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RF Video Shoot Interview with Lanny Poffo

This was filmed on October 2nd, 2004

The hosts are Rob Feinstein & Doug Gentry

It runs at three hours and 48 minutes long

DISC ONE

The first question is about growing up in a wrestling family. Poffo said it always felt normal to him and he wouldn’t know what its like to grow up any other way.

 

He then talks about everyone opening up wrestling schools, stating he has not adapted himself and has gotten worse as a wrestler and would feel like he’d be stealing money from people if he opened up a wrestling school and feels this is the case today with schools popping up everywhere and is thankful he was trained by his father.

 

Poffo said that his parents had wrestlers over a lot because they had a pool and people also came over to watch TV as they had one of the first color TV’s on the block.

 

Originally, Poffo said he wanted to be a baseball player and figured if he failed he could fall back on wrestling. He said his brother, Randy Savage, was better than him at both wrestling and baseball and after his first match you could tell Randy would be great. He also talks about growing up in Downers Grove, IL from the time he was in the second grade until he graduated high school.

 

Poffo talks about Randy and says he batted .536 his last two years in high school and was a switch hitter. He even tried to make it as a switch thrower and was signed by the Chicago White Sox but left as Poffo said the sport treated him poorly.

 

He talks about starting out in wrestling now. His first match was actually against his father while wrestling under a mask as the “Masked Avenger.” He then did a flamboyant gimmick, similar to Ricki Starr, that got him over as a heel in Amarillo.

 

Poffo wrestled in Amarillo and for The Sheik in Detroit before going to Charlotte in 1976. He was there with Randy, who Poffo said was stronger than him even when he weighed 40lbs less at the time. Poffo also said Randy could even take down Bob Roop, who was an Olympic Wrestler. Poffo said his gimmick did not get over there. After that, he worked for Nick Gulas and even wrestled Harley Race when he came in with the belt. Poffo said Harley was so good he was able to make George Gulas look good as Poffo said George was one of the worst ever.

 

After working for Gulas, he went with his family to the Maritimes in Canada to work for Emil Dupree. Poffo said he did well there then went to Oregon for Don Owen and saw Roddy Piper for the first time. Poffo said Piper kept getting hurt and coming back and was beaten down by the time he saw him in 1985 for the WWF. Poffo said Piper kept the locker room fun. Poffo also put over Piper for getting him a job offer for Gene LeBel in California but Poffo declined and went to Kentucky with his dad and brother to start ICW.

 

Feinstein asks Poffo about Ole Anderson, who said he disliked his family. Poffo talks about Ole and said he always came up with excuses on why certain people wouldnt draw or make up reasons why they did not draw at the shows. Poffo then talks about philosophy and how Ole put down Ric Flair for only trying to entertain the people and that some of the audience cheering for him means he is an ineffective heel so Poffo asked him how can you get a reaction out of an empty chair as Ole got pissed. Ole also stressed it says “Wrestling” on the marquee and felt Flair was only an entertainer but Ole wasnt selling tickets at that point and trying to bring up what he did in the past and how it sold out to justify his decisions.

 

We get another Ole story was Poffo said they were wrestling in Spartanurg, SC in front of a record-low crowd. Ole told Poffo they would teach him a lesson during a battle royal and had Gene Anderson get in the ring with him. Poffo said Gene was stiff and threw him outside so he got up and switched him down and ended up pinning him to the mat. Poffo said guys were laughing at Gene as Poffo said if you want to have a shoot, tell him about it first. Ole then reportedly called him a “fag” as Poffo said he is not gay but at the same time he’s not homophobic and thought what to do as Ole would not wrestle him. Poffo said he knew Ole had women all around as Poffo himself talks about going through women in his early 20’s and treated them well as Poffo apparently went to the girls in different towns Ole, who was married, would see and Poffo messed around with them. Poffo said Ole approached him with Gene and asked Poffo how he liked the”used pussy” as Poffo told Ole once you get past the “used” part its not bad as he jokes Ole had a big mouth and a small dick. He does put Ole over for being a hard worker, however.

 

Poffo puts over his gymnastics background and the fact he did not lift heavy weights for the reason he never had a major injury in his 21 years as a wrestler. He talks about heavy lifting destroying your joints then how when he wrestled Hulk Hogan on “Saturday Night’s Main Event,” he got press slammed outside of the ring and said he treated the landing like a dismount and was able to do it without getting hurt.

