In a ceremony that incorporated such disparate elements as ninjas, people in gorilla outfits and a mariachi band, the Harvard Lampoon bestowed upon professional wrestler Randy "The Macho Man" Savage its annual Real Man of the Year award yesterday afternoon.
The Lampoon, a semi-secret Bow Street organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine, presented the award to Savage inside a makeshift wrestling ring that had been erected
Savage, who distinguished himself first as amember of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) andnow in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), is aformer winner of the WWF's Intercontinental Titleas well as the WWF and WCW's respective heavyweight championships.
He is the first wrestler to receive theLampoon's Real Man of the Year award.
The ceremony honoring Savage was theculmination of a day's worth of highly publicizedactivities by the Lampoon that included a paradedown Mass. Ave. and an introduction by Nobellaureate and Baird Professor of Chemistry DudleyHerschbach.
The 45-year-old Savage, whose real name isRandy Poffo, arrived for the event in a silverDodge Viper, dressed in a black leather jacket,spandex pants and a t-shirt with the word"MADNESS" emblazoned on it.
Spectators, both students and Cambridge locals,lined Savage's parade route as he and members ofthe Lampoon hurled Slim Jim snacks at the crowd.
When asked during the parade if he would liketo say anything to his fans, Savage replied, "Snapinto a Slim Jim!"--referring to the brand of beefjerky sticks the flamboyant wrestler endorses.
Whether by design or by chance, the Lampoon'sevent was scheduled for the same day as a ceremonyhonoring the Hasty Pudding Theatrical Society'sMan of the Year, Kevin Kline.
Seizing upon this coincidence, Savagechallenged Kline to a wrestling match in theLampoon's ring, questioned his courage andinsinuated that Kline and Savage's estrangedtag-team partner Hollywood Hulk Hogan were"dating".
Lampoon officers even provided Savage with atelephone, inviting him to call Kline at the HastyPudding to issue his challenge directly.
In the ensuing dialogue between Savage and avoice that purported to be Kline, the wrestlercalled the actor out, saying "take your beatinglike a man." Kline, however, did not presenthimself.
Later that evening, at a news conference heldat the Hasty Pudding Theatre, Kline initiallyprofessed ignorance about Savage's challenge, butthen assented to it, saying, "I'm Man of the Year.It's sour grapes. I will accept his challenge, butI won't wrestle him."
In lieu of Kline, the Lampoon staged a tag-teambout that pitted Savage and Grimace, a McDonaldscharacter, against a group of costumed spectatorsculled from the audience. These included a cowboy,a ninja, the philosopher Socrates, a cadre ofRevolutionary War soldiers and the Grim Reaper.
Without Savage's assistance, Grimace dispatchedhis adversaries with seeming ease.
But when the purple-clad mascot turned againsthis own partner, Savage felled Grimace with oneblow, opting for an arm hack to the head ratherthan his signature move, the "flying elbow fromthe top of the ropes."
Despite Savage's victory, wrestling fans atringside agreed that his appearance at the Lampooncomes at a crossroads in the middle-agedwrestler's personal and professional life.
"He's not the same as he was at Wrestle maniaIII back in '86," said Savage admirer John E.Connolly '00.
In the past five years, Savage has switched hisaffiliation from the WWF to the WCW and beendivorced from his wife and current manager, LadyElizabeth.
More recently, he alienated himself from hisgang, the New World Order (NWO), as a result ofhis feud with Hogan.
Responding to a question about a possibleschism within the NWO, Savage said, "Sure, they'reall tense and I'm feeling great."
Still, Savage's youngest fans remain his mostardent admirers.
"As many times as Macho Man gets knocked downhe always gets back up," said seven-year-old BrianDevenne of Cambridge.
The afternoon's proceedings came to a climaxwhen Lampoon President Matthew J. Murray '99 andNarthex Nicholas A. Stoller '98 handed Savage thesilver cup that represents their Real Man of theYear Award as well as a self improvement cassetteSavage identified as "How to Have Sex Up to OneTime a Night."
Savage, apparently touched by the recognition,expressed his appreciation and said he would usethe award as an incentive to "really get seriousand kick ass from now on.
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