Captain Lou Albano Shoot Interview

“The Guiding Light” takes us through his 50 year wrestling career as the WWWF’s top manager.

Taped in late 2000/early 2001

Lou jokes that he is a legend in his own mind and goes into his rap on all his champions over the years.

Albano started with the WWF in the late 50’s and remained working for them for nearly 50 years.

The Captain was in the army when he was given an early release due to having a “cracked spine” from an old football game. Wrestling came next and Albano jumps quickly ahead and starts talking about Vince McMahon Sr. and how many times Lou ended up fired after drinking far too much.

Bruno Sammartino told Albano in the early 60’s that Lou wasn’t a good wrestler. Bruno liked Albano’s talking and suggested he become a manager.

His first gimmick was “Leaping” Lou Albano. His “Captain” moniker came from college sports where he was a team captain before being kicked out of school for cheating on a test.

Antonio Rocca was Albano’s first TV opponent. Lou tried to lay out some spots for himself, but Rocca’s manager made it sternly clear that Albano was to not to get any offense. Lou told his friends he was going to work on TV and they all assumed he would get maybe as much as a thousand bucks for being a TV “star”. Albano ended up being paid 25 bucks. He cried foul and ended up blackballed by Vince Sr. for six months because he complained. After expenses he came away with 13 bucks for the day.

Lou got some work in Canada during the winter – it was a good promotion but the weather was brutal.

Vince Sr. suggested Albano go to Chicago for a chance to expand his career. It was there he formed the “Sicilians” with Tony Altimore. They had a mob gimmick, but had to lose some of their garb because real members of the mob were upset at being represented in a negative light.

The Captain worked with Jackie Gleason in a wrestling skit on “Your shows of shows”.

Albano avoided taking drugs and never drove after drinking.

The first tag team champions Albano managed ended up being handed the titles after a made up tournament.

Karl Gotch was under Lou’s managerial eye. Gotch had real shooting ability comparable to Dr. Death, Danny Hodge and Kurt Angle.

The WWF is doing big business now, but Albano is not a fan of the product. (This was filmed at a time where sex and violence was prominent.)

Mr. Fuji was hilarious in real life. Toru Tanaka was a legit U.S. military vet and just played up ethnic stereotypes for heat.

Blackjack Mulligan was a rugged football player for the New York Titans (Jets) before coming into the wrestling world.

George Steele talked with a lisp and that is partially why he had a gimmick where he cut limited promos.

Managing appealed to Albano because he was a good talker and this allowed him to get heat and take limited bumps, thus prolonging his career.

The gimmick where he wore rubber bands came from an incident where Lou saw a bum with a rubber band in his beard.

Lou Albano worked 57 times as a manager who was forced to wrestle, and 56 were sell outs. The only miss was when a snowstorm killed off business in Boston one night.

I should note the interviewer keeps asking Albano about wrestlers and instead of talking about his time working with the guy and perhaps stories about them, Lou is instead telling us where they live and what they now do.

Chief Jay Strongbow was called a “wop” by Albano, since both men are Italian, which makes the casual racism ok.

When asked about Jules Strongbow, Albano thinks the interviewer meant the old promoter and not the WWF tag champ and answers vaguely.

Albano is asked about who was the 3rd Executioner during an angle in the late 70’s. Lou was managing Big John Studd and Killer Kowalski under hoods, and a third man showed up. Albano thinks it was Bill Eadie, but I believe Lou is thinking of the Machines angle in 1986. (I may be wrong.)

Lou once handed Afa a lobster during a promo – it was still alive and Afa was pissed that he had to bite into a live creature who was “fighting” back.

The Moondogs would piss on Albano for a rib.

Pedro Morales was a hot head.

Karl Gotch could work, but he had limited charisma and showmanship.

Johnny Rodz was a legit badass. He served as Vince Sr’s gatekeeper who tested out new talent.

Jackie Gleason brought in Arnold Skaaland, Skull Murphy, Tony Altimore, and Albano to work in a TV skit. Jackie was carried to the ring by a plethora of midgets and beat up everyone. They all took exaggerated bumps thanks to some Hollywood stunt tricks.

Bruno made around 200-220 grand per year at the peak of his stardom.

Morales was a big, tough ethnic worker, which made him Vince Sr’s choice to replace Bruno when Sammartino decided to cut back on wrestling.

Tony Atlas claims Albano came to the ring drunk one night and mooned Vince Sr.’s wife at ringside. Lou denies this, but does admit he mooned someone in the locker room hallway.

Rumors also stated that Albano and the other Italians held Vince Sr. out a window to try and force him to listen to their demands. Albano denies this too.

The fans rioted when Ivan Koloff beat Bruno for the WWWF title. Albano’s car window was smashed and the fans were chucking chunks of dirt at him. Windows at a nearby bar were smashed and the bartenders jaw may have been broken.

Albano worked Jimmy Snuka a few dozen times in 1983. Most of the places were sold out. Lou would bleed and run away, inciting the fans.

