Tony Schiavone’s Advice To All Elite Wrestling: Make Sure You’re A Wrestling Company And Not A TV Company’ (Exclusive)

Tony Schiavone At Starrcast For "WHW Podcast" – August 31, 2018, Schaumburg, IL (Photo: Dominic DeAngelo)

What Happened When‘s Tony Schiavone had an exclusive conversation with WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo before he, Conrad Thompson and his old WCW boss Eric Bischoff are set to take the stage at Chicago’s C2E2 event tonight. The trio will convene for a What Happened When / 83 Weeks mash-up to discuss the rise to demise of WCW and much more in the world of wrestling.

In these next few segments, Tony talks about doing all the audio production work for What Happened When, his planned behind-the-scenes involvement with Starrcast II, and he gives some sound advice to AEW in what they need to be aware of if and when a TV deal gets done.

Tony Schiavone on his upcoming involvement with Starrcast II and working for a living:

I’m gonna be there the entire week. The baseball team says “what days do you need off?” “Well I need off Starrcast week.” So I’m gonna be there the entire week because I’m gonna work behind the scenes with Conrad. You see, unlike Bruce Prichard and Eric Bischoff, who wouldn’t know how to pick up a shovel if it dropped on their foot, you know I like to work for a living because when Eric and Bruce do their shows, record their shows with Conrad, it is sent off to somebody to produce to post, to edit, to mix down. I do all that myself. On What Happened When, I’m the one that posts it and makes sure that the music is in there and the commercials are in there and all that.

Yeah, because I want to do it. I like doing it. I love editing audio.

I work in Adobe Audition and I put it together. So anyway, I’m working behind the scenes with Conrad and any of his crew for Starrcast that entire week. I don’t know what he’s going to have me do, but I just love doing that. I work for a living, Dominic. I work for a living.

Dominic: That’s the way to do it.

Tony: Yeah, exactly right. I want to challenge Bruce Prichard and  Eric Bischoff to work for a living. Work.

It’s funny, when we were at MLW and I was with them on a monthly basis. Court Bauer used to always tell me, “If you have any suggestions about how to do things, a better way to do things, please let us know.” And I went, “Okay.” And then I got to thinking, ‘you know what?’ I’m not doing that, I’m just going to come and announce. I’m not going to get involved in that backstage stuff in wrestling anymore because it’s just not fun. Now if somebody handed me a TV show and said, “Here’s a TV show. Can you help us put it together?” Then I would go “Yeah!” But as far as working backstage in wrestling with a bunch of wrestlers and finishes and stuff like that, nah I don’t want to do that anymore.

On what advice he’d give to AEW based on past experiences with WCW and Turner Broadcasting (if or when a TV deal gets announced):

Well I would tell them to make sure you’re a wrestling company and not a TV company and that’s what happened with us with Turner Broadcasting. The TV people ran wrestling they didn’t know anything about it. Cody knows what he’s doing. He really does. And don’t let anybody else who does TV – you got to listen to them I understand, but you got to run a wrestling business not a TV business. Vince McMahon ran a wrestling business and he didn’t let the TV people dictate what he was going to do. He would take input for them, but he was the final say. Cody, if in fact he is the final say, needs to be the final say. There has to be a “buck stop here” somewhere. That was the problem with WCW. If Jim Hurd, or Bill Watts, or Kip Frye, or Eric Bischoff, or Bill Shaw did something that a wrestler didn’t like, the wrestler would try to get in touch with Ted Turner. They would try to go all the way up the chain. Because they knew that they were the boss, but they weren’t the final say. There’s gotta be a “buck stop here” somewhere and that’s gotta be Cody if that in fact who it is. I know it’s going to be Cody and the Bucks…yeah I don’t know what it is. It’s gotta be that and that’s my one big concern. I think that’s why Court is doing so well because they’re doing their own thing. And BeIN Sports is not telling them what to do. BeIN Sports is taking them and going with it. I think though that the fact that Vince has signed this deal with Fox, I just think it’s good for the business because I think now it’s going to help Cody and AEW get a good TV deal because I think people want to see wrestling and TV stations and networks realize, especially because of Starrcast and see what’s going on there and what Cody did when they sold out in Chicago, I think it’s a good time to get back on TV. I really do.

If they’re successful, it’s only going to make the business better. Vince was at his best during the Monday Night Wars. He really was and he was at his best because he had competition and it made you better. Competition makes you better. You have no competition you’re not as good and I think it’s just gonna make Vince better and make wrestling a whole lot better, but you know, there’s more than just competition as far as wrestling is concerned. It’s a whole different thing now. Dominic, I don’t watch TV anymore. I watch streaming services. I watch Netflix, I watch Hulu, I watch DC Universe. I watch the shows that they have on there. I watch HBO GO. I’ve got cable, but I spend 100% of my time watching what’s on Apple TV and so it’s a different business when it was back when WCW was in business in the 90s.

Plenty more to come from this candid conversation with Tony, including discussions about Terry Funk, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, Chris Jericho and much, much more. You can listen to the full hour-long audio interview below: