The Internet History of The Macho Man
The internet was still figuring out what it was in the 90s… Its conventions were still being shaped; many truly believed that this technology would give way to new forms of expression, but they weren’t quite sure what those new forms of expression would, or should look like. There was something that could be expressed on the internet that couldn’t be expressed on paper or in video, but this something hadn’t been reliably sighted, identified, or tagged.
In contrast, sites that originated in the 2000s, like Facebook and LinkedIn, invite us to present the best and most interesting sides of ourselves, building upon our real-life identities. These days, we like to think we’ve masted the art of exploiting the internet as a tool to construct and display our best “real” selves. The “realification” of the internet has meant many of us having to develop some sort of control (or illusion of control) over the way we’re portrayed – especially if how we’re portrayed could be used against us.
While we may be used to trying to seem real in the fake world, professional wrestlers make a living by being fake in the real world (if you want to be reminded how real, just ask John Stossel). Professional wrestlers are in the business of creating fakeness through realness, cultivating personas as big, bold, and immediate as their muscular (or corpulent) bodies. These days, most of us are in the business of trying to seem like we don’t have a persona, whereas it’s always been the business of professional wrestlers to present a persona as real, collapsing the real and the fake.
In “real life,” Randy Savage (born Randy Mario Poffo) left an indelible mark on the world as the Macho Man, an over-the-top character whose flamboyance stood out even in the over-saturated world of professional wrestling. And from the outset, Macho Man’s persona may have been too big for the internet.
From day one, Macho Man was arrogant, egotistical, petty, morally suspect, and – especially – fabulous. He carried on this “act” for years, combining over-the-top outfits with impeccable banter and god’s own flying elbow.
After career highlights such as winning two WWF heavyweight championships and team-ups with Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, he was relegated to the role of colour commentator in 1993. In 1994, Macho Man returned to wrestling and abandoned the WWF for the WCW, where he wore many black bandanas that didn’t quite live up to the sequins and fringe of his glory years.
Just as the internet started to really get going, Macho Man’s career was winding down. So it’s no wonder he was lured by its promises of reinvention, revelation and redemption. But Macho Man’s attempt to conquer the online world was an uphill battle: on the 90s internet, where the dominance of avatars and aliases with little (or no) grounding in reality assured that realness could never not be fake, Macho Man had to find a way to be, like Holly Golightly, a “real phony.” Facing this new challenge with his customary aplomb, Macho Man first entered cyberspace in the late 90s, and immediately set to work plotting the first of what would eventually be many bold comeback attempts.
Just like the “real” Macho Man hawking his wares in his infamous match promotions, the online version of the Macho Man is not one to put reasonable limits on expectations. He seems to be cooking up some kind of crazy site. It will be the “only place to get the real scoop on all the other wrestlers.”
He also seems to have some sort of “online auctions” going on, and indicates that winners will be contacted “soon.” I would assume that he was talking about memorabilia from his career, but in the pre-Craigslist/eBay internet, he could easily have been selling off a waterbed or a stereo system.
It would take several years for Macho Man to update his site, but he clearly used the time well. This time he’s ONLINE! FREE!!!
Unfortunately the images weren’t captured – but that may be how the notoriously mysterious Macho Man wanted it. My favourite part is further down the page, which prints a quote that, for me, perfectly exemplifies the madness of the Macho Man:
We’re ready for the new year! 2003 is going to be the wildest ride you have ever taken! You are in the danger zone every time you log on. Be forewarned, you enter at your own risk. You MUST be 18 to experience this ride! This site is not for kids or sissies. Know up front that this site contains half truths and total lies.
Macho Man’s website is not safe for kids OR sissies – his lawyers probably recommended he add that last bit.
I also really like his appeal to fans to participate on his site by sending him emails. But notice that he’s also very confused about who’s primarily driving his site – is it his friends or his enemies, or even himself? You decide:
Audience participation is very important, because this site primarily is driven by you, the fans….or my enemies. I double-dog dare you to email me with any suggestions or comments, whether positive or negative, at MACHOMANMAIL@AOL.COM. We may read them…or we may not …or we may even make up our own. Whatever…….But be prepared, I will give it right back to you.
Be A Man
By the early 2000’s, Macho Man was trying to restart his musical career, which began in 1993 with the song “Speaking from the Heart.” He was also promoting a return to the ring with wrestler Harley Race. They appeared together in February 2005, at Fulton High School in Fulton, MO, in support of the Calloway County United Way, and at Eldon Community Center in Eldon, MO, for Eldon’s little league baseball team.
At this point, a new banner appeared on Macho Man’s website proclaiming: “Macho Man is Back!!! Return 2 Homepage.” Visitors were also treated to audio from his 2003 album “Be a Man,” which played automatically. It started with the title track, in which he rails against his former tag-team partner, Hulk Hogan, where he comes up with verse after painful verse documenting Hulk’s supposed effeminacy.
The Sunglasses Come Off
By around 2007, the page went back to “Coming Soon” and focused on Macho’s least recognizable feature – his seldom-seen eyes. Even the unfinished page was undoubtedly “bigger, better, brasher and bolder than ever before” – just like Macho Man first prophesied.
For a while, the site appears to just be the above image, which links to machoman.com in a strange (or not-so-strange) self-reference.
In late 2010, the site goes back to “Coming Soon!” Although, it’s not as stylized as before.
Redirection, a Familiar Tactic
For a long time, Macho Man’s website maintained a drab promise to return. But after the untimely end of Randy Savage’s life on May 20, 2011, it was finally redirected to the website of Gorgeous George, a moniker and gimmick Savage’s brother Lanny Poffo was then planning to resurrect.
Of course, Macho Man’s death means his long-promised, long-delayed online reinvention may never come. But from the examples here, glorious though they are, it might be safe to assume that Macho Man’s online presence, on either the fake 90s internet, or the “real” 2000s internet, could never quite match the perfect real-fakeness he so beautifully mastered on television and in live performances.
If there’s a takeaway from all of this, maybe it’s that not everything, or everyone, is necessarily better on the internet. David
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