Understanding The Mystique Of Captain Lou Albano
March 15, 2006 by Jake Hamar

He grew his hair out. He dressed like a slob. He wore rubber bands on his cheeks and beard. One word comes to mind when describing Lou Albano: unique.

Back in 1983, when I first discovered wrestling, the WWF ran its program on the MSG Network and USA. One man caught my eye at ringside during those early days, managing such villains as The Wild Samoans, "Iron" Mike Sharpe and Magnificent Muraco. His mic work was so entertaining and so sharp he would often outshine the superstars he was managing. Captain Lou Albano became one of the main players that would bridge the gap between wrestling and entertainment.

Albano broke into the business back in the early 1950's, the golden age of wrestling during it's first successful stint on television on the Dumont Network. As a wrestler, Albano was mediocre; in fact he wouldn't have even been a good job guy (ala Barry Horowitz or SD Jones). His first claim to fame was teaming with Tony Altimore as the "Sicilians". They won numerous tag-team championships throughout the Midwest and in the Northeast. They played the thuggish tough-guy image very well, which hid their shortcomings as workers.

After Albano's full-time wrestling schedule had concluded, he became a manager for Vince McMahon Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation. He led Ivan Koloff to a shocking victory over Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship in 1971. After that, Albano would turn his sights to the tag-team ranks, leading teams such as Baron Mikel Scicluna and King Curtis, The Moondogs, The Valiant Brothers, Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito and The Yukon Lumberjacks to the tag team titles. In addition to his success as a tag team guru, Albano gave some of the best promos in the business, delivering outlandish sayings as "that guy has the brain of a dehydrated beebee", and "he's my twin brother from different mothers".

Albano became such a high-profile character that he appeared in the music video for Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" in 1983. That led to Lauper coming to the WWF in 1984, and starting the "Rock N' Wrestling Connection". Albano went on the TNT show, claiming he found Lauper and "made her the superstar she is today." Albano and Roddy Piper joined up in cahoots and would insult Lauper every chance they got, thus making Lauper turn on Albano and joining up with Hulk Hogan and Wendi Richter. Eventually, Piper turned on Albano, making Captain Lou a babyface for the first time in his career.

His newfound fame on MTV didn't slow the Captain down one bit. He led Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo to the tag-team belts in 1985, and then later on the British Bulldogs. Albano had changed from the nasty devious heel to the lovable overweight uncle-like character.

Then suddenly, in 1986, Albano was gone from the WWF . It was shocking, since he was a main staple of the company for almost 20 years. He would show up from time to time in Wrestling Superstars magazine, giving input on which new stars have the most potential and providing his two cents.

In what was shocking surprise, in 1994, Albano returned to the promotion as the co-manager of The Headshrinkers, leading them to a WWF Tag Team Championship. He then received a tremendous honor as he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

One thing that will be remembered about Captain Lou Albano was that he was always fired up about a match, and would make his presence known in his interviews. He delivered some of the most entertaining promos that our business have ever seen. He was made for prime time wrestling, with his crazy hobo-type wardrobe and bizarre presence.

When the history books are written on wrestling, Captain Lou Albano will be considered as one of the more colorful fellows in the business. Hopefully, we will see this man one more time on WWE programming, whether it be in a storyline or just as an appearance on RAW.

by Jake Hamar ..







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