Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Piece of my Mind - Captain Lou Albano Oct 15th 2009

If you have followed my columns you know that I grew up in Yonkers, NY. I started watching professional wrestling when I was in the tenth grade. I instantly took a liking to the “Polish Power” Ivan Putski. The first real heel move that I recall seeing was when Capt. Lou Albano pulled his leg out as he hit the ropes and Dick “The Bulldog” Brower pinned my new hero. It was at that very moment that I really learned to hate Capt. Lou Albano. He always seemed to get away with murder.

I have heard people say that Bobby “The Brain” Heenan is the greatest manager of all time. I am a fan of Bobby’s and I used him at my first two WrestleReunion events. It would still be my opinion, however, that Capt. Lou Albano, who really can’t be imitated or duplicated, was the greatest wrestling manager of all time. This man was instant heat for himself and anyone that he was managing. He was a natural like no one I have ever seen before.

One night I was at Madison Square Garden. On that particular night The Wild Samoans were supposed to wrestle in a tag team match. The night before Samoan Sika had been injured somewhere in Maryland I believe and would not be able to compete that night or for a long while. The fans were informed ahead of time that they could get a refund. At that time Howard Finkel announced that "demanding" to take Sika’s place was Captain Louis Albano. The garden erupted into a frenzy in the hopes that the fat slob Lou Albano would finally get his. As happened so many times Lou never really got his.

One night when Afa and Sika and Lou were in my car the fans outside MSG tried to turn the car over with us in it. It was Lou that got out and scattered the crowd. It showed how much heat that those guys had. You could take any wrestler and put him with Lou and the fans would literally despise them.

Once I really got to know Lou he was a very funny guy. I smile whenever I think about him. He, of course, was well known for his drinking. We were at the Cauliflower Alley Club in New Jersey. The thing I remember the most is Lou yelling over and over at Vince McMahon “Hey McMahon I hope that shirt of yours is waterproof because that tie is a pisser”.

I spoke to Bruno Sammartino about Lou Albano today. He made it clear that, in his opinion, as a manager Lou was second to none. He also mentioned that even as a manager Lou was so hated and despised that he would be put in the ring with Sammartino. He made it clear that they sold out where ever they went because people wanted to see him literally tear Albano to shreds.

If you watch pro wrestling today you have no idea what real heat is/was. I suggest that you go to YouTube and find anything that you can of Capt. Louis Albano. He was truly a gift to the World Wrestling Federation and, along with Classy Freddie Blassie and The Grand Wizard, was one third of wrestling's greatest trio of managers ever in any territory. He may have been a limited wrestler with only mild singles success along with a little better success as part of The Sicilians with Tony Altimore but as a manager he rose to the top and stayed there.

My most lasting thoughts of Lou were how he helped change the face of wrestling with the whole Rock and Wrestling connection. His appearance in the Girls Just Want to Have Fun video with Cyndi Lauper started the wave of him becoming a babyface. The other is that while Lou was a heel anytime the territory might have been down or there was hole that needed to be filled the limited at best wrestler Capt. Louis Albano was called up to put the tights on. There was only one reason why the McMahon’s made that decision that was because it always worked.

He managed tag teams like The Moondogs, The Wild Samoans and The Valiant Brothers. He led them and many other teams to the tag team championship. He also led Ivan Koloff to dethrone the man who seemed unbeatable Bruno Sammartino. There is a reason that a manager has that many championships for his men.

Please rest in peace Capt. Lou. I am glad I got to know and work with you. I respected your work. You and your work will never be forgotten.

This has been a piece of my mind