The Wrestling Merchandise and Memories Interview
Originally published January 13, 2017
"Scantily clad, odd looking grown ups on a lighted platform in the center of a dark, dingy room grunting and groaning with rows of regular looking people cheering and jeering. What's a little kid to think? I thought I was sinning by watching it."
Many fans of Jim Crockett Promotions and early WCW remember the calls of veteran ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta, such as "Cactussss Jack!", "Lex..... Luuuuuuuuger!" and "This! Is! Sting!"
Aside from his NWA/WCW runs, Cappetta spent decades in the business working for promotions such as the WWF, AWA and even Ring of Honor. Also an author and performer, he's brought his autobiography to life for fans to experience in a stage show tour called "Beyond Bodyslams!".
Recently, our own Adam Zimmerman caught up with Cappetta to ask about his incredible career and newest touring project.
Adam Zimmerman: How have you been? What's keeping you busy nowadays? When we spoke, you mentioned an upcoming tour for your stage show, "Beyond Bodyslams!".
Gary Michael Cappetta: I've been busy with all of the details that go into booking venues and promoting my upcoming "Beyond Bodyslams!" stage show tour. Along with creating the content and editing videos, it's a 24/7 endeavor.
AZ: Where can people see your show? Which cities will you be performing in?
GMC: All of the venues where I'm bringing the show are small, intimate theaters. It's important to me that the fans who attend are up close to the performance so I can interact with the audience. In all of the theaters there's not a bad seat in the house. The only downside is that there are a limited number of seats in each theater. Unlike a gym or auditorium where wrestling matches are held, we can't add more seats once the show starts to sell out. I'd hate for fans to be turned away at the door. I recommend purchasing tickets early so you don't get shut out.
The tour starts in Philadelphia, Pennyslvania (Feb. 19) at CSz Philadelphia, and then goes to Scranton, Pennsylvania (Feb. 24) at The Providence Playhouse; Worcester, Massachussetts (Feb. 25) at Clark University; Indianapolis, Indiana (March 4) at The Irving Theater; Chicago, Illinois (March 5) at Stage 773; Greensboro, North Carolina (March 12) at Triad Stage's Pyrle Theater; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (March 18) at Steel City Improv; Baltimore, Marylad (March 25) at Un Die Musik and then I'll be presenting scenes from the show at Wrestlecon in Orlando, Florida (March 31 - April 1) during WrestleMania weekend.
AZ: How can fans get tickets for the performances?
GMC: Tickets for most of the shows can be purchased at Eventbrite. Search the city and the word "bodyslams" and the event nearest to you will come up.
AZ: What made you decide to do a stage show?
GMC: I created the show several years ago. At the time (2002) I performed at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA and at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Schenectady, NY. Then I just let it drop. I went back to teaching where my interests changed.
Fast forward to this past summer in the course of a podcast interview ("A Few Words With Eric Santamaria") I was asked why I didn't commit to the show back then. I'm sorry to say that I realized I had lost confidence in myself and my performance. So that presented a challenge. Now I am committed to bringing this unique entertainment experience to wrestling fans. I'm determined to prove that wrestling fans will come out and enjoy a pro wrestling themed stage show that is not 100% question and answer.
AZ: What can fans expect from the show? Stories from your career in wrestling or from your life in general?
GMC: Even though I was the first to bring a pro wrestling insiders show to theaters, others like Mick Foley, Jake Roberts and Jim Ross later were successful at comedy clubs. My show is different. I bring my book, "Bodyslams!" to life through story telling and by showing rare behind the scenes video(s). It is not simply a Q & A. It's a set performance presented in two acts with stage props, special effects and some zany surprises.
AZ: Were you a fan of professional wrestling before you became involved with it? How did you become involved in wrestling?
GMC: Definitely. When I was in the 6th grade I came upon a WWWF TV show late at night. I thought it was bizarre. Actually, I thought it was adult entertainment not meant for the eyes of an 11 year old. Scantily clad, odd looking grown ups on a lighted platform in the center of a dark, dingy room grunting and groaning with rows of regular looking people cheering and jeering. What's a little kid to think? I thought I was sinning by watching it. So, of course, I was hooked. Never missed an episode after that.
AZ: You've announced for many different promotions over the years. Do you have a favorite promotion that you've worked for?
GMC: Every promotion I announced for was special for different reasons. The WWF for my first, eye-opening experiences and early TV opportunities, the AWA for my first national broadcast, the NWA for the emotion of the fans stirred up by the edgy story lines performed by talented athletes, WCW for my first full time, touring adventure and then Ring Of Honor for the guts and skill exhibited by the young, athletically impressive wrestlers who went on to become superstars like CM Punk, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Brian Danielson (Daniel Bryan). So as far as favorite, I wouldn't elevate one promotion above the others. They were all challenging and fun for very different reasons.
AZ: Watching you in WCW, when I was younger, I was always fascinated by your nickname of the "World's Most Dangerous Announcer". Is there a story behind how you got the nickname? Who gave it to you?
GMC: Oh boy . . . I didn't know back when I was announcing for WCW that people paid attention to that nickname. That was a name I was tagged with by Jim Cornette. It comes from Indianapolis wrestling and here's how: Indiana wrestler, Dick The Bruiser was known as The World's Most Dangerous Wrestler. David Letterman grew up watching The Bruiser on Indianapolis TV and named his talk show musicians, The World's Most Dangerous Band. And so Jim Cornette carried forth the tradition by calling me The World's Most Dangerous Announcer.
You'd have to ask him, but my guess is that I looked so much the opposite from "dangerous" that he thought the nickname was funny. If you ever get an answer from Cornette, let me know what he says.
AZ: Do have any favorite matches or stories from your career?
GMC: In the WWF, my favorite 3 match series was between Bruno Sammartino and Superstar Billy Graham at the Philadelphia Spectrum. The place sold out three months in a row, each time 19,500 fans, when Bruno came back to challenge Graham for the world title he had held for so many years. It was a happening event in Philly.
In the NWA / WCW another three match series was a favorite for the acclaim given to the match quality as well as the respect fans always have had for the opponents, Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. The matches were seen on a TBS Clash of the Champions special as well as on Pay Per View. You just knew these were special events that would not be easily forgotten.
AZ: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to let the fans know about?
GMC: Fans can catch up with me on Facebook. All of my events and appearances are listed on my page. Since I'm covering half of the U.S. with my "Beyond Bodyslams!" show, I look forward to connecting with many of the fans who are looking for a fun, controversial and zany night all about pro wrestling. I might even blast my audiences with their favorite ring introductions . . . Anything is possible at the "Beyond Bodyslams!" shows.