Former WWE ring announcer Tony Chimel joined Insight with Chris Van Vliet to talk about his thirty-plus-year career with WWE. One highlight Tony Chimel pointed to was a time when WWE owner and chairman Vince McMahon had his back in regards to an issue with pay.
“He came to bat for me one time really big that I liked,” Chimel recalled. “When I was ring announcing, I would get paid a certain amount. I would get paid a certain amount to ring announce, time keep, or take jackets, or something like that. And I was getting paid to ring announce and then time keep as well, ring the bell. So after a couple of years, they said, ‘hey, we’re not paying the timekeeper anymore. You know, we’re not giving that money out, so I lost money for doing that.
“So I went to my boss at the time and I said ‘hey, can I get a little bit more money for ring announcing since I’m not getting the money for the timekeeping as well, so it evens out and I’m making the same?’ And he was like ‘Chimel, where would you be working if you weren’t working for WWE?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m working for WWE though, you know?’ My boss always told me ‘if you have a problem with what I’m doing or the way I’m handling things, you can always go to Vince.
“So I went to Vince and I said, ‘Vince, this is the deal. I was doing this, both of these jobs, they took one away, now I just wanted my old pay back just for ring announcing. I’ll still ring the bell, but, you know.’ And I said ‘you know, he told me if I wasn’t working for WWE, what would I be doing? And then Vince said, ‘please tell me he didn’t tell you that.’ I said, ‘yeah, he did tell me that.’ So I was tearing down the ring that night at TV and my boss comes over and he said, ‘we’ll talk about your pay on Monday when you get home.’ It worked out. Vince must’ve pulled him aside and said something to him like, ‘take care of him or whatever, or do what you’re supposed to do.’ I’ll never forget that Vince did that for me. I’ll always be very grateful for that.”
Tony Chimel was released from WWE in November of 2020, after he had been furloughed earlier in the year at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He detailed the whole process, including a mixup where he was originally told he’d be returning in December of 2020.
“I was willing to get on a plane from day one to go anywhere to go do anything,” Chimel said. “And you know, when COVID first hit, I was sitting at home and obviously, at that point, I’m like, ‘we’ll this is great if it lasts a couple of months or something. A couple of weeks or six months if I’m collecting a paycheck. Sitting at home, this is pretty good, you know?’ And then they started running shows in Orlando and I told my boss, I said, ‘I’m willing to go there, you know?’ And they’re like, ‘well, it’s a really laid and cut back thing, and we’re just bringing in a couple of people, you know, and this and that.’ And I really didn’t think much of it and then months go by, and I’m like, ‘well still, can I come?’ I kept on wanting to get in and do it. They were hiring, they weren’t hiring, but they were letting the independent contractors work as opposed to the employees, and then I got furloughed.
“And then after a while, now you’re sitting at home and you’re furloughed, and I couldn’t really do anything. And then after a few months of that, I got a call again from Kevin Dunn that said, ‘hey. I got good news and bad news.’ I’m like, ‘well, what’s up?’ He’s like ‘well the good news is, you’re going to be getting your paycheck.’ And I said ‘oh, that’s cool.’ Because I got an email stating some people are going to be coming back in October, some people in November, and some people in December. And I was told via email from Human Recourses I was going to be one of the people coming back in December. And he was calling me in like, November and he said, ‘you’re going to get your paycheck back.’ And I’m like ‘okay, that’s cool, because I’m going to be coming back soon.’
“He’s like ‘well, we’re going to have to let you go.’ And I’m like, ‘what do you mean? I got an email saying that I was going to be coming back in December.’ And he said, ‘who sent that to you?’ And I said ‘Human Resources.’ And he’s like, ‘forward me that email.’ So I guess he wanted to talk to somebody, whoever sent that email. But yeah, he called me and said, ‘that’s it.’ I had, like, a year severance package.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Insight with Chris Van Vliet and provide an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
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