Matt Cappotelli and the Bobby Holly Incident – A Sad Tale of Hard Knocks

The third season of Tough Enough sported co-winners, John Morrison and Matt Cappotelli. Since its inception in 2001, Tough Enough has been a reasonably successful breeding ground for WWE. Notable names that have gone through the Tough Enough system are John Morrison, Ryback, Maven, The Miz, Jackie Gayda, Nidia, and, more recently, Velveteen Dream, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose.

Bob Holly and Matt Cappoteli with a black eye
[Photo courtesy of whatculture.com]

The Unfortunate Tale of Bob Holly Beating Up Matt Cappotelli on WWE Tough Enough

In the third season of Tough Enough, John Morrison won, but he wasn’t the only winner that season. Unfortunately for Matt Cappotelli, while John Morrison went on to have great success in the business, Matt’s promising career was cut short due to a brain tumor that developed in 2007.

Bob Holly was one of the trainers for the Tough Enough rookies, along with Bill DeMott and Al Snow. It’s no secret that Bob has carried a ‘mean-guy’ attitude throughout his career, but he may have taken it too far one day on set for Tough Enough III. The rookies had a tag team match, and Bob Holly took part in it. The purpose was to help the young rookies out and teach them a thing or two. The only thing Bob Holly really taught Matt Cappotelli and the rookies that day was that the business is confusing, and can hurt… a lot.

What Happened?

Matt Cappotelli was on the opposite side of the ring as Bob Holly was introduced into the match with a tag. Bob walked up to Matt and delivered a really stiff kick to the ribs, following up with a series of punches to the back of Matt’s neck, as hard as he could.

It got nastier from there, and it began to resemble a real-life street fight more than a professional wrestling match. Bob took Matt into the corner, laying kicks into his face, leaving him bloodied and bruised.

On the day the episode aired, displaying the relentless beat down to the world, a black-eyed Cappotelli shared his thoughts throughout the show.

“Bob Holly basically beat me down from head-to-toe from the minute I stepped into the ring and was pretty relentless with everything,” Matt said.

One of the rookies watching from the apron had his say, “I see Bob’s boot just go straight into Matt’s jaw, and you can just see blood coming from his mouth, and the next boot goes right into Matt’s eye… and he was confused, and I was confused, too…”

Bob Holly stands by what he did. “I’m being rough for a reason, not because I want to be, not because I can – I’m trying to teach them that professional wrestling is not an easy game.”

Matt Cappotelli, to his credit, shook Bob’s hand after the match despite everything that had just happened to him.

WWE Legends Respond to the Beatdown

Al Snow, who has been a trainer on Tough Enough more than anyone else, was ringside during the chaotic ‘match’ and tells all with X-Pac on X-Pac 1, 2, 360:

“You got Bob coming in, and now Bill DeMott’s the hard-ass in season 3, and there’s this little competition as to who can get the hard-ass gimmick over more. So Bob comes in with his neck hurt from Brock Lesnar and he’s got all this stress. And it was actually between him and Bill, a little back and forth to see who’s the biggest badass and then you know, you get the match, and Bob took a liberty. He just, boom, popped Matt.”

X-Pac says he saw the footage and thought it was a bit much. Al Snow responds in agreement.

“Oh, it was, he knocked him out.”

Al Snow continued, “Matt didn’t do anything, Matt just came in and then Bob just, whatever frame of mind he was in, just hauled off, just blasted him and knocked him, completely knocked him out, and then proceeded to just keep beating him up.”

Bob Holly Gives His Take on What Happened With Matt Cappotelli

Bob Holly had come across what Al Snow said and was in complete disagreement, as he expressed on a podcast he did with The Two Man Power Trip.

“Al Snow did an interview on X-Pac 360 not too long ago, and he basically threw me under the bus and said I just got in the ring and hauled off and just punched and cold-cocked him and knocked him completely out cold. If you go back and listen to the interview that Al did on X-Pac 360, he said I hauled off and cold-cocked him and knocked him out. I DID NOT touch him with my fist at all, I gave him a boot to the stomach and gave him a few forearms and backed him into the corner and never punched him in the face once. I don’t know where Al got that from, but all of a sudden now Al is telling everybody that I cold-cocked him, and I say what match was he seeing?”

Holly continued, “You get a different perspective from everybody about how it went down, and the only two people that really knew how it went down is Matt, myself, and the people there watching. If it was so terribly bad, then why didn’t anybody step in to stop it? That is the question I have. If what I was doing was so bad then how come Al didn’t step in? Bill Demott didn’t step in? Why didn’t anybody step in and say stop because nobody did but in the wrestling business, accidents are going to happen, and he’s going to get a black eye, and he is going to get a bloody lip and as long as you don’t knock somebody’s teeth out and I didn’t break any bones it was a black eye and a bloody lip, and that was purely an accident, and it was nothing intentional.”

Bob carries on with the statement, “Al was really upset with me about it, and Bill was kind of on the fence about it, and I said, ‘Well, why didn’t you guys step in and stop me if you guys thought it was so bad?’ Mind you, when I had cracked vertebra in my neck, and when I went and did that episode for MTV, I was in a lot of pain. They sent me to L.A., and then I had to go to San Antonio, and I stepped in that ring because they told me to and WWE basically sent me there to get in and be part of that show and wrestle and do what I did, and I got in the ring with a cracked vertebra. People are going to get upset because I gave Matt a black eye and a bloody lip when I could have just taken one bump wrong or moved in the wrong way and could have been paralyzed just that quick and yet I still went out and did my job and never complained about it or anything. It is just funny to listen to how people get upset because somebody got a black eye and a bloody lip.”

Matt Cappotelli in his hospital room fighting brain cancer.

The Death of Matt Cappotelli

With Matt Cappotelli struggling through his cancer diagnosis, Bob Holly stood by in support of what he was going through. “Me and Matt are cool, and I hate what he is going through right now, and it is a terrible thing he has to deal with because he is such a nice guy and a good person, and I just hate what he is going through.”

After getting a clean bill of health, things were looking up for Cappotelli. Things came full circle for him when in 2013, he became a trainer with OVW. Four years later, however, in July 2017, Cappotelli announced that he was diagnosed with grade IV glioblastoma multiforme. His battle with Cancer continued. Sadly, after an eleven-month battle with the illness, he died on June 29, 2018, at the age of 38. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Cappoteli family, his friends, and his loved ones.

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Braeden Farrell
Braeden Farrell is a senior writer for Pro Wrestling Stories. He is a long-time fan of wrestling based out of Adelaide, Australia. He can be reached on Twitter @braedenfazza.