Monday, March 13, 2017

The Gateway Interview: Tony Schiavone (Complete)


When professional wrestling fans think back to the red hot days of Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid 1980s and the even hotter time following the advent of WCW’s Monday Nitro about a decade later, the name Tony Schiavone is front and center. Tony’s face and voice on television brought us many of the most famous angles and events in professional wrestling history, starting at the lead-off for Starrcade 1983 until the demise of WCW in 2001.

What many fans may not know is that Tony grew up in the western section of Virginia as a huge fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

This interview with Tony is different than any he has ever done before, as it will delve into Tony Schiavone the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fan.

Among the multitude of subjects Tony will touch on are his earliest memories of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling starting in 1974, watching the product on television, his favorite Mid-Atlantic wrestlers and the angles they were part of, his road trips to a number of the Crockett towns and his impressions of why and how the Mid-Atlantic territory captured the enduring love of so many fans to the point that we still want to talk about it today in 2017.
The timeline of this interview will cut off during the year of 1983, when Tony actually went from being a Mid-Atlantic fan to a Mid-Atlantic announcer. The reason for this is that Tony has just begun an exciting new podcasting adventure with the Gateway’s good friend Conrad Thompson, called "What Happened When" (WHW Monday), where Tony and Conrad will dig deep into Tony’s broadcasting career throughout the 1983-2001 time period when Tony was a fixture in the wrestling business. They will discuss a different topic each week as voted on by fans and listeners through a weekly poll on their Twitter account. WHW Monday can be found on the MLW Radio Network, with new episodes dropping every Monday! 

* * * * *

David Chappell: Tony, thank you for taking the time to chat with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway today. You being a native Virginian I’d like to focus on your memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and then we’ll segue to your tremendous new podcast with Conrad Thompson where you two will be breaking down your time in the wrestling business from 1983-2001. Sound okay? 

Tony Schiavone: Sure, that’s fine.

Chappell: I understand you grew up in the Staunton, Virginia area?

Schiavone: Yeah, my hometown is Craigsville which is west of Staunton; kind of southwest of Staunton. It’s much closer to the mountains than Staunton is. It’s Augusta County, but that’s basically the area.

Chappell: Last August I was up that way for a work conference and stayed at the Stonewall Jackson Conference Center, and that was a great place.

Schiavone: Right, that’s been there forever.

Chappell: It has, but they’ve kept it looking great. I used that occasion to hit a couple of old Crockett towns nearby. One night I went down to Roanoke and met Dick Bourne for dinner, and on another day I went by the Expo in Fishersville on the way back home!

Schiavone: Oh yeah, the Fishersville Expo!

Chappell: One of the great spot show venues in Virginia!

I have heard that you started following Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling around 1974?

Schiavone: Around 1974 I was in Craigsville. We had, I guess they still do, an IGA grocery store and I worked there on the weekends as the bag boy and the stock boy in the grocery store which was owned by my father’s best friend. And I would walk down there on Saturday’s, Saturday mornings, to work and then I would take a lunch break and I would walk back home, which was not too far to go. And I would stop in my Uncle John’s house, he lived on the same street, and I’d stop in during lunch hour and he’d be watching wrestling. And I started watching wrestling with him, and that’s where I kind of got hooked on it.

Chappell: Was this on channel 6 in Richmond, or the station out of Harrisonburg, Virginia?

Schiavone: If I remember correctly, it may have been channel 10 out of Roanoke.

Chappell: Okay, that’s right; you were sort of stuck between the Roanoke and Richmond markets.

Schiavone: Right, we could see Richmond and Roanoke very, very well. And we could also get the station out of Harrisonburg. But it may have been both. I mean back then, you didn’t have to punch a clock; I don’t know how long [lunch] took. And I can remember wrestling being on back-to-back in those markets. You could watch World Wide [Wrestling] on WSLS in Roanoke I believe, and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling on WTVR in Richmond, if I’m right…

Chappell: Yes, absolutely.

Schiavone: And then like 11:30 at night, late on Saturday nights, you could watch it on the Lynchburg station…World Wide Wrestling.

Chappell: That’s exactly right! Did you watch them all?

Schiavone: Yeah!

Chappell: (laughs) I would have done the same thing if I had a rooftop antenna at my house! It was tough for me to pull in much outside of WTVR in Richmond, but I would grab the rabbit ears on my TV and try to get the shows from Charlottesville and Norfolk if the weather was right.

Schiavone: I want to tell you something…this has really peaked my interest. I don’t know if people realize this, but Craigsville, which is a small, stuck-in-the-mountains, redneck town, was one of the first towns that size to have a cable system.

Chappell: Really?

