Sean Oliver is a published author, podcaster, co-owner of Kayfabe Commentaries, and the host of the popular YouShoot, Timeline, Guest Booker, and Breaking Kayfabe series, amongst many others. He defined the wrestling shoot interview genre as we know it, and we were thrilled to have him as a guest on our podcast, The Genius Cast.
Hit play and follow along with the article below!
Sean Oliver: I like what you guys are doing.
Listen, it’s so funny; people always go down the list of credits you talk about. They say things like, "Revolutionizing the shoot interview genre," which is, you know, let’s face it, a little like being the smartest guy in jail.
But can I also take a bit of a bow, for maybe having a residual effect on the number of podcasts out there? Wrestlers who have been given a voice. I think we’ve had a little bit of an effect on what’s become this wrestling podcast boom.
JP Zarka: I completely agree. In 2007, when you just got started, wrestlers likely couldn’t imagine recording an hour, an hour and a half each week and actually make a living off it. And it was through people like yourself and what you’re doing that has given them a platform to do so.
Sean Oliver: Yeah, a bit of our formula, which has always worked, was the right guest for the right show. It didn’t always mean, and this was very counter to what the shoot business, and it wasn’t just shoot interviews, you had the dirtsheets out there and stuff, but people were getting a look into the business.
It wasn’t always the biggest name in the ring equated to the best guest. We realized very quickly that it doesn’t have to be someone who wrestled Harley race four-thousand times that’s going to make for my best guest on the show, who will be able to mix it up with me and be most entertaining. So that factored in.
Certainly, you couldn’t put squash guys on. It would maybe diminish, but it had to be a recognizable face and name, but entertainment value started to weigh as much as their title reigns.
JP: Absolutely. Now Lanny, did you ever imagine you’d ever be doing a podcast?
Lanny Poffo: No, I had no interest in it; I wanted nothing to do with it. You even had to use some chicanery to even try it. And even then, I didn’t want to commit. It seemed like a lot of work, but fortunately, I’ve got you. I don’t need to do any work; I just talk on this microphone.
JP: Yeah, you get to talk for an hour and a half each week; I do the rest. The same goes for you, Sean, you get the people on your show, and half of the time, they realize that, actually, it’s a really good experience. You do some high-class work over there; you always make your guests comfortable, you give them dinner before the show sometimes.
I’ve been reading your book Kayfabe: Stories You’re Not Supposed to Hear from a Pro Wrestling Production Company Owner, which I highly highly recommend to all our listeners, by the way, and what stands out to me the most is that your dealings with those in the business are not far off from the dealings of a teacher with the students. Now Lanny tells me that you also teach.
Sean Oliver: Yeah.
JP: For every Lanny Poffo, Kevin Nash, or Jim Cornette, you’ve got a Konnan, Buff Bagwell, or Jake Roberts. Every person is coming in with their own expectations and needs. And these range greatly, from wanting to have a steak dinner before the interview or having their favorite obscure vodka at the ready.
Give us some of the stories you’ve experienced over the years of some of your favorite people to talk to and maybe some of the worst that you’ve dealt with over the years.
Sean Oliver: Well, my personal rule as a content provider has always been if it’s an entertaining show for the viewer, then I’ll shoulder all of that burden. I’ll deal with the difficult guest. I’ll deal with all the requests. I’ll deal with The Honkytonk Man needing Seagrams Extra Smooth Vodka, which I think had been discontinued years before he even asked for it.
JP: That was hilarious.
Sean Oliver: Finding that was a journey. But I’ll deal with all that if they hit the ball when I pitch it over the plate.
The tacit agreement that I have; I’m gonna pitch, and you better bring it and hit that fucking ball because that’s what everybody came to see. I’ll deal with everything that the fans don’t see. I’m okay with it.
I’ve been in the entertainment business for a long time. I’ll deal with temperamental personalities my entire life. That’s fine. The problem is when they don’t deliver on that, for whatever reason, the production is compromised. And on top of that, they’re a douchebag. That’s a big problem.
That’s when I can’t tolerate it, and that’s why you’ve got unfortunate stories in my first book "Kayfabe," about folks like Buff, who must have been very tired that day. Let’s chalk it up to that…
JP: We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Sean Oliver: Absolutely. I didn’t do any tests on his blood, so I’m gonna say he was so tired he couldn’t even talk when the camera went on. He was very exhausted.
And then we had folks like Jake Roberts who sat down to do the interview and said, "I will not talk about my family at all."
The entire interview, as written, was about growing up in a wrestling family, so we had to part ways right there on the set. I’m not going to sit there and compromise the show.
Listen, I still value people who pay for entertainment. There is a bit of a perception among anyone under the age of 40 that many media should be free. And you don’t pay for anything. But I’ll still value folks who will put down money in exchange for an artist’s product.
I can’t charge somebody to watch something that is unentertaining, for whatever reason.
