Pick My Brain Interview: Eric Gargiulo

Host of Pro Wrestling Radio

Eric Gargiulo is the most talented wrestling announcer you may have never heard, but with any luck, he’s going to get his big break very soon.

Eric, aside from being one of the nicest guys on Earth, is one busy dude. You may know him from his work in ECW in 1996-1998, or CZW, MLW, or some of the new gigs he’ll tell you about in this in-depth, awesome interview.

Eric is a longtime Armpit reader, and in fact we first interviewed him a few years ago here. He did such a great job, we decided to do it again.

1. Welcome back, Eric. You did such an amazing job on your first Pick My Brain, that you deserved a repeat. Please use this opportunity to plug everything you’ve got.

Well let’s see. I host Pro Wrestling Radio which airs every Saturday from 12:05-1PM/EST. I try and take calls every week at 1-888-9222-2149. You can listen to the show live online at www.wbcb1490.com. I have Superstar Graham and Chris Jericho scheduled for October.

My website is www.prowrestlingradio.com. People can listen to archived shows, classic shows, read columns, etc. I am a part of the Pro Wrestling Unplugged broadcast team and I announce for them on home video and television. I host and announce the Women’s Extreme Wrestling pay per view series. I am most excited about my newest gig which is a daily column/blog at phillyburbs.com. I write about wrestling predominantly, but touch on other things like mma, football, Howard Stern, pop culture, etc. But you are pretty much guaranteed to find at least 1 if not several wrestling columns a day from me. The name of the blog is the Camel Clutch and you can be humbled by reading it at blogs.phillyburbs.com/the-camel-clutch.

2. This topic is a bummer, but it needs to be addressed. Let’s get it over with now, because it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about. You were very close with Doug Gentry, who recently passed away. Please take this chance to say a few words about who Doug was and what he meant to you.

It is really impossible to say a few words about Doug. I am getting choked up now trying to think of what I want to say. I will just say I miss him a lot. I always find myself wanting to talk to him about something whether it was last weekend’s PWU show, someone I saw on the indys, ECW, UFC, the Eagles’ game, just about anything. I don’t keep many friends that I would consider close, but Doug was definitely one of them. He was quite honestly the sweetest, nicest, caring, most giving guy that I ever had the pleasure of calling a friend. For all of those fans that scream R-O-H every weekend, I just hope they don’t forget that without Doug Gentry they likely would be somewhere else.

3. On a happier note, we want to congratulate you on your new gig with PhillyBurbs.com. Please tell us how this opportunity came about, and if doing this interview with us will jeopardize your job with them.

This has been a very cool opportunity and something I kind of lucked into. Phillyburbs is a yahoo affiliate and is owned by Calkins Media. The phillyburbs site is in sync with several local newspapers here in the Philadelphia area. The site is looking to expand with their own original content and I took a full-time job here as a website editor and writer. The people in charge of creative content were impressed with my wrestling background and encouraged me to write about it. They offered me a daily blog/column and pretty much let me write about whatever I want. They just expanded their entertainment news section and began included a section for wrestling news which is very cool. I love it. I really wasn’t sure if anyone actually read the columns, but I get feedback daily from friends and peers about pieces I have written. It is as close to a dream job as I could possibly hope to find. Again, the link for the columns is http://blogs.phillyburbs.com/the-camel-clutch.

4. One of your recent blog entries complained about Howard Stern’s recent return from vacation and the boring discussion that ensued. We have to disagree, however we do agree Howard himself is nowhere near as funny as he was in the early 90s. Artie has also jumped the shark ever since he realized he was funny, and since become obnoxious. What are your thoughts on the show since it has moved to Sirius?

Great question. The people on Stern Fan Network want to have me hung every time I write a column criticizing Stern. You know, I have listened to the show for almost 20 years. The show on Sirius is completely different than it used to be. I really begin to miss the good old days whenever I listen to Master Tape Theater. I think the problem is for one, Howard is less angry. He is too happy. All of this therapy, 500 million dollars, a hot girlfriend, and no pressures from ratings books will do that. 10 years ago he would rip everyone and everything and was very self deprecating. Now, he takes himself too seriously and can’t take any criticism whatsoever. I mean he went on a full scale rage because someone had the audacity to call him ugly! The old Howard wouldn’t have cared.