Schiavone: Yeah, because I remember the Clements guys who came up with the idea of the cable system and they put cable in our house in the 70s!

Chappell: Whoa!

Schiavone: Now, we couldn’t get a ton of stations, but what they did was they gave us great reception for all the stations we could get.

Chappell: Tony, that’s incredible. I lived just north of Richmond at my parent’s house at that time, and my parent’s house has only gotten cable in the last 10-15 years!

Schiavone: And before that, we had the big antenna on top of the house with the rotor on top of the TV prior to that, so we picked up a lot of stuff.

Chappell: What are some of your earliest wrestling memories and wrestlers from that 1974 time frame and through the rest of the 70s?

Schiavone: I remember…I remember Mr. Wrestling, Tim Woods. I think that was about the time that Johnny Valentine and Ric Flair were in their crash? When was the crash?

Chappell: That would have been early October of 1975. And at the time Woods and Valentine were going at it hot and heavy!

Schiavone: Oh yeah, I remember Johnny Valentine. I remember a match, and I think it was on TV, David, where Johnny Valentine and Wahoo McDaniel just stood kind of toe to toe and slugged each other…

Chappell: I know exactly what you’re talking about…it was classic! If I remember correctly, that was one of the last tapings at High Point, North Carolina TV and Charlie Harville was the announcer. That would have been in the middle of 1974 and Wahoo had just come in. They would show that clip periodically over the years, just for its sheer brutality!

Schiavone: It was something else!

Chappell: That was also one of my earliest real clear Mid-Atlantic TV memories.

Schiavone: I remember Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones very well…

Chappell: Rufus was a memorable guy, for sure!

Schiavone: I remember Dino Bravo. Obviously Flair, and I remember when Flair dropped the television strap to Steamboat on TV.

Chappell: Yep, Steamboat’s coming out party in 1977.

Schiavone: I remember when Tim Woods put the mask back on and he and Dino Bravo beat the Anderson’s for the World Tag Team Championship on TV.

Chappell: That was one of Dick Bourne’s all-time Mid-Atlantic TV moments.

Schiavone: I seem to remember them putting the figure four on Ole or something, if I recall. I don’t know if they won it with that, but I remember Ole selling the figure four.

And later on, I remember the Flair/Blackjack Mulligan angle!

Chappell: Oh boy! That’s high up on my short list of favorite Mid-Atlantic angles!

Schiavone: Yes, and I remember Dick Murdock who was a big babyface at that time.

Chappell: I really wish Murdock would have had a longer Mid-Atlantic run.

Schiavone: David, I don’t know how many years in a row we did it, but me and my friends would drive down to the matches. In ’74 I’m sixteen, so I get my driver’s license. I remember sneaking out of the house to drive down to Greensboro.

Chappell: I love it!

Schiavone: My Dad had passed away in the summer of ’74, so it was just me and my Mom. And my Mom was older and so she would go to bed and not wake up, so I would sneak out.

Anyway, I went down to Greensboro on Thanksgiving and saw that two ring Battle Royal they had.

Chappell: I think they had those on back-to-back Thanksgivings in 1976-1977.

Schiavone: They would bring Andre the Giant in, and a lot of stars in. I remember there was one Thanksgiving, and we would order our tickets ahead of time…pay for them ahead of time. And we would pick them up at the Will Call window. And we got there, and we had front row ringside tickets for some reason.

Chappell: Wow!

Schiavone: Yeah, they put us front row ringside. And I remember Dick Murdock was thrown out and got the microphone and talked about it wasn’t surprising that something like this would happen to him in a hick town like Greensboro, North Carolina…

Chappell: (laughing)

Schiavone: He was a heel then, and I remember he came back and David [Crockett] talking about the ‘Sensational’ Dickie Murdock!

Chappell: I remember exactly what you’re referring to, Tony. Murdock had a shot in Richmond the day after Thanksgiving in 1977 and he was a heel. Then several months later he came back as a good guy, and they called him Sensational Dick Murdock!

Schiavone: Yeah! I remember that one match when he was a heel. And later I remember how the announcers positioned him as a babyface and it was kind of unique I thought at that time. But I loved Murdock!


David Chappell: Who are some memorable Mid-Atlantic wrestlers that worked underneath that come to your mind?

Tony Schiavone
Tony Schiavone: You know, I don’t necessarily remember the names of the job guys but [the announcers] Bob Caudle and later with Rich Landrum and David Crockett…those guys did a good job of making you think those guys were good wrestlers, even though they were going to lose.

Chappell: For sure…

Schiavone: I remember Bill White was one, if I recall. There was this little, kind of a spark plug/fire plug type kid, a guy named Tony Russo?

