth and depth of the work presented is as good a substitute as I or any other Savage fans could hope for.
The program was presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio (as this is the original aspect ratio of the footage shown) and the quality of footage varies from sub par to above average. There is some inconsistently in the age vs. quality category, as the debut match looks quite good considering the source material, but the pre-match promo for Wrestlemania III (one of the biggest events in WWE history) is littered with digital noise. None of the minor digital artifacts that pop up hinder the viewing experience, since the quality is by and large, better than its original broadcast.
The English Dolby Stereo track is more than adequate for this program. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, and when in-ring footage is shown, despite sounding a bit tinny at times, is more than acceptable.
On each of the three discs there is a small 'Bonus Footage' section that gives the viewer a variety of material to view. This is mostly promos done by Savage that were used as build ups in feuds, but most fans will likely enjoy the complete Savage/Elizabeth wedding ceremony on Disc 1.
Simply put, this is a must own-collection for Savage fans as well as old-school wrestling fans. The only thing keeping it from being a 'definitive' collection is a documentary piece as well as some footage of his pre-WWF days; to my knowledge McMahon owns the rights to the footage from the companies Savage was involved with prior to his WWF debut. That aside, the product unleashed on fans at present is top notch all the way. I can easily see myself revisiting a lot of the matches in this set, not just because I loved Savage, but because his in-ring work is up their in a league with that of Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. Is "Macho Madness" worth a purchase? OOOOOOH YEAAAAH! Highly Recommended.