Howard is also nicer to guests than he used to be. In the past he would ask guests hard questions, etc. Now he kisses their asses and I think that is because he is out of touch. He sees half of his guests in the Hamptons on the weekends. There is nothing wrong with that but it can’t help but change you.

There is a much different dynamic with Artie and Jackie. I think Howard would rib Jackie way more than Artie. Howard doesn’t fight with Artie the same way he would with Jackie. It is funny to me when Artie will mention plugs throughout the show and Howard says nothing. Right after Jackie quit Howard went on a tirade for weeks about he was so sick of Jackie’s plugs.

Overall I will always listen to the show, but it has definitely changed. As long as he keeps bringing Gilbert Gottfried on, he is always guaranteed at least one funny show a month. It is far from as funny as it used to be, but I think he is very lucky that the show isn’t judged by ratings.

5. Which do you prefer:

Artie Lange or Jackie Martling: Easily Jackie. I can’t listen to the Joke Hunt for more than a few minutes but I love the guy.

Howard married or Howard single: Married and miserable.

Howard the Bush lover or Howard the Bush basher: Ugh, this is the other thing that has really turned me off to the show. He is a big Bush basher and will spend an hour of the show talking politics. Half of the things he says are so out of left field that it amazes me that someone so intelligent can say something so stupid. He has a lot of left wing guests on, but has only had Sean Hannity from the right. I think political dialogue is fine, but that’s not what I am looking for from Howard Stern.

Zuffa-owned UFC or SEG-owned UFC: Oh man I loved the barbaric infancy days of UFC. There is just too much UFC for me to follow. Honestly, I love UFC but I had no idea there was even a Fight Night last night. At least the rosters were smaller and easier to follow back in the day. I am not saying SEG-owned UFC was better, but it was just something I really enjoyed.

Your life now or your life 10 years ago: That is a tricky question. 10 years ago I spent the week watching wrestling tapes and working with my best friends. I didn’t have a conventional schedule, and spent the weekends on the road with ECW. Today I am in better shape, have accomplished more on my own in wrestling than I ever would have dreamed of, and got a college education. I love life today, but there is something about going on the road every weekend with your friends that just can’t be beat.

Metallica now or Metallica 20 years ago: Easily 20 years ago. Although Rick Rubin is producing their next CD and he has said he wants to bring it back to Master of Puppets. I understand that they want to evolve as musicians and want to produce a more artsy/metal album. But give me And Justice For all or Master of Puppets over just about anything on the shelves today.

Vince Neil or John Corabi: Never a big Crue fan. But I guess Neil.

Shawn Michaels the pretentious jerk or Shawn Michaels the Jesus lover: Definitely the pretentious jerk. The old pretentious jerk made a surprise appearance in the Hulk Hogan feud and I thought it was great.

Arn Anderson or C.W. Anderson: I have to go with the Enforcer only because he brings me back to my childhood.

Mullets or skullets: I’m not sure what a skullet is but since I had a mullet in the 80s I’ll go with mullets.

Long-haired, alcohol-fueled, kick-ass rock songs about booze and babes or short-haired, whiny, alterna-crap songs about politics and the environment: Definitely long-haired, alcohol-fueled, kick-ass rock songs about booze and babes. I don’t get that Emo crap. I mean really, who gives a sh*t.

Jackie’s ex-wife or Howard’s ex-wife: Would Howard’s come on and play dial-a-date like Nancy did last week? No. Definitely Jackie’s ex-wife.

Beth Ostrosky (Howard’s fiancé) or Dana (Artie’s ex-girlfriend): Dana. I am sure Beth is a nice girl, but who are you really fooling honey?

Sirius or XM: Never had XM, love Sirius.

Kelly Ripa or Kathy Lee: Kelly is very hot, so Kelly.

6. Please tell us about Eric’s favorites:

Favorite channel or Sirius satellite radio: Howard 100, NFL 124, Buzzsaw 19, Hard Attack 27, Octane 20.
Favorite guitar player: Kerry King.
Favorite wrestler who played the gimmick of a guitar player (eg, JT Southern, Maxx Payne, Van Hammer, etc): Honkytonk Man
Favorite year to be a wrestling fan: 1989
Favorite course you took in college: History of the American Presidency (it should be mandatory)
Favorite body part on a woman: It depends, if she’s wearing a skirt you are checking out the legs. If she’s wearing tight jeans you are checking out the ass.
Favorite place to take a dump: At home.
Favorite TV show when growing up: Wrestling of course.
Favorite arena to watch wrestling in: The ECW arena
Favorite wrestling TV announcer: Jim Ross
Favorite cast member of “The View” (the right answer is “none”): None
Favorite politician: How can you not like Rudy?