So, when somebody says, "Can’t talk about this, can’t talk about that, can’t talk about this," I say, "Well, you can drop the money right there, and we’ll shake hands and still be friends, and I’ll get you back to your hotel."
JP: Because it would be a disservice to the listeners and the paying customer.
Sean Oliver: Of course, of course. The shoot business has been navigated by those with varying degrees of professionalism. So, there’s been a lot of crap thrown out there by guests who would answer in one-word answers. And I’ve certainly been on the other side in the hundreds of interviews I’ve done.
There have certainly been folks who were much tougher to-, I don’t want to say manipulate. That makes me sound like a puppet master, to draw information in an extended and interesting fashion.
I’ve certainly had to resort to my bag of tricks for more than a few folks because I’m very aware that I cannot put yes, no answers out there for somebody who has given money, but even more important than money, an hour and a half or two hours of their life put into our hands to be entertained.
JP: Right. It is a bit of an art form to get these answers out of talent, especially ones who are kind of closed doors. It’s a shame.
From what I’ve seen, you’ve done a really fantastic job, and I know that many fans really appreciate what you guys are doing with Kayfabe Commentaries. You always deliver highly entertaining and informative interviews.
They’re not watered down, which is unfortunately what you get with a machine like World Wrestling Entertainment, for instance. You always ask the questions that the fans want to hear because you’re a fan yourself.
Sean Oliver: Depending on the show, I have to wear different hats. Timeline, History of WWE, History of WCW, history of ECW, any of spinoffs under that brand. I’m a historian there, so I have to draw from them the minutia and details of the year we’re profiling because when I’m sitting in the host’s chair, I have to be the fan also. I can only gauge how entertaining the interview is if I’m sitting there as the viewing fan.
I know when I need more details, I know when I need something a little more juicy, I know when I need them to go into just a little more details about what happened before getting to the ring for that match back in the locker-room because my research told me something happened. I need that little bit of info. So, I have to do that; I have to put on that historian hat for that series.
Youshoot, my hands are kind of tied because all of the questions are asked by the fans, either through emailed questions or videos. So, I’ve got to kind of stick to that. We can have some fun and bounce some stuff off the guest and me. Bounce some things off each other based on a fan question. But I’ve kind of got to stick to the script there.
But a series like Breaking Kayfabe, where it’s all me, it’s just the discussion between the guest and myself. There I can really have a conversation.
I was at a wedding last night, and I ran into one of the bride’s cousins or something. He was a radio guy in Ohio, and he stopped me by the bar.
He said, "You’re Sean, Oliver."
I said, "Yeah."
He goes, "Oh, I watch your stuff all the time on the internet. I use it in some of my interviews with musicians because the thing that I learned from you was just to sit and have a discussion, to be chill," as he put it.
That’s really the secret. It’s not an interview; it’s a discussion, and if you can go into it with the mentality that I’m gonna have a discussion, and wherever we go (if it’s interesting), I’m going to let him lead the dance a little.
I’ll bring them back to the center of the floor when I have to, but we’re just going to go where the music takes us. If you’ve got a list of bulleted numbered questions, just push that to the side and look over in the guy’s eyes and talk to him.
When Lanny and I first worked together, it was on Breaking Kayfabe; I rarely put somebody on that series first. They usually come in and do a Youshoot or a Timeline or something to get to know each other more, and once that trust is engendered, then I say to them, would you come on Breaking Kayfabe.
"Would you mind talking about your family," or whatever the case may be, "erectile dysfunction?" That wasn’t the case with Lanny. That’s the kind of thing that has been discussed.
Although there is a great erectile dysfunction story in Fathers’ Blood, the book we’re going to talk about later. Once the trust is engendered, we can talk, but Lanny, I talked to him on the phone the first time, and he told me he had seen the stuff.
He had seen Kayfabe commentaries work, and he appreciated the sincerity and honesty- care was the word he used. He said there’s so much care. And I realized we could do Breaking Kayfabe together because he gets it. He knows that he’s safe in my hands. He knows we would never do him dirty with a personal interview like that if he’s going to talk about his family and life. So we had that trust right away, and that’s why that show’s so great.
Lanny’s so smart; he’s got a great sense of humor, so we knew doing a Youshoot would be fun also. Some of my favorite programming has been my time with Lanny. It’s because he’s one of those guys- we’re talking about him like he’s not in the room! He’s one of those guys you can do anything with. You can talk history. You can talk wrestling. You can talk politics. You can talk art. You can talk music. You can talk theater.
In my first book Kayfabe, the guys I enjoyed spending time with the most were the guys I didn’t have to talk wrestling with. That when we went to dinner, or hung out, or talked on the phone, we could talk about anything.
