All too often, I watch young men too afraid to express their feelings to women and in turn, develop into a schemer.
What is a schemer exactly?
Webster’s Dictionary offers a concise explanation:
A person who is involved in making secret or underhanded plans.
Translating this into relationships, these are people who secretly plot your demise while even perhaps doubling as your friend.
We will examine one of the great schemers of the modern era, WWF champion and pop culture icon Hulk Hogan, and his involvement with the universally beloved 1980s tag-team called the Mega Powers.
Before I continue, a disclaimer of sorts:
While professional wrestling is painfully fake, there are several teachable elements that can be attached to everyday living. Alas, the tale of the Mega Powers will be used to show how men sometimes secretly plot the demise of their own friends.
Let’s introduce the players….
Hulk Hogan – former WWF champion and one of the most popular figures not just in wrestling, but at the time, the world. To this day, he remains the only professional wrestler to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Randy Savage – the wild and crazy WWF champion, who was now a fan favorite despite months earlier nearly maiming the uber popular Ricky Steamboat with a bell during late 1986.
Miss Elizabeth – The loyal and trusty manager of Savage. A rarely heard from (and rarely allowed to utter more than three words) but radiant figure.
(Once Elizabeth enters, listen to Vince McMahon’s reaction. He acted as if he had never seen a woman before. Well done Vince.)
The fall of the Mega Powers taught us some fundamental life lessons:
1. NEVER, EVER, EVER, CREEP ON YOUR BEST FRIEND’S LADY.
2. NEVER, EVER, EVER, PLAY THE “I LOVE HER LIKE A SISTER” CARD.
3. JEALOUSLY IS THE RUIN OF ALL MAN.
4. DECLARE YOURSELF.
5. WHEN YOU STUDY LONG, YOU STUDY WRONG.
Let’s go back to the fall of 1987.
Ronald Reagan ruled the country; Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers began their road to repeating as NBA champions; the NFL was still recovering from using replacement players during a strike; and Michael Jackson was set to release another masterpiece, Bad.
In the WWF, the formation of a unit called the Mega Powers sent shockwaves through the wrestling world.
The tag team consisted of then-WWF champion Hulk Hogan and new fan favorite Randy Savage. The latter was led to the ring by a lovely woman, his manager, Elizabeth.
The trio first combined on Saturday Night’s Main Event during the fall of ‘87 when Savage was under attack by the Hart Foundation and the nefarious Honky Tonk Man, an Elvis Presley knock off, who enjoyed swinging his guitar like an axe at his opponents on occasion.
Worried her man would not survive, Elizabeth hustled to the dressing room and came back with HULK HOGAN. As a precocious eight-year-old kid, I nearly passed out when I saw him walk out of the dressing room.
(And no, at this point in time, I had no clue wrestling was fake.)
Hogan walked in the ring and cleaned house. Savage, grateful for Hogan’s help, shook his hand and alas, the Mega Powers were formed.
Moving forward to the summer of 1988, our tale of woe begins.
Savage, now the WWF champion, feuded with Andre the Giant and the evil Million Dollar Man. The dastardly duo, known as the Megabucks, accepted a challenge from Savage for a tag team match at Summer Slam.
The new face of the WWF tapped Hogan as his partner for the special event to be held at Madison Square Garden.
Leading up to the match, Hogan and Savage cut bizarre promos where they promised to deploy their secret weapon, Elizabeth.
One of which (later shown in this post), Savage mentioned his curvy manager wearing a bikini and heels ringside for the match. Not to be outdone, Hogan went into more detail stating that Elizabeth would pull down the zipper on her skirt and take it off to reveal a bikini bottom.
FOUL #1: NEVER REFER TO YOUR FRIEND’S SIGNIFICANT OTHER IN ANY MANNER THAT COULD BE DEEMED INAPPROPRIATE IF HER BOYFRIEND IS STANDING SIX INCHES AWAY FROM YOU.
No problem though. We’re all friends here. They would never follow through with that right?
Indeed, Summer Slam ‘88 rolled around and sure enough, Elizabeth climbed to the apron, unzipped her skirt and ripped it off, shocking 20,000 fans in Madison Square Garden.
Hogan and Savage used this devious but clever tactic to win the match.
During the celebration to follow, Hogan was so happy with a victory that he grabbed the still semi-clothed Elizabeth and twirled her around while he received the audience’s adulation.
Jesse Ventura, the match’s special guest referee, happily pointed out this infraction to Savage, who was busy celebrating.
The champ shot Hogan a befuddled look but eventually went about his business.
(For further Hogan hi-jinx, check out the look he shoots when Liz bends over at the 7:05 mark)
FOUL #2: DON’T GRAB YOUR BEST FRIEND’S HALF NAKED SIGNIFICANT OTHER WHILE HIS BACK IS TURNED ONLY FOR HIM TO CATCH YOU.
The slightly gullible ex-champion was still in the clear though publicly. He was asked to do a job and he did it successfully.
Summer turned into fall for the Mega Powers. Their collective attention turned to a set of burly rulebreakers known as the Twin Towers. No, not the Houston Rockets duo of Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson but an “ex-cop” from Georgia called the Big Bossman and a 400-pound caucasian man named “Akeem”.