 

On his father’s ICW Promotion, Poffo said it was not an “outlaw” promotion like people claim as they operated within the boundaries of the law. They worked in Southern Illinois and West Virginia, where Poffo said the fans looked like the type that went to family reunions to hit on women. Poffo said Randy would always get on rival promotions TV and threaten their top people and still does that today but no one ever accepted the challenge. Poffo said in Nashville at a gym parking out, Savage said hi to Dundee and got sucker punched but later on they became friends.

 

Poffo went to work in Mid-South. Ernie Ladd was the booker and was going to turn him heel and have him speak Spanish and insult the Mexicans to feud with Magnum TA but Dundee replaced Ladd as a booker and ten fired guys, including himself, and brought in a lot of guys from Memphis.

 

He talks about wrestling Gino Hernandez, who Poffo said led the entire match and tour down the house but in World Class, there was no spot for him on the roster as Poffo said after that World Class was making a ton of money as he went back to work in Memphis. Poffo called World Class booker Ken Mantell, who told him to call on January 1st as this was in 1985. Poffo called as he said Mantell sounded high and didnt remember him so Poffo then pretended he was a fan and said he was sorry for calling. After that, Poffo said Koko B. Ware told him he was lucky he was not in World Class as he claimed the fans saw the Von Erich’s toss a bouquet of roses meant to honor David after he passed away into the sewer a mile away from the Sportatorium and word spread and as a result, fans started a one day boycott and after that the Von Erich’s slowly started passing away and the Territory crumbled after a few more years.

 

Poffo is now asked about Miss Elizabeth and how she got into the wrestling scene. She worked behind the desk at a gym in Kentucky and that is where Randy asked her out. They got married December 31st, 1984 and in June of 1985 went to the WWF. Poffo does not believe she was a wrestling fan prior.

 

Back to Memphis, Poffo says the Rock n’ Roll Express were fantastic, especially Ricky Morton as Poffo puts him over as a worker and a great guy. Poffo talks about Randy piledriving Morton through a table and how they took a huge chance in doing that spot and joked all he added to those matches was holding the tag rope. He also said Jerry Lawler was a fantastic worker and a great commentator too. He puts him over as a ring general.

 

On how he got to the WWF, Poffo said “Dr. D” David Schultz got fired and went to Memphis and paired up with Randy. They had an interview where Schultz cut a shoot promo against Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, and the WWF. Evidently, Vince caught wind of this and got the tape of the promo and the match, where he saw Savage’s quickness and intensity and felt he was great and put out some feelers through Jimmy Hart and Howard Finkel. Poffo said at the time, he was going to go to the AWA but George Scott was the booker of the WWF as Poffo puts him over as a great guy. He then said several calls were made and Randy was on the payphone with Scott and asked him about Poffo. Scott said there was no room for him on top so Randy asked about the midcard. Scott asked if he would be a heel or babyface and Poffo did not want to do the heel act and fizzle out so he became a babyface.

 

Poffo said he started out winning matches but after six months, Scott got fired and he became the “doormat” of the WWF until he became The Genius. He also puts Vince over as being good to him. Poffo said he was not the first person to do the moonsault in the U.S. as he said he was the first to steal it from Tiger Mask in the U.S. Poffo talks about how it took him a few thousand attempts to perfect the move but now there are fat guys today that can do the move better. He also mentions he would have gone to WWF to take the jackets backstage as they were the future of wrestling.

 

He talks about how meticulous Vince is and how he is impeccable and his rings are always in top condition. Poffo also puts over the whole family and Shane’s arm drag, saying its almost as good as Ricky Steamboat’s.

 

Back to Elizabeth, Poffo said that Elizabeth wanted to be on the road and Randy also wanted her there as well. Feinstein then asks him about the rumors of Randy locking her in the dressing room and being very overprotective. Poffo said that she was never locked into a closet and in her own dressing room. He said Randy was overprotective but once she left him and left to her own devices it ended up being fatal. Poffo said a lot of guys were jealous of his brother as well.

 

On Hulk Hogan, Poffo said he was god’s gift to wrestling and led him in there “Saturday Night’s Main Event” and told us Hogan said to sell the back rake like he was Jim Barnett. Poffo said he liked being a comedy character and that the circus needs variety as if everyone looked and dressed the same it would no longer be special. Poffo said he can never say anything bad about Hogan, who put him over in a match and made him a lot of money.

 

He is asked about jealousy between Hogan and his brother, Poffo vaguely says there was and Randy would be better served answering that question.

 

DISC TWO

Poffo is asked about the WWF’s drug scene. He talks about not wanting to be a “narc” but had saw some things happen. He was also glad to see Vince get out of trouble with the trials because he does not blame him for steroid abuse. Poffo talks about Superstar Billy Graham, who he likes, but said he used steroids before going to the AWA and its ridiculous to blame Vince when you take steroids and act like “Judy Garland” on the road with all the pills and booze and says if you cannot relax on the road then go to bed and watch TV instead of drinking and drugging.

