Poker Junkie Interview: Lou D'Angeli
Lou D'Angeli is the current Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Cirque Du Soleil and a part-time poker player.
Fans of the old ECW (Extreme Champiosnhip Wrestling) know D'Angeli by a different name.
Starting with the company as Sign Guy Dudley and later performing as Lou E. Dangerously, D'Angeli was a featured performer with ECW from 1995 to 2001.
Poker Junkie blogger and pro wrestling fan Compncards recently caught up with D'Angeli to ask him about his career in pro wrestling, how it prepared for him for his current job and his aspirations as a poker player.
PJ: Many fans remember you from ECW as either Sign Guy Dudley or Lou E. Dangerously. How did you get your start with ECW?
LD: I was super lucky. I was home from college during the summer of 1993 when I lived outside Philadelphia and was flipping through the TV channels. I stopped when I saw Eddie Gilbert doing an in-ring promo with a chain.
The crowd was pretty sparse but I immediately was drawn to him as I grew up watching NWA, UWF, etc and knew him the second I saw him. He was always one of my favorites. Anyway, I kept watching and found out he was doing an "in-ring demonstration" of a Texas Chain match for an upcoming match with Terry Funk.
Funk was another one of my favorites as well so to me that was a pretty awesome match. I figured out from the ring that the promotion was called "Eastern Championship Wrestling" however I had no idea it was being filmed in Philadelphia until later in the show.
I ended up going to a TV taping and then to a show called "Ultra Clash" later that year. It was there that I picked up the ECW Action Wire, which was the event program, and they were looking for writers. So I called them and them turned out to be Gabe Sapolsky and I started writing monthly articles and shooting ringside.
I had really long hair and when Dudley Dudley and Little Snot Dudley started Raven told me one night that I was now Sign Guy Dudley. It was crazy. I mean, as I came to find out breaks in the wrestling business don't happen like that often so like I said I was super lucky.
Anyway, I made the most of it and got some training from Tommy Dreamer, Taz, and Perry Saturn so I didn't get killed in the ring and went from there. I ended up performing from 1995-2001 which was a really good run and really, a dream come true.
PJ: What was your most memorable match in ECW?
LD: I don't know if I would say there was one match that I was part of that stood out more than others. I will say there were a ton of angles that I was part of with The Dudleys and then as Lou E. that stood out for sure. The "broken neck" angle with Beulah and Tommy Dreamer was amazing.
That was serious heat and fans wanted to legit see The Dudleys get beaten to death. The quick Dudley Boyz/Public Enemy was fun but was buried due to politics. I really liked Rocco and Johnny, they did a lot for ECW and I wish we could have worked together but it wasn't meant to be.
Dudleys/Eliminators were our first big angle as a team and obviously was the first PPV match ever to be held for ECW at "Barely Legal." The Gangstas stuff was awesome as was Sabu and RVD. That's the thing that was so amazing about ECW... angles/programs, etc just progressed naturally into the next one but at the same time could always be interwoven.
It was an amazingly booked product. In terms of Lou E. Dangerously stuff the first that always pops up is the stuff I did with Billy Corgan in Peoria and NYC. A great example of having a good idea and being able to run with it as I worked with Corgan and Dreamer on making that happen and Paul E. gave us the forum to do it.
That really doesn't happen much. I enjoyed my encounters with Paul E. as Lou E. and loved working the new Dangerous Alliance (with CW Anderson, Bill Whiles, Erik Watts, and Elektra) and The Network (with Steve Corino, Cyrus, and Jack Victory.)
One of the hottest angles I was in was when we brought Erik Watts to the ECW Arena and cut a hellacious promo on Paul. He scripted it for me but man that was heat.
PJ: Who did you develop close friendships within in ECW and who do you keep in contact with today?
LD: It's going to sound cliché however in ECW everyone really got along. I mean, like 90% of the people were cool with each other. There were always exceptions but you know what I mean. Personally, Tommy Dreamer did a world for me in the business and within my personal life.
