Hulk Hogan was no stranger to betrayal. His close friend Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff had turned on Hogan, attacking him after a match. It was clear that jealousy had consumed Orndorff with Hogan’s status as both WWF champion and the promotion’s number one babyface driving Orndorff to align himself with Hogan’s nemesis, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Hulk Hogan faced further betrayal when his longtime friend Andre the Giant joined forces with Heenan to challenge Hogan for his WWF championship. Heenan had manipulated Andre into thinking that Hogan had used him in order to protect his WWF championship. As the number one man in the WWF, Hogan found that friends could quickly become enemies.
So should it have come as a surprise that Hogan would be betrayed once again? In this case the reasons that led Orndorff and Andre to betray Hogan did not apply to Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Not only was Savage the WWF champion but he was arguably the promotion’s number one babyface. Why would Savage be jealous of Hulk Hogan?
The answer was easy-Randy “Macho Man” Savage had always been a jealous man. When he debuted in the WWF in 1985, it was clear that he was extremely possessive of his manager Miss Elizabeth. When fans gave the lovely one flowers, Savage would smash them to pieces. When George “The Animal” Steele became smitten with Elizabeth, Savage was determined to destroy the dim-witted wrestler.
However when Savage turned face, he seemed to better appreciate Elizabeth and began treating her better. Old habits die hard and Savage proved this when the green eyed monster began to come between him and his Mega Powers partner Hulk Hogan. As author Lawrence George Durrell once wrote, “It is not love that is blind but jealousy.” In Savage’s case, he began to see things that weren’t there, his jealousy fueled imagination leading him to self-destruction.
This was clear after the main event at the 1988 edition of Survivor Series when the Mega Powers team defeated the Twin Towers team. After the match, Hulk Hogan went to check on his teammate Randy Savage. Hogan then grabbed Miss Elizabeth and put her on his shoulder. However it was clear that Savage was not happy with Hogan’s actions. In his eyes, Hogan was paying way too much attention to Elizabeth and perhaps in Savage’s mind, Elizabeth was paying a little bit too much attention to Hogan.
Although the Mega Powers had defeated the Twin Towers at Survivor Series, it was clear that both the Big Boss Man and Akeem were not done with Hogan and Savage. Hulk Hogan continued to wrestle the Boss Man at house shows and while Hogan prevailed against the former corrections officer, the Boss Man kept coming at him.
Akeem challenged both Hogan and “The Macho Man” in singles competition as well. Akeem set his sights on Hulk Hogan during the New Year’s Day 1989 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Akeem’s manager Slick noted during an interview with “Mean” Gene Okerlund that the Mega Powers weren’t as tight as they were letting on. This became clear during the match when Randy Savage and “Mean” Gene watched Hogan’s match with Akeem from the backstage area.
Savage took exception when Hogan lifted the ropes for Elizabeth to enter the ring. After a ref bump, the Big Boss Man joined Akeem in a beatdown on Hogan. Savage told Okerlund that he had faith in Hogan. When Elizabeth came backstage for Savage to help, the “Macho Man” told her that he had faith in Hogan. Savage finally came into the ring when the Boss Man laid his hands on Miss Elizabeth. Savage (with a chair in hand) chased the Twin Towers off. As Elizabeth checked on Hogan’s condition, it was obvious that the “Macho Man” was unhappy with the attention Hogan was getting.
On the January 21, 1989 edition of WWF Superstars, Randy Savage squared off against Akeem. Although Akeem had a considerable size and weight advantage, the WWF champion used his speed and aerial skills to gain the edge. The “Macho Man” delivered his finishing move the flying elbowsmash to Akeem and covered him for the pin. Before the referee could make the three count, the Big Boss Man came in and blasted Savage with his nightstick. Hulk Hogan ran in for the save, slamming each of the big men and clearing the ring of the Twin Towers.
After the match, a dazed “Macho Man” grabbed the nightstick and ignored Hulk Hogan’s invitation to pose for the fans. Savage seemed angry with Hogan and at one point appeared to be mulling over whether or not to smash Hogan with the nightstick. Color commentator Jesse “The Body” Ventura noted that Savage was probably still getting his senses after getting clobbered with the nightstick. Eventually, Savage started posing with Hogan but the fans had to be wondering what was going through Savage’s mind.
Things continued to deteriorate for the Mega Powers. This was not good for a number of reasons, least of all because they had a big match coming up against the Twin Towers on the 2/3/89 episode of The Main Event. The WWF’s primetime special on NBC was headlined by this epic match and the Mega Powers could be sure that Akeem and the Big Boss Man would be looking to avenge their loss at Survivor Series.
In the meantime, Hulk Hogan continued wrestling the Big Bossman at house shows. While the Hulkster usually prevailed, it was clear that he was getting frustrated with the Big Boss Man and his tactics, particularly the Boss Man’s propensity for employing the nightstick whenever the referee wasn’t looking. Hogan’s frustration was shown at a house show in the Boston Garden when he used the Boss Man’s nightstick and repeatedly legdropped the Boss Man, refusing to pin him. Hogan shoved referee Joey Marella and was disqualified for his efforts.
The Mega Powers’ problems continued at the 1989 Royal Rumble. The second annual Rumble was held in the Summit in Houston, Texas on January 13 and marked the first time that the show aired on pay-per-view (PPV). The 30 man event saw Savage and Hogan enter the ring as the 15th and 18th competitors. Although the Rumble is billed as an event where it’s every man for himself, Savage too exception with Hogan when Hogan tossed him and “Bad News” Brown out of the ring at the same time. Savage began arguing with Hogan but finally relented thanks to the peace-making efforts of Miss Elizabeth. Savage and Hogan embraced, cooler heads apparently having prevailed.
However a post-Rumble interview with Savage and “Mean” Gene Okerlund hinted that things might not be copasetic. During the interview, Savage said that he was on the same page as Hogan but Savage also hinted that he should have been the winner of the Rumble (in the end, Big John Studd won the Rumble).
While there were signs of dissension between the Mega Powers, the WWF gave the fans a glimmer of hope during the 1/28/89 broadcast of WWF Superstars. The Mega Powers appeared on “The Brother Love Show” with Hulk Hogan talking about how close the three of them were. Hogan talked of the love between a man and a woman as seen with Savage and Elizabeth, how Hogan loved Elizabeth as much as Savage loved her, but pointed out that he loved Elizabeth like a sister. Finally, Hogan said that he loved Savage like a brother. Savage seemed to agree with Hogan on all of this. This interview segment would remind the fans later on that Hogan was innocent of trying to get in between Savage and Elizabeth.
However underneath Savage’s veneer of friendship lie a deep rooted jealousy that just waiting for the right moment for it to erupt. This moment would take place at The Main Event just days later and fans around the world would bear witness to the cataclysm known as the Mega Powers exploding.
Thanks again to Graham Cawthon for his awesome resource page The History of WWE!