World of Wheels books Albano 3 dozen times a year for autograph sessions.

Lou asked out of his WWF contract in 1994 so he could focus on commercials and bit movie parts instead of traveling.

Vince Sr. being in charge made for a more fun experience in the locker room compared to when his son took over.

The midgets were crazy – once they taped some small explosives to a mobile toy car and sent it under a bathroom stall where it exploded in S.D. Jones face.

A wrestler kept his dog in his car while he went to the ring. Fred Blaise went out and fed the dog laxatives. By the time the wrestler returned to his dog, there was poo everywhere.

Haystacks Calhoun was a great guy. He called everyone “neighbor”.

Gorilla Monsoon was a real deal grappler and became a top flight wrestler.

Lou is asked about the angle where Monsoon confronted Muhammed Ali. Albano remembers a much different version of reality than what actually happened as he talks about Monsoon shooting on Ali and making him squeal in a submission hold. (Ali was put in an airplane spin and then ran away.)

Mr. Saito was low key. He was a legit shooter.

“If you do drugs, you go to Hell before you die.”

Lou knew a bodybuilder who overdosed in a public bathroom. He had stuck the needle under his tongue to avoid having his track marks being seen.

Tito Santana was a very good wrestler. He’s an articulate man.

Bob Backlund was too clean cut to get over to the degree that a Sammartino had. He also lacked stellar promo skills. He was a lot tougher than he looked.

Backlund’s opponents had to work Bob’s style or the match would more than likely stink.

Steroids were suppose to be used medically for people in need. The wrestlers and others who abused them ended up with severe internal organ damage.

Afa was fired from the WWF in 1985 for returning home because either his son or nephew was born and Afa wanted to see it happen.

Cyndi Lauper met Lou on a plane out of Puerto Rico. They hit it off and Albano ended up in her music video, which led to Lauper working with the WWF.

Albano wouldn’t want his family to join wrestling, especially with the adult angles the WWF are currently pushing.

When asked about Japan, Lou starts to talk about Rikidozan being chewed on by Fred Blaisse. This freaked out the audience as they thought Blaise was drinking his blood.

Barry Windham had the talent to be World champion, but he never got the break needed to hit that level. Hulk Hogan had limited skills, but his size was what the WWF liked and he became a mega star.

Lauper is brought back up and this leads to Albano rambling about Tina Turner doing shows with Lauper and showing up all bruised up from her husband’s beatings.

Adding celebrities to the mix made more eyes check out the product. When they saw how fun the show was, it became okay to watch.

The Honky Tonk Man is not on TV today because he’s too good at promos and would embarrass the modern workers with his skills.

Dynamite Kid was a vicious ribber.

Lou retells the S.D. Jones on the toilet being attacked by midgets story.

Midget acting legend Billy Barty drove Lou around while they were filming “Body Slam” Barty had anger issues if you made fun of him. Barty would curse out drivers who looked at him funny since he had a special device to drive with due to his height.

Vince Jr. was originally going to invest in “Body Slam”, then backed out. He wanted Lou to not star in it because Vince wasn’t a part of the deal anymore. Albano did it anyway and earned himself heat. Lou got the actual wrestlers involved in the film.

Albano liked to drink Vodka because it smelled less than other booze. He would play up his drinking in the back because it was his backstage “gimmick”, but he claims he was never the sloppy drunk that the boys made him out to be.

Sammartino was the only guy making more money each year than the Captain was during his managerial prime. (If you figure in the talent rotating in and out, this is probably true.)

Afa and Sika were double tough wild men. Sika once tore off a locked car door to get at a fan who had struck him.

The Captain puts over Jimmy Hart, Cornette, Heenan and others, but really says nothing noteworthy about them.

Andy Kaufman was a big fan of Capt. Lou’s. Danny Devito had worked in the movies with Albano in the past and apparently got Albano a role in the “Man on the Moon” movie. Lou says he was taken off it because they gave Jerry Lawler his spot instead. Given that Lawler plays himself wrestling Kaufman, that doesn’t make much sense.

Harley Race was a “competent” wrestler who lacked charisma.

Andre once backhanded a guy who was annoying him at a bar. The man flew through a window. The cops were called but everyone played dumb.

Buddy Rogers was terrific. He was in great shape until the day he died.

Albano rails against the modern WWF smut product again.

The “Heroes of Wrestling” PPV was run by a non-wrestling fan. Some of the wrestlers (like Jake Roberts) came late and no one was really in charge of the locker room. One Man Gang and Abby the Butcher bladed without permission.

The interviewer asks in WCW ever tried to get Albano for their “Slamboree” legend shows. The Captain replies with a story about Vince Jr. having him come to the WWF Hall of Fame and then making an action figure of him.

Final thoughts: The Captain was a bit all over the place for my tastes. The interview would have gone better had Lou been able to focus and answer what was asked of him instead of going off on tangents. He also provided many vague answers when asked about talent “He was good.” and didn’t flesh out his thoughts. There was some interesting stuff in here, but it was hard to sift through.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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