OK little kiddies. Gather around the old fireplace and let’s tell some old but true stories about the Olden Days of Pro Wrestling. Some stories may be slightly embellished just to keep it interesting but every story is 100% true. Maybe. Enjoy.
The Macho Man Meets a Real Life K9…
Everybody knows Randy “the Macho Man” Savage from his days in the WWF. Not a lot of people know the Macho Man in his earlier years. I’ve written this story before but the story never changes. It is about an incident in Nashville, Tennessee where Randy took on the Nashville Police Department including their prize police dog. Authors disclaimer…this is a true story. I don’t think even Steven King could make this up.
It was late on a Wednesday night in the late 70s when Randy “Macho Man” Savage walked into a Waffle House on the Harding Place exit right off I-24 East in Nashville. Savage and I had just worked the Nashville house show earlier that night in front of a sold-out crowd. Randy was hungry and needed to eat so a Waffle house restaurant suited him just fine. It was right down the street from where he lived, easy in, easy out.
If you’ve never seen or been in a Waffle House, they’re all over the South. On some interstates down south, you might be surprised to learn that you can find not one but two Waffle Houses on the same exit but on different sides. I guess that gives new meaning to the term, ‘ they get you coming and going.’ Waffle Houses are 24 hour never close diner type restaurants which features fast food at a cheap price. When you mention cheap, that’s exactly in The Macho Man’s price range wheel house . But the food damn sure isn’t gourmet. It’s just cheap.
The time was around 12:30 AM when Randy walked into the Waffle House. Usually, people who go to a Waffle House come in, sit down, order their food, get up and leave. Unless they’re drunk and then they pass out. The Waffle House has also been noted as a sobering up place after a long night of drinking. But, for the most part, it’s a pretty laid back environment especially on a weeknight such as Wednesday.
Since the matches had just ended, Savage had come directly from the Arena. The Arena in Nashville was a building that would only seat probably a thousand people but it had been packed that night. Savage was accompanied by Rip Rogers who at the time was going by the name of the Disco Kid. Hey, this was way back in the Donna Summers Boogie Nights era.
Savage and Rip entered the Waffle House and sat down in a booth. When they entered, the place was empty. Unbeknownst to them, at the time, was that it would get real busy in about 15 minutes.
Savage, according to Rip, was not feeling any pain when he walked through the door. What that means is any body’s guess and I’ll allow the reader to define what that means. Let’s just say Randy was feeling good.
Savage and Rip had only been sitting there for a few moments when their waitress came to take their order. While they were giving the waitress their order, in through the door came a skinny little cowboy guy who obviously had an announcement to make. In a nanosecond, he announced in a LOUD voice for everyone to hear that he had just GOTTEN MARRIED!!! He didn’t intend this for Randy personally but only to the Waffle House staff behind the counter. I heard later that the cowboy was a frequent customer and knew all the Waffle House employees.
The waitress was ecstatic as women get more excited about marriage than men and she physically walked away from the table where she had been taking Randy and Rip’s order and gave the cowboy a high five. All of the waitresses and cooks stopped what they were doing and congratulated him and wished him good luck. On the surface, it was a happy feel-good moment for all of them. All of them except…one person, Randy. Randy wasn’t very happy especially when the cowboy’s announcement had interrupted his meal order. Randy took this as a sign of disrespect.
Randy had heard what the cowboy had said when he entered and took note of it. As the conversation about the marriage was starting to die down, the cowboy said that he was really in love with this girl. And Randy, being Randy, just couldn’t leave it alone and out of nowhere, just had to add in his two cents. Savage in that unmistakable gravely voice now made his announcement to no one in particular by saying out loud, “who gives a f**k!!!”
Wow. Talk about a buzz kill. That little ad-lib comment stunned the whole Waffle House staff and especially the cowboy dude. Everybody stopped what they were doing and looked at Savage. Waffle Houses aren’t that big, to begin with, and when Savage said it, the cowboy and Savage were only about 15 feet apart.
