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Wrestling / Captain Lou Albano

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He's Captain Lou,
and he's talkin' to you.

Louis Vincent Albano (July 29, 1933 — October 14, 2009) was an Italian-American pro wrestler and dance choreographer best known for his appearances as "Captain" Lou Albano.

The Wise Men of the East (sometimes billed as the "Triumvirate of Terror") managed the heels in Vince McMahon Sr.'s WWF. The Grand Wizard would manage up-and-comers, guys who could talk and finish the promo after he set it up. "Classy" Freddie Blassie got more heat than the Wizard because he managed turncoats and categorically-evil foreigners, like the Bolsheviks and Iron Sheik. He would cut most if not all of the promos for them. Albano was arguably the best of the three. He managed a lot of Islanders, so he would cut 100% of every promo. He also managed a lot of tag team champions. Hell, Afa and Sika got Title matches in Madison Square Garden against Bob Backlund because Albano was that over as a heel.

Basically, WrestleMania would never have happened were it not for Rock n' Wrestling Connection. We can thank Lou Albano and Cyndi Lauper hitting it off creatively and bringing media attention WWF's way.

Outside of the wrestling world, he is best-known for playing Mario (both in live-action and animated segments) on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! in 1989, holding the distinction of being the first actor for Mario to achieve widespread popularitynote  and consequently setting a precedent for the role that would remain in place until 1996, when Super Mario 64 popularized Charles Martinet's rendition of the characternote . He also appeared as Lauper's fictional father in the "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.

"These tropes are often imitated, never duplicated":

  • Big Fun: As a face. Averted when, after he left the WWF in 1986, came back in 1994 to co-manage the face-turned The Headshrinkers with Afa in 1994, and had dropped a lot of weight during those 8 years.
  • Biography: His 2008 autobiography Often Imitated, Never Duplicated
  • Cloudcuckoolander: "Dr. Papoofnick said I could be helped!"
  • Drugs Are Bad: He once did an anti-drug PSA that is infamously known for its incredibly dark and shocking closing sentence.
    "And remember, if you do drugs, you'll go to Hell before you die."note 
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: He started as a Pretty Boy babyface named "Leapin' Lou Albano."
  • Fat Bastard: As a heel.
  • Game Show Appearance: On The Hollywood Squares.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Thanks to Roddy Piper during an in-ring ceremony where Albano was being congratulated for his charity work. That charity work, by the way, was becoming publicized in the mainstream media, and because Vince McMahon wanted only the faces to be recognized for their work, he – along with Piper and Cyndi Lauper – devised a storyline that sparked not only a legendary face turn, but Piper's legendary feud with Hulk Hogan and the coming of WrestleMania. Albano kept his Motor Mouth persona, and at times Gorilla Monsoon still called him a "Fountain Of Misinformation," but it was clear that Albano was a good guy to stay.
  • Iconic Item: The hardcore-looking rubber band piercings he used to wear all the time.
  • Irony: Although raised in the U.S., he was born in Italynote  and was of Italian descent...just like Mario.
  • Jerkass: As a heel.
  • Large Ham: One of his greatest assets as a manager, since he could bring out a wrestler with little to no charisma or mic skills and Albano could put him over on the mic as an all-time great.
  • Lighter and Softer: He debuted as a heel in 1953 and competed in Chicago and Los Angeles before making his home in the then-WWF. He moved into the role of manager in 1970 and held that role for over a decade, until "Rowdy" Roddy Piper smashed a gold record over Albano's head. From that point on, Lou was a Face and would remain one for the rest of his career.
  • The Mafia: This was the original gimmick of his Tag Team the Sicilians with Tony Altimore, until the real thing got word of it and told them not to do it.
  • Motor Mouth: To Cloudcuckoolander/Talkative Loon levels, as he would make up names of nonexistent people and go off on random tangents.
  • Odd Friendship: With Cyndi Lauper. He was a middle-aged wrestler, she was an up-and-coming pop star twenty years his junior. They remained friends for the rest of Albano's life.
  • The Pigpen: "PEG Principle — for Politeness, Etiquette and Grooming!" He says while belching cigar smoke.
  • Pirate: He briefly used this gimmick.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Early in his Heel manager Days, he promoted a match between Pedro Morales and his man Ivan Koloff by railing on both Puerto Ricans and Italians. The whole insanity ended with Koloff winning and a mob of enraged Hispanic wrestling fans literally chasing Lou down the street.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: He suffered a non-wrestling injury and used the scar as a way to turn himself heel.
  • Red Baron: "The Guiding Light"
  • Redemption Promotion: While he was always a very successful manager, his face turn helped raise his profile a lot.
  • Religious Bruiser: He was a Catholic and was even baptized at the Vatican.
  • Ring Oldies:
    • A buccaneer before he changed his gimmick, Albano wasn't a great wrestler, but had a couple of high visibility runs in the northeast. In the psychedelic era, he switched gears to became a fast-talking huckster, which is what he's most known for.
    • In doing so, Albano helped popularize what is now a bog standard wrestling trope: the meddling "hypeman" who leaves a slime trail wherever he goes. He managed a great many teams to the WWE World Tag Team Titles, including Mr. Fuji's teams with Professor Toru Tanaka and Mr. Saito, the Wild Samoans, The Moondogs, The Blackjacks, the U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda), the British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith) and the Headshrinkers. He retired in 1995. He was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2012. He was a 1x WWWF United States Tag Team Champion with Tony Altimore as the Sicilians in 1967.
  • The Rival: Bruno Sammartino, the one who suggested the Heel manager gimmick.
    Deadspin: Sammartino was a WWWF mainstay, but his villainous opponents were often imported on short-term contracts to feud and, once dispatched, to disappear into a different territory. This kept the card fresh but it limited the long-term storytelling potential. In his new role, Albano bridged the gap. He became Sammartino's principle foil, despite the fact that he hardly set foot in the ring; Albano sent fearsome heels at Sammartino like an ornery god lobbing thunderbolts at antiquity's heroes.
  • Sitcom: As Himself on the 1990 Hey Dude! episode "Killer Ernst" and as "Gus" on 227.
  • Talk Show with Fists: "Captain Lou's Corner," in Herb Abrams' UWF.
  • Terrible Trio: Along with his fellow managers Freddie Blassie and the Grand Wizard.
  • Wrestling Managers Are Heels: Played straight throughout much of his career in the WWF until Vince McMahon enforced a Heel–Face Turn (see above).

"Until next time everybody, Do The Mario!!"