JP: It’s the people you get along with on a personal level, and what I like most about Lanny is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He can make fun of himself and that people that are like that, you can know they’re goodhearted, they’re secure, and you know you can go anywhere with the interview and not feel like you’re stepping on toes, which unfortunately is what you do get with some individuals.
Sean Oliver: I always said from my time in the entertainment business, doing movies and TV for 25 years, that the bigger the name, the cooler they are. It’s just the security. Guys that have something to prove, they’re difficult. But guys that are the pros that have been there and done that, they don’t have to act like that.
JP: Exactly. Now, of course, let’s lead into your book because you’ve got a new book that was recently released called Fathers’ Blood. In fact, as we mentioned, Lanny helped out with some of the stories in this. Tell our listeners about the book and how they can get a copy of it.
Sean Oliver: Well, the copy is available on Amazon, and it’s on Kindle, and paperback and the audiobook will be done and released in, I think, the first week of November (editor’s note: the audiobook is now available here). We’re recording that now. It’s an arduous process, but a lot of folks love them. I love audiobooks myself. I do love to read, but time often encroaches on our ability to do so as people. So, we need to lean on the audiobook.
The book’s concept; I had written Kayfabe, and that was out, and it’s the story of running this company for ten years. It was a hit, and it was crazy, and I went in with no expectations because I’d never had anything published before. I knew I was a writer, and I knew I was a good writer, but you never know how the public will take things.
I went in with no expectations, and it went crazy, and I said (and other people said), "Okay, what’s next?" I was like, "Right, that." I wanted to write fiction, so I had a novel, "Sophie’s Journal," which was already in the works, and I committed to getting that out next. But I did have an eye out; I wanted to know what my next wrestling project would be.
So, Lanny, you’ll appreciate this, I don’t think I ever told you this, but I was going through so many ideas of what wrestling-related stuff I could write. I don’t want to write something just historical. My favorite stories are very personal stories of the workers, and it was a really tough business. I don’t know how clearly that comes across.
We celebrate the celebrity aspect of what these guys did, but if we can really drill down into some detail, I thought it would be really interesting to present these guys as people. And I was sitting in a Broadway theatre watching Hamilton, and it was in the winter.
The other book had just come out, and I had all these ideas swirling in my head, and there’s the scene with Alexander Hamilton and his son.
Right then and there, I thought, "Wow, I spent so much time talking about the wrestling family with these guys. What if I took a few hundred pages to just grab a handful of guys and just drill down into what their lives with their children were like. When they were keeping these commitments to Vince McMahon or Jim Crockett or whoever the hell they were working for at the time. Angelo Poffo, whoever they were working for at the time and really do an honest explanation of what their lives were like. Talk to some of the children of wrestlers who are no longer with us; Bam Bam Bigelow, Gary Hart, and hear from their perspective what it was like."
So that was the genesis of Fathers’ Blood, and Lanny was the first person I called. Because he had that unique perspective of being a second-generation wrestler and then also having a child at the time, I couldn’t talk to the guys from today.
Anything after 2000, I’d use that as my benchmark. 2000 and up, the new millennium wrestlers didn’t live the lifestyle and have the road obligations and territorial requirements.
"Oh, we’re moving. Pack up the U-Haul; we’re going to Minnesota for six months." They don’t have to deal with that, so I couldn’t tell the story because they had a very different lifestyle.
So, Lanny was the first one I called, and I pitched him the idea of the book, and he was on board from day one. The time I spent talking with him and texting, emailing, and talking on the phone, interviewing him for the book kind of set the tone for the information I wanted from all the other talent that I talked to. I think I got a great result because of the tone I could set working with Lanny early on.
JP: Now you mentioned you have Lanny Poffo in this book, the family of Bam Bam Bigelow, Gary Hart. Who else is involved?
Sean Oliver: Kevin Sullivan. Interesting story there. It’s so funny; each of the guys had things to tell that were so different. Some things were similar about their family experiences, but they were things that were so unique to them.
I already mentioned Lanny coming from a second generation and then also having a child too. Kevin Sullivan, his career spanned doing jobs for Vince Sr. in 1976 when he first had kids, and then all the way through to working in Florida doing the whole devil thing he was doing, and then he was on the creative committee in WCW during the rating wars. So, he and where he had the children kind of span all three of those roles in wrestling, so that was really interesting.
When he started his family, Vince Russo was not in the wrestling business. He was kind of a knock-around sales guy in Long Island, landed this job writing for and running WWE magazine. So, watching his life ramp up from a PC Richards salesman selling TVs and microwaves after his video store went belly-up. For any of you listening under thirty, Videotapes were these big plastic things that we used to have to stick in machines to watch things. It didn’t flow effortlessly through the air into my pocket phone. So, Russo’s story is in there.
