Sunday, March 23, 2014

Leaping Lanny: Wrestling with Rhyme by Lanny Poffo

Why I read it: He was one of my favorite wrestlers of all time.

Summary: A collection of poetry that mostly has to do with professional wrestling in the late 1980s.

My Thoughts: So, when I grabbed this one from the Kindle Store, I thought I was getting myself an autobiography. Totally my fault - I just hit send without looking deeply, really because I was so excited to start reading it. I always found Lanny Poffo to be a very interesting character (even beneath the facade of playing a character). He was, I think, the first wrestler I saw doing backflips in the ring. And with his suit of armor, he was perfect for the caricaturish WWF (when it still was the World Wrestling Federation) of the late 1980s. I saw him once in a battle royale at the old Boston Garden wearing it, and when he got tumbled over the top rope, top heavy, I never laughed so hard in my life (who won? King Kong Bundy beat "The Duke of Dorchester" Pete Doherty - yes, my memory can be insane sometimes).

Why poetry? Before his matches, whether a heel or a face (bad guy or a good guy), Lanny would read a poem to the audience, typically about his opponent. He put the words onto frisbees and then flung them into the audience.

Of course, a lot of it was woven into the storyline. He'd end a poem by saying that Jim "The Anvil" Neidhardt had no brain, and Anvil would come across the ring with a double axehandle and crumple him. Despite his obvious physical abilities and his confidence on the microphone in front of a full audience - before many others picked it up - he never went anywhere in the federation. This was during the age of Hulkamania. Size meant everything (still does with WWE). He wasn't a jobber, but he might as well have been, which to me was always a shame. I guess I like rooting for underdogs.

So, many of the poems are pure strolls down memory lane for my 15-year-old self. But there's more. Lanny shares with us several other poems that have to do with his personal life, a few beautifully chosen words here and there. We're not talking about major works of art, though a few lines did strike me right in the heart. And I think it was heartening to know that the poetry on the frisbees wasn't a gimmick, that this actually was part of the life of Lanny Poffo.


  1. Naturalist, author, magazine and newspaper journalist, historian and WWF fan. Who would have guessed?

    Actually, I shouldn't be surprised after I saw your post on the Simon Pegg book. You suggest that he might not be as well known, and I had certainly never heard of him. Since I have agreed with many of your reviews, I decided to look Pegg up. We watched "Paul" with the kids and it was a hoot. Then hubby and I watched Shaun of the Dead. Then watched The World's End with the kids (keep in mind my kids are 15 & 16 - we still give them the "we don't think you should use this language or do this thing" talk before the movie). As I write this, I am cracking myself up at the part of the movie where the first fight occurs in the restroom. Have you seen it? I don't want to give it away, but it was so unexpected. We were all like, what the....!? I'm still laughing at the shock of it.

    Even so, I don't think WWF is in my future, but it is interesting to hear they aren't all empty headed.

  2. WWF superstars in the 1980s were comic book characters. When Hulk Hogan took the title from the Iron Sheik (an Iranian bad guy just after the hostage crisis) I was 12 years old. These guys were larger than life, good vs. evil, appointment viewing at 10 am on Saturday mornings. I was just at the right place at the right time to be sucked in, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I doubt I'll ever get my own sons involved as the game has changed, more reflective of real life than superheroes and comedically evil villains.

    As for Pegg, so glad you found him. I loved the fight scene in The World's End, and would definitely suggest his other films, too. He just has a special genius about him.