 

On the Honky Tonk Man, Poffo said he was an average worker with an excellent gimmick. He also says that Honky will say he is the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time even to the wrestlers in the locker room. Poffo loves the British Bulldogs but there is some bad stuff they had done. He tells a story of Davey Boy Smith playing a rib on him by asking if he had seen the new photo of Bret Hart. Davey cut out Bret’s face from a magazine then proceeded to press it against his pants and stick his genitals through the hole and talks about how can you not laugh at that. He then talks about the Dynamite Kid approaching him in Toronto and promised they would “get” the Rougeaus in their feud. Poffo asked why and said he likes them both and are not easily gotten to and calls out the Bulldogs for being disrespectful and underestimating them. Poffo also talks about Dino Bravo, who Poffo said was one of the toughest in the world, and Rick Martel both told him the Rougeaus were no one to fuck with. After getting abused by the Rougeaus nightly, Jacques got revenge and knocked out Dynamite’s teeth as Poffo said he was not there but saw him the next night at the airport with his mouth swollen. He also talks about the Bulldogs getting into the habit of shitting in the bags of people he did not like as Poffo said he would hide guys bags to protect them and joked he hid is own so well a few times he couldn’t find it as Mr. Perfect and Shawn Micheals also joined in and it became a game of one-upping each other.

 

Poffo said Jake Roberts was the biggest waste of talent and that Hogan negated a program with Jake, who was too over with the crowds as they kept chanting “DDT.” He then talks about Grizzly Smith and how he was always nice to him and is unaware if how he was portrayed in the documentary “Beyond the Mat” was true or not.

 

He never felt down while being an enhancement talent in the WWF as he made a lot of money that he saved, got to travel the country and the world and learn about a lot of things, which was all made possible by the WWF.

 

Poffo said he first saw Andre the Giant work in the 70’s and he was so good then he could have been on top if he was 5’10. However, when he saw him again in 1985, Andre was in so much pain and completely miserable and recalls being in a snowstorm in Buffalo. He wanted to play cards and did not have any so Poffo went upstairs and saw female groupies and approached the ugliest one and asked if she could go downstairs and get a deck of cards for Andre as he was miserable. She then went out in the snow and got the cards as Poffo gave them to Andre, who started tearing up and hugged him as Poffo said he could not get away and Andre called him “Boss Man.” Andre also apparently always kept a tape of “The Princess Bride” in his bag and would insist every room he was in had a VCR so he could play the tape.

 

He confirms there was jealousy among the wrestlers of Brutus Beefcake’s relationship with Hulk Hogan, saying he is only getting a push due to being Hogan’s friend. Poffo then says there was jealously of his own push and said one unnamed wrestler who is now apparently deceased (he later on lets it slip that it was Rick Rude) asked if his push was due to being Randy’s brother as Poffo said it was but he had also put in many years as an enhancement talent.

 

Poffo said that Vince came up with The Genius character but he thought he could show off the Ricki Starr gimmick with this character to get heel heat. Poffo said it worked for a while and he’s glad to ride it out for as long as he did and has no bitterness on how it ended. Poffo also said that it was Vince’s idea for him to read poetry before the match. He talks about being on TNT as a “jaborni without a push” and had six minutes to make or break his character. Poffo put on his suit or armor as he did not want to cut some generic babyface promo and repeats the poem he read on the show as Bobby Heenan was on the set too and they had some banter and when the segment ended, Vince said it was great and wanted him to read a poem before every match. He thought about how hard it would be but decided to come up with the idea to bring a frisbee in order to throw it to fans in the “cheap seats.” Poffo then talks about how Hercules once got offended at a poem he read.

 

He tells a story of when Dusty Rhodes came into the WWF. The Barbarian wanted to punch out Dusty but when Dusty came into the dressing room and said hi to the Barbarian and gave him a hug, The Barbarian accepted as Poffo uses this to tell us just how charming Dusty was and that Vince used Dusty to entertain the fans and if he ever wanted to hurt him he’d just not book him at all.

 

Poffo says it was pure luck on how he got paired up with Mr. Perfect. He also claimed never to have witness him abuse drugs and that he was a great person.

 

 

Regarding the Ultimate Warrior, Poffo said he had a great look but did not draw as a World Champion and that role was probably too much as he had a one-dimensional character as Poffo said he was a one-note character himself. Poffo also said it was worth giving Warrior a shot with the belt.