7. If the Presidential election were held today, and the candidates were all the Republican and Democratic contenders currently running now (ie, Giuliani, Clinton, Obama, Romney, etc), whom would you vote for and why? You can always decline to answer.

It’s really impossible to answer because none of them have laid out their hows with their platform. It is easy to say get out of Iraq, but how will you do it? I could say Giuliani but really, he hasn’t laid out this extensive agenda either. I know what they all want to do, but nobody has really said how they want to do it. I could never vote for a Clinton though. Newt in 08!

8. Last time we spoke, you were finishing up college. How did graduation go, and has it helped your job prospects at all?

Graduation was awesome. It was pretty cool to go back to school older in life and graduate with honors, etc. The degree definitely helped my job prospects. It definitely got me in the door at my current full-time job but nothing I learned in school would apply to what I am doing now. I find that to be pretty common, huh?

9. Yes or no, has Eric Gargiulo ever:

Tried online dating: Well, if you call hot girls in bikinis on My Space sending you provocative mails, than yes. If you call actually placing an “ad” or anything like that, than no.
Flirted with a ring rat: Of course, but do you expect the hot indy wrestling rats to put the announcer on top of their list?
Noticed Paul Heyman’s hairline receding more on some days than others: No.
Met Nancy “Woman” Benoit: Yes
Gotten hit on by Rob Feinstein: Never
Told Gabe Sapolsky he could stand to lose a few pounds: Nope, but we have talked about fitness I’m sure back during our ECW travels.
Talked about college life with Sonjay Dutt: Yes
Applied for an announcing job with WSX, TNA, or any other wrestling/MMA group that has had television: Yes and no. I never solicited any of those companies, but I have been asked to submit tapes to some of them. I did, and apparently I wasn’t what they were looking for. Although with WSX I was told it was just a matter of timing. Kevin Kleinrock was very complimentary about my demo and talked about doing something with me in season two.
Gotten fined by the FCC for something you said on the radio: Once when I said I thought Vince Russo was a good booker WBCB made me take a drug test. I passed.
Gotten an anxiety attack when a caller rambles on and on and won’t shut the f*ck up: Never had an anxiety attack.
Flushed the toilet in a public bathroom to cover up fart noises: I probably have but I don’t remember.
Used a self tanner: Tried it once and I looked ridiculous.
Joined a mosh pit: Sure
Seen a wrestler’s penis in the locker room: I never looked, but I once had a towel snapping incident with Luke Hawx.
Bladed yourself: Yes
Heard of Richard Christy the musician before he became Richard Christy the phony phone call master on the Stern show: Yes
Voted for who should win Stuttering John’s job (and if so, for whom): No but I would have voted John the Stutter.
Gotten Howard Stern’s autograph: No
Met Bruno Sammartino: Yes, great guy.
Met hardcore wrestling fan Fred the Elephant Boy: Yes.
Met the guy famous for the “It’s still real to me!” debacle: I don’t think so.

10. Time for Number Association:

Number of units you carried in a typical semester: If you mean credits, like 16
Number of hours you work per day: Depends on the day. On a Saturday I may work at phillyburbs, my radio show, and do announcing at night. I leave my house at around 8am and don’t return til about 1am.
Number of hours you sleep per night: I try for 8.
Percentage of waking hours you think about sex: 75%
Age you stopped thinking girls were gross and started thinking they were hot: Probably in the 3rd grade, so like 8.
Number of radio shows you listen to per week, either online or on the radio: Since I always have something on at work usually at least 6.
Number of CDs you buy per year: Very few.
Number of songs you download per year: Hundreds
Number of books you read last year for leisure: 10 I can think of off of the top of my head.
Number of shoot interviews you’ve seen: Ever? It has to be over 100, I know it is a lot. I try and watch the new ones that come out all of the time. I love hearing the old stories.
Annual salary you think Dave Meltzer pulls in: $250,000 (He would have $250,080 if he would cut out some of that mma)
Annual salary you think Howard Stern pulls in: $40 million
Annual salary you think Robin Quivers pulls in: $5 million
Annual salary you hope to pull in when you’re 45 years old: $45 million
Number of years, if any, you’ve contributed to a 401(k) plan: 5
Number of friends you have who haven’t accomplished a damn thing since high school: Ha. None. Most of my friends have accomplished something. If you ask about the number of friends with terrible, low paying jobs that are going nowhere in life I would say quite a few.
Number of times you’ve been offered weed and declined: Too many to count.
Average price of a home in your neighborhood: $220,000 I think.
Ideal age, weight, height, and cup size of your dream woman: 24, 120, 5’8, 34C.. Know anyone?
Your 1-rep bench press max: I always workout by myself so I have never tried my max. I will be the first to tell you that I am not a naturally strong guy, but I do okay.
Number of pull-ups you can do, palms facing: I know I could definitely do more than Howard Stern. What a work that was!

