To his wife, this was nothing new. Randy seemed older than his 58 years; his body ached constantly, from decades of crashing into the mat while delivering his finisher, the flying elbow, from the top rope, among other physical stresses. Perhaps, Lynn suggested, he just needed to eat. So the two went to a Perkins Family Restaurant, where Randy ordered his usual, an egg white vegetable omelet. Randy shook his head. And so, they returned to their previous positions in the jeep.
At around a. With his foot clamped down on the accelerator, the jeep crossed the raised concrete median into eastbound traffic. Lynn frantically looked at Randy, then out the front window at the motorcycle and bus moving in their direction. Lynn, 56, sustained minor injuries. Randy was pronounced dead at Largo Medical Center. Since that day, two years ago on May 20, , the real-life Randy Mario Poffo has been depicted as a recluse at the end of his life, a former celebrity who let his beard grow white, kept a registered gun in his glove compartment, and sequestered himself in a home surrounded by security fences and patrolled by guard dogs.
But his family says that he was always accessible to them and spent his final months contemplating his legacy—personally, professionally and financially—and making up for time lost to fame. There was all this energy and no place to put it. Randy was different.
Within the perimeter of the non-climbable fence, two dogs patrolled the acre-and-a-half surrounding his dark wooden home, built in a style more representative of the Old West than the modern Gulf Coast. On the brick pillars on each side of the front gate, cameras surveilled possible visitors. Before their arrival, Randy called his mother with an unusual request: the ashes of his dog, Hercules, a German shepherd from a litter owned by the late wrestler, Hercules Hernandez.
If anything happens, I want you to do the same thing with my ashes, the same way, the same place. In another family, a year-old retired athlete might be beseeched not to speak in such morose terms. But Randy talked like this often. More than wrestling, more than baseball, more than the women he romanced on- and off-camera, Randy loved his father. In , while serving in the U. Navy, Angelo broke the world sit-up record. The story about him taxing himself to the point that his tailbone protruded from his skin is an exaggeration.
But Angelo did develop some form of friction burn and bled on the mat. His clenched fingers were swollen and temporarily sealed together. Then, he played baseball that night. Officially, Angelo completed 6, sit-ups in just over four hours. He followed up with another 33 — for every year he believed that Jesus lived. In , the school was absorbed by DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the nation.
When the couple wed in , neither family was pleased. Randy would do anything for Angelo, sending his parents on trips to Japan and Europe and Israel until they told him they were too tired to travel.
Petersburg prep school, on the condition that the facility was named for his father. Randy was thrifty, too. Naturally a righty, Randy taught himself how to throw with his left hand in the event of an injury. As a high school senior, he hit.
When no team picked him up in the amateur draft, Angelo drove his son five hours to an open tryout at Busch Stadium in St. Randy went home with a minor league contract. Starting in , they dated for three years before veering in separate directions. She only knew him as a failed baseball player. His final attempt to play in the major leagues ended when the White Sox organization cut him in , before the end of spring training. But The Sheik saved him. Army vet whose wrestling gimmick included bloodying rivals with a hidden pencil, throwing fire and jabbering incomprehensible phrases fans took to be Arabic.
He was also the promoter in Detroit, where Angelo and Lanny were wrestling at the time. Randy wrestled The Sheik, and he got over real good. Randy brazenly stole from both. The other touches—the head tics, sucking in his bottom lip, twirling his fingers above his head—were all his.
Randy and other ICW performers began showing up at opposition shows, threatening to disrupt matches and frightening their adversaries to the point that some began arming themselves. Savage grappled it away and pistol-whipped him. And he was colorful. In wrestling circles, the Macho Man suddenly had national exposure. Angelo had dementia by this point, and his functions were failing quickly.
Like the Poffos, the Von Erichs were a multi-generational wrestling family. Father Fritz began his career playing a Nazi heel, but later, as a promoter in Dallas, depicted himself as a tough, devout Texan while building storylines around his sons. Of these, David, Kevin and Kerry were exceptional athletes and bona fide stars. Mike was apparently forced into the game and performed accordingly. Chris loved the business, but he was small, sickly and injury prone.
David was 25 when he died during a Japanese tour. While some suspected an overdose, the family contended that David suffered a heart attack caused by ruptured intestines linked to enteritis. Kerry, Mike and Chris all committed suicide. Not long afterward, he was told that the group was also interested in Randy and wanted Jimmy to facilitate the introduction. As Jimmy strategized, he remembered that the Poffo brothers generated extra income by selling Herbalife products.
Not your car. Almost immediately, Randy propelled himself to stardom. An early storyline involved the various managers in the World Wrestling Federation competing for his services. After several weeks, he revealed that he was choosing to go with the unknown Miss Elizabeth—his real-life wife—instead. Elizabeth was unlike any female wrestling personality before or since.
A demure, soft-spoken brunette with a subtle Southern accent, she exuded a vulnerability that added to her beauty. A feud with Roberts quickly followed. And Randy said the snake was de-venomized—Jake had told him so—and he was going to let the snake bite him because it was good business. The next day, Randy had a degree fever. He blamed the snake bite. Randy obsessed over the match, charting it move for move with Steamboat beforehand. Even for fans who knew that the action was predetermined, it was easy to suspend disbelief.
In the ring, the two traded a series of thrilling near-falls—with the referee counting to two before one combatant dramatically raised his shoulder—before the official was knocked down and Randy snatched the bell to aggravate the injury. Randy turned to inflict more damage. As Randy and Elizabeth were transported back to the dressing room in a cart designed like a small ring, the Macho Man appeared to be crying.
Great athlete. He was always very safe. He was also a dynamic entertainer, a valuable asset as McMahon began making deals with licensees and advertisers. But Randy could also harbor a grudge, particularly when the slight was directed at his father.
Angelo was still in good shape at the time and wanted to participate. Randy lobbied for his father. He should be here. He felt guilty, like he should have done more. Randy wanted to do a two-year program building up to a match with Shawn at WrestleMania. Randy was just short of 42 when he presented his proposal but still felt capable of using his physicality to enrapture a crowd.
Randy held the WCW championship four times, and—despite his split with Elizabeth—brought his ex-wife in as his valet. As part of the storyline, she turned on him and boasted about taking his money in their divorce settlement. In real life, Elizabeth eventually moved in with Luger. Cause of death: a toxic mixture of painkillers and vodka. Interestingly, the ailment that distressed Randy the most in retirement was incurred not in a wrestling ring, but a movie set. According to Lanny, the stunt took numerous takes.
Instead of turning his neck to see you, he turned his torso. Randy could have maintained his ties with the wrestling community by attending autograph signings and fan conventions. But he preferred limiting his interactions. And I understand that because I went through it myself.
When you leave the business, all your friends are scattered all over the world.