Catching up with wrestling "Super Fan" Lenny Bonfiglio
Photo credit: WWE
Some of you fans may recognize Lenny as he was front and center at hundreds of the classic WWF and ECW shows back in the 90s. Some said he looked like Howard Stern and others called him Big Daddy cool fan, either way a die hard fan he was. Today we sit down with him and chat a bit about his experiences over the years!
Photo Credit: WWE
1) What was your first experience witnessing pro wrestling whether it be on television or in person?
It was 1986,I was 16,my mother actually got me into wrestling..she was watching,I believe it was WWF Wrestling Challenge..so I sat down with her to watch.The first match I saw was Tito Santana vs Macho Man Randy Savage from the Boston Gardens for the IC belt...when Randy Savage came out ,it just thought he was cool looking and of course had the beautiful Elizabeth with him...from there I was hooked.
2) Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like.
I was born in Forest Hills NY and lived there most of my life.It was ok, I really didn't have many friends where I lived..alot of older people in my neighborhood...but I was and still am a big movie buff so that's always been a big escape for along with wrestling.
3) When did you realize you were a wrestling die hard? Was there an exact moment in history that locked you in?
Well,besides the first time I watched it on tv,I'd say the first time I went to MSG for a house show.After that first one,I went to pretty much all of the MSG shows and Nassau Coliseum shows.
4) Who were some of your favorites in the wrestling world growing up as a kid?
While the majority of tv I watched was WWF tv,I slowly got into WCW too..so for WWF it was Randy Macho Man Savage,Rowdy Roddy Piper,British Bulldogs and Hart Foundation...Bobby Heenan and Elizabeth were my favorite managers. For WCW it was definitely Ric Flair and Sting
5) Did you collect the wrestling magazines as a kid? Now with the internet being as big as it`s become, do you miss the magazine days?
I did collect WWF magazine for a while.Not really,with the Internet it's alot easier to search for specific things rather then search magazines...although sometimes it's cool to look back through old magazines and reminiscing about the good ol days.
6) You were there in person as a fan at the beginning stages of WWF Monday Night Raw. The classic Manhattan Center in the heart of New York certainly stirs a lot of great memories i`m sure, but what was the feeling like at that time with no internet? Was there a big hype going into it? What are your best memories from The Manhattan Center days
Alot of great memories from the Manhattan Center...for one...I met alot of great friends there,Mike Johnson,Vladimir, Charlie are some.I used to sneak out of work early,my assistant manager at the time was awesome...he covered my escape..lol...and go wait on line for like 5 or 6 hours...when the doors would open..we'd have to run up 7 flights of stairs,which honestly no way could I do that now..lol,because seats were first come first serve,but really no matter where you sat,the seat was awesone.The crowd outside were alot of regulars every week,sort of like the ECW ARENA crowd but not as tight as the ECW crowd but it made the long wait to get in fun.With no internet or I-Phones,we entertained ourselves..lol
7) Tell us about the recognizable wrestling crowd you attended shows with on a regular basis and pretty much became a staple on tv whether it was TV or PPV in the 90s.
At the ECW Arena,there were great guys like Mike Johnson,Hat guy,Sign Guy,Dreadlocks,The Bubba Ray Dudley guy,The "Kato Kaelin" guy plus many more regulars...all good guys..all made an arena show fun even before the show started.
At WWF shows,it was guys like Vladimir,Charlie, Phil Ponterio and Mike Johnson that we just had so much fun.
8) Who were some of your favorite wrestling stars out of the WWF crop in the early 90s and what drew you to them?
I'd say for sure HBK..when he threw Jannetty through the barbershop window..lol..even though I really did like The Rockers,that was a great moment in HBK history.I also liked Stone Cold (total bad ass),The Undertaker(since day one..loved the whole gimmick)and The Rock (great mike work)
9) How did you first become a fan of ECW? Take us through that entire process.
It was Mike Johnson and Craig Herald that kept telling me I have to go and see ECW in Philadelphia,telling how great the shows were..I kept putting it off because I was mainly WWF at the time but eventually I did go..that was August 1995..I remember the main event was Public Enemy vs Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck...I'd been moving around the arena trying to get a decent view because I was in the back of the crowd,not sitting ringside at the time,so I really wanted to see the match,so I climbed up on top of a Pepsi machine..and what a match it was...Cactus and Mikey won the tag belts and I remember jumping up and down and dancing atop the machine...from there I was hooked and eventually, due to club ECW as it was called,I got my front row tickets.
