#WF016 – The Life And Times Of Captain Lou Albano
James Dixon: I am not looking forward to this one at all. I have little time for Captain Lou, despite his unquestionable influence on the industry. Being relevant does not make someone good. Gorilla really puts him over on his tape introduction and we get footage from before Albano was even known as “Captain” in a match against Tony Angelo. It is from the Philadelphia Arena but the date is unknown, just that it is “about 25 years ago” according to Gorilla. We just see the finish as Angelo runs into the buckles and knocks himself out, and Albano covers him for the pin. I hope all the clips of him working are this short.
Captain Lou Albano vs. Rick Martel
Talk about a difference in styles! Albano’s attire wouldn’t be out of place in ECW! This comes from the late 70s at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Albano jumps Martel and sends him out of the ring, then refuses to let him come back in, running him into the post from the apron. When he gets back inside, Albano goes to the eyes a number of times by scraping them with his wrist tape. Martel mounts a comeback and rips the tape off, unloading in the corner. Martel chokes Albano with the tape and stomps away on him, so Albano bails and leaves for the count out defeat. Four minutes of eye rakes and chokes and not a single wrestling hold to be found. If it was any longer than four minutes, it would have got negative stars. Not a great way to start the tape at all.
Final Rating: DUD
2 out of 3 Falls
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Strongbow Brothers (c) vs. Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito
This comes from Allentown, Pennsylvania in July 1982, and while on paper it doesn’t look appealing, the silver lining is that at least we don’t have to watch Albano work again! Jules Strongbow is on the same list as the likes of David Sammartino, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and George Steele. I cannot stand him. In fact, I think I would take Albano over Jules. Why the hell did I agree to review this tape? It was a heated debate in the office between Arnold and I over who did this and who got Wrestling’s Country Boys. I guess in one sense I should be grateful, but it won’t make me moan about it any less, oh no! The first fall in this only lasts a matter of seconds, with Fuji throwing salt in the eyes of both Jay and Jules while Saito distracts the ref, pinning the latter. That is actually all we get from this match, 38 seconds! Wow, if it was a match featuring anyone I wanted to see work, then I would feel ripped off, but it turns out I am actually rather pleased. The referee here was pretty dumb, seeing as though the salt went ALL OVER him and was clearly visible in the ring. Can anyone explain how that was in ANY way the best of Albano? Best of Fuji maybe…
Final Rating: Not rated
2 out of 3 Falls
Mr. Fuji, Mr. Saito & Captain Lou Albano vs. Tony Garea, Rick Martel & Tony Atlas
This is from the Philadelphia Spectrum in February 1982 and as Gorilla points out, all of these guys are former tag team champions. The WWF in 1982 was just awful. As I have said elsewhere, the difference between this and the WrestleMania era is astonishing, it is like a different world. I would put 1982 right up there with 1993 and 1995 as my least favourite eras in the company’s history. I actually think it was the worst. After a brief exchange between Garea and Saito, Atlas comes in and goes to town, hitting a huge slam. Fuji gets a blind tag and he and Saito double team Atlas enough for Albano to come in and hit him with a few shots. Atlas doesn’t sell it, so Lou makes a quick tag, sensing the danger. I can’t imagine anyone reading this particular cares, and indeed, I doubt very much that anyone was especially riveted by it at the time. It is the same as any tag match that features a manager, everyone has seen this gimmick a number of times, and there is nothing else to say. Fuji pins Martel to win it, I guess that must have been the third fall because this is over. Albano does nothing of note. Again, this would be better served for a Fuji tape, or rather “Fugi” if we are going by the WWF graphic. Another pointless inclusion, why did they even bother releasing this?
WWF Tag Team Championship
No DQ Match
The Islanders (c) vs. Tony Atlas & Rocky Johnson
We return to Allentown, PA for this match from November 1983, and we are again joined in progress. The match also features on the previous Coliseum release, Tag Team Champions. Atlas has the pin but the referee is out, so Albano looks to take advantage by coming in with a wooden chair. He swings at Atlas, but misses and breaks it over Afa’s head, costing the Samoans the match and the titles. I am beginning to wonder if there is going to be a single full match on this tape other than the shambles with Martel? I know at the start I asked for the highlights to be this short, but I am a hypocrite and it is starting to grate on me now. Also, why would you put a match on someone’s best of tape where they cost their team the match? It makes no sense!
