In June 1985, Savage signed with Vince McMahon. Billed as "the top free agent in pro wrestling," Savage's first appearances on Tuesday Night Titans featured several established managers (including Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, and "Classy" Freddie Blassie) offering their services to Savage. He eventually declined their offers and chose Miss Elizabeth as his new manager. His gimmick was a crazed, ego-maniacal bully who mistreated Miss Elizabeth and threatened anyone who even looked at her. He made his pay-per-view (PPV) debut at The Wrestling Classic on November 7, 1985, participating in a 16-man tournament. He defeated Ivan Putski, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, and the Dynamite Kid before losing by a countout in the finals to Junkyard Dog.
In late 1985, Savage started a feud with Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana over that title. On the November 2, 1985 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he unsuccessfully challenged Santana for the title (Savage won the match by countout but not the title because the title did not change hands by countout). In a rematch on the February 24, 1986 (taped February 8) edition of Prime Time Wrestling, he won the WWF Intercontinental title at the Boston Garden by using an illegal steel object stashed in his tights to knock out Santana. Early in his WWF career, Savage also won two countout victories in Madison Square Garden over his future tag team partner WWF champion Hulk Hogan (although the belt did not change hands due to the countout) as well as engaging in feuds with Bruno Sammartino and George "The Animal" Steele.
Savage's feud with Steele began on the January 4, 1986 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, when Steele developed a crush on Miss Elizabeth. At WrestleMania 2, Savage defeated Steele in a match to retain his Intercontinental title. He resumed his feud with Steele in early 1987, culminating in two Intercontinental title matches, both won by Savage.
Savage wrestled Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III in the Pontiac Silverdome. After 19 two-counts, Steamboat pinned Savage (with help from George Steele, who pushed Savage from the top rope seconds before he was pinned) to end his near 14-month reign as Intercontinental champion.
Savage won the King of the Ring tournament later in 1987. He also started acting less hostile toward the fans and Miss Elizabeth. When The Honky Tonk Man declared himself "the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time", Savage began a feud with him to get the title back, becoming a fan favorite in the process. On the October 3, 1987 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, he got his shot at The Honky Tonk Man and the Intercontinental Championship, but lost out on the title when The Hart Foundation, who along with Honky were managed by Jimmy Hart, interrupted the match, getting Honky disqualified. In the ensuing beatdown, Miss Elizabeth got Hulk Hogan to save him, leading to the formation of "The Mega Powers."
At WrestleMania IV, he participated in the 14-man tournament for the vacant WWF Championship. He had successful matches against Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and One Man Gang, and then went on to the finals, in which he defeated "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, by pinning him with the help of Hogan. Savage retained the WWF title for over a year, defending it against the likes of One Man Gang and André the Giant.
The Mega Powers' main feuds were with The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase and André the Giant), whom they defeated in the main event of the first-ever SummerSlam pay-per-view event, and The Twin Towers, a tag team composed of super-heavyweights Big Boss Man and Akeem. In the case of the latter feud, Savage frequently became involved in Hogan's matches involving one of the two villains (and vice versa); the two rival factions captained opposing teams in the main event of the 1988 Survivor Series, which was won by the Mega Powers.
Problems between Savage and Hogan developed, however, in early 1989 after Hogan also took Elizabeth as his manager. At the Royal Rumble, Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage from the Royal Rumble match and they started to fight until Elizabeth separated them. On the February 3, 1989 edition of The Main Event, Savage turned on Hogan, getting jealous over Miss Elizabeth and his self-perceived third wheel standing in the Mega Powers, becoming a villain once again. He later abandoned Hogan during a tag team match against the Twin Towers, though Hogan picked up the win in the end.
At WrestleMania V, Savage dropped the WWF title to Hogan after a reign of 371 days. He eventually replaced Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri. Savage would co-main event SummerSlam 1989, teaming with Zeus, a character from Hulk Hogan's movie, No Holds Barred, against The Mega-Maniacs (Hogan and Brutus Beefcake). Savage and Zeus faced Hogan and Beefcake in a rematch contested in a steel cage at No Holds Barred and lost again.
Savage adopted the moniker "Macho King" after defeating Jim Duggan for the King of the Ring title in September 1989 (Duggan in turn had won it from Haku). On a later wrestling episode, he had a coronation as the new "King of the WWF" led by wrestler The Genius, in which Ted DiBiase gave him a sceptor as a gift. Savage would use that scepter as a weapon numerous times. The "Macho King" and Hulk Hogan met one last time (intended to end their ongoing year long feud), when Savage got a shot at Hogan's WWF Championship on the February 23, 1990 edition of The Main Event. The pinfall was counted by Buster Douglas despite Savage kicking out at two, Douglas then punched Savage in the face after Savage confronted and then slapped Douglas.
Savage then began feuding with the "Common Man" Dusty Rhodes, losing a mixed tag match (along with Sherri) to Rhodes and Sapphire at WrestleMania VI but beating him in a singles match at SummerSlam 1990.