Well, the skinny little cowboy apparently didn’t like what Savage had said. He looked at Savage and asked, “What did you say?”
Savage looked back at the cowboy and repeated what he had first said but more slowly this time just to put more emphasis on it.
“Are you fucking deaf” Randy asked in his undisputable smart ass tone? Just for emphasis, Randy repeated his comment...”I…SAID… I…WHO…GIVES…A…F**K,“ Savage slowly replied.
Well, you didn’t need a roadmap to see where this was going. Stevie Wonder could’ve seen this one coming. Why Savage even said anything to the cowboy in the first place is beyond me. But Savage didn’t need a reason. He was Randy Savage and the Macho Man “just didn’t give a f***.” The reason I know that is that he had just pronounced his feelings.
Savage, I learned later, liked confrontation. Savage had put the cowboy on the defensive. Savage not only had disrespected and embarrassed him in front of his friends but Savage had also disrespected his impending marriage and the woman he loved. Down South, that behavior isn’t rewarded. The cowboy now was forced to confront Savage for his lack of Southern etiquette or be forever looked on as a wimpy little bastard too wimpy to confront another man when her honor was at stake. Whether he wanted to or not, now the cowboy dude had to make a stand.
The cowboy walked just a few steps toward where Savage was sitting, looked down at him and asked: “You got a problem?”
Savage then arose from his seat and stood up facing the cowboy who weighed in at a buck fifty maybe. Savage countered with that deep voice of his, “I don’t know. Do we?” in that oh yeah voice of his.
OK, let us slow down for a bit and analyze this. Savage goes to eat after he had just wrestled a 45-minute match with me that night at the Fairgrounds Arena. He’s hungry and tired and wants something to chow down on before he goes to bed. That’s innocent enough I think. So he walks into a Waffle House diner, sits down and within 5 minutes of sitting down, makes a comment to a guy he doesn’t even know nor has he ever seen before in his life about a phantom woman who he’s never seen. And now, both of the men are confronting each other over a silly remark that Randy made just a moment ago. That escalated much too quickly for me. But that was the way it went down and it was about to go down a lot more.
This story I got from Rip himself as he was an eyewitness to the whole thing.
Both men now stood facing each other. They looked like two cats ready to fight. Both of them were staring at each other for a moment and the fight just broke out.
I don’t know who swung first but. according to Savage, it was the other guy. Savage grabbed the cowboy in a headlock, which I didn’t even know he knew how to do, and they both went down on the floor and were punching and kicking and screaming at each other right in front of a huge Wurlitzer jukebox.
Time out. In case some younger folks are reading this, Wurlitzer jukeboxes were, in short, oversized “record” players and yes, I said record players. Jukeboxes were ‘pay as you play’ music machines in which you could drop a quarter in a slot and in return, you could select three songs that you wanted to hear. Nowadays, you don’t see jukeboxes much except in old bars or at antique shops. No, we didn’t have Amazon or Spotify Music in those days. We were in the dark ages.
Anyway, back to my story. As Savage and this cowboy guy wallowed around on the floor in front of the jukebox, the Waffle House people panicked and called the cops because their friend was in a fight with Randy Savage, the wrestler. They knew who Randy was. They thought he was crazy because everybody in Nashville thought he was crazy. Savage was that crazy guy who did those crazy interviews on the Saturday afternoon wrestling show.
Rip thought that Savage was crazy too. What did Rip do when all this was going on? From Rip’s account, he ran out the door to the parking lot.
On the floor, Savage and the cowboy were kicking and punching each other but no real damage was being done. Somehow, the cowboy guy worked his way free from Savage, reached down in his pocket and pulled out a knife. Now, this fight was going a little too far at this point.
Savage saw the knife and panicked because he didn’t have a weapon. Both men looked at each other for a split second then Savage jumped over the counter and grabbed him a knife as well.
