Former WCW play-by-play announcer Tony Schiavone joined Raj Giri, Glenn Rubenstein, and Chris Callicutt on last Wednesday's episode of the Wrestling Inc. Podcast. In the podcast, Schiavone took a trip down memory lane and weighed in on his favorite broadcast partner.
"That's a tough question to say... I have seen it online too where they say that Schiavone liked everybody, and I really did," Schiavone said. "Bobby Heenan and I didn't finish up on good terms, which was my fault, but I really liked working with Heenan because he made me laugh."
Schiavone is known for his work as the lead voice of WCW Monday Nitro and later Thunder. In addition to Heenan, Schiavone worked with Mike Tenay, Larry Zbyszko, Mark Madden and Scott Hudson while in WCW. In the earlier days, Schiavone worked alongside David Crockett and Jim Ross.
"When I go back and look at some of the stuff that I did, I believe that my best work was when JR first joined us in 1987, and we did some pay-per-views together. We did Clash of the Champions together. I think that was my best work overall," Schiavone revealed.
"At the end, I really enjoyed working with Scott Hudson," Schiavone said of his latter days in WCW. "I don't know if you went back and listened to some of the things Scott Hudson and I did, but we really had a lot of fun together. When Scott Hudson, Mark Madden and myself did a couple of shows together, we always had a great time doing shows together. I really enjoyed working with everybody."
Prior to working for WCW, Schiavone spent one year with WWE (which then operated as the World Wrestling Federation). It was there he worked alongside Lord Alfred Hayes, Gorilla Monsoon, Hillbilly Jim, Rod Trongard and of course who would be one of his most known broadcast partners in Bobby Heenan. He started his broadcast career with Jim Crockett Promotions.
"I can tell you right now though, my most memorable time working in Pro Wrestling and somebody being by my side was working with Lord Alfred Hayes," Schiavone said. "He was a tremendous person. Anyone that knew him knew he was a wonderful man. He and I got to travel, and went to London to do a show for Vince, and I got to travel overseas for the first time with him. My fondest memories with a broadcast partner was with Lord Alfred Hayes. I had fun with everybody, but I think my best work was with JR."
Tony will be bringing a one-man matinee show to Dallas on July 9th, prior to WWE's Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view event in the same city. The theme for the show will be his one year with WWE, something he previewed on the Wrestling Inc. Podcast.
"It was really exciting for me Raj, because I came from Jim Crockett Promotions, which was a very small company, a 'Mom and Pops' company," Schiavone said on the Wrestling Inc. Podcast. "We did our interviews in the back of this we makeshift office; it was an office but they had this garage in the back, so that was where we did our interviews."
"Suddenly I am being transported into Stanford, CT, not only am I doing their announcing, but I am also producing their Coliseum Home Videos, the VHS videos back then," Schiavone recalled. "This is a big set up; a gigantic studio with all types of bells and whistles with everything at our disposal. I really thought that I had, in many ways I did, but I felt that I had really reached the big time. It was a big deal for me to move into that."
A pivotal time in Schiavone's abbreviated tenure with WWE was when he got the chance to see Hulk Hogan in his prime, something that stuck with him to this day.
"Then I got a chance to see Hulkamania," Schiavone explained. "That was back when Hulk Hogan was wrestling 'Macho Man' Randy Savage at WrestleMania 5, and he had his match. The last event I did for WWF back then was WrestleMania 6 with Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior at Skydome, and now Rogers Center. I was part of all of that and was really an exciting time for me to see what I did back then."
At the time WWE was putting a lot of regional promotions out of business and Schiavone believes that had everything to do with how the shows were presented.
"The shows were better," Schiavone said. "And that is why a lot of these regional promotions were going out of business because Television Directors and Program Directors were looking at this product and saying, "This product looks good, we want this to be on our stations." Compared to what the local promoters were doing."
Schiavone worked out his one-year contract with WWE from April 1989 through April 1990 and decided to move his family back to Atlanta, Georgia. It was a move he instantly regretted.
"I was immediately second guessing myself, thinking what I had done to my career," Schiavone remembered. "Now I moved back to 'Mom and Pops Wrestling' once again, only this time, the Crockett's weren't around except for David Crockett, but I wasn't answering to him, I was answering to Jim Herd, and Jim Barnett and am with a company that I knew didn't give a damn about Professional Wrestling, and I was right---they just rode it out as long as they could and then they threw it to the curb and I made the biggest mistake of my life."
Schiavone contacted Vince McMahon to inform him of his change of heart, something he detailed while speaking on the Wrestling Inc. Podcast.
"I called Vince McMahon back immediately," Schiavone said, "Never spoke to him, only to his Secretary, and she finally called me back and said that Vince said you moved your family now twice up and back from Charlotte, NC to Stamford, CT, back to Atlanta in the span of a few years; don't move your family again; stay where you are, and maybe down the road you can possibly come back later on, so I toughed it out. During that time it was a bad decision because I was back in 'Small Time Wrestling' I thought."
If you're interested in Schiavone's one-man matinee show in Dallas on July 9th, you can obtain tickets at WHWLive.com. The show is guaranteed to be over by 5 PM, leaving plenty of time before WWE's Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view, with the American Airlines Center only a 10-15 minute drive. There will be a meet and greet that starts at 1pm, with the show beginning at 3pm. Tickets are standing room only, and there are limited general admission seats so make sure to get there early.
The Wrestling Inc. Podcast airs post-WWE pay-per-view Sundays and on Mondays immediately following WWE RAW with Matt Morgan, Glenn Rubenstein and Raj Giri. It airs Wednesdays at Noon ET with Chris Callicutt and Glenn Rubenstein. The archive of episodes is available by clicking here.
Credit Peter Bahi for transcribing Tony Schiavone's quotes.