 

On how he got let go by the WWF, Poffo said Vince came up to him at a show in Los Angeles and they were letting people go and he was one of them. Poffo said he handled it well and wrote Vince that he bought several caps and gowns, which were from Mr.Wrestling II’s life and they were all legit and Vince sent him back a check of $1,000. He talks about people wanting to say horrible things about Vince to make themselves feel better then soon after that, Pat Patterson called him up and got him a spot on a New Zealand tour. After it tour ended, Vince’s secretary called and said the check he got would bounce and since Vince let him on the tour, which was not a WWF sanctioned event, Vince mailed him a check worth $2,000.

 

Poffo is asked about getting signed by WCW. He joked he never even made it and talks about how Ted Turner’s money was used irresponsibly but since it was a small part of his income it was not a big deal but once he merged with AOL, they saw it as a waste. Poffo said he is now a certified credit counselor and how in wrestling, you are an independent contractor and get slammed with taxes at the end of the year as he gets off topic for a bit but ends with saying he deserves criticism for the deal he received. Poffo said Randy got him the deal when he went to Turner and Poffo said he was coming up with ideas and always close to being brought on the road but they kept changing bookers and he just sat at home. Poffo said the booker position should be a dictatorship so no wrestler has the ability to influence anything.

 

On why Randy left the WWF, Poffo said he was relegated to announcing but wanted to be in the ring. However, the company was in the midst of a youth movement so he left. Poffo also does not believe Randy would ever go back to the WWF as neither side wants it to happen.

 

He is asked about Randy fighting with Hawk of the Road Warriors. Poffo said Hawk accused Randy of hitting on his wife as Poffo said its a ridiculous assumption as Randy never did that stuff and Hawk’s wife was not that attractive. Hawk tried to attack Randy on his way to the ring in a match while on tour of Japan as Randy took the sucker punch and walked out to the ring for his match and came back looking for him afterwards. Next time, Randy saw Hawk in Tampa, FL and won that battle but Hawk sued him

 

Now, he is asked about Elizabeth’s death and how it was handled. Poffo said its not wrong to have a show called “Confidential” and make it interesting by airing the 911 call of his death as that is the stuff that sells. Also, someone can look at this story and realize not to mix somas with vodka, which has been the cause of many wrestler deaths. His family did not go to the funeral but they messaged the family and gave their condolences and does not blame Lex Luger for her death because he believes people are responsible for what they put into their own bodies.

 

He then addresses the old-timers who complain about wrestlers today and trash the business to accept that it has changed and move on as they are doing nothing more than ruining the business for everyone else. Poffo then calls out Bruno Sammartino, joking how wrestling was real in his day and pointed out he wore a toupee to the ring and instructed no one to touch it, and asks why should no one else make money because you are not anymore.

 

Poffo talks about living off of “serotonin and endorphines” and follows the lifestyle of Deepak Chopra. He also tries to get ten hours of sleep each night. Poffo then plugs his limerick book and how its available on Amazon.com and for those without the internet, he gives out the phone number. Poffo then reads a few of them about the Special Olympics, health, and an anti-smoking limerick. Poffo is not a fan of cigarettes to say the least. It also appears to have cut off the last few minutes (I was watching on the Highspots Network).

 

Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a decent interview. And an unique person to say the least. It was quite long though and although Poffo is an engaging speaker, he drifted off topic too much for my liking. He did not have an ax to grind here and was comfortable with his place in wrestling, which is always refreshing as some guys are quite delusional when it came to their abilities. Even when it came to guys he said stuff about he always said that he liked them as people, except for Ole Anderson, who is not a favorite among those who worked for him.

He did speak about his brother a lot and in other interviews (he even did a recent interview with RF Video specifically on Randy Savage) he goes more into Randy as a person and his career. And when speaking about his family, it seemed a lot different than your typical wrestling family as Angelo Poffo appeared a lot more level-headed than the others.

Overall, I do recommend this interview as it does hold your attention. Lanny has also done a “YouShoot” and a “Breaking Kayfabe” interview for Kayfabe Commentaries that are both worth watching.

You can purchase the DVD for $20 or download a Digital Copy for $14.99. Also, you can rent the interview for $4.99 or watch it as part of your Highspots Wrestling Network by clicking here

 

 

Here is my schedule for the rest of the week:

Friday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 1/7/90

Sunday: Mid-South Wrestling 9/30/82

Sunday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 1/13/90

Monday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 1/14/90

Tuesday: WWF Madison Square Garden 1/15/90

Wednesday: EVOLVE 83 4/23/17

Thursday: Shoot Interview TBD