Once known as the One Man Gang, Akeem went on a trip to Africa with his manager Slick and came back to the homeland with jive as his new language.
(Now, nine-years-old, this only seemed natural to me. I still had no idea wrestling was fake)
The Twin Towers challenged the Mega Powers to a series of matches during the fall and winter including their first big battle at the Survivor Series.
During a ten-man tag match at the Survivor Series that featured both teams, once again Hogan saved the day.
Savage, who took a beating during the match, fell backwards into a tag and his partner quickly went to work.
After scoring the pin, Hogan once again hugged the red-dress wearing Elizabeth and spun her around in celebration as she yet again played an important role in the team’s victory.
Meanwhile, the team’s other-half collected himself in time to see Hogan’s grandstanding.
FOUL #3: DON’T CELEBRATE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND’S GAL BY TWIRLING HER IN THE AIR…ESPECIALLY IF HER BOYFRIEND JUST TOOK A BEATING FOR 20 MINUTES.
By this point, Savage caught on to what Hulkamania was putting down. In his view, Hogan was trying to run a backdoor play on Elizabeth; using his “sisterly” love of their manager as a front for secretly lusting after her.
Like any good soldier, Savage pressed on though despite Hogan “accidentally” knocking him out of the Royal Rumble and continuously robbing the Macho Man of the spotlight.
Finally, on the night of February 3, 1989 in front of a national television audience, Hogan committed the final and ultimate foul in our tale.
The Mega Powers took on the Twin Towers in a tag match held at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Midway through the match, Savage landed on Elizabeth, who was knocked unconscious by the fall.
Hogan, concerned for his manager, left the match to take his fallen manager back to the medical room for first-aid.
Once the “Luster” (as named by Jesse Ventura) returned to the ring, Savage slapped the taste out of his mouth.
FOUL #4: NEVER LEAVE YOUR WINGMAN…ESPECIALLY IN FAVOR OF YOUR WINGMAN’S GIRLFRIEND.
As seen below, the champ had every right to go upside Hogan’s head with the title belt in the first-aid room.
Instead of waiting for help, Hogan carried her into the bowels of Milwaukee’s Bradley Center while Savage had two 350-pounders tap dancing on his skull.
In fact, Elizabeth had to remind Hogan to go back and help Savage. Some friend he turned out to be.
The lesson of never leaving a wingman was introduced into pop culture during the 1986 film Top Gun.
Three years later, the lesson was re-introduced to the American public.
FOUL #5: IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN A WOMAN AND CALLED OUT ON IT, DON’T LIE. DECLARE YOURSELF.
Savage’s anger was well-directed. Ultimately, he expressed displeasure over Hogan’s dishonesty.
Here is where Hogan and most of the male gender seem to error in relationships. When confronted by the Macho Man about whether he wanted the title and Elizabeth, here is what Hogan’s response should have been:
Just declare what you want, especially if you’re called out on it.
Sure, Hogan was going to get his head beaten off either way but he would have been better served in the long run.
On a quick side note, how believable was Hogan playing the role of the “platonic friend”?
The guy slammed Andre the Giant in front of 93,000 people two years earlier. Now, he was trying to subtly steal away Elizabeth and the WWF title.
He could have scored her without all of that trouble right?
But I digress…
Alas, the Hogan/Savage feud split the Mega Power ranks including the managerial duties of Elizabeth.
Prior to the duo’s breakup, Elizabeth managed both men. When it was announced that Savage would defend the title against Hogan at Wrestlemania V, Elizabeth had to make a decision.
Hogan or Savage?
Of course, she picked neither, citing to be in a neutral corner at Wrestlemania.
The sheer foolishness of both men caused Elizabeth to choose indifference.
That’s not what you want in life, boys and girls.
Even if it’s the wrong one, make people choose a direct side.
Life is just a lot easier that way.
Thus, the Hulkster “loved Elizabeth like a sister” for months and it basically got him a healthy dose of indecision at Wrestlemania.
April 2, 1989 found Hogan and Savage vying for the WWF title with Elizabeth watching in a “neutral” corner during Wrestlemania, which brings us to one of my favorite moments of the feud.
Late in the match, Hogan held up Savage on his shoulders outside the ring, ready to send him head first in to the post.
Elizabeth blocked his path and as he tried to convince her to move, Savage pushed him into the post instead – as Liz finally got out of the way.
Eventually, she was ejected from ringside.
Who can blame her though?
Her choices were a crazy, verbally abusive boyfriend and a creepy, balding guy, who just happened to be one of the biggest celebrities in the world.
In the end, Liz’s indecision perfectly illustrated the problem with the Hulkster. He never placed his cards on the table.
Once again, reacting and not acting got him a face full of steel.
Sure, Hogan won the battle and the belt – but he lost the war in the storylines.
Elizabeth married Savage two years later.
Even though what played out in the ring and on TV was probably decided in a dark room by the WWF’s creative team, it serves as a very useful tool.
Learn from the Hulkster’s mistakes. If you like someone on Valentine’s Day, tell them.
Don’t be like Hulk.
Be better than him.