The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
Remembering Capt. Lou
The Kingfish Arnie Katz shares his memories of the late, great Capt. Lou Albano.
RAW’s tribute to the late Lou Albano brought back many memories. It was one of the longest such salutes WWE has done and, in this case, it’s entirely fitting.
His zany character had almost as much to do with the transformation of the WWWF from a Northeast promotion to one that spanned North America as Hulk Hogan or Vince McMahon.
I’m almost exactly the same age as Vince McMahon ad I grew up in the New York City area blanketed y his father’s promotion, the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). My earliest memories of Lou Albano are of him as a jobber heel. Back then, just about every TV match was a squash and it seemed like either Lou Albano or Tony Altimore was always on the losing end to some star babyface.
His appearance consigned him to the jobber role, but he did it well, considering that he never even got close to the microphone and had a character consisting of long black tights. Lou was short and fat, even by the low physical standards of pro wrestling in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Still, it said something that I noticed him at the time and remembered him vividly even after I stopped watching pro wrestling for a while.
When I resumed watching in the mid-1970’s, Lou Albano’s “big chance” as a wrestler had come and gone. During my hiatus, Albano had teamed with Altimore as The Sicilians. The WWF went through some tough times and the fact that Lou got that kind of shot was just additional evidence that the promotion had few major talents.
By then, Albano ad entered a new phase of his association with sports entertainment. He had become the fast-talking manager of heel tag teams like the Valiant Brothers and singles stars including Ivan Koloff.
It was managing that led Capt. Lou Albano into the peak of his career, the Rock * Wrestling Connection storyline that pitted Hulk against
Roddy Piper and other nefarious villains such as Bob Orton Sr. As a life-long rocker, I loved the idea of mixing the music and ring worlds by bringing in such as Cyndi Lauper.
Capt. Lou Albano was responsible for one of the most memorable incidents that happened tome while I was co-edit of Main Event
magazine and co-host of The Main Event Wrestling Show” on New York’s WHBI in the late1970’s.
I was backstage at Madison Square Garden with my recorder, doing short interviews for the radio show. Capt. Lou and his man Ivan Koloff readily agreed to do a segment. Things were a bit noisy, so we looked for a quieter place to record and ended up on what appeared to be a desolate loading dock. It still smelled a little of zebra, since the circus had just struck its tents, but it seemed sufficiently isolated.
Standing on the dock, I launched into the interview with Albano and, occasionally, Koloff giving reasonably direct answers.
It went along like that for a few minutes and then, suddenly, things began to change. Albano started bumping me from one side and Koloff muscled up on the other.
Voices got louder and more quarrelsome, the shoving continued. I glanced around and saw, to my shock, that the abandoned dock had collected an audience of several hundred wrestling fans who were watching me do the interview.
At that point, the three of us went into quite a little kayfabe routine. They yelled, I alternately shouted and whimpered and we made a huge commotion.
Just as it looked as if Koloff and Albano were going to mug me, we burst through the door back into the arena. We all looked at each other and laughed. So thanks to Lou, I was a wrestling announcer for 10 frantic minutes.
Capt Lou Albano was a pioneer who helped infuse pro wrestling with glitz and off-the-wall lunacy that has made it so popular. His death is mourned, and he will be missed, by all members of the wrestling community
That’s all for now. I’ll be back Sunday with a fresh installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me then and, please, bring your friends.
— Arnie Katz