From the driver’s seat of his 2009 Jeep Wrangler, just before the turn off Florida State Road 694 into the Seminole Mall, Randy “Macho Man” Savage stared through the windshield at the sun-washed commercial strip and sensed that something bad was about to occur.
“I think I’m going to pass out,” he muttered to his wife, Lynn, in the characteristic rasp wrestling fans knew from his promos, building up matches with Hulk Hogan, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
Earlier that morning, the two-time World Wrestling Federation (currently World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) champion had mentioned that he wasn’t feeling well. To his wife, this was nothing new. Randy seemed older than his 58 years; his body ached constantly, from decades of crashing into the mat while delivering his finisher, the flying elbow, from the top rope, among other physical stresses. Perhaps, Lynn suggested, he just needed to eat. So the two went to a Perkins Family Restaurant, where Randy ordered his usual, an egg white vegetable omelet. Still, Lynn wasn’t convinced that he was better.
“Why don’t I drive?” she offered.
Randy shook his head. After decades of piloting a colorful but controversial career, and a lifestyle that shielded him from suspicious sycophants and unwanted intrusions, he didn’t give up the wheel. And so, they returned to their previous positions in the jeep. At around 9:25 a.m., they were just west of 113th Street North in the city of Seminole, on a four-lane road, passing the traffic light by Regions Bank, when Randy suddenly lost consciousness. With his foot clamped down on the accelerator, the jeep crossed the raised concrete median into eastbound traffic. Lynn frantically looked at Randy, then out the front window at the motorcycle and bus moving in their direction. Reaching over her husband’s limbs with her long arms, the woman, who first met the Macho Man when he was a catcher with the Gulf Coast League’s Sarasota Cardinals, swerved to avoid the other vehicles, deliberately slamming the jeep into a tree across from a Publix Super Market and animal hospital.
The impact was so slight that the airbags didn’t activate. Lynn, 56, sustained minor injuries. Randy was pronounced dead at Largo Medical Center.
Since that day, two years ago on May 20, 2011, the real-life Randy Mario Poffo has been depicted as a recluse at the end of his life, a former celebrity who let his beard grow white, kept a registered gun in his glove compartment, and sequestered himself in a home surrounded by security fences and patrolled by guard dogs. But his family says that he was always accessible to them and spent his final months contemplating his legacy—personally, professionally and financially—and making up for time lost to fame.
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