Ric Savage broke into the wrestling business in the independent circuit in western North Carolina. He was trained initially in a garage in Waynesville, North Carolina by Chuck Justice, a high school friend. Savage then wrestled every independent show he could before getting his first television break with South Atlantic Pro Wrestling in 1991 in a televised match against his childhood hero,Chief Wahoo McDaniel. Savage then trained briefly under the "Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff at his school in Indian Trails, North Carolina.
Savage went to work for the Professional Wrestling Federation owned by Gary Sabaugh (The Italian Stallion) and George South. Savage would compete against Nelson Knight and Bobby Knight before the pair went to the World Wrestling Federation as Men on a Mission. He also wrestled "Mean" Mark Canterbury, later known as Henry Godwin in the WWF. Sabaugh booked Savage with World Championship Wrestling where he would perform at several television tapings in 1992, but was used as an enhancement talent. Savage left WCW at the advice of friend and mentor Jimmy Valiant, to wrestle for Jerry Lawler's United States Wrestling Alliance. Savage would only work for USWA for a week due to a desire at that point to leave professional wrestling and begin preparing for a career in law. While working for Lawler, Savage feuded with Skull Von Krush. He would also wrestle Tommy Rich, Eddie Gilbert, and the Moondogs. Savage had the opportunity to work with The Rock 'n' Roll Express, where he would build a friendship with Ricky Morton. After Savage left the USWA, he began to focus more on college and wrestled on the independent circuit to pay his bills. He toured with Jimmy Valiant for several months. Savage credits Valiant for teaching him the wrestling business. Savage also tried a brief, unofficial cross-promotion with 1980's hair band Quiet Riot, but the venture was not a success.
Savage wrestled for the National Wrestling Alliance where he was booked by former Four Horsemen member Tully Blanchard, and was managed by former Freebird Michael P.S. Hayes. Savage had formed a tag-team with a biker gimmick called the Hard Riders with Frankee Lawless (Mike Cavnar) and the pair became the leading "heel" tag-team in the new NWA wrestling federation based out of the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas and run by pioneer professional wrestling promoter Jim Crockett, Jr. The Hard Riders feuded with brothers Chris and Mark Youngblood. The Hard Riders also competed against Ahmed Johnson, Greg Valentine, Chris Adams, C.W. Anderson and the Junkyard Dog. Savage and Lawless met an obscure brother duo at this time that would influence Savage's later career. The team was Matt and Jeff Hardy. Savage would work closely with the Hardy's for the remainder of his time in wrestling. The Hard Riders drifted apart after Crockett folded in 1995.
In 1996, after getting his bachelors degree from Western Carolina University, Savage and travelling partner Kid Kash rode to Philadelphia to get work with Extreme Championship Wrestling at the suggestion of Savage's friends New Jack and Rob Van Dam. Savage wrestled several house shows as Shane Douglas' Bounty Hunter in an ongoing feud with The Pitbulls. Paul Heyman had Savage change his name to Ric Rage to avoid any conflicts with WCW over "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Savage left ECW after a few months, but Kash stayed on. After ECW, Savage went back to the independent circuit. During this time he made a regional television promo with Rickey Medlocke of Blackfoot, now a lead guitarist of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The promo was aimed at curbing domestic violence against women in western North Carolina but never aired. Savage also made some regional talkshow appearances as well.
Savage and Cavnar reunited The Hard Riders when Ric Flair offered the team a shot to try out for WCW where they had a dark match the following week at Center Stage in Atlanta. The gimmick did not go over with WCW fans and was dropped. Savage then went back to the independent circuit as a single's wrestler and reinvented himself as a grunge rocker. His old friend from the NWA, Ahmed Johnson, introduced him to Chief Jay Strongbow at a WWF show. Strongbow scheduled a dark match for Savage in Fayetteville, North Carolina. But Strongbow suffered a massive heart attack and was released from the WWF before he could return. Savage's dark match fell through the cracks.
Savage teamed for a while with Bull Buchanan in a team called "Body Count" in National Championship Wrestling which was a promotion owned by Savage's longtime manager and friend Steve Martin. But Buchanan was first signed by Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling and later by the World Wrestling Federation causing him to leave Body Count. Savage then teamed in Body Count with David Young and Rusty Riddle. Riddle turned on Savage and joined Kid Kash and feuded with Savage and Young for the NCW world tag titles. It was in 1996 that Savage partnered with Martin in National Championship Wrestling, and Savage began to help create the wrestler's characters, storylines, and do interview coaching. NCW did monthly television tapings from Savage's hometown of Sylva, North Carolina. Notable wrestlers that worked for NCW during that time are Matt and Jeff Hardy, Brad Cain (Lodi), Shannon Moore, Ricky Morton of the Rock and Roll Express, Bull Buchanan, Kid Kash, Jason Arhndt (Joey Abs of the Mean Street Posse), Rick Michaels, and Chris Hamrick. NCW later became NWA Wildside and was briefly syndicated after Savage left the promotion.
After suffering from a left knee reconstruction, and three lower back surgeries, Savage retired from professional wrestling in 1997. Initially, he moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where he performed a live storytelling presentation called Haunted Gettysburg for author Bob Wasal at the now defunct Conflict Theater. It was in Gettysburg that Savage met his wife Rita. They have three children and two recent grandchildren. In 1998, Savage moved his family to New Jersey where they lived until moving to Virginia in 2009.
Ric Savage is a scholar of American history, in particular the Civil War. He is an avid artifacts collector, and maintains a website that assists collectors in identifying fake Civil War and World War II relics. He enjoys metal detecting across the country for historical artifacts. From 2007 until 2012, Savage wrote a column for American Digger magazine called The Savage Facts that provided tips on identifying fraudulent Civil War and other militaria collectibles. He has done lectures for Civil War roundtables, metal detecting clubs, and other historical organizations across the United States on avoiding the pitfalls of buying fake or misrepresented militaria items. It was announced on August 10, 2011 that Spike TV bought 13 episodes of the new reality show, American Digger, featuring Savage and his team of artifact recovery experts.
In 2012 American Digger debuted on Spike TV. The show performed well and drew an average audience of 1.2 million viewers weekly. Savage and his crew of artifact recovery experts dug on private property in Tombstone, AZ, Brooklyn, NY, Detroit, MI, Mechanicsville, Jamestown, & Middletown, VA, Chicago, IL, Venice, LA, St. Augustine, FL, Asheville & Sylva, NC, Girdwood, AK, and Aiken, SC. It was announced in August 2012 by Spike TV that another 13 episodes of American Digger had been ordered and would be filmed in the fall and winter with a planned airtime in Spring 2013. American Digger is produced by Gurney Productions who also produces Duck Dynasty, Auction Hunters, American Guns, Hollywood Treasure and Haunted Collector as well as many Shark Week specials. One of the signature points on the show is when Savage yells his catch-phrase "Boom Baby!" after a significant discovery. The phrase is popular with show fans and has been made into both t-shirts and ringtones.
In December 2012, Spike TV announced that American Digger would be renamed Savage Family Diggers for its second season premiering January 30, 2013, saying the name change better reflects the crew which adds Savage's wife Rita and son Nick to the dig team. Highlights from the second season would be a dig with Emmy Nominated Actor Bill Paxton and his son James, a dig lead to Memphis, Tennessee from Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke, a hunt for Blackbeards treasure, and a tour of one of America's Gilded Age havens, loaded with mansions of the early elite.