10) You became a staple on ECW TV as a regular audience member there as well. What are your memories of the ECW arena and the cult like following that company had?
You stand outside the Arena and it really didn't look like much but when you walked in it was amazing...you could feel the electricity when you walked in...before the show even started the crowd was chanting..sometimes about regulars,especially hat guy.It was just so much fun and everytime I left after the show,I literally had no voice,and I mean everytime..lol
11) Who were some of your favorite ECW stars and what were some of your favorite ECW moments?
So many,but tops were RVD,Sabu,Taz,Public Enemy,Dudleys,Axl Rotten,Chris Benoit,Dean Malenko,Eddie Guerrero and Jerry Lynn.
Again so many but among themthe top moments for me would definitely be the Guerrero-Malenko Wars...some of the best matches, The Dreamer-Raven feud was great too and the BEST moment for me was the first PPV Barely Legal
12) As a fan, what did you think of the Monday night wars, when WCW started their Nitro program?
In all honesty, I spent most time on Monday night watching WWF and occasionally switching over to Nitro during the commercials but never really watched it religiously.
13) Do you think ECW would have done well in a Monday time slot against the other 2 major shows?
In all honesty, I don't think so because WWF and WCW were too huge with bigger known superstars and more money to spend on their programs,and that's no disrespect to any ECW talent or Paul E.On a personal level,I'd have watched a Monday ECW show over Monday Night Raw.
14) What were some of your favorite WWF PPVs and matches over the years?
Definitely Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble.
Wrestlemania:Macho Man Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat ,Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior,The Wrestlemania IV tournament,especially since Savage won.
Royal Rumble I just always enjoyed for the Rumble itself
15) Were you often stopped by other fans during that time period for photo ops or anything, being a regular in the crowd and seen on TV so often?
All the time at WWF, ECW and the few WCW shows I attended...but my favorite was on one of my WWF road trips,I think it was in St Louis, I met the Hardy Boys in the hotel where we were staying...I told them I was huge fans of their's and they told me they were huge fans of me..lol..here I was marking out for them and they are marking out for me..lol
The Classic Crew of Super Fans
16) What did you think of the ECW One Night Stand PPVs that the WWE put on?
I went to the first one.I had already moved down South but flew back up for Hardcore Homecoming in Philadelphia on Saturday and then the PPV on Sunday..it was great
17) Through out the 90s, were you also a fan of Independent wrestling?
I can't say I was a big fan,but I did attend a few,especially when sometimes ECW guys were booked.
18) What was your take on the New ECW weekly show started by the WWE in 2006?
I did start watching it but it wasn't the ECW that I loved..it was basically a WWE show just using the ECW name...nothing could ever replace the feel of a real original ECW show.
19) Are you still a wrestling fan today and do you watch the current WWE product?
No I'm not..it have tried numerous times but it's no where near as good as the Monday Night Raw days or the Attitude Era
20) When was the last time you attending a show LIVE?
A WWE show was The Royal Rumble 2006 and when I moved down here before I started working, my son and I attended TNA shows..those weren't too bad but again nothing compared to ECW
21) With the WWE Hall of Fame honoring the Dudley Boyz this year, which other stars would you like to see inducted this year?
Definitely The British Bulldogs or at least Davey Boy Smith and I know it's because of his wife,and I do understand her reason,but Owen Hart
22) What are some of your day to day hobbies in life?
Nowadays, since I'm only a couple hours away,I love going to DisneyWorld with my fiancé and still movies,especially Star Wars
23) Do you have any behind the scenes stories from the older events in the 90s that you attended?
No unfortunately not.
24) The WWF was still a mom and pop business in many ways during the 90s. With less security and everything else that went along with it, was it much easier to meet the talent back then?
Yeah,especially after shows like at Madison Square Garden, we'd wait outside and they'd be walking to their cars in the lot across from the back of the garden..great memories
Joe: Thank you again Lenny for joining us and taking the time out of your day, it`s been a pleasure!
Lenny: Thank you my friend for allowing me to share such great memories...let me add that as much as I loved traveling to many PPVS across the country,nothing will ever compare to being in the small bingo hall known as the ECW Arena..those were the best times..hands down.