On August 26th, 1991, Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage married his longtime valet Miss Elizabeth live on Pay Per View at the WWF’s biggest event of the summer; SummerSlam 1991. The ceremony would eventually be crashed by the dastardly Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts setting the pair up for a red hot feud that would see them raging war right into the new year. For WWF fans of the time, the wedding was the perfect finish to the 2 fan favourites time together, after all of their ups and downs inside the squared circle, but behind the scenes, things were very different.
Dark Side of the Ring is the latest series of documentaries from Viceland and focuses on some of the murkier aspects of the professional wrestling business. Episode 1, which was titled ‘The Match Made in Heaven‘ focused on the real-life relationship between former WWF – now WWE – icon ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and the so-called First Lady of professional wrestling Miss Elizabeth, real name Elizabeth Hulette. The pair had been an item on and off screen for a number of years before the kayfabe wedding took place on television in 1991, but in reality, the two were on the verge of splitting up after years of controlling behaviour on the side of Savage.
As fans growing up at the height of the Savage/Hogan era we had no idea that the possessive, aggressive former World Heavyweight Champion’s jealous rage that came pouring out in a backstage brawl with The Hulkster was as close to the real man as we’d ever seen before. The colourful ring outfits and flashy introductions were merely a distraction to keep people off the scent of the apparent misery Elizabeth’s life was becoming.
Narrated by ‘Dirty’ Dutch Mantel, The Match Made in Heaven features a number of former on and off screen talents who knew the two Superstars the best, who are as quick to remind everyone how much Savage loved Liz as they are to admonish him for his behaviour. We learn that although Savage is a paranoid and possessive man, he only ever acted that way because he didn’t want the other wrestlers or even the fans to take advantage of his real-life wife, or run the risk of her becoming swept up in the circus that is professional wrestling. Be that as it may, this is no excuse for treating her so poorly at times, and it is no real surprise when we find out that she left him out of the blue, presumably for someone who treats her better.
Unlike a wrestling storyline, there would be no redemption story at the end of this. Ultimately, both Savage and Liz would meet untimely ends, estranged for a number of years. It is said throughout the documentary that the two would build bridges and become friends again later in life, but as far as the idea of their relationship being billed as a match made in heaven, sadly the key players might have been poorly cast in their roles.
It is often difficult to separate fact from fiction when you’re watching anything with wrestlers in it. These men and women are so skilled at storytelling and blurring the lines between truth and fiction that you never can tell if what you’re watching is just another work. If it isn’t, then the Viceland series is set to be fascinating peek behind the curtain of the once secretive world of the WWE, and we’d encourage you to hunt down a copy straight away, before good old Vince McMahon comes along with his proverbial shovel and buries it quicker than he did the entire WCW roster back in 2001.
Beard Score: 9/10