11. When Vince decided to re-start ECW, everyone was gung-ho about it. The first One Night Stand PPV was truly awesome. The second was good, but not great. How soon after ECW debuted on Sci-Fi did you know ECW was going to suck?

As soon as the Zombie walked out.

12. Let’s talk juice. Very briefly, if you were Vince McMahon, what would you do to kick the steroid and painkiller problem in WWE? Feel free to make any other comments on the steroid investigation in general.

The problem that nobody wants to talk about is that a lot of people are on human growth hormone and it is hard to test for. It is a very polarizing issue. On the one hand, I think grown adults should be allowed do whatever they want. On the other hand it is illegal and if you have that stuff floating around and do nothing to police it, you are opening yourself up to problems. I think the best way to curve the problem is to produce a different kind of wrestling. If you push guys that are smaller and more athletic, guys will concentrate more on their in-ring talents than blowing up their bodies with water. Look at what happened in the nineties when Vince pushed Bret and Shawn? I really don’t think people would mind seeing a show that wasn’t monopolized with monster bodybuilders as compared to fit, athletic wrestlers.

13. Briefly, what was your reaction to the Chris Benoit murders, and what is your personal opinion on why he did this?

I don’t have kids, but I have nieces. I can’t comprehend how anyone in the world could hurt a child, and your own on top of it. Something like that can’t happen overnight. I think blaming steroids is an easy answer but how many people have used steroids in and out of wrestling that ever did that? I just can’t imagine what that poor boy must have been thinking watching someone he loved, respected, admired, and trust come at him the way Chris Benoit did. I don’t know what could have been done if anything to prevent it. Something about crimes against children just really gets me and this one is about one of the most tragic I have read about.

14. Last time we interviewed you, you complained we didn’t ask you who screwed Bret. So… who screwed Bret?

Nobody screwed Bret. The guy got canned, and signed a $2 million deal. I mean give me a break with the whining. Please, someone shoot a finish on me and offer me $2 million.

15. Enough about sex, let’s talk Lex. Luger, that is. Have you ever met him on the indie scene, and how is he in real life? People say he’s aloof and arrogant, but I think he’s just shy and quiet, which is often confused with arrogance.

I was at a hotel not too long ago where a bunch of wrestlers including Lex were staying for a convention the next day. I was there to see some friends and do some interviews. I was hanging out with someone who wrestled a lot with Lex in both the WWE and WCW. The person said to me, “Oh my God have you seen Lex? That is not the person I used to work with.” When I said no, he said, “Let’s go see him. I’ll introduce you.” I am about as interested in meeting Lex Luger in 2007 as I was in 1987. So I declined. I did meet him in about 1989 and he was a total jerk. I strongly believe in karma. Everything that I hear about him is that he was not a very nice guy and didn’t treat people well. I think it is a case of you reap what you sew. I have zero compassion for someone who blew millions of dollars on drugs. I can only judge by my only meeting with him many years ago and he was purely arrogant.

16. Some people are better at speaking than writing, and some are the opposite. For instance, we’d never do your radio show (not that you’d ask) because we’re not good speakers. But we love to write. As for you, you seem at ease doing both. What is your assessment of yourself as a speaker and writer?

Like announcing, I never had any aspirations to be a writer. The first time someone ever acknowledged it was in college. I took an advanced literature class and the professor pleaded with me to take a creative writing class. I was surprised because it was nothing that I ever thought about it. In retrospect I did so much writing in wrestling between writing the CZW programs back in the day, writing for RF Video, writing press releases and web pieces for various promotions that I worked for and I never thought twice about doing it for a living.

To answer your question, as a writer I think I am okay. I am not going to win any Pulitzer Prizes but I also think I have an uncanny ability to morph my thoughts into creative writing.

