By Ryan K. Boman, Editor in Chief
For years, the sounds of Gary Michael Cappetta’s voice filled wrestling arenas all over the world, providing a punctuation mark behind legendary names like ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat.
With a singsong sound that was partially nasal, and mostly carnival barker, Cappetta may be best known for his time in WCW, as part of mega-shows like Starrcade and The Clash of the Champions. But, his journey in the world of professional wrestling began long before that.
“I worked with the McMahon family for eleven years, starting in 1974 into 1985,” he told TheGorillaPosition.com, noting that one of his earliest and greatest mentor in wrestling was the legendary Hall of Famer, Gorilla Monsoon. He also made the transition with the World Wrestling Federation as the transfer of power took place from Vince McMahon Sr. to his son, who had his own ideas for the future of the wrestling business.
By that point in the mid-80’s, Capetta had firmly established a reputation in the WWF for his ability to fire up the audience. Learning from the steady tutelage of Monsoon, it wasn’t long before he was sought out by other major promotions.
“In 1985, Verne Gagne promoted the very first national wrestling show on ESPN. It originally came from Atlantic City, so I left the WWF and went to go to work for Verne on his TV show and a couple of his pay-per-views.”
Capetta said around that time, Gagne and Carolina promoter Jim Crockett had begun to form the short-lived Pro Wrestling USA partnership, designed to counter Vince McMahon’s national expansion of the WWF. While the loosely formed alliance didn’t accomplish it’s intended task, it did land Capetta in the Carolina territory.
“That started my association with the Crockett family. So, mid-to-late 80s, I announced for both the AWA and also the NWA, on their shows as well as their pay-per-views,” he continued.”When Turner Broadcasting bought Crockett Promotions, (then-WCW President) Jim Herd sent word to me that I was not allowed to announce AWA pay-per-views anymore.”
“I sent word back to him that if he expected me to turn work down, he needed to put me under contract. So, that’s when they finally put me under contract with WCW.”
From there, he worked the microphone at all the major World Championship Wrestling events, from the Omni in Atlanta to The Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Along the way, Capetta’s unassuming demeanor earned him the ironic nickname of “The World’s Most Dangerous Announcer”. In fact, it’s one of the things most often mentioned to him by nostalgic fans when they greet him.
Still today, Capetta laughs and insists that the moniker was all in good fun, and couldn’t be further from the man behind it.
“I think Jim Cornette was the first to say it; Although I recently ran into Jim Ross, and he has also taken credit for it, as well.” he said. “For whatever reason, I think it was just funny… because Gary Michael Capetta, the ring announcer, is such a serious, conservative looking fellow. So, saying ‘he’s the world’s most dangerous…’ was so different than what you were actually seeing. “
He would leave WCW in the 90’s, but stayed semi-involved with the industry, even doing some backstage interviews for Ring of Honor in their early days. After being off mainstream television for nearly two decades, Capetta says he’s thankful that fans remember him fondly and still like to talk wrestling with him.
“I have a few theories on why that is. I think much of it has to do with nostalgia. I’m not sure if the fans really know how much you appreciate being remembered, but I certainly don’t take it for granted. For whatever reason, what I did stuck with some people. And, I’m honored by that.”
He was promoting his book and touring the Midwest in 2000, when he came up with the concept for his speaking appearances, a very intimate set of shows that he calls, Beyond Bodyslams. It’s a night out that Capetta says is a ‘celebration of pro wrestling and being a pro wrestling fan’.
“It’s very interactive with the audience,” Capetta said. “I go into the audience and ask folks how they found their way to wrestling. I ask about their experiences, how they were introduced (to wrestling) and their memories. Then, I share mine.”
Capetta’s Beyond Bodyslams takes fans through the highlights of his career, discusses his time working for the McMahon Family and pays tribute to his mentor, Gorilla Monsoon. As he tells stories, a giant-screen in the background helps to illustrate the legendary events.
“I do a lot of different things, and try to make it a unique experience for the audience,” Capetta said. “While there are several things that I always talk about, because it corresponds with a video package, I try to make every show a little different for every audience.”
He says that his interaction with longtime wrestling fans has been the most rewarding experience of this current endeavor.
“It’s a two-hour show, and then I do an encore Q & A afterwards. So, we have a lot of fun. There some funny stories, some terrifying stories, and the people are very engaged.
“I was so happy with the response from the people in the first eight cities that I brought it to, so I decided in the Fall, to bring it to six more cities
Capetta is still currently on the tour, that began on October 13th. He’ll be in Asbury Park, NJ, on Saturday night, with a stop in Louisville, KY, on November 4th before concluding things in New York City on the 11th.
Upcoming dates of Gary Michael Capetta’s “Beyond Bodyslams” tour
$25 – $45
Gary Michael Cappetta “Beyond Bodyslams!”The Lakehouse, Asbury Park$25 – $45
Gary Michael Cappetta “Beyond Bodyslams!”Queens Theatre, Queens