Final Rating: Not rated
Next we have footage from some of Albano’s appearances on the TNT show in 1984. The first few minutes of the segment go like this: “grunt, growl grunt, nonsense, grunt, nonsense, growl”. It is THRILLING viewing. I can tell you already that this tape is NOT recommended, and we are not even halfway through yet! Albano defends his actions from the previous match by saying the Samoans should have come back from what he looks at as a “technical mistake”. Albano makes up for some of his indiscretions by mercilessly mocking the big fop Lord Alfred Hayes. Yes! Bonus points to you Albano! It is a shame he ruins it in the next segment by apologising to him. He goes on to talk about his new charge The Spoiler, and explains how he improved his hand strength by squeezing a rubber ball. Ok then.
WWF Tag Team Championship
Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch (c) vs. The Wild Samoans
Captain Lou is the special guest referee for this match, from June 1984 in MSG. The Samoans, who are now babyfaces after falling out with Lou, have the best of the early exchanges to the approval of the crowd. I actually much prefer the Wild Samoans as babyfaces because they were fairly boring as heels. They are more entertaining this way, though they border on comedy at times. We get clipped and everything breaks down, but Albano lets it all go, and again the Samoans get the better of things. Murdoch struggles with Sika and tries to make a tag, but he is in the wrong corner. He finally gets it, and we have more clipping and return with Adonis in control. Not for long though, as he receives a headbutt while he is on the top rope, and falls to the outside. Splash/headbutt combo from the Samoans has Murdoch beaten, but Albano refuses to count properly. The Samoans argue with him so he calls for the bell and disqualifies them. Inevitably, a brawl ensues. Slightly better than awful, but a million miles from good.
Final Rating: ¼*
An interview conducted by Mean Gene Okerland with Albano and the Fabulous Moolah is so non-descript that it doesn’t deserve more than a passing mention.
Captain Lou Albano’s Advice To The Lovelorn
Lee has covered this already in the Wrestling’s Bloopers Bleeps and Bodyslams tape. First up is a husband who smells bad, so Albano suggests natural remedies instead of deodorant. The second letter concerns another husband who is incredibly fat and Albano tells him to try a low carb diet. Finally, another husband refuses to take his cowboy boots off so Albano advises on using more deodorant. What, not natural remedies? Thrilling, huh? I am tempted to break into a “we want wrestling” chant but the other guys will start throwing stuff at me. Again.
Back to the TNT show, as Albano discusses how he helped to make Cyndi Lauper. Well, I say “discusses”, but it is hard to tell with Albano. To give you a point of reference, take a motorbike or a blender, turn it on and talk over it, but be sure to do it at speed and run all your sentences together. The more nonsense you talk the better. Done? Ok, congratulations! You just did your first Lou Albano impression. Don’t ask me to interpret what he said, I have no idea.
Lots of Albano and Piper sucking each other’s proverbial dicks, as Albano puts himself over for making Lauper. Lauper appears on the Pit and she loses her temper with Albano for being sexist, and attacks both he and Piper. A very famous and important segment, and the best thing on the tape so far. That’s right; the best thing on a WWF tape comes from a pop singer.
A Roddy Piper Double Cross
Albano apologises to Lauper on TNT, and says that while he wants to take some credit for her career, she probably could have done the same thing on her own. We then go to a very famous angle from MSG, as Dick Clark presents Lauper with a special achievement award for bringing rock and wrestling together. Lauper in turn presents Albano with a record for helping to raise money for multiple sclerosis. Sure, he was a good guy outside of the business, but I can only judge him and his tape based on what I see on the screen. Piper says he wants to present Albano with the record, and he smashes it over his head. He then pushes Lauper and slams her manager David Wolff (in what was a shocking angle at the time), setting up a match with Hulk Hogan at the War to Settle the Score on MTV. It is hard to not to understate the importance of this angle. Without it, WrestleMania might never have happened. Which makes it all the more galling that Michael Cole ripped Cyndi Lauper, Wendi Richter and Roddy Piper apart for their homage segment in 2012. The WWE’s lack of respect for its own history and the people who brought it to the dance in the first place, borders on sickening. Albano deserves to take a lot of credit for his involvement in the original, because he was front and centre for all of this. The best things happened around him rather than with him though, but either way, this was a superb segment.
