THE RANT - The Darkside of the Ring on Randy Savage & Elizabeth Review

Posted By James Walsh on 04/11/19


A new documentary series made its debut last night looking at, and titled, the "Dark Side of the Ring." It promises to take an objective and truthful look at some of pro wrestling's most controversial incidents and dark outcomes. So, it isn't just a clever name! However, whenever subject matter such as this is covered, there is a potential for the story to get muddy along the way. As a result, here is my review of last night's feature on "Macho Man" Randy Savage & "The First Lady of Wrestling" Miss Elizabeth.

The first thing that comes to mind is that it is awful that Randy and Elizabeth's stories, joined or apart, ended in a way that could be considered "dark". Their story was so vibrant and colorful. It took people on an emotional roller coaster perhaps like no relationship, on screen, in wrestling history has. But, alas, it does fit the name of the show. And, both heroes are no longer with us. So, lets get in to the meat of the potato.

The Good:

The good is going to far outweigh the bad here as a really good job was done on this documentary.

First, the assortment of talent chosen to remark on the subject matter was probably the best available anywhere. Sure, Hulk Hogan is the noted missing piece. But, you did have "Macho Man" Randy Savage's brother "The Genius" Lanny Poffo, Hulk Hogan's ex-wife Linda Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, "Razor Ramon" Scott Hall, "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart, "Brother Love" Bruce Prichard and Eric Bischoff telling the story. All of them spent considerable time with the duo both on screen and, especially, behind the scenes. So, I could not imagine too many others that are with us adding much perspective wise.

The first good thing is a story that is not always talked about and that is how Savage and Elizabeth met. It seems weird that this would be one of the lesser known stories of the duo. But, it is.

Another good piece is the footage shown as getting permission to use the footage must have been a nightmare. Full footage from WWE, WCW, and beyond was used including some interviews.

The split, which became a hot topic on the Internet thanks to a short-lived feud between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior about a decade ago online, was cleared up. In this sense, Linda Hogan's involvement really helped tell her side of the story which had never been told. In a lot of ways, Linda, and, to a lesser extent, Hulk were thrown under the bus as being responsible for Elizabeth leaving Savage. And, maybe just by giving her that taste of freedom, they kind of were? But, it wasn't nearly as harmful, hateful, or suggestive as what Warrior had put out there on his wild, long-winded, venomous YouTube videos in the feud mentioned above. Hearing Linda Hogan's side of that particular story was a first for me. And, if there is a first that is around that of Hogan, Savage, or Elizabeth that I had not heard, it must be a first for most. You might say I am a fan who has studied the subject matter.

Bruce Prichard's telling of the on screen story really helped for those who didn't watch as intently as I did 30 some odd years ago. Not everyone knows how it played out on TV. And, his take was valuable in that sense.

Scott Hall was around a largely glanced over time period in Savage and Elizabeth's career and life. Though they crossed paths in the WWE from 1992 to 1994, their relationship was probably most known to be as members of the nWo in 1996 to 1999 and into 2000 still with WCW. You might not associate Hall with Savage and Elizabeth due to his ties elsewhere. But, it was appropriate.

THE BAD:

There is not a lot here. But, there were a few things that fell short.

It isn't said, and maybe by design, but just how deep involved did Elizabeth get with this "gentleman" in Miami when she was hanging with Linda Hogan? Things are maybe suggested there that could reflect badly upon her.

As is typically the case, Savage and Elizabeth's WCW careers were not discussed as much as they could have been. Though discussed more than they are in any WWE branded DVD, the lack of covering this 5 or so year period in their careers results in a muddy time frame.

Savage brought Elizabeth in to offer her financial security - A high paying contract per what many said. But, their on screen story continued through 1998. I think the more emotional stuff was behind them. But, we had a largely covered aspect of their WWE on screen story. It would have been nice to have someone more clearly tell the WCW on screen story which took many abrupt twists.

I believe the story, the real story, of Savage and his final wife is more beautiful than presented. If Rip Rogers gave us the real story, they knew each other even before Savage and Elizabeth was a thing. And, that kind of presents Savage in a way where his love life, which should be none of our business, had closure. Would have been a nice way to tie a bow around a very open documentary.

THE UGLY:

Initially, I really liked the shadow look of some clips. But, it got old fast. And, it seemed to sometimes not really look like the intended person.

Not to harp on about this but The Dirt was a Motley Crue movie that completely lost all sense of timeframe around 1995 to 1997through to present. That seemed to be the case here. Now, I think we all agree that perhaps the best stuff from Macho, Elizabeth, and Motley Crue was before 1995. But, as Eric Bischoff is talking about Elizabeth and Lex Luger, it is unclear if it is 1997, 1999, or even into 2000. It just feels like that could have been spelled out better.

Lex Luger. Many Elizabeth fans blame him for her death. That was covered. And, covered well. But, I almost wonder if we should have told the story of Luger's later health problems. I mentioned The DIrt. Vince Neil, who drove the car that killed his friend Razzle, suffered a terrible loss years later. Luger, who is blamed for Elizabeth's death, is wheelchair bound now. I don't know that it fits the documentary or not. But, I think it would have been an interesting way of expressing whatever cosmic kharma was involved there. He was all about the look. Now, he doesn't have any of that anymore.

OVERALL:

It is difficult to touch this subject and not potentially make me angry at something being inaccurate. It is close to my heart. But, it didn't. THe right people told the right story. I'm truthfully glad it was created. The legacy of these two is sometimes forgotten about because, for a time, that is how Vince McMahon and the WWE seemed to want it. But, as Savage always said, the cream always rises to the top. Their mark on wrestling history cannot be denied. And, it has taken its rightful place perhaps even without the willingness of some. History matters.

Scott Hall made two great calls to wrap up. He said Savage is on the Mount Rushmore of wrestling. Many, including Eli Drake, have always mentioned Hogan, Flair, Austin, and Rock on the Mount Rushmore. All deserving, no doubt. But, you can't honor the history of pro wrestling without honoring the "Macho Man" Randy Savage. And, why Elizabeth is not in the WWE Hall of Fame is a mystery. But, when she does go in, I do NOT want it to be in the "Legacy" wing. That wing ought to have the song "Don't You Forget About Me" playing. Because, they're honored, in passing, but not given the speeches or videos to really make them viable members. They're afterthoughts. And, Elizabeth is no afterthought in wrestling history.