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SLAM! Wrestling - Gary Michael Cappetta Chat


Moderator: Gary will join us in a few minutes.

Moderator: It's a special birthday celebration here at SLAM! Wrestling as Gary Michael Cappetta has joined us from his home in New Jersey and is all set to answer you questions. Lets go to the first question.

HBH: I finished reading your book within a couple of days. What experience during your 21 years did you enjoy the most?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Heya HBH . . . Actually there were two highs for me . . early in my career when I introduced my childhood hero, Bruno Sammartino and then when I announced the Ric Flair / Ricky Steamboat series . . . Also . ... traveling in Europe and getting to know the European fans was cool too . . .

Anonymous: Thanks for participating in this chat, Gary, your contributions are missed by this fan. Who was your favourite wrestler to introduce? Personally, I loved to hear you announce "LEX LUUUUUUGGGER!!"

Bodyslams! - Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman
Gary Michael Cappetta: Hey . . it's a pleasure for me too . . . and welcome to my Birthday Party . . . now to your question . . there have been thousands and thousands of wrestlers who I've brought to the ring . . . to pin down one name would be kinda tough . . I guess when there was a big rivalry and the fans were up for a particular match, the atmosphere was always electric . . so not one guy . .but one set of circumstances

Sandra: What has been the reaction from those in wrestling towards the book?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Heya Sandra . . .welcome to the party . . .generally, I've gotten very good vibes from wrestling insiders who have ready Bodyslams! . . .George Steele, Superstar Billy Graham, The Blue Meanie and just some of the wrestlers who have gotten back to me with words of praise . . they know this is a no nonsense, truthful account of the business and appreciate my honesty . . . .not many who have been on the inside can be so up front about pro wrestling

Dave, San Jose: What was the toughest thing about writing the book?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi Dave . . thanks for joining the chat . . .to tell you the truth, there wasn't anything tough about writing Bodyslams! . . . I loved going down memory lane . . .some of the experiences I wrote about were frightful, some were fun to revisit . . but writing was a joy . . .

Mark Clemson: What advice would you give people who want to get into this business as an announcer/broadcaster

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi Mark . . .the best piece of advice that I could give anyone who wants to be involved in any way in pro wrestling is to gain some sort of financial security before the business grabs your heart . . . you have to be ready to walk away from it if necessary . . .as to announcing in particular . .find a good broadcasting school . .but most importantly . . get out and work . . doing it is the best teacher

Gregson T: Why did you quit the wrestling business?

Gary Michael Cappetta: There comes a time when you have to assess what's best for you at any particular time in your life. I have always loved the wrestling business and continue to do so . . however, when working for WCW became more frustrating that fun, I knew my days were numbered there. But who knows, the future can hold a lot of surprises for us all

WSG: Can you tell me a little about your movie script? What's it about?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Sure WSG . . . thanks for asking about my script,"Fall For The Dream" . . it came about because the easiest part of writing Bodyslams! was writing the dialogue . . I could hear the wrestlers voices as I wrote . . so since a script is a long dialogue, it seemed like a natural thing to do. "Fall" addresses the personal sacrifices that those of us who work in wrestling have to endure . . . I took my experiences, gave them to an up and coming wrestler and the result was very cool . .hope ya have an opportunity to read it . . and let me know what you think

Devin (ultimowrestling.com): Which wrestlers from today would you like to ring introductions for?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi Devin . . .One of the most entertaining . . most charismatic is THE ROCK . . it would probably be fun to work with him . . I worked with his dad and grandfather . . {makes me sound old on my birthday} . . but I think that would be electric

Sam Rumford: Mr Cappetta- I was wondering if you still taught at Christian Brothers Academy, I was a student there when you taught Spanish, and I always used to talk to you about wrestling. Good luck with the book and the movie script.