Because of the above, Albano is all pissed off when he appears on the TNT show again, finally showing some intensity and aggression. Piper is the guest later on and he wonders aloud how much of the charity money Albano skimmed off the top. Albano confronts him and they get into an argument, but before things get interesting we shift to an interview with Gorilla Monsoon and Albano, just for this tape. Shame, that was getting good. We have gone from an intense feud to a career retrospective interview in the blink of an eye. It is interesting, and as close to a shoot interview as you will get in the 80s, but just completely out of place. Of note is that Albano smokes a cigar throughout the interview, which I am amazed got past Vince, who famously detests smoking.
Captain Lou Albano Carves Pumpkins
Albano is dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween, and makes jokes about pissing himself as the audience FAKE LAUGHS LOUDLY. Vince can barely hold back his smirk, the vindictive bastard. We cut to footage from a restaurant, where Tito Santana is delivered a half eaten sandwich. His famous temper threatens to come out, and he confronts the chef, who is of course Albano. Captain Lou claims he “kisses all the food” before he sends it out. I wish I smoked whatever the WWF roster was on back then, I am sure the world would be a more interesting place! As if things aren’t surreal enough, Albano carves pumpkins as Hayes and Vince look on with disgust. This goes on for five minutes.
Lou’s Spicy Spaghetti
I can only assume they are taking the piss now. Suddenly this has become a cooking show. Where is all the wrestling? Remember the intense rivalry that Albano had with Roddy Piper and Bob Orton, as demonstrated just a few segments ago? Yeah, well, now he is cooking for them, all the while laughing and joking like they are best buds. It’s like a huge rib. Rod and Bob steal some sausages, because they are such heels, but Albano gets the last laugh because he seasons the spaghetti with “extra spicy powder”, which makes Orton and Piper wretch. Who used to watch this!?
Andre the Giant, Hillbilly Jim & Captain Lou Albano vs. Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy & Bobby Heenan
The final feature of the tape is a six-man tag match from November 1985 at MSG. When there are six guys in the match and Bobby Heenan is far and away the best worker, you know you are in trouble. Bundy overpowers Jim to start, but when Andre comes in, the tables turn somewhat. He chokes out Bundy in the corner, but Bundy retaliates by clubbing away. One of the worst matches I have ever seen took place between these two, and they are continuing in the same vein here. Studd coming in doesn’t make things any better. What a fitting end to a terrible tape this match is. You might think that I haven’t even given it a chance and I have been adamant from the start that I would hate it, but you would be wrong. If you don’t believe me, feel free to pick this up and try and find some enjoyment in it. This match is even worse than the Colossal Jostle. I could take a shit and it would have a better workrate than what these guys are doing. In fact, dropping a deuce would take more effort than what they have put into this match collectively. It’s all terrible looking strikes, tedious rest holds and standing around. Have you ever seen someone stand around slowly? No, neither had I until this match. Don’t try telling me that it is a different era either, because the Bulldogs were around in 1985 and they didn’t sleepwalk through their matches like this, that’s for sure. The best exchanges in this whole match have been between Heenan and Albano, the managers. There is something wrong there, despite how great Heenan was. This affront to wrestling finally ends when Andre pins Heenan with a boot to the face. Match over, tape over. One of the most horrid bouts I have ever seen.
Final Rating: -***
Summary: One of the worst tapes you will ever see, not just from the WWF, but out of anything ever released on VHS. This tape would get a rating of zero if not for two strong segments in the middle, both of which are carried by Cyndi Lauper and Roddy Piper. There is barely a match to be found, and the ones that do appear are dire at best, and offensive at worst. The last match is one of the worst you will EVER see. If you own this tape, destroy it so no-one else has to suffer.