JJ Dillon, whose story was just, I had no idea working with JJ all these years. Three marriages, just a very interesting and harrowing at times, atypical story. And if you know JJ, he’s the most calm, sedate guy. It all rolls off his back, and then if you read his familial life for the last forty years, you’d be shocked. He said in the interview in the book, if you ever wrote this and put it out without people knowing it’s a first-hand account, they’d say it’s far-fetched. So JJs in there also. Just a really great collection.
And Shane Bigelow, Bam Bam Bigelow’s son, talking about his life. In that story, there’s a very hard dividing line there, before the pills and after the pills. It’s like two different people. And Shane brings up a lot of questions that he has about his father’s death, which is attributed to a massive overdose.
Still, there are many details surrounding a gentleman that Bam Bam was living with at the time and some questions about the legitimacy of the overdose diagnosis. So that was there to unearth as we spoke.
JP: That’ll be interesting to read about. Going back to the likes of JJ Dillon, he was coming up in the business when it was not un-normal to be on the road 350 days a year. That will bring out the worst in people, and it’s not easy for families to be away that long, and it’s just a different time now.
Sean Oliver: It’s a different time right now, and people wouldn’t understand. Also, depending on what you did back then, it was different. If you were a journeyman worker who did the stereotypical territory to territory every six months, then that’s one story.
If you were some was a superstar in one place, like we also talk about Tito Santana in the book, and pretty early in his career, he did Bill Watts and Ole in Georgia, but right after that he landed in New York in 1983, and the guy never left. He knew Vince Sr.; he’s worked a little bit for Vince senior, who brought him back up in a phone call in 82 and said, "Time to come home," and Vince Jr kind of took the ball with Tito after that and ran with it, because he was, like Lanny, a responsible guy, a reliable guy.
You didn’t have to worry about headlines the next day if those guys were going out after the matches. He probably had a clean liver and was a promoter’s dream, so he was able to stay in that one spot for so long.
JP: It was good as a family man as well. You don’t have to move around; you could actually dig your roots into the ground a bit.
Sean Oliver: Right. He was certainly flying all over the country in the 80s for the company, but his family could stay rooted in Jersey. They were here in Jersey forever.
And Eric Bischoff, we also profile in the book. Now that entire story takes a turn. He starts as a knock-around guy who ends up working for the AWA; he’s a salesman also. It was strange to me how many of these guys had careers in Sales as salesmen before working in Wrestling; it’s kind of the same thing.
But Bischoff’s story then turns, not his personal story, but his children when they’re old enough to be aware, like high school or college, he’s already the president of WCW. So, their view of the business is a view from the top. When you read the Bischoff story in the book, it goes to the hot springs in Japan with the Saitos and getting the hot bath ritual as the ghosts of samurais look down upon them. It’s very different from the knock-around guy bouncing through the territories.
Tony Atlas’s story is the most heart-breaking in there because of being estranged from his daughter for almost her entire life. That birth was an outgrowth from a one-night stand, quite honestly. Which they tried to make work but just didn’t.
Now, Lanny, I’m going to switch and go into the interviewer chair here for a minute. In your story, Lanny, we hear of you going to great lengths to normalize the experience for Megan and always bringing toys home for her on the road. What were the most difficult times for you being away from her?
Lanny: Leaving and coming back. Leaving is the hardest; coming back is the easiest. I try to come back with a splash. There’s nothing like a present to ensure your popularity. You can buy love; it is possible.
JP: Especially for a kid.
Lanny: But the thing is she was always — my ex-wife was a very, very, very good parent. I give her most of the credit for our daughter turning into a very useful and prodigious citizen. She’s very responsible, 34 years old, happily married. March 18th, my grandson will be two years old, and he’s doing very well. So, as bad as I feel that things didn’t work out, and being Catholic, it’s double the guilt. I’m just very glad that my ex-wife was a very good mother and that my daughter is a very good mother, too.
In other words, you know when you were talking to others? I hate to say this, but the nicest person I ever met in the business was Chris Benoit. So that nice guy thing is sometimes overrated. He was the nicest, most capable, reliable guy until he wasn’t. So, you misjudge people. If you said which wrestler did this, I would not say that guy. Brian Knobbs’ name would come up, but evidently, Brian does very well; he just has a loud voice.
So, I’m very, very relieved that my grandson is doing so well, and my daughter is doing so well. I don’t feel like such a failure now.
Sean Oliver: Another thing, though, and you say it in the book, you attribute a very big contributing factor to your success as a parent to your lifestyle choices, let’s just say, in regards to what you did after the matches and whatnot.
Lanny: Well, it’s what you don’t do after the matches. You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. Here smoke this, drink that. The next thing you know, you’re out of control. I didn’t smoke or drink or do drugs, and I tried to live the life of a Spartan. Now that’s no fun, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun than the consequences of falling from grace.
Sean Oliver: A very interesting dichotomy, though, which is illustrated in the book, was when you had to go on the gas after you’d been living such a clean life and simultaneously speaking at Megan’s school about saying no to illegal substances and you were about to get the push where you were going to be on TV with Hogan, and you had to get on the gas to get a little bigger.