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hey Sam . . great to hear from you . . yes, I have returned to the classroom once again . . CBA has always been a special place in my eyes . . teaching is a ministry for me and CBA is the perfect place to touch lives . . plus, the kids keep me young and are great to work with.

David Stevens: Gary, Which organization did you like working for the best? What was the best match you ring announced for?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi David . . . Glad you could make my Birthday Party . . . I enjoyed different federations for different reasons . . the WWF because that's where I got my start and announcing was like a dream come true . . the NWA because it was a kick butt exciting promotion with Dusty Rhodes at the helm . . the AWA because on ESPN I received my first national exposure and WCW because I gained an international following and had the opportunity to do more than just ring announce . . I produced and directed interviews, hosted the event center, did voice overs in Spanish and got to travel the world . . .so every step of the way was an adventure

John Pollock: What do you think of some of the other books written by other wrestling personalities?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Well John, I have only read a few of them. I enjoyed the Cactus Jack book, although I think he was VERY easy on Vinnie McMahon . . but then again, he still works for him. The Rock's book didn't do much for me . .but then again, he hasn't been around the business long enough to lend any kind of a meaningful insight. As for the older books . . .I enjoyed Lou Thesz' and Bruno Sammartino's, however, they both had a tendency to shade things to put themselves over . .Bruno more than Lou. The next one I'll read is the Dynamite Kid's book . . he's not my kinda guy, but I'd be interested in his viewpoint.

Chris D: What are your thoughts on Michael Buffer? Were you upset when he replaced you? What's your view of his skills as a ring announcer?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Heya Chris . . . I wasn't upset when Buffer began working for WCW. I was annoyed that Eric Bischoff was not honest with me about Buffer's role. Eric had told me that Buffer was going to come in for one shot only. And of course, we now know that Eric only told me part of the story. As far as his style . . . Buffer is a boxing announcer . . that's very different from a good wrestling ring announcer because we are more emotional about our announcements . . . I never worried about how I looked . . I just wanted to be sure that my introductions helped to have an effect on the crowd and therefore helped in putting the wrestlers over . . . Buffer doesn't take that into account . . he reads what he is given and his job is over . . . Another skill that a wrestling announcer has is to communicate with the people in between the matches . . when a wrestler doesn't show up . . .or there's a change in the card . . .or announcing the next big show at the same arena . .these are different skills that a boxing announcer does not have . . .

Sherry: Happy Birthday Gary. Can we expect another book from you in the future? What subjects did you not get to address in Bodyslams!?

Gary Michael Cappetta: HI SHERRY . . welcome to the party . . .I actually have most of another book already written which covers topics that I couldn't fit in Bodyslams! . . .They deal with WCW executive infighting, drug and alcohol misuse / abuse by the wrestlers, profiles of the announcers with whom I worked, the celebrities who became part of the shows like Ali, Karl Malone, Robocop {LOL}, the OakRidge Boys and many others . . .so there is at least a Bodyslams! II in me . . .and maybe even III !!!!!

Derek: Hi Gary, I read your book and it was tremendous. It gave me a whole new perspective on pro wrestling. I thought the MOnday TV interviews were a behind the scenes look until I read Bodyslams!. It was so good that I'd like to buy a few for Christmas gifts. I live in the US. Is there still time to order and get the book in time for Christmas?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Thanks Derrick . . you bet!!! . . .If you order your Bodyslams! now, we will be sure to see that the books will be shipped via US Priority Mail . . so that gives you plenty of time . . . and I thank you for your kind words about Bodyslams! . . I have been overwhelmed by the positive response by journalists and fans . . and I am extremely thankful for the incredible feedback . . thanks again!!!!

Mark Swanson: Did you pattern your style after anybody elses? Jimmy Lennon? Howard Finkel? Tom Miller?

