Did "Macho Man" Randy Savage Try to Go Back to WWE in 1996?

Posted By James Walsh on 10/21/19

Eric Bischoff spoke about reports in 1996 that Randy Savage was considering jumping back to WWE. Savage’s contract was coming up and the WCW star was giving public interviews at the time praising WWE and Vince McMahon, leading many to speculate he was looking to return to the company. Bischoff explained why that wasn’t the case and also discussed the value of the Slim Jim sponsorship that went wherever Savage did.

Highlights and the full podcast are below:

On reports that Savage’s contract was up in November: “I know his contract was up subsequent to Halloween Havoc. I don’t know if it was going to be up in November. My recollection is it probably wasn’t going to be up until sometime later in the year, or even the first part of the following year. But there was a discussion. And I could be wrong, I don’t remember Randy’s contract off the top of my head.”

On Savage dropping hints in interviews that he might be looking to go to WWF: “It wasn’t a big issue for us. Randy was a guy that liked to stir things up in the media. I enjoyed it as well, I like keeping people on their toes and speculating. I’ve always believed that if you can get the audience asking themselves what’s going to happen, you’re halfway home. It’s when people aren’t talking about your business that you generally have a pretty big problem. So I’m not suggesting that Randy and I co-conspired to go out and stir all of this s**t up. But if Randy was doing it, it certainly didn’t bother me at that time.”

On if he was worried about Savage jumping ship: “I will say this. There was zero, and I mean less than zero … concern on my part about Randy going back to the WWF. So whether Randy was out stirring that stuff up just as a fun way to keep the audience guessing and wondering, or whether in his mind that would somehow put pressure on me, which I can’t believe because Randy and I talked so much about this kind of thing back at that time.

“Keep in mind that Randy left WWF because Vince McMahon thought he was done, that he had nothing left to give in the ring and didn’t want him to wrestle anymore. He wanted younger stars. And Randy resented that, and Randy had — I will say this, Randy had no desire to go back to the WWF, especially in 1996 as things were rocking and rolling. With the amount of money that guys were making in WCW vs. the amount that guys weren’t making in WWF. When you think about it, no matter if you’re a fan of any one dirt sheet or not, look at the situation. If you want to ask yourself what’s probably true, what’s probably not true? Look at the situation. Where was WWF in ’96 in terms of where guys were getting paid. They were cutting people right and left, they were reducing their staff because they had to. There were rumors — I don’t know if they’re true or not — there were rumors they were literally taking the water coolers out of the building because they couldn’t afford to service them any longer. The financial outlook in WWF in 1996 was pretty f**king bleak from a talent perspective. Contrast that to what the situation was like in WCW and ask yourself, ‘Would a guy like Randy Savage actually want to go back there to a place where it was made clear to him that his time was over, and he was no longer fit to be in the ring? He no longer had a role in the ring?’ He could be an announcer, but that was it. A guy like Randy Savage would want to go back to that and give up the amount of money that he was making and the limited schedule that he had in WCW?”

On the value of the Slim Jim relationship: “The Slim Jim relationship was extremely important to us. Not only was it close to $1 million a year in revenue that just walked through the door along with Randy Savage. It was also a great vehicle for us to point to other potential sponsors and say, ‘Look what we’ve done for Slim Jim. We could do the same thing for you.’ You mentioned wrapping the ring posts at Halloween Havoc. That’s called signage in the business. And we had a ton of Slim Jim signage in that particular PPV. That’s the type of thing a potential sponsor loves to see. Because it allows them to break through the commercial clutter that they sometime find themselves in on a television show where a sponsor gets a commercial spot. That’s great unless people aren’t watching that commercial spot. But you get somebody signage or title sponsorship within the arena itself, those images and that signage is in the viewer’s face from beginning to end. So for us to be able to integrate the Slim Jim product in as many different ways as we did, it allowed us to go to other potential sponsors and say, ‘See what we did for them? We can do this same thing for you.’ So for that reason alone, in addition to the close to $1 million a year that it generated for us, that relationship was very important.”