He doesn't get enough credit for all he has done for so many. I am just lucky enough to call him my friend and to still talk with him, text, etc at the most random moments because we are always able to pick up right where we left off. I would consider him one of my closest friends.
I still keep in touch with CW Anderson, Jack Victory (who was partner in promoting ECW back in the day,) D-Von, and just heard from Paul recently as well as Danny Doring. Really, social media keeps everyone in touch since we all have Facebook, Twitter, etc... so you know what each other is up to and you can always reach out for a laugh.
From WWE, I still talk with Edge all the time. He was one guy that would have been perfect in ECW. He would have loved it. He is a great guy and one of the best performers I ever saw. His passion for this business is just incredible.
PJ: For those that didn't happen to be lucky enough to actually experience ECW, and I don't mean what WWE tried to pass off as ECW, can you tell fans what working for the company was really like?
LD: It was a group of guys and girls committed to making a product and a brand work on the biggest scale possible. ECW was marketed as ECW not as XYZ, ABC, and DEF... it was a group ... it was a team .. .and people knew what they were getting when we either came to town or watched us on TV.
It was execution at its highest point but also at its most unique. It was people trying to make other people successful. It was the Nirvana of the wrestling business. It changed the wrestling landscape forever and nobody can deny that.
It was amazing being part of something that nobody will ever forget and changed history. I am sure I can speak for most everyone saying we are all proud and humbled by that fact.
PJ: After ECW, I noticed you worked for awhile in WWE's marketing department. What was your job in the department and what were the biggest differences working for WWE as opposed to ECW?
LD: I started in WWE doing tour routing/booking and promoting local markets for house shows. I did that for five months and then had a chance to work on the brand marketing side working on the fan events (Fan Axxess, SummerSlam Axxess, etc) and all the major pay-per-views.
I did that for three years and seven months until I left for Cirque Du Soleil. While I was Lou E./Sign Guy on-air at ECW, I was also a promoter behind the scenes so that gave me the groundwork for a career after wrestling basically.
One of the main differences between the two was working for a corporation in the WWE compared to working for ECW where was had small offices (some in people's houses, etc) and really no budget to work with to advertise, etc. In ECW you had massive freedom to get the job done and creative PR opportunities, events, and whatever it took. ECW was true grassroots and guerilla marketing.
WWE is way more structured then that but that's a given. The biggest difference though was the fact that many of the talents you saw week-to-week in ECW were also designing the merchandise, producing it, marketing the product, promoting the shows (as I mentioned earlier) and really involved in every facet of the business.
Whether that was a good or bad thing in the end, I don't know, but I tend to think, for the most part, it was good due to the fact that you know your best employees are the ones that believe in what you are doing, and in some cases, what they were doing on several levels.
Really, each approach and structure respective to WWE and ECW worked given the product being marketed, the structure, and whatever else.
PJ: You left the WWE in 2010 to become Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Cirque Du Soleil. How did working for over a decade in the pro wrestling business prepare you for your current job?
LD: I was able to learn so many different levels of marketing and PR in wrestling. The balance between traditional media vs. grassroots vs. PR vs. revenue vs. sponsorship and now with social media ... My job at WWE, at the end of the day, was always to sell tickets and create revenue. That's no different at Cirque.
The volume of tickets we do and the amount of shows we do is way different though. The amazing opportunities we get to be part of and work so hard to secure like the Grammys, Academy Awards, American Idol and the Super Bowl along with partnerships with The Beatles/Apple/EMI, EPE, Criss Angel, The Michael Jackson Estate, and so much more is what makes this job incredible.
I am usually humbled once a day at work just by the sheer passion of my co-workers and the magnitude of what we are able to accomplish on so many levels. It's both gratifying and motivating to have that kind of positive energy around you. To really be able to create and take a risk and have support.
PJ: Are you officially done with the wrestling business or would you consider coming back if the situation was right?
LD: Never say never but that is not in my cards at all right now. Wrestling is a volatile business on many levels and while it taught me a lot about life and business I am happy watching from the outside right now.
I have had several opportunities to perform for some new promotions that I have debated just cause it would be fun so that may happen one day but nothing full-time or corporate in the near future if at all. I don't mean to sound grim but I just know the reality so ... I can be more definitive in my answers.