Gary Michael Cappetta: That's a great question Mark . . . there were three ring announcers who I patterned my style after . . .Jimmy Lennon from Los Angeles for his consummate professionalism . . Buddy Wagner form PHiladelphia because he always showed respect for wrestling, never talked down to the fans . . . and Friendly Bob Freed form Washington DC who was a genuinely warm man, showed his personality and caused the fans to feel like they knew him. I had never seen Tom Miller work and Howard Finkel started after I did.

Jeff ZZZ: What are your thoughts on the current wrestling product? Do you watch wrestling these days? Any interest in getting back into the business?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi Jeff . . .thanks for joining me on my birthday . . .I think that much of today's product has lost a perspective of what I call in Bodyslams!, THE ART OF THE GAME. The real pros know the psychology of the game . . they know how to entertain the fans . . they don't have a match scripted, but go with the flow by "reading" the fans' emotions . . .Fortunately, I am seeing more attention paid to THE ART OF THE GAME by young indie wrestlers who never fail to impress me. The young breed is a sharper group, a better schooled group and they have a respect for the business. As far as watching TV wrestling today . . . once in a while. About getting back into the business . .. there have been a few opportunities which have come my way . . . in fact, in the last few days which I am considering. I am fortunate to be bi-lingual, which has expanded my potential value to wrestling production companies. There are also a few that are interested in "Fall For The Dream" . . . so who knows, I may be spending some time in Hollywood real soon.

funky munky: What are your thoughts on Ric Flair? Was he the best wrestler you ever saw?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Yes, without a doubt, Ric Flair was the best ALL AROUND performer of the thousands of wrestlers that I introduced . .. technically sound, a great showman, terrific on interviews, entertaining without being lude . . he knew where to drawn the line . .. and on top of it all, he is a gentleman and fun to be around because he actually lives his gimmick . . . there's a great story in Bodyslams! that gives you an up close and personal view of Flair. And when he was WCW's booker, he was very good to me. We respected each other's professionalism . . .and to have someone of Ric's calibre comment on a ring announcer's role . . .well I think that speaks volumes as to his generosity and respect for every aspect of the wrestling production

Scott Dunlap: Gary, What where "Mean" Gene Okerlund and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan like to work with?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Heya . . .Scott . . I'm glad you made it all the way from TExas to be at my party . . . now to your questions . . Mene Gene and The Brain were professionals . . .they knew their roles and played them well. There were times though, when Gene took himself a little too serious . . . I have witnessed his "performer's temper" and it wasn't pretty . . . but generally, he was fine to be around. The Brain has a broader perspective from being a wrestler and a manager as well as an announcer and I think his varied experiences caused him to be more in tune and appreciative of everyone's role, not just his own.

John Pollock: Do you keep in contact with guys from the different companies you've been with?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi John . . . yes I stay in touch with guys who play important roles in many different ways . . promoters, wrestlers, journalists, announcers. Since you probably want to know about wrestlers . . . I've had recent contact with Bobby Eaton . . Larry Sharpe . . .George Steele . . .Crowbar . . Billy Graham and The Blue Meanie as well as several indie wrestlers like Ace Darling, Judas Young, Inferno . . . what a varied bunch, huh??

Greg Goode: Happy Birthday! I just received your book so I haven't got very far into yet. With that, what wrestler did you like to work with least and why?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Thanks Greg . . . In the early years I hated working with George The Animal Steele because the guy scared the hell out of me . . . and he can still do a good job of it when he's in character today . . .Later in WCW, I didn't like working with The Steiner Brothers, Scott and Rick . . . They were a lazy tag team . . wrestled the same match over and over . . .whether they were working with The Nasty Boys or Doom or The Skyscrapers {Vicious & Spivey} . . they did as little as possible . . They were also the least dependable when it came to honoring their commitments to charities and the media and I was always the one who had to make excuses for their absence . . .{their unprofessionalism} . . and I didn't appreciate it.