Savage jumped back over the counter and both men squared off against each other with both of them doing their best fencing moves at each other. The cops had been called and about this time, one of the waitresses started yelling at the cowboy that the cops were coming. Outside you could hear the sirens screaming that told you the cops weren’t far behind.
The cowboy, when he heard the sirens, had the sense to take off and ran out the door. Savage, however, didn’t feel the same urge. Savage believed that he was the victim of this whole incident and it was the other guy’s fault totally. Savage then looked at his ‘weapon’ that he had picked up behind the counter. It was a butter knife.
The police car screamed into the parking lot and two officers rushed into the Waffle House. By this time, Savage was in full Macho Man mode saying “oh yeahhhhhhhh” and “can you dig it” at no one in particular. I said earlier that Savage was feeling no pain, didn’t I?
Right as the police entered, the entire Waffle House staff all pointed at Savage as the instigator of the whole thing. The cops looked at Randy and knew exactly who he was. Randy had made a serious impact on the TV viewing audience in Nashville in only a short few months. The police now were more wary of Randy than what they usually would be with a regular citizen because he was a wrestler and they even thought he was crazy too.
The cops turned their attention to Randy telling him to turn around, he was under arrest. Savage didn’t see it that way. In Randy’s view…it was he who was the victim, not the aggressor. Randy wanted the other guy arrested because Randy thought the cowboy was at fault. Randy pleaded his case but the cops weren’t buying in. Randy started to get louder and the cops told him again to calm down and turn around.
Randy wasn’t cooperating. In Randy’s mind, the cops were losing valuable time in chasing the cowboy as he was getting away. Again, the cops told Randy to calm down and turn around and again, Randy ignored their command. Now, the cops now had no choice but to physically try to overtake Savage and handcuff him but Randy was having none of it and a struggle ensued. With a police car outside with flashing blue lights on and more sirens in the background, a crowd started gathering outside to see what the problem was.
It was easy to see the action from the street as Waffle Houses have floor to ceiling full pane windows. You can see every inch of the place. Most of the onlookers now saw who the cops were fighting with. They were fighting with the Macho Man.
Keep in mind that all of this was within a 10-minute time frame. The entire incident moved with blinding speed. But it wasn’t over. Not by a long shot.
The police were struggling with Randy as they attempted to put the handcuffs on him but Randy kept turning and fighting back. Randy was yelling at the cops that he was the one who was attacked and they were letting the guilty guy getaway.
The cops were having no success handcuffing the Macho Man so they decided to use Mace on him. This was years before the Taser was even a thought in any body’s mind. Well, that tactic met with failure too. As one cop went to Mace Randy in the face, Randy ducked and the Mace got the other cop right in the eyes. Now it was a one on one situation. One cop and one Macho Man. The remaining cop pulled out his Billie club and tried to subdue Randy with the club. Randy looked down at the cop who had just been maced and grabbed his billy club. The struggle continued as Randy and the cop cought each other with clubs over the club with Randy fighint off the trained cop. The sirens in the background got louder and closer. Randy was holding his own but for how long.
The crowd outside, which was getting bigger and bigger, were getting one helluva show. There was not a bad seat in the parking lot.
So the scorecard at this point read, an out of control wrestler with a Billie club fighting off one cop with a club and another cop out of action due to a misplaced Mace shot and more expected to arrive shortly. The people watching hadn’t seen such a spectacle since Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Rumble in the Jungle.
Finally, more cops screamed into the parking lot and entered the Waffle House. Savage now backed up into the corner and holding them all at bay. The cops are screaming at him to give it up but Savage was not obeying. The Waffle House by this time is deserted with only the cops and Savage inside. The staff took off long ago and Rip vacated the place before they did.
So as the situation turned into a stalemate of sorts, the police Shift Sergeant walked through the door. Ironically, I found out later that the sergeant had actually worked the wrestling matches earlier that night as Head of Security. He actually knew Randy and he said in a calm voice, “Randy drop the club and turn around.”
