The Wrestling Feud That Landed Macho Man Randy Savage In The Hospital

"Macho Man" Randy Savage may not have been the most physically imposing WWE Superstar in an era where bigger was oftentimes seen as better, but he was certainly larger than life. From his colorful ring gear to his distinctive entrances to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance" (posted on YouTube), he exuded star power. And we haven't even mentioned his oft-imitated "OOOHHH YEAAAHHH!!!" catchphrase and the flying elbow drop he'd use to finish off his opponents. No doubt about it, this man was, along with wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, among the major drivers of WWE's success in the late 1980s.

When talking about Savage's most memorable feuds during his WWE career, many would immediately mention his rivalry with Hogan, which started when their Mega Powers tag team broke up in the lead-up to WrestleMania V in 1989, as recalled by Bleacher Report. However, there was one particular feud that was memorable for the wrong reasons — not because of how it was scripted by WWE's creative team, but rather because of an unfortunate, unscripted in-ring issue that led to the Macho Man being hospitalized. Here's the story of what really happened during that incident.

During his multiple WWE stints, Jake "The Snake" Roberts' gimmick of bringing a python to the ring and having the snake wrap itself around his fallen opponents made him a fan favorite. However, as Bleacher Report noted, Roberts was playing a villainous role when he crashed the wedding reception of "Macho Man" and Miss Elizabeth at SummerSlam in 1991.

Savage was hospitalized after Roberts' cobra bit him

This kicked off a ring rivalry that would last for several months, and both men were right in the middle of that feud on November 23, 1991, when they faced each other on that night's episode of "Superstars of Wrestling."

As part of his heel gimmick, Roberts (pictured above in 2013) was now bringing a cobra to the ring with him, and the plan was for the snake to bite Savage during their match because it was "good business," as explained by Pro Wrestling Stories. Roberts assured Savage repeatedly that the cobra was safe, but things went off the rails during the match, as the snake bit the Macho Man but wouldn't let go.

"I'm trying [to pull it off] — I'm trying!" Roberts recalled. "And the snake's just gnawing on his arm. It's going on for like a minute now, you know? Over a minute, damn ... Finally — whew -– I got him off. There's something about any animal that's chewing on your arm ... it kinda bothers you..."

According to Savage, his arm "blew up like a balloon for days" because of the snake bite, and he was soon hospitalized with a 104-degree fever. While he quickly recovered with the help of antibiotics and the cobra was confirmed to have been de-venomized, the animal died less than two weeks later.

Randy Savage's wife Elizabeth did not want him to do the stunt

As you might imagine, the people close to "Macho Man" Randy Savage had their misgivings about him being bitten by an extremely venomous snake just to add some shock value to his feud with Jake "The Snake." Even if Jake said it had been de-venomized, it still didn't sound like a good idea to Savage's wife Elizabeth. According to Pro Wrestling Stories, his brother, Lanny Poffo, said that Randy and Elizabeth argued over it beforehand. "Elizabeth didn't want Randy to get bitten by the cobra," he said. "And Randy said the snake was de-venomized — Jake had told him so — and he was going to let the snake bite him because it was good business."

Jake hadn't only given his word that the snake had been de-venomized, he also gave Randy a demonstration in the locker room to prove that it had no venom in it. Jake let it bite him on the leg to prove that it was now "harmless." But when Jake did it, the snake bit his leg for a few seconds and let go. No harm, no foul, right? No one expected (except maybe Elizabeth) that the cobra would gnaw on the Macho Man's arm like a tasty chicken leg for a full minute. The footage was too graphic for TV audiences back then, but you can find it in all its serpentine glory on YouTube.

A&E's Biography continues its "WWE Legends" series with an episode devoted to "Macho Man" Randy Savage on Sunday, April 25.