Inducted by Maverick
The 1980s, to me, is the golden age of the manager, and the WWF attracted the very best in the business at that time, fast talking, wisecracking, rule breaking extroverts who would do anything to advance the interests of their clients. We’re talking Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Slick, Mr Fuji…but there was one manager who had a completely different style, a manager who played a central role in the most iconic long running storyline of that hallowed decade.
We are talking, of course, about Miss Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Hulette got started in the business in 1983, working as an announcer at International Championship Wrestling, the promotion based out of Lexington, Kentucky and run by Angelo Poffo. While there, the young Hulette met Poffo’s son, the charismatic Randy Poffo, better known by his ring name, Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage. Their attraction to each other was intense and they were married in December 1984, just before Macho Man went to work for Vince McMahon in the WWF’s first stage of expansion into a national and international promotion. Vince was buying up the best talent out there to stack his cards, and Savage fit the bill.
Macho & Elizabeth
At first, Elizabeth acted as Savage’s on screen manager as much out of his legendarily overprotective desire to keep her close to him on the road as much as anything else. An angle was run on Prime Time Wrestling in August 1985 that saw Savage turn down the services of several interested managers to bring out Elizabeth and introduce her to the world as his new manager. Bobby Heenan’s reaction on commentary was to immediately announce “she must be some sort of movie star” setting the tone for the way the couple would work together on screen.
The combination of the fiery, magnetic, intense Macho Man and the quiet, unassuming beauty of Elizabeth was magic from the beginning. The matching outfits, the agonised facial expressions Elizabeth would pull during matches, Savage’s fury when her safety was threatened – it all created an extremely compelling upper midcard act. The potential of the duo was immediately apparent in Macho Man’s feud with George ‘The Animal’ Steele, which was based on Steele falling in love with Elizabeth, in an echo of Ann Darrow and King Kong. Savage furiously defended Elizabeth’s honour, as he saw it in storyline – the rivalry was hugely popular and catapulted Savage to the semi-main event of Wrestlemania III, where both Elizabeth and Steele were ringside for the legendary Intercontinental Championship bout between Savage and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat.
By the end of 1987, following a feud with The Honky Tonk Man that turned Savage babyface, and in which Honky and “Peggy Sue” (a dressed up Sherri Martel) frequently harassed Elizabeth to try and distract The Macho Man, it was time for the duo to make the step up to the main event. Savage’s run to the finals of the WWF Title Tournament at Wrestlemania IV featured Elizabeth heavily, as each round featured a new, and more stunning outfit. In Savage’s first round match against Butch Reed, Elizabeth’s distraction of Reed allowed Savage a window to finish him off with the patented flying elbow. In the finals, Elizabeth sought help backstage from Hulk Hogan to even the odds, as Ted DiBiase had both Virgil and Andre The Giant interfering on his behalf. Savage, of course, eventually triumphed due to Hogan’s intervention.
The ending to Wrestlemania IV formalised the alliance of Savage and Hogan as The Mega Powers, and Elizabeth managed the unstoppable tag team through Summerslam 88 when her legendary intervention in the Mega Powers vs Mega Bucks main event was decisive – she whisked off her skirt to distract DiBiase and Andre, allowing her clients time to recover and win the match. However, in a brilliant example of art imitating life, WWF ran a jealousy angle in order to build to the legendary explosion of The Mega Powers – Savage did not take kindly to Hogan putting Elizabeth in harm’s way during his feud with The Twin Towers, and after Hogan “accidentally” eliminated Macho from the 1989 Royal Rumble, the explosion was primed.
At the Main Event II in February 1989, Elizabeth was knocked unconscious at ringside and carried to the back by Hogan, leaving Savage to face Akeem and Big Boss Man alone. Hogan returned at Elizabeth’s behest, but a disgusted Savage walked out on him. Backstage, a furious argument culminated in Savage clocking Hogan with the title, setting up The Mega Powers explode main event at Wrestlemania V, where a distraught Elizabeth was in “a neutral corner” – having got in the way of both men she was sent to the back by referee Dave Hebner. Hogan would ultimately win the WWF Title and Savage angrily dissolved his partnership with Elizabeth, taking up with Sensational Sherri.
Match Made In Heaven
This is really where the genius of the story arc comes in; for the next two years, WWF did just enough to keep the audience’s minds on the severed partnership of Miss Elizabeth and Macho Man – she managed Beefcake and Hogan against Zeus and Savage at Summerslam 89, and interfered in Sherri and Savage’s mixed tag against Sapphire and Dusty Rhodes, but was otherwise mostly off camera as Savage’s villainous run as The Macho King played out. The pay off would be magnificent indeed – at Wrestlemania VII, the Macho King put his career on the line against The Ultimate Warrior in one of the greatest matches in the history of the Show of Shows, and the camera shyly panned to the crowd where none other than Elizabeth sat, looking nervous in a black sequinned sweater. When Savage was, in the end, defeated, Sherri berated and abused him, and who was to come out of the stands to make the save and send Sherri packing? Elizabeth, of course! For the first time in over two years, the power couple were reunited, in one of the most genuinely emotional moments in wrestling history.
WWF kept up with the kayfabe of Savage being done with wrestling through the summer of 1991, and decided to run an angle for Summerslam where he and Elizabeth would marry in the ring as a co-main event (the other was the Gulf War inspired tag match between Adnan, Mustafa and Slaughter on the pro-Iraqi side and Hogan and Warrior on the pro-American side, creating the “Match Made In Heaven, Match Made In Hell tagline). The angle took a twist when Jake Roberts and The Undertaker crashed the kayfabe reception with a snake in a box. A few weeks later, Savage was tied to the ropes while Roberts’ King Cobra bit Savage on the arm. This led to Savage being allowed to return to the squared circle.
The final major storyline Elizabeth was involved in featured Ric Flair, who claimed in the build to Wrestlemania VIII to have nudes of Elizabeth as they had been involved before she met Savage (“she was mine, WOO! Before she was yours!”). Savage would defeat Flair, and beat him down after the match when Flair tried to kiss Elizabeth.
WCW Years & The End
By now, years of Randy Poffo’s jealous rages had worn thin and the couple’s marriage was on the rocks. They filed for divorce in August 1992, and a shoot statement rare for the time was published in WWF Magazine announcing their split. Elizabeth left the WWF, and wrestling generally, until 1996, when she resurfaced in WWF as Hogan and Savage’s manager at Clash of Champions XXXII, only to betray Savage for Flair mere weeks later. Much of her WCW run was running back what made her successful in WWF, including the on/off again partnership with Savage; they were reunited under the auspices of the NWO in February 1997, only to split again a year later. Elizabeth then began an on and off screen relationship with Lex Luger. After they both left the company in 2000 they lapsed into drug addiction and very sadly, Elizabeth Hulette passed away from acute toxicity brought on by painkillers and vodka being mixed together. She was just 42 years old.
Elizabeth is remembered by wrestling fans the world over for her beauty, grace and quiet influence on the career of one of its greatest talents in Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage. She created unforgettable memories and moments, and is fully deserving of being inducted today into the WH Hall of Fame.