- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2011

Randy “Macho Man” Savage, a larger-than-life personality from professional wrestling’s 1980s flying-elbow heyday known for his raspy voice, brash style and the young woman named Miss Elizabeth who often accompanied him, died in a car crash Friday in Florida. He was 58.

A Florida Highway Patrol crash report said the former wrestler _ whose legal name was Randy Mario Poffo _ was driving a Jeep Wrangler when he lost control in Pinellas County around 9:25 a.m. The Jeep veered over the raised concrete median divider, crossed over the eastbound lanes and crashed head-on into a tree.

Police said he may have suffered a “medical event” before the accident, but the report did not elaborate, and it said officials would need to perform an autopsy to know for sure.

The report said a woman in the vehicle, identified as Barbara L. Poffo, 56, suffered minor injuries. A statement from Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Entertainment said the passenger was the wrestler’s current wife. Both were wearing their seatbelts, according to the police report.

Poffo will be greatly missed by WWE and his fans,” the statement said.

Savage was a charismatic wrestler made famous for his “Macho Man” nickname and his “Oooh Yeah!” catchphrase. He was a champion in Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation, and later Ted Turner’s now-defunct World Championship Wrestling.

Poffo was under contract with WWE from 1985 to 1993 and held both the WWE and Intercontinental Championships.

“Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends. We wish a speedy recovery to his wife,” WWE said.

Savage defined the mega-watt personalities of the 1980s World Wrestling Federation (now WWE). He wore sequined robes bejeweled with “Macho Man” on the back, rainbow-colored cowboy hats and colorful bandanas and oversized sunglasses, part of a unique look that helped build the WWF into a mainstream phenomenon.

For most of his career, his valet, Miss Elizabeth, was by his side. The woman, Elizabeth Hulette, was his real-life wife at the time. They later divorced, and Hulette died in 2003 at 42 in what was later ruled a prescription drug overdose.

Savage’s death was not the first to catch the wrestling world by surprise.

Chris Benoit killed his wife and son and then committed suicide in their Georgia home in 2007; Benoit was 40.

Eddie Guerrero was 38 when he died of a heart attack in 2005 after a history of alcohol and drug problems.

Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig died of a cocaine overdose in 2003 at 44. That same year, Michael “Road Warrior Hawk” Hegstrand died from a heart attack at 46. He had battled alcohol and drugs, as well as steroids.

In 1999, wrestler Owen Hart, 33, was killed when he fell from an apparatus as he was being lowered into the ring from the ceiling of Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.

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