Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 271

Cappetta sits down with Cabana this week
Photo via Online World of Wrestling
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 271 (Oct. 8, 2015)
Run Time: 1:09:54
Guest: Gary Michael Cappetta (13:27)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is one of 1980s wrestling’s most famous ring announcers. Cappetta takes Cabana back to his early days with the WWWF and his relationship with Gorilla Monsoon and Vince McMahon Sr. He explains how a misunderstanding with George “The Animal” Steele helped fuel his career, then explains how that career launched, how he knew it was time to part ways with the McMahons, the impact of a hepatitis bout and licensing disputes. Cappetta details his time with the AWA and transition to Crockett Promotions before explaining his books about the business, leaving WCW, the way Michael Buffer’s involvement changed the game and his own teaching career.

Quote of the week: “While I always understood that I never sold a ticket, that I never brought anybody to the arena, I always understood how to make myself stand out without — in a passive way. So before I started announcing, most of the ring announcers wore long ties. I started wearing a bow tie. I couldn’t afford a tuxedo, so it was just whatever I had and a bow tie and a carnation boutonnière, because those are identifying things for that announcer. So when I walked out in an arena, and you know, they would say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the guy we saw last month.’ Because I always, always had those things.”

Why you should listen: Beyond hearing the man who runs WWE repeatedly referred to as Vinny? There aren’t nearly enough Gorilla Monsoon and George Steele stories especially on the podcast circuit (where any nostalgia going back that far tends to focus on the South), and Cappetta’s perspective about life outside wrestling makes him a much more compelling voice than other nonwrestlers. Without going beat by beat through my favorite parts of the conversation, it’s safe to say there was scarcely a low point to be found.

Why you should skip it: If nostalgia isn’t your thing, stay away. This is not the week to discover the personal history of an up-and-coming indie darling. And there are a few moments where Cabana’s personality naturally conflicts with his guest, although that’s an extreme degree of nitpicking given the enjoyable nature of the entire chat.

Final thoughts: I was barely aware of NWA during Cappetta’s run as ring announcer, yet I found this conversation to be riveting. Cabana is the perfect host for this interview (not only can I imagine the ways in with Jim Ross would butcher such an interview, after hearing Cappetta I can’t see him agreeing to do that show) and it it’s to his credit that he continues to expand the idea of who might be a worthy guest beyond just those folks who have laced up a pair of boots. It’s a great hour for wrestling fans of all stripes and comes highly recommended.