In late 1990, Savage started a feud with then-WWF champion The Ultimate Warrior. The feud escalated at Royal Rumble 1991, when Warrior refused to promise Savage the right to challenge him for the title, should Warrior defend it successfully against Sgt. Slaughter (Slaughter had already granted Savage this opportunity, should he beat Warrior). Before the match began, Randy "Macho King" Savage attacked the champion, resulting in the Ultimate Warrior having to crawl to the ring. Later, Savage ran out to the ring and smashed the sceptre over Warrior's head, (knocking him unconscious for Slaughter to pin), and then immediately sprinted back to the locker room. The events at the Royal Rumble led to a career-ending match at WrestleMania VII, which Savage lost. After the match, Savage was attacked by Queen Sherri as he lay dejected in the ring. This was too much for Miss Elizabeth who happened to be in the audience. Elizabeth rushed to Savage's aid, fighting off Sherri and reuniting with her one-time love to huge crowd appreciation, with Savage becoming a fan favorite again. Despite his retirement from active wrestling, Savage stayed in the WWF in a non-wrestling capacity while the Ultimate Warrior was fired by Vince McMahon after SummerSlam later that year.
Savage returned to television in a non-wrestling role as the "Macho Man" after WrestleMania VII as a broadcaster. Meanwhile the storyline with Miss Elizabeth continued, culminating with Savage proposing to her in the ring leading to an on-air wedding at SummerSlam 1991 dubbed The Match Made in Heaven. It was at this time that Savage was targeted by Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who was by now a villain. On an edition of Prime Time Wrestling prior to SummerSlam, the announcers and several wrestlers threw a "bachelor party" for Savage, with Roberts' arrival deemed unwelcome by the rest of the contingent.
In the post-SummerSlam wedding reception, Roberts and his new ally, The Undertaker, made their presence known by hiding a live snake in one of the newly married couple's wedding presents; Elizabeth was frightened when she opened the gift box, and the Undertaker blindsided Savage by knocking him out with the urn. Sid Justice ran off both Roberts and The Undertaker. Savage, still unable to compete due to his WrestleMania VII loss to the Ultimate Warrior, immediately began a public campaign to have himself reinstated as an active wrestler to gain revenge on Roberts; however, WWF president Jack Tunney refused. Meanwhile, Roberts cut a series of promos berating Savage. The feud began to boil over during a television taping for WWF Superstars of Wrestling October 21 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when Roberts cut an in-ring promo to goad Savage – who was providing TV commentary – into the ring. After he was lured into the ring, Roberts attacked Savage, eventually tying Savage into the ropes before getting a live king cobra to bite his arm.
Savage then urged fans to lobby Tunney to reinstate him, under the rallying cry "Reinstatement! That's the plan! Reinstate the Macho Man!" In response, Tunney reinstated Savage and announced a match between him and Roberts for the This Tuesday in Texas pay-per-view event. Savage won the match, and the two continued to brawl afterward. The feud continued throughout the winter, ending after a match on the February 8, 1992 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, which Savage won; Roberts had planned a backstage ambush of Savage and Elizabeth after losing the match, but was stopped by The Undertaker.
Savage then began an onscreen feud with WWF Champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. According to the storyline, Flair claimed that he had slept with Savage's wife Miss Elizabeth, going as far as presenting pictures of Elizabeth and Flair together. This culminated in a title match at WrestleMania VIII; Savage won the match and his second WWF Championship.
For the better part of 1992, Savage and his old nemesis Warrior (who returned to the WWF at WrestleMania VIII), peacefully co-existed. However, when it was announced that Warrior was the new Number One Contender for Savage's WWF Championship, old tensions resurfaced and they had several heated exchanges prior to the match. Savage defended the title against Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1992. Savage lost the match by countout, after having his knee injured by Flair and Mr. Perfect, but retained the championship. After the match, Warrior helped a badly injured Savage to the back. On the September 14 episode of Prime Time Wrestling (taped September 1), Savage lost the WWF title to Flair after interference by Razor Ramon.
He formed a tag team with The Ultimate Warrior known as the "Ultimate Maniacs" after both men were attacked by Flair and Mr. Perfect during their match at SummerSlam. After his title loss shortly after, an injured Savage backed Warrior to be the man to dethrone Flair. On the November 8, 1992 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, they took on Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Money. Inc. lost by countout but retained their title. Savage and Warrior were scheduled to face Flair and Ramon in a tag team match at Survivor Series 1992. Warrior was fired from the WWF weeks before the event, so Savage chose Mr. Perfect, executive consultant to Flair, as his partner to replace Warrior. Perfect initially laughed off the suggestion, but was angered by Bobby Heenan and his insinuations that he could never again wrestle at his previous level, and accepted the match. Despite initial distrust (an interview prior to the match had Savage admit to Perfect that he neither liked nor trusted him), the duo defeated Flair and Ramon via a disqualification.
When Monday Night Raw began in January 1993, Savage served primarily as a color commentator, wrestling only occasionally against characters such as Doink, The Repo Man, Rick Martel, and Crush. However, he was the runner up in the Royal Rumble match at Royal Rumble 1993, where he was eliminated by Yokozuna. He returned to pay-per-view at Survivor Series 1993 as a substitute for Mr. Perfect and competed in the 1994 Royal Rumble match. His last WWF pay-per-view appearance as a competitor was a victory over Crush in a Falls Count Anywhere match at WrestleMania X.
Savage died on May 20, 2011.
On January 12, 2015, WWE announced Savage as the first inductee to the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2015, and that his Mega Powers partner and long-time rival Hulk Hogan will induct him.