Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage” is the biography of the one and only Randy Savage, one of the most unique and memorable pro wrestlers in history. You know his name, his clothes, his promos go viral at least once a year, the voice is often imitated, and you probably know about his matches and memorable moments. You know about his valet, Miss Elizabeth. Hell, “Snap Into a Slim Jim” is a piece of memorable pop culture. Jon Finkel talks about all of these moments, adds a lot of details of his early life, and he interviews a lot of friends and wrestlers that knew him and this book was blessed by Savage’s brother, Lanny Poffo. While it is well-written and fun, it comes across as a great version of a WWE-approved biography, which made me think about the WWE-ification of pro wrestling history.

The book starts with the story of Angelo Poffo, which I did not know, and it was cool as hell. He broke the sit-up record of the Navy just because and eventually became a wrestler. This was one of my favorite parts since it detailed the life of a journeyman pro wrestler in the ’60s and ’70s. The crazy schedule, how they worked out, how they got to the shows, and how they did them—this section is eye-opening and fun, and I recommend it to newer fans.

His love story with Judy Poffo is great too, and Randy and Lanny’s early life sound like the perfect cocktail to create two pro wrestlers. They were moving around, they were at wrestling events, and saw how his father made a living and the reactions. When the Poffos decided to grow some roots and buy a house in Downers Grove in Illinois, we get the story of an early life full of sports thanks to a pool, weights all around the house, a baseball park near the house, and a in-house batters’ cage so the boys could practice during the winter.

Randy’s years in minor league baseball as part of the Reds and the Cardinals is really detailed and it’s a subject that was completely new to me. Randy’s determination on being the best baseball player is shown by his crazy practice schedule in and out of school, and when he was in the minors. A couple of injuries and bad luck took him out of that path and brought him to the family business: pro wrestling. This section is so detailed that I forgot I was reading about a pro wrestler for a moment.

The early wrestling stuff is good. We learn how he started as a masked wrestler during his baseball years and then his rookie year with his family. We also learn about the ICW days and the Poffos’ feud with Jerry Lawler, which was memorable. The book has extracts from newspapers and promo transcriptions that give life to this period.

Then, this is the part that lost me since most of the book is a very detailed account of Randy’s year in the WWF.

If you already know about the Mega Powers, the Macho King, Miss Elizabeth, Sherry Martell, his championship win, and his matches with Ultimate Warrior and Ric Flair, you won’t get too much new information. It is well-written and a quick read. I would recommend it if you really don’t know much about Macho Man in the 80s WWF, but there are some things that bothered me.

When writing about pro wrestling, especially a biography, I think that a knowledgeable hardcore fan should give it a look. Or at least some sources should be part of the research.

For example, there is nothing about newsletters. The Wrestling Observer is only mentioned once as a magazine, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated is mentioned once. The book talks a lot about fans, but it never tries to find out what the newsletters and hardcore fans were thinking. It has newspaper clippings, which is cool, but the newsletter would have added a lot and confirm things.

Then there is what I call a WWE-fication factor. Sometimes fans are called the “WWF Universe”. The matches are called fights. This is not the wrestling world in the book, but the sports and entertainment world. He quotes Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth WWF Magazine interviews as fact. There are even TV interviews and newspaper interviews played off as facts, which is a dangerous game to play when it comes to pro wrestlers, people who were always in character during the era this book covers. I understand the logic behind this since the man is not around to interview, and the book clearly states that Macho Man and Randy Poffo were always in character even around the boys, but still, a dangerous game to play.

It mentions Savage vs. Steamboat as one of the best matches in pro wrestling history. The match is good, especially for that era of the WWF, but it is barely talked about today, and it has been surpassed. But this adoration of the match is something that WWE would pass off in a documentary, like when they pretend the Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart Iron Man is a work of art.

Something else that bothered me is that one of the darker sides of Randy, his treatment of Elizabeth due to his jealousy, is explained as him being too into the character and just blurring the lines. Another topic was when the book mentions that Randy became a commentator in the 90’s, at first it was because he was too depressed about Elizabeth leaving him and could not wrestle for a time. Then, in the next chapter, the real reason is explained: he was taken off the ring because Vince McMahon thought he was too old.

There is a clear look down at other wrestling companies that aren’t the WWF, going as far as calling Memphis and ICW the equivalent of Single-A baseball, but I don’t look at it that way. There is a condescending factor about WCW, and while the WWF has a ton of chapters, WCW only has one, and it is not as detailed as the WWF ones. TNA is not even mentioned, while the rap album has a whole chapter.

Part of the reason why it is this way is because the story is told through interviews by the people who knew him, and every pro wrestler has their own version of history.

I don’t want to sound too negative because the book has bright spots. The book’s first half concerning his family, baseball, and early wrestling are awesome. The book is a very quick and easy read, which reads like a novel, and I love some of the details about how he created the Macho Man character and the reaction to the people around him. People reacting to Randy Savage is one of the highlights, especially knowing that he loved kids and how he loved wrestling. The last chapter is beautiful and made me emotional. But there was some wrestling stuff that was hard to pass by.

Finkel clearly loves Randy Savage and his family. He clearly loves ’80s WWF and we can see the emotions when he writes about that. But for a definite biography, there was a lot left on the table and you can’t write a definite biography while ignoring a big part of the wrestling news and fandom and using WWE language keywords since it denotes a clear preference about a vision of pro wrestling history.

This is why I think it comes off as a WWE-approved biography: it is clean, it only sees the WWF as the most important thing in the world, and Randy comes off as great without much fault.

It is still a fun read, but what you may get out of it depends on your knowledge of Savage and the era.