Noah Anthony "Tony" Schiavone (born November 7, 1957) is an American sports broadcaster. He is the play-by-play broadcaster for the Gwinnett Braves of the International League. He has been a sports radio host and a professional wrestling announcer known for his work in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). WWE (formerly the WWF) remarked, "At the height of the Monday Night War, veteran broadcaster Tony Schiavone's voice was as vital to the onscreen product of World Championship Wrestling as Jim Ross' Oklahoma growl was to [the WWF]."
Early life and career
Schiavone attended Buffalo Gap High School in Swoope, Virginia and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. There, he served in a play-by-play role for the school's women's college basketball team before starting his radio and television career calling high school football and basketball games in the Southeast. He also worked five years in minor league baseball with the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles' minor league franchises in the mid-Atlantic, most notably the Charlotte O's, which was partly owned by Jim Crockett, Jr.
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
While affiliated with the Charlotte O's, he began as a wrestling announcer with another Crockett venture, Jim Crockett Promotions, (the precursor to World Championship Wrestling or WCW) in the early 1980s. In 1984, Schiavone was seen as a ring announcer on the syndicated "Pro Wrestling USA" television show. When Jim Crockett Promotions got national television exposure on TBS Superstation in 1985, he was a regular host of the wrestling program. He worked alongside David Crockett in the announce booth, playing more of a straight color commentator, while Crockett did the play-by-play. Schiavone would also interview wrestlers about upcoming house show matches they would have.
World Wrestling Federation
He was signed by Vince McMahon's WWF for a stint in 1989 and early 1990, doing backstage interviews with various wrestlers at Wrestlemania V. In the WWF he was most notable as being the main play-by-play announcer for their SummerSlam 1989 and Royal Rumble 1990 pay-per-views alongside Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Schiavone returned soon afterwards to WCW, the former Crockett promotion by then owned by media mogul Ted Turner.
World Championship Wrestling
Schiavone became the lead voice for WCW's flagship program, Monday Nitro. He also served as the lead announcer of Thunder, typically working alongside Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko, and later with Mark Madden. Before the advent of Nitro and Thunder, Schiavone hosted WCW Saturday Night and WCW WorldWide. He made an appearance in the movie Ready to Rumble. When WCW's main assets were bought by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF/now WWE) in 2001, Schiavone left.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
In 2003, Schiavone made an appearance on NWA TNA during one of their weekly pay-per-views. Schiavone, unrecognizable with bleach blonde hair and a beard, interrupted an interview with Goldylocks and Percy Pringle and proceeded to cut a worked shoot promo. He started by insulting Pringle's weight, telling him to stand near him because he "needed to look thin". He then insulted Goldylocks by claiming she only got her job with sexual favors. Mike Tenay, TNA's lead broadcaster and Schiavone's former WCW colleague, then entered the ring and the two got into a storyline argument over their careers and what happened during the last days of WCW, where both men lost their jobs.
Back to the Diamond
Schiavone now is in the rare position of being the morning sports anchor for both WDUN in Gainesville and WSB-AM in Atlanta simultaneously, even though the two stations have different owners (WDUN has a partnership with Cox Communications, which owns WSB-TV and WSB-AM). Schiavone also has done morning sports reports for Cox sister stations WHIO AM/FM in Dayton, Ohio. Additionally, Schiavone is a writer for the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network and produced the Best of the Bulldogs, which won the AP Award for Best Sports Program in 2004. Schiavone owns his own radio production company, Blind Dog Sports.
After a few years of work with the Braves system including pre-game and post-game radio coverage, and also spot duty as an official scorer for games, Schiavone returned to play-by-play duties on radio when the Gwinnett Braves began their first season in Lawrenceville, Georgia as Atlanta's AAA-level affiliate for the 2009-10 season.
Georgia Bulldogs Football Radio Show
Along with being a writer for the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network, Schiavone also works one of the post game talk shows on the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network for home and away games alongside former University of Georgia quarterback David Greene.
Major League Wrestling
During his tenure with WCW, Schiavone developed a reputation for his over-the-top announcing style, proclaiming many Nitro broadcasts to be "the greatest", or "most explosive", telecast "in the history of our sport." However, when this hyperbole was repeated on a weekly basis throughout the Monday Night Wars, the phrase lost meaning. Schiavone has conceded that there was "too much" of him and he was "overexposed". He claims to have been uncomfortable with his shilling of the WCW product.
Mick Foley incident
One infamous incident happened on the January 4, 1999, Nitro. Nitro was airing live against the pre-taped WWF Raw is War on USA Network and was to feature a rematch between WCW World Heavyweight Champion Kevin Nash and Goldberg from Starrcade, where Nash had ended Goldberg's undefeated streak and taken his title under controversial circumstances, as well as the first appearance of Hollywood Hogan since he announced his "retirement" from professional wrestling on the Thanksgiving 1998 edition of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Meanwhile, Raw was to feature Mick Foley, who was wrestling as Mankind at the time and had previously for WCW as Cactus Jack, win his first WWF Championship in a rematch against The Rock. However, Raw was taped and Nitro was live, and it was a practice for WCW and executive producer Eric Bischoff to spoil pre-taped Raw episodes, by telling the WCW audience the results of the Raw show, and not give fans reasons to change the channel.
According to Foley, who wrote about the incident in the first chapter of his book Foley Is Good (and the Real World is Faker than Wrestling), this was to be a pivotal night for WCW as people believed that WCW, whose record streak of 84 consecutive wins in the ratings had been snapped by Raw in April 1998 and had only eight head-to-head wins after that, would turn the ratings tide back to them and potentially take over the lead in the Monday Night Wars. During the show Schiavone spoiled the result of Raw's main event by saying that Foley would win, sarcastically remarking "That'll put a lot of butts in seats".
Foley was genuinely upset by what he had heard and telephoned Schiavone to talk about it. When Schiavone called Foley back, he told Foley that Bischoff had ordered Schiavone to reveal his title win over the air. The strategy, however, backfired on Bischoff . Almost immediately after Schiavone spoiled Foley's title win, 600,000 households switched from Nitro to Raw, to watch Foley win the title. This was enough to give the WWF the ratings win for the night, with a 5.7 final rating to Nitro's 5.0. WCW's ratings never saw more than a 5.0 going head-to-head with Raw again and Nitro's rating sank below 5.0 and by the end of the year was struggling to stay above 3.0.
Bobby Heenan rivalry
In an RF Video shoot interview, Schiavone was criticized by Bobby Heenan who claimed that Schiavone would allegedly hide finishes and angles from him and Mike Tenay during broadcasts, claiming Schiavone's key to life is "knowledge is power". This was an opinion shared by long-time wrestling broadcaster "Mean Gene" Okerlund who claimed that, while he liked Schiavone and did not have many problems with him, "Tony was the consummate politician" and "Tony watched out for Tony and in doing so, had a tendency to bury people along the way". One tense incident happened on the Nitro following the death of Heenan's longtime best friend Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan was allowed to say a word of honor for Monsoon albeit only a small statement. Later on in the show when Schiavone asked for Heenan's opinion on an upcoming tag team match Heenan responded, "I can't hear you from way down here", in tears, before the camera cut away. Appearing on The Ross Report in 2014, Schiavone accepted responsibility for the collapse of his relationship with Heenan, and said of Heenan's criticism of him: "I deserve it".
Tony has been married to Lois since 1981, and together they have 5 children: Matt, Laurie, Chris, Jon Michael and Tim. They also have 3 grandchildren.