PJ: Tommy Dreamer tells me you are an aspiring pro poker player. How were you introduced to the game and how often do you play?
LD: Tommy Dreamer was aspiring once also LOL. In all seriousness, I started in 2003 while I was living in Fort Collins, Colorado and working in arena management booking shows, marketing them, etc. I started in a friend's home game and I loved it.
I know I had played in college but can't really pin those memories and my dad and I used to play cards but those homes games in Colorado changed me. It was like nickel and dime stuff but it was fun. I went back to Philadelphia for a holiday I believe and played for the first time in real game at the Taj Mahal.
I was nervous beyond belief and super intimidated. I played like 1/2 limit. I played limit maybe twice more and was done with that and off to No Limit. Soon I started reading every book I could find, talking to everyone I could, and playing a ton of online and live whenever possible.
Colorado had casinos but at the time they all had caps so the action was odd. It was basically glorified limit so I stuck with tournaments and played in a card room in Fort Collins whenever possible. I eventually was relocated back to Philadelphia for work (this was post-ECW and pre-WWE) and I began playing all the time in Atlantic City.
From there it just went and now living in Vegas and playing three or four times a week I am beyond lucky to play in some awesome tournaments (that's my major focus right now) and to have met amazing people that have helped my game so much I can't even begin to say. I had three goals when I was offered a job from Cirque and accepted and moved to Vegas and that was to be a good Dad, to be successful at my job, and to really study poker and become a decent player.
So, we shall see LOL. Being able to play in several WSOP events last year and some of the best structured tournaments you can find has helped a ton. I have been able to learn a lot by putting myself in really challenging situations for the sheer sake of learning what those situations feel like in order to become better and know how to handle them in the future.
Additionally, you just learn a lot from people and seeing what they do and talking with them. It's a funny game. You can be sharing stories with your kids with someone at your table and seconds later you are trying to take their head off. It's a funny balance. I love it though.
The game, for me, is truly a test of my inner-self, my confidence, my fears, everything. it's an amazing array of emotions. It's a continual educational lesson somehow and I love that. More so, it really is you against the world ... there is nobody to tag in.
PJ: From what I've read, you played a lot on Full Tilt Poker. Tell us a bit about how you got into online poker and how Black Friday affected you as a player.
LD: I did play on Full Tilt for awhile but was really heavy on it in 2003/2004 I believe. I prefer live more so I would always try and do that first if it was possible. Online in general helped me learn other games and, more so, see a TON of hands which really helps now since there are a ton of situations you can relate to based on previous experience.
For me, the online ban and all that is a joke. I am hopeful that Fair Play USA and causes like that help bring online back for the sake of everyone. Living in Vegas you can get a game anytime however online tournaments were fun and just being able to play in a moment's notice was amazing.
But really, with the state of our economy and whatnot initiatives like this shouldn't be banned they should be used to help fuel our deficit. People need to spend time banning and regulating other things not poker.
PJ: What is your opinion on the Full Tilt situation and did you have any money tied up on the site?
LD: No money was tied up for me personally. My opinion is not really an opinion but more of a hope which is that everyone gets their money back somehow.I have met a lot of people affected by it which is tough to see.
PJ: Are there any final thoughts you would like to share with fans that followed you through ECW?
LD: Every day I am thankful for having a chance to perform and eventually market ECW to the world. It was an amazing, life-changing, dream come true for me and so many others. I am forever grateful to everyone who supported us and reminds us today what ECW meant to them.
I am grateful to have been given a chance by Tommy Dreamer, Paul Heyman, Tod Gordon, Taz, The Dudleys, and many others. I am more grateful to have been given the forum to run, express, and create within a business altering platform. Without the fans where would we be? We were fans of the fans!
PJ: Thanks for your time and best of luck in your future endeavors. (Yes, I went there.)
LD: There is a job at WWE in Talent Relations waiting for you!
Twitter (tons of poker and wrestling there) @LDAngeli
Blog (primarily wrestling) - KthruD.wordpress.com