"Badboy" Tobias Moran: Gary, you're my favorite ring announcer. What are your plans for the future? Plannin on comin to Indianapolis and goin to Denny's with me? wink wink

Gary Michael Cappetta: Heya Tobias . . I can't believe you made it to my party !!!! . . . Right now, I am enjoying my involvement in the teaching ministry . . it's fun, it's uplifting and it's an education {yes,even for the teacher} . . . however I don't discount another book to cover the topics that I couldn't fit in Bodyslams! . . I look forward to seeing "Fall For The Dream" on the big screen . . I also enjoy working with Christian recording artist, Michael Vale. I've been his manager / "Big Bro" for more than two years and I think you will be hearing great things from this very talented singer . . . Those are just my thoughts . . .but I'll know for sure when HE opens the next door.

Moderator: We're running short on time so we're only going to take two more questions.

Devin: Gary, what's it like to stand next to men who are much larger than you? Were you ever scared?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi Devin . . thanks for making it to my party . . .Ya know, I always believed that the reason Gorilla MOnsoon gave me a chance was because all of the wrestlers towered over me . . .I was a direct contrast to the way they looked . . I was way more conservative looking, shorter . . I made the guys seem even bigger than they were and scarier . . remember also, that when I started, the wrestlers were not as gigantic as some of today's competitors. And no, I was never scared. Remember . . for the most part, these guys were my friends. I actually felt safer around them because they would watch my back when we were in dangerous situations like the time in Altoona, Pa when a fan stormed the ring to attack Jim Cornette . . . that's one of the scariest stories in Bodyslams! . . .

Tom: Do you think wrestlers should unionize? If so, what as? Entertainers? Stuntmen?

Gary Michael Cappetta: Hi Tom . . I"m glad you got your question in because it is such an important topic . . .Because of the enormous respect that I have for pro wrestlers as a whole, it is difficult to watch them being taken advantage of by promoters. They are classified as independent contractors so the promoters don't have to supply medical care, stock options and all of the benefits that go with working for a corporate concern like Time Warner and Titan Sports. But by the letter of the law, the guys are EMPLOYEES. And that's an important distinction. Their professional lives are controlled by the wrestling business. They don't have the freedom to turn a job down. They are told where to go, when to get there and what they are going to do when they perform. Therefore, like all entertainers in SAG, AFTRA, and EQUITY {three performer's unions} they should be protected. I don't think it's going to happen any time soon because the first to try will disappear. Sgt. Slaughter tried it with McMahon in the '80s and he was shown the door. But I can only hope that things change. Thanks for asking such an important question. I elaborate on this issue in the book. I hope you get a chance to see what else is involved in this important question.

Moderator: SLAM! Wrestling wants to thank Gary for joining us on his birthday. Be sure to order the book on line or via the toll free phone number. And now, a parting message from Gary.

Gary Michael Cappetta: First . . .thanks to SLAM! Pro Wrestling for inviting me to chat with fans from all over the world. This has been a blast! Also, thanks to London Publishing who has supplied brand new issues of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Magazine to all of you who purchase Bodyslams! tonight. It's my little gift to the public who have taken the time to join me for my birthday and for supporting the Bodyslams! project. Mostly, thanks to the fans who have shared so many of their memories of their wrestling experience with me over the past few months. Whether I was in the ring announcer, or sitting at ringside, the fans and I have always shared a special bond . . our love for pro wrestling . .. And for those who like myself who have become disheartened with some of the vulgarity that has become part of pro wrestling, be patient . . things will come around . . because the sport of pro wrestling will be saved, as it always has been in the past when we return to honoring THE ART OF THE GAME . . . Thanks again to all . . .

Moderator: Thanks again, Gary.

Related stories

Oct. 11, 2000: Cappetta criticizes McMahon
Oct. 10. 2000: Cappetta reflects on the business
  • Cappetta's memoir fascinating and refreshing

  • Fans interested in purchasing a copy of "Bodyslams! - Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman" or "Fall For The Dream" can order online by visiting http://www.bodyslams.com or calling 1-866-263-9752.