Lanny: Okay, let me stop you there. I didn’t have to go on the gas. I chose to go on the gas. Nobody jammed needles into my butt and said, "Here, start doing that!" In other words, I was so sick and tired of being a jabroni, and I looked in the mirror and said, "self, I’ve got an opportunity here to take this genius thing to the top.
I decided- and I didn’t just mull over the decision- I agonized over the decision because it is not my character to do this. But once you’re not a virgin, you’re a whore, and once you put the needle in, you’re a whore.
So, I’m telling you, here’s the thing: I could quite easily go on Kayfabe Commentaries and say no, I never took steroids. Well, you know what? I wouldn’t be able to help anybody by making decisions like that. I wouldn’t be able to use myself as an example of what not to do.
What if I could help one person who’s at a fork in the road thinking, should I or should I not take steroids? Well, I’ve got more credibility if I say I did it, and here’s what can happen to you. Testicular atrophy, things are better now. I can’t prove it; it’s just audio, but take my word for it. Things are back to normal.
Sean Oliver: (laughs) Happily.
Lanny: Okay, happily, that’s good. He always gets the last word; he sneaks it in there, that’s good. I’ll tell you what, though. I made a decision to go ahead and tell the truth about the steroids. Deca Durabolin is supposed to be the cleanest one, but there’s no such thing as a clean steroid. If they ever invent one, I’ll take it.
Sean Oliver: Right. When I said "had to," I didn’t mean to imply that McMahon stuck a needle in your ass. It was just from an occupational standard standpoint.
It was a big person’s game at the time. You needed the size if you were gonna be on TV. It was one of those subconscious or under the surface agreements. If you were gonna get a push, you had to look a certain way. No promoter had to say it; it was known.
You look at the guys that were getting all the weekly squashes on tv, Hercules, Powers of pain, I don’t want to imply they used steroids, but they looked a certain way, let’s just say that.
Lanny: We wouldn’t want to imply that. I kind of believe there’s a visual test, and if it looks too good to be true, that’s because it is.
Sean Oliver: Yeah, you ain’t kidding.
Lanny: And by the way, they work, you know, those steroids. Here’s what happened. I took about two months off, getting my gimmick together, buying the clothes, growing my hair out, growing my beard, which was mostly Crayola anyway.
I came into the locker room, I took off my shirt, and everybody says, "Holy Shit! What have you been doing? Nevermind, we know what you’ve been doing."
The thing is, okay, I was most improved but still didn’t belong in that locker room because you still had The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, The Warlord, the Barbarian. I still didn’t belong in the locker room, but I was much improved.
Sean Oliver: Did you undergo any of the rage issues, the mood swings, the difficulty of maintaining a level, because you’re a pretty level guy, did you become an angry beast?
Lanny: Ten arrests, no convictions. Do you know where I stole that? That’s from Guys and Dolls.
Sean Oliver: That’s right. It was Big Julie, right?
Lanny: (singing) "Big Julie from East Cicero, Illinois, sixteen arrests and no convictions."
Sean Oliver: I played Nathan Detroit; I’ll have you know
Lanny: I knew that. And you were the director of Les Misérables.
Sean Oliver: I did direct, with my wife, a production of Les Misérables, which was challenging beyond words but so rewarding. It’s one of the great shows out there. How many people just clicked over to JJ Dillon’s podcast just now. With two musical references, how many listeners did you just lose? That’s the question.
Lanny: We don’t care. I’m gonna sell your book. I’ll tell you why. You sent me a link to it, and I must admit I did not read the book. I only read the parts with my name in it. So, what I appreciate is that you-
Sean Oliver: Such a ringing endorsement, folks. That’s how you really get your quote out there. Go ahead.
Lanny: You did not misquote me, and that means a lot to me because I’ve been misquoted a lot. It bothers the hell out of me. You say something; I say something, and what’s the point of an interview if you’re going to misquote me? That pisses me off. It really does, and you didn’t ever misquote me.
Not only that, you made it all make sense to me. I felt really good about it, and I think it’s a hell of a book. I even liked it so much that I’m going to go back and read the other people’s stories.
Sean Oliver: Well, that is an endorsement. Part of it, Lanny, about making it all make sense, was the biggest part for me.
As the author of someone else’s story, you know the first book was my story, so I could just tell you that, then my first novel came from within, but this was someone else’s story, so to keep it interesting, my goal was to have it flow like a narrative.
To make it read like it was a piece of fiction. To bounce in and out of the men’s lives throughout the 250 pages throughout each chapter and in their lives with their kids.
And after talking to somebody and recording the conversation for an hour or so, I had to go in and say what the heart of this person’s story is.
Somebody I once heard said, a psychotherapist sits with their pad and listens to you talk. They’re writing down everything that you’re not saying. That’s kind of what I have to do; I had to listen to you guys and say, well, what’s underneath, what’s below here. Certainly, we’re going to put all the verbiage quoted accurately in, but what’s the story here.
And yours was extremely interesting, the story of, you mentioned catholic guilt before, that is kind of a character in your story and in the home of Angelo and Judy. You had the double whammy, you had the double team, you haCatholictholic guilt, and then you had the Jewish guilt working on you from the other side, which is just as effective.
Lanny: It was like having three parents with Randy. He was the older brother and my parent, I had my mother as my parent and my father as my parent, and all three were type-A personalities.
I’ll tell you what it’s a good thing I had my own room. I needed someplace to have a little bit of respite from all this pressure.
You know something about my father and my mother. They were raised in the depression. They had to go uphill both ways to school, and the weather was never good, and, anyway, they meant well. Let’s give them that. But I tell you what; I would never take one of my progeny and force them into the catholic church, and now with what’s going on with all these headlines.
In my opinion, if you’re going to do chastity, why not a castration and penectomy to go with it? Because all that’s going to do is make a pressure cooker, and then Boom, next thing you know, you’ve got the altar boys. I don’t want to make jokes about it; it’s a really horrible thing.
Sean Oliver: It’s horrifying, and people continue to give money to organizations that we are learning have been shielding pedophiles from the community for years and moving them around, and they continue to operate in parishes that they were moved to. It’s horrific that in this day and age, it happens.
Still, because it’s in the shadow of the cross, people block it out, they drop money in the bucket at church, they turn a blind eye to it, they put their heads right in the sand because theirs that crucifix hanging above the building, which tells them there’s something greater, it’s not all these isolated cases. But the amount of these isolated cases are staggering, and the Vatican, it seems, has done nothing short of cover for these pedophiles.
Lanny: I’ll tell you what the next time I’m in church, I promise you I’ll be horizontal. I’m just glad that Father O’Shanahan, didn’t find me attractive.
Sean Oliver: You know what though, in your chapter in my book, you took Angelo to Church every week, and my interpretation was you wanted to give something back, and with everything you believe in, you said you would never go in there again, but in his last days you thought it was important to him. So, you made the gesture to be the one to take him to church.
Lanny: Well, I remember the day he gave my mom the keys, right in front of me. He gave her the keys and said, "Take the keys. I don’t know how I got home, and I don’t think I can drive anymore."
It’s great that you can admit that before the wreck, so that’s a good thing. And then I thought he wouldn’t be able to go to church. And I said, "I’ll take you to church, don’t worry about it, and I’ll sit next to you too." You know, sitting next to him too, I’d have rather just picked him up. I would rather watch the game.
Sean Oliver: But still living in service of Angelo right down to the dying day, and I closed that chapter when you talk about driving him to church, and I said something about your freedom and the last line was Angelo Poffo died on blah, blah, blah, and that was the close of that chapter. Because that was the close of your having to wrestle with your service to your father.
Even your and Sally’s decisions in raising Megan, I think you feared early on when some dictates were being handed down from Grandpa, you had to decide that WE are going to raise this child. I’m going to put my foot down for the first time in the service of Angelo, Judy, Randy, and Jesus.
And I said in the book, probably in that order, that you and Sally would make your own decisions with Megan.
Lanny: Yeah, I’ll tell you something. This is going to sound so persnickety. And people who know me know I am like that, but I hope you love me anyway; my dad died on March fourth. Think about it. It’s a sentence.
Sean Oliver: March forth.
Lanny: March forth! It’s a subject and a predicate. It’s a complete sentence and probably the only. March forth, and my dad was all about marching forth. Doesn’t that mess up your mind a little?
Sean Oliver: Yeah. But you were such a fantastic contribution to those stories, Lanny, and it was a pleasure to be allowed that intimate access. And the photos, I put a couple on Twitter, and fans were really loving them.
There’s a great one of you with Angelo and Mom, and everybody’s around the dinner table, the families all together, the Poffo family. It was a pleasure to be given that access, so thank you.
Lanny: I’m going to thank you for something, and I don’t want to get emotional, but I get emotional, okay, I’m almost disturbed. You got to let a little steam escape. They say Ernest Hemingway never cried, but he took a rifle and blew his head off. Maybe he should have cried a little.
Sean Oliver: Yes, I will take the tears. Go ahead.
Lanny: Yeah. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.
Anyway, Sean, you know me, and you know I was not just wrestling with, but losing to a big problem I had. My brother loved Pete Rose, and he loved the fact that Pete Rose was bigger than the Hall of Fame, and Randy didn’t want to be in the Hall of Fame unless they put my dad and me in there. That was his wish.
But when I was interviewed on kayfabe commentaries, I told you how Randy felt, and then on that magic day on December 28th when I became 59 years old, and I was the older brother now. A lot of the things you had told me I had to carry with me because you’re very influential. I blame you for putting Randy in the Hall of Fame.
Sean Oliver: Well, thank you, because ultimately Randy, as a wrestler, made so many people, Lanny. And the merits of that Hall of Fame we can debate in another forum, but so many people that would attend that night, there were probably 20,000 people there, right?
Every one of them was smiling again. Randy popped the house again. And he did it because of you. You were finally the tag tea partner that got the hot tag in the ring with Randy that night. And that house was because you allowed Randy to do that.
So, I just think it’s bigger than the issues that Randy carried, and you know, sometimes, Lanny, he was intense beyond what was sometimes necessary and what was reasonable.
Lanny: I’ll go with that. Yes. But to the good of the fans, though. You see what I mean. He was never satisfied with one interview. One costume. One wrestling match. The match he had with Ricky Steamboat kind of ruined his life.
Sean Oliver: How so?
Lanny: Because he couldn’t top it. Some of the reasons he couldn’t top it was because not all of your opponents are going to be Ricky Steamboat. As a matter of fact, there’s only one of those.
Sean Oliver: There was a documentary out there; you know the one they put out from Connecticut about Randy. And they talked about those things like; he was an obsessive maniac. If he were an artist, they would talk about how his obsession leads to brilliant paintings.
Suppose he was Martin Scorsese, who is an obsessive lunatic who would be lauded by the American film institute. But it’s wrestling, and it was Randy, so he was maniacal. He wrote all the moves down with Ricky. He was kind of portrayed like a nut sometimes in that particular documentary, I must say.
Lanny: Right, and just graded the people’s performances in the documentary DVD, I give high marks and kudos to Diamond Dallas Page, and I also really liked Kevin Nash.
Sean Oliver: Nash. Okay sure.
Lanny: He did great in there. On the other hand, the opposite end of the continuum. I was very disappointed with Jerry “The King” Lawler, go back and watch it for the first time if you don’t remember what he said, and there’s a guy that’s been married 300 times, and he’s giving marital advice on how Randy treated Elizabeth. And he wasn’t even there. You pointed that out.
Sean Oliver: That’s not the least of the dating decisions you could talk about with Jerry, but again that’ll be another show.
Lanny: I don’t want to mention how he might have taken underage people over state lines or whatever. You see what I mean. Might have. Allegedly. Who knows? Or, what is WWE very strict about spousal abuse, unless your name is Jerry Lawler? What’s the deal?
But the worst guy of all was Pat Patterson. He is the man responsible for not letting Randy finish his career with Shawn Michaels. Randy wanted to have a match better than Ricky Steamboat in his final match. It was going to be after a two-year feud, and you know he wrote it down. Shawn Michaels would shave his head if he lost, and Randy would give up his career if he lost and retire to the announcing table. And that would happen at WrestleMania.
Now compare Randy’s unselfishness to lose to Shawn Michaels, to Bret Hart and his selfishness, and I love Bret Hart, but he didn’t care who won as long as it was Bret Hart who won.
Sean Oliver: Not only that, but they did that with Flair, specifically Michaels, and it was such a huge moment for them. I refuse to believe that Randy would have drawn any less if that was his retirement.
Lanny: Randy’s idea was that he didn’t want the match with Steamboat to be the best; he wanted to finish with the best one. I’m not as good as Randy because of my philosophy: Do your best and forget the rest. Hey, I’m gonna do my best, but guess what? I suck. I have to keep going. I have to eat and sleep and shave and do things and also function. So, if I’m not gonna be the best, I’ll do my best and forget the rest. I’m not going to torture myself.
The reason I’m a happy man is that I was never jealous of the Macho Man. Some of the wrestlers today who speak ill of him were jealous of him, and they never resolved it. So, here’s the bad news, I’m still here, and I’m gonna point out your shortcomings, King or Pat. Any of them. I can’t prove what I say is true, but when you look at the DVD, that is photographic, audio evidence that these guys couldn’t even say nice things about him on his DVD.
Sean Oliver: It’s funny also, how, this I going to shock you, Lanny, sometimes wrestlers embellish.
Lanny: Oh, No!
Sean Oliver: I know, you’re clutching your chest falling to the floor. What I’ve noticed just in my role in my company is that wrestling lore starts to take over, and everybody starts to tell the story that they heard from a first-person standpoint.
Okay. I was never in a locker room with Randy or Liz through any of those times. But you explained to me that the whole story about Randy, it’s kind of become that he locked her in a cave, behind a boulder, and put her in with no food or clothing, and it was lit only by torchlight.
I’m talking about keeping Liz in the locker room, how that tale has become repeated probably more than anyone who saw first-hand. You explained to all the viewers and me that she was dressing with Moolah or whoever was on the card.
