Tony Schiavone was put on the hot seat on a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast as his co-host Aubrey Edwards asked Schiavone about his perspective for some of AEW’s biggest moments. One iconic moments of Schiavone’s was his “it’s Sting” line when Sting made his AEW debut. He talked about when he knew Sting would be in AEW.
“Well, I had known that there was a chance that Sting would come to work for us. I think that had been bantered around quite a bit,” Schiavone recalled. “The last thing I had heard was well, Sting may go work for AEW, but he’s concerned because of his time with the WWE. He doesn’t know what he wants to do, and that’s all I heard, didn’t know when it was happening, and then when we got there the day of, I get there early in the backstage area.
“And Cody says, ‘your buddy’s here today.’ Dude, I got a lot of buddies. I said, ‘Who are you talking about?’ He said, ‘My best buddy.’ I said, ‘Who you talking about?’ He said, ‘Sting.’ I said, ‘You are shi–ing me.’ He said, No. You just got to keep it quiet.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry. I’m good at keeping stuff quiet. I come from the old school.'”
Schiavone admitted that he did tell one person about Sting’s arrival, but he made sure to be subtle about it. He said he told Private Party’s Marq Quen because Quen is a big Sting fan, and he revealed the instructions that AEW President Tony Khan gave to the commentary team about Sting’s appearance.
“I did this because I knew I wasn’t really letting on that I knew that Sting was there, but Marq Quen of Private Party is such a big Sting fan,” Schiavone noted. “I know there’s a lot more, but Marq Quen of Private Party would always come up to me and go, ‘It’s Sting!’ And I go and put my thumbs up, even to the point to where Marq Quen, in one of these matches, I went, ‘It’s Marq Quen!’ No one got that but he did, so he’s a big Sting fan.
“So I saw him during the day, and I said, ‘Hey buddy, don’t get too excited about tonight’s show.’ And he takes his headphones off. He said, ‘I’m just in the battle royal. How excited can I get?’ I said, ‘Just don’t get too excited.’ Hit him up second time. ‘Hey buddy, don’t get too excited about tonight.’ That’s all I said to him, and then when Sting came out, Stevie, our stage director handed me a note from Marq Quen that said, ‘OMG!’ So I knew that it was happening, and I didn’t know how we were going to present it, but Tony brought me in.
“He told the other announcers. He says, ‘When Sting comes out, I want Schiavone to hit that, ‘it’s Sting’ line. He said, ‘I want you to do it because that’s really going to sell it. I want you to say it’s Sting. Sting is back on TNT for the first time since March 26, 2001, and Sting is in AEW.’ And so I hit those. I think I hit two of those lines, and JR hit ‘Sting is in AEW’, which I thought really worked out well.”
Schiavone reflected on how commentary came across during that moment. He also revealed what he told Sting to do the day after his debut.
“I think that my excitement was authentic,” Schiavone stated. “It was authentic when they told me earlier in the day, and I just wish I would have seen him walk to the backstage area going to the Gorilla position because that would have been worth me being back there just to see everybody’s reaction because everybody’s reaction out front, all the wrestlers who sat ringside, I mean those kids were giving each other high-fives and everything.
“So I told Sting the next day, I said, ‘Listen, you need to do this,’ and I think he understood. And I hoped he was going to do it anyway. I said, You need to go out today and mingle with these kids because you’re a god to these guys and girls. You need to go out and just say hello. It will mean the world to these people,’ and I think he did on Thursday.”
Schiavone revealed more details later in the podcast about what Khan had told the commentators. He said all they were told was that what was coming for the post-match angle was going to a lot of fun.
“At the end of the Cody tag team match with Darby and Team Taz, we have seven minutes for a post-match angle, and the only thing Tony said during the meeting was, ‘It’s going to be great. It’ll be a lot of fun. You guys will like it,'” Schiavone revealed. “That’s it. He didn’t say Sting will come in. Then by talking to Cody, I knew.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.