Looking back at Albano’s legacy of managing tag team champions

When I started watching pro wrestling in February 1981 (I can’t believe it’s been 31 years), Captain Lou Albano was known as the WWF manager of tag teams.

The first tandem I saw him guide was Rex and King, the Moondogs (Spot later joined the team after King was stopped at the Canadian border in real life and not allowed into the United States). Most of Albano’s teams, the Moondogs included, held the WWWF or WWF Tag Team Title.

Albano’s start in tag teams happened well before the ‘80s, as he managed several teams in the 1970s. Here is who I can remember Albano managing (and if I’ve got anything or missed a team, let me know):

  • Yukon Lumberjacks (Eric and Pierre) — These guys are actually the first wrestlers I ever remember seeing on TV, as I switched on the channel and caught them. It was a few years before wrestling hooked me.
  • Blackjacks (Mulligan and Lanza) — Blackjack Mulligan went on to headline against Bob Backlund in the early ‘80s with his claw hold, which often resulted in bloody jobber matches during which the infamous red censor X blocked the screen. Lanza later became a long-time WWF road agent behind the scenes.
  • Executioners — This masked team was actually legendary wrestler Killer Kowalski and his protégé, John Studd. Studd became a main-eventer years later.
  • Valiant Brothers (Johnny, Jimmy, and Jerry) — The Valiants were a big deal at the time, holding the tag belts for more than a year. These guys were really effective as heels, particularly Johnny and Jimmy.
  • Wild Samoans — Perhaps Albano’s most successful team, Afa and Sika held the WWF Tag Team Titles three times, which was a long-standing record.
  • Moondogs — I remember well their feud with Tony Garea and Rick Martel over the belts.
  • Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito — Fuji had held gold with Professor Toru Tanaka in the 1970s, while Saito was an accomplished Japanese star who later became AWA World Champion.
  • Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo — After Albano turned babyface in late 1984, he started managing good guy teams, although the “magic” of Captain Lou was lost once he dropped his heel character.
  • British Bulldogs — The Bulldogs were one of the greatest teams in history, with Dynamite Kid as the workhorse and Davey Boy Smith as the powerhouse.
  • The MachinesThis was a masked gimmick that started after Andre the Giant was suspended in the storyline. The original Machines (Giant Machine and Super Machine) were Andre and Bill Eadie, a.k.a. Masked Superstar and later Demolition Ax. As Andre’s health declined, Mulligan came in as Big Machine.

The Machines may have the only team Albano managed that didn’t win the tag belts.

I know the Mongols held the tag titles in the early ‘70s, but I’m not sure if Albano managed them. Anyone out there remember?

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10 comments

  1. Pingback: Demolition poised to lose reign as longest WWE tag team champions | Boston Garden Balcony
  2. Pingback: Blackjack Mulligan, known for an infamous assault by fan at Boston Garden, has died | Boston Garden Balcony
  3. Joe Lowry

    As I surf the web in search of something that would catch my eye, I got to thinking about wrestling at the garden and Captain Lou Albano as well as the other managers of that time. Now I attended the matches consistantly from 1981 to 1987 and off and on until 1992. I think its safe to say that during this time it was very rare to see a manager accompany their proteges to the ring when they wrestled at the Boston Garden. I am not sure why. Some things I do recall as it pertains to managers coming to the ring in Boston: Buddy Rogers escorting Jimmy Snuka to the ring for his cage match against Magnificent Muraco. Arnold Skaaland falling victim to The Masked Superstars infamous neckbreaker outside the ring during his match against Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship. I actually have a picture somewhere of Skaaland being carried off onto a stretcher. I recall Freddie Blassie excorting Killer Khan to the ring for his stretcher match against Andre The Giant. The Captain made rare appearances as well. When Mr. Fugi and Mr. Saito won the tag belts from Tony Garea and Rick Martel there rematch at the Garden featured The Captain in his japanese garb. That I remember. The Grand Wizard I think made on appearance with Muraco back in the summer of 1982 during his one hour snoozers with Backlund. Miss Elizabeth was always with Randy Savage but that was later in the 80’s. Of course this information is all strictly from memory. It was always exciting when the managers came to town. The crowd pops were always huge when they made appearances. I am sure if I keep thinking I will come up with some more. But honestly, most of the managers never made the trips to Boston. Does anyone else remember managers making appearances ?

  4. J.Cee

    When the acting bug bit Captain Lou as one of the Super Mario Brothers on syndicated TV, then that seemed to spell the end to his full-time commitment to the WWF. I liked the way he would sell when he got slugged while standing on the ring apron trying to interfere with the flow of the match. I had an ex-friend who I went to visit in Somers, New York around 1990, and he drove by this nice house that he told me belonged to Lou Albano. It was a pretty modest home for Westchester County, and it had a spacious fireplace to the left.

  5. Joe

    According to the web; Capt. Lou Albano guided The Mongols (Bepo & Geeto) to tag team gold in the early 70’s. Also, according to WWE.com, Capt. Lou’s final WWE appearance was in 1994 as he became an advisor to his former protégés Afa of The Samoans in helping Samu & Fatu, The Headshrinkers to tag team gold. Thus adding to his list of tag team champions. This I did not know. The Captain as truly one of a kind. His unbelievable microphone skills were unique and went beyond charismatic. The Captain was always a standout and made watching Saturday morning wrestling more entertaining than ever. My personal favorite line was when he would always tell Vince that he had his wrestlers on a strict diet of “unborn virgins goat milk!” You just can’t make this stuff up, but The Captain always did.

    • bostongardenbalcony

      I considered the Headshrinkers for this list, but to me, Afa was their manager, not Albano, although Capt. Lou did appear with them. As for the goat’s milk line, I just laughed out loud. I do remember him saying that.

      • Joe

        As for the Headshrinkers, I thought the same thing. But as mentioned previously, the WWE recognized both Afa and Capt. Lou as managers and added The Headshrinkers to Albano’s list of championship tag teams. Personally, I would have added them. It was his guidance of Afa that propelled The Headshrinkers to tag team gold. So in reality the Captains guidance paved the way in some form or another.

  6. Evan J Rodgers

    Albano was not afraid to get in the ring.Once in Baltimore one of the Moondog team didnt show up, so Albano wrestled in his place and held his own!!They won the match. If my memory serves me correctly (and thats a big IF) it was around the Moondog era that Captain Lou started wearing rubber bands in his face!!! He was such a performer-comedian- I think in a way he was an artist but he himself was the art!!! The Samoans were a class act, absolutely legends!! I think Jerry Valiant is underated. It killed me when in the 80’s they demoted Jery Valiant to jobber status and didnt even mention that he was a former WWWF Tag Team Champion!! It was not actually his jobbing that killed me, just the failure to mention his championship status history. Anyway, it is always good to read about Captain Lou Albano- thank you for sharing this. He was a true original and a legend. Anyone who grew up watching him will never forget him!!!

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