Savage had no intention of dropping the club. The Shift Sergeant repeated his request using Randy’s name for the second time. Needless to say, Savage didn’t comply. More police cars arrived at the scene.
This was a wild scene.
Finally, the Shift Sergeant ordered his men to back up. In through the door at that very moment entered a 85 pound German Shepherd police dog. The policemen saw this dog, who I learned later was one of the most aggressive dogs the Nashville police department had ever had, and backed out of the way. The handler, who had brought the dog inside the Waffle House, now ordered Savage to surrender or the dog would be set free. Needless to say, Savage did not go peacefully in the good night. Savage did not comply and you’ve heard the old song, WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? The dog got out.
Well, what fight was left in the Macho Man suddenly went south as the police dog came after Savage. Savage didn’t have a chance against this dog but he told me later that he did get one good kick in. Savage admitted later that was a big mistake. Right after the kick which didn’t do anything to slow the dog down, the dog ripped into Savage. Savage arms were gashed from the dog’s teeth but the deepest gash was in Randy’s right buttock. The old saying “I’m going to tear you a new a**hole” suddenly took on a whole different meaning to Savage after that. The dog did a number on Savage before the handler could pull him off.
Savage was finally subdued, handcuffed and arrested and taken to the Davidson County Jail in downtown Nashville. Savage didn’t work for the next two nights due to having to nurse his wounds at the hands (paws) of the police dog. Savage was bailed out about a couple of hours later when his father, Angelo, came down to the jail to get him out.
This all happened without me knowing anything about it. I had actually gone back to my house when I watched a little TV and then off to bed. The next morning I got up and sat down for a lovely breakfast and, totally unaware that anything had happened, I picked up the Nashville Tennessean. On the inside of the front page, the headline read: “WRESTLER ARRESTED AFTER SKIRMISH WITH POLICE DOG”. What??? Wrestler arrested??? Police Dog??? What the hell???
I then quickly read the whole column about what had happened the night before. Of course, the report didn’t fully lay it out like I did above but the gist of the whole incident was there. The opening line of the report was good though. I almost laughed when I read it.
The first line read, “Apparently Randy “Macho Man” Savage didn’t get enough action last night when he took on Dutch Mantell in the Main Event at the Fairgrounds Arena wrestling event. He also ended up fighting a Nashville police dog as well.”
I called Savage around noon that day just to check on his condition. He had to go to the hospital the night before to get checked and stitched up. He was still in Macho Man mode when I talked to him and he told me the details even to the point of kicking the dog. I asked about what happened to the cowboy but he said he got away.
Randy had read the same article in the paper that I had read and he couldn’t just let that go by without a challenge either. Savage actually called the same reporter who had written the report to rebut the story and to get his side out. The reporter was more than happy to have Randy in a rebuttal story.
In the report, Randy said it was a situation that had gotten completely out of hand but he had been the one attacked and that the real culprit had gotten away. Savage played the real babyface here and put over the Nashville police department and especially the dog. I wish I still had the article as it was pretty funny reading it.
Savage didn’t work for a couple of days due to the soreness but I saw him on Saturday night at the Chattanooga show. He showed me where the dog had bitten him. He pulled down his trunks and it looked nasty. It was a bite mark that had to be at least 9 inches long and I saw a few puncture wounds where the stitches were.
Randy went to court a few weeks later on the charge of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer when, in fact, it was battery on a police dog. The law states that a police dog is an officer of the police force so technically, that was a correct charge. Nick Gulas, the promoter, pulled some strings downtown in the police department and donated some money to one of their favorite charities and Randy was charged with a much lesser offense, found guilty and put on probation.
I know Savage and I know how he thinks. He was somewhat a paranoid guy and if someone ever got the upper hand on him, he never forgot it. Never. I always thought that if Randy could, he would find that dog and get even. But now, Randy is gone. But he is not forgotten. I was thinking about Randy just a few days ago…and I think Randy is walking around somewhere in the afterlife still looking for that dog. Rest in peace Macho Man. You damn sure earned it.
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