As a speaker I think that is where my passion lies. I feel real confident about my public speaking abilities. I rarely watch my work these days as I just don’t have the time. However, every now and again I’ll come across a recent match I called on You Tube and may listen to critique myself. I am very proud of my work and I would put it against anyone. That may sound arrogant, but I say that out of confidence and not arrogance. I have also been doing this now for over ten years every week. After ten years of doing something weekly and not improving, you have problems. I am a realist and to me it is a job and not something you get a big head over. But, I have no problem walking into a room of broadcasters or a wrestling locker room and holding my head high knowing that I am one of the best at what I do.

17. You’re in your mid 30s now. Looking back in life, do you have any regrets? And what do you feel have been your greatest accomplishments?

I have a few regrets. One is in ECW as a ring announcer, I was booked into an angle on the house shows with Tommy Dreamer. I was at a point where I had to choose ring announcing with ECW or my full time. I chose my job because it was secure and I was making a great living. Every now and again I wonder what would have happened if I stayed on with ECW and if anything would have came out of that angle.

I also regret quitting ROH for CZW back in 2002. I never thought I would say that but in hindsight I do. I have no idea what would have happened when the company split up because of my childhood friendships with Rob and Doug. It isn’t that I necessarily regret quitting, I regret the reasons why. I did it out of loyalty to CZW and I should have known better. Six months later John Zandig is in a ring hugging Rob and I realized at that point that loyalty is usually a one way street. I watch back the calls from ROH and I am very proud of the work I did there. I think Steve Corino and I could have really been a hell of an announce team. I was younger then and kind of clouded by the “CZW Kool-Aid” so to speak. I also think everything happens for a reason so who knows how things would have played. Maybe they would have fired me and I would have wound up with nothing?

As for accomplishments I never really think about anything like that. Since you asked, what I am most proud about is just my career overall. Unlike the millions of kids that watched baseball, football, wrestling, etc I was able to somehow find a niche for myself and fulfill a childhood dream. How many kids throwing baseballs or footballs around ever play in the major leagues? It isn’t like I had any connections, I was just very lucky enough to somehow weasel my way into the business. To look back now and say for the last ten years I have held my own and been a part of the business I grew up watching is actually very cool.

I am also very proud of the respect I get from my peers on the indies, etc. I am not big on the hanging out, the cliques, the politics, etc. I just want to be able to show up to work and have a promoter, wrestler, booker, talent listen to my call of their matches and say, “Wow that was great.” Too Cold Scorpio recently pulled me aside at a PWU show. In my opinion, not only is he a tremendous talent but he is someone I have a lot of respect for. I don’t really know him so this wasn’t anything he was saying to me as a friend, etc. But he pulled me aside and told me that he watched the match I called of his last month and went out of his way to compliment me on the way I called the match. I was almost a little uncomfortable because what do you say? This is a guy that has had matches of his called by the best in the business. To me, that was a great accomplishment which I am proud of.

18. What can we expect from you in the future? Where do you see yourself in 10 years, and what’s in store for Eric Gargiulo both personally and professionally?

I always say that I want to get out of wrestling because there are just a lot of things about the business that I am tired of. When I quit CZW back in January I was really done. I am grateful for the opportunity I have with PWU or else that would have been it. So as much as I want to tell you that I will be long gone from wrestling, I probably won’t be. Professionally I would like to have my graduate degree in tact and be teaching college part-time as an adjunct professor. I would love to still be involved with broadcasting. I just want to continue to make a decent living at something I love doing. What more can anyone ask for out of life?

Personally I have no idea. Hopefully I will be married to that 24yr old girl, 120, 5’8, 34C and doing another Armpit interview..

19. Hey Eric, thanks a lot for doing this interview. You’ve always been an awesome sport and Armpit fan, and congratulations on your new column. Please use this last question to say any last words and anything else you want to say.

Thanks again for having me. Whether you agree or disagree with my opinions on phillyburbs.com, please check out the columns and leave some feedback. I think it is a cool thing to get some mainstream publicity for wrestling in general. Who knows, maybe the professor can take over the column when I retire?

Eric is so cool that he’s nearly impossible to offend. Is there a nicer guy out there? We can’t find one, and we’re proud to call Eric a good friend and comrade.

Please show your support for Eric by visiting www.prowrestlingradio.com and blogs.phillyburbs.com/the-camel-clutch. Thanks, Eric.