Whatever ladies were there were in a lady’s section, in private. And there were frequently times when no female wrestlers were on the card, so Liz was given a separate dressing area for that.
There was no key that Randy kept, and she was locked in the room, but that kind of became wrestling lore, and I think that’s what happens, Lanny. So, when people tell these stories on the DVD, how much did they actually fucking see.
King wasn’t even there for any of this like we talked about. Stuff just starts to get repeated, and the more ominous they can make it sound, there’s a better chance they’ll use that person’s soundbite and give them some extra screen time than the guy who says, "Yeah, I saw Liz in a dressing room by herself, but I didn’t think it was a big deal."
They’re not gonna put that guy on. They’re gonna put the guy that says, "Oh, she was put in there with a lion and made to fight for survival," you know what I mean.
Lanny: I understand, and here we are in a 3-way conversation, and of the 3 of us, I’m the only one who’s been divorced. Sean is happily married, JP is happily married, and here I am, but I don’t give marital advice. Why would you come to me for marital advice? You should go to someone who’s been married a hundred years—somebody who’s actually done it.
Sean Oliver: You’re a cautionary tale like the steroids.
Lanny: Yes, but I don’t consider myself worthy of giving that kind of advice. But yet, Jerry Lawler, who I don’t know how many times he’s been married, but he’s competing with Mickey Rooney, what is the record anyway, who knows.
Sean Oliver: Another great contemporary reference for all the youngins out there, Lanny. Keeping it contemporary, thank you, with the Mickey Rooney action there.
Lanny: Well, I tell you what, he was a bigger star than Clark Gable for about three years.
Sean Oliver: Right in his younger years.
Lanny: I’m telling you, he was the Hardy Boys and all that you know. There was a time when he was Mr. Showbusiness.
About a month before Randy died, I’m in the company of some people ages 18 through 24, and I’m playing with my cell phone, and I go, "Oh god Elizabeth Taylor died!" and everybody said, "Who’s that?" And I said, "Oh my god, they don’t know!"
How the hell can you not know who she is, and yet they don’t know. They know Lady Gaga, but they don’t know Liz Taylor. What’s the deal? Fame is fleeting.
Sean Oliver: More people clicking off, I imagine.
Back in the day, the celebrities that entertained us in the world of sport, in the world of television or movies, and folks that sang to us on the radio, that was it. There was no reality TV. There was no Kim Kardashian who could be famous for… I guess nothing. Famous for being famous. There was no Jersey Shore. So, our scope was much more narrow.
Today everybody is a potential celebrity. Are you YouTube famous? Are you internet famous? Do you have a wrestling shoot company, and people stop you at a wedding? What the fuck is that? So, the scope of recognizable personalities is so wide today. Whereas back then we knew, Liz Taylor wasn’t in my generation, but when I was 18, I knew who Liz Taylor was. She wasn’t actively in anything at that time, she was an older woman, but I knew who she was.
Today, their heads are crammed with so much stuff.
My big fear with doing the first book was does anybody have time to read anymore. Thankfully the results show people do, or at least listen to it on Audiobook. We could go on all day, couldn’t we, Lanny. We should have another show.
Lanny: We could go on all day, but I am vehemently going to say, on behalf of JP Zarka and myself, thank you for being on the show and to the fans out there who are listening; buy "Fathers Blood" or go to hell.
Sean Oliver: One last Angelo Catholic guilt sentence being brought down to hopefully increase sales for the book. So, I thank you, I thank Angelo, and I thank all your listening audience.
Lanny: And thank you, Sean, and I’m gonna say it again. I blame you for Randy being in the Hall of Fame because you were influential, and once, I make up my mind, I’m like a rock of jello, and I needed it. I didn’t do it for Randy, and I didn’t do it for Vince. I did it for the fans because this sport does not exist without the fans, and neither does this podcast nor does Kayfabe Commentaries. It is about supply and demand, and without demand, there is no supply.
Sean Oliver: Thank you. And to all your fine fans, you can now tune out, go back on the internet and go back to beating off.
JP: Sean, where can people find you on social media?
Sean Oliver: I’m on Twitter @KayfabeSean. You can like my Sean Oliver Books on Facebook and head over to Amazon and check out "Fathers’ Blood" if you want an intimate look into the Poffo family, the Bischoff family, and all the families we’ve talked about herein.
JP: Get your heads off of YouTube and into these books. I can’t recommend them enough. Sean, we’d love to do this with you again. I just got to sit back and listen to you guys talk, it’s been a joy for me, and we would love to do this again soon.
Sean Oliver: Anytime.
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss the following articles on our site:
- Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth | The Tragic True Story
- Randy Poffo | Deep Drive: A Randy Savage Baseball Career Retrospective
- The Shockmaster | Fred Ottman Opens up About Botched Debut
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. While clicking these links won’t cost you any extra money, they will help us continue to bring you quality content!