Chappell: Yes, Tony Russo was actually involved in the famous Hat and Robe TV angle we mentioned a minute ago!

Schiavone: And I remember Klondike Bill; I got to know him very well.

Chappell: Yes, I was going to ask you about Klondike Bill. He was with the Crockett’s for MANY years! Any other names of Mid-Atlantic wrestlers, regardless of where they appeared on the cards that come to mind off the top of your head?

Schiavone: Let’s see, I remember Jay Youngblood. Of course I remember Paul Jones and Angelo Mosca, who was there for a time.

Chappell: Jones and Mosca had a great program in 1976 that I loved. We’ve also mentioned some of the 1970s Mid-Atlantic announcers. Wasn’t Big Bill Ward from Charlotte back doing some announcing right when you started on TV in 1983? Can you take us back to how you made your way into the fold as a wrestling announcer for Crockett?

Schiavone: Yes, Bill Ward had come back and was doing the local inserts…local interviews.

David, I got the job [with the Crockett’s] after the ‘81 [baseball] season. I got the job; I was doing the Greensboro games, the Greensboro minor league team. They were the Hornets then, in ‘81.

Chappell: I didn’t realize you called baseball games for Greensboro.

Schiavone: Yes, and I found out from a friend of mine, named Bob Jamieson, who was the play-by-play guy of the Double A Nashville team…I found out that the Charlotte job was opening up, so I went down and interviewed for it.

Chappell: This would have been the Charlotte Orioles minor league baseball team, which the Crockett’s also owned, right?

Schiavone: That’s right. Now I had kind of known that the Crockett’s owned the baseball team, because I remembered Frances Crockett being named like General Manager of the Year by the Sporting News.

Frances Crockett
So I went down and interviewed with Frances Crockett, and she hired me that day. So my baseball career, in my mind, was off and running. I was two years out of college, my first year was in Single A and now I moved up to Double A…

Chappell: went to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, correct?

Schiavone: Yes I did. So I talked to Frances, and as I got the job I would continue to talk to Frances about letting me do wrestling…which nothing ever came about for the whole year.

But I remember one time going to a TV taping, I think they had it at the channel 36 studios in Charlotte. And I remember talking to David [Crockett], and he was very nice to me. He was the first one that I met there, and I told him what I’d like to do. He said he appreciated that, but there wasn’t anything available.

Chappell: But you continued to try to move into the wrestling side of things?

Schiavone: Yes, and eventually I did the interview with Flair. Then they called me in to do the interviews…the local insert interviews, is what I called them.

Chappell: Now, when you say the interview with Flair, what interview are you referring to?

Schiavone: This was the announcement, his reaction to being part of the “Flair for the Gold,” having the World Title match with Harley Race.

Chappell: Oh, okay, the announcement for Starrcade ’83. In the early fall of 1983…

Schiavone: Yes.

Chappell: So after the Starrcade announcement, you started appearing regularly on the Crockett wrestling shows?

Schiavone: I did that with Ric, and then the following week Frances Crockett brought me into her office and she said, ‘Well, I knew this would happen. Now they want you to come and do some more interviews.’ She said, ‘You’re going to be pulled between me and them.’ Them being her brothers.

Chappell: Right…her wrestling brothers.

Schiavone: And she was right, I mean. You know, they would want me and she would want me.

Chappell: Geez…a real tightrope walk for you.

Schiavone: Oh yeah! She threatened to fire me a couple of times!

Chappell: Clearly you had a love for baseball at that time but the wrestling side of things was still on your mind. When or how did wrestling win out in this tug of war? Was there a particular event that pushed you to the wrestling announcing side?

Schiavone: Well financially it did, David, because I was making more with wrestling. I was doing wrestling part-time, and was making twice as much doing wrestling part-time as I was in baseball.

Chappell: That’s a significant difference, no doubt.

Schiavone: Baseball paid nothing, but back in those days we had a son Matt and we had our second child, our daughter in ’84, so I needed both…I needed both incomes.

Chappell: Understandable.

Schiavone: Okay, so I remember I went to a match at the Charlotte Coliseum, and I remember talking to David Crockett…

Chappell: During a live show?

Schiavone: Yes, I remember talking to David and letting him know I was there and everything…I got a ticket, or they gave me a ticket, and I went down and sat in my seat. And I remember the matches were getting ready to start and nothing was happening…thank you for jogging my memory on this! ...

Chappell: Yes sir!

C.J. Underwood
Longtime ring announcer at
the Charlotte Coliseum
(Photo -
Schiavone: I remember David came out and was looking up in the stands, and I knew instantly he was looking for me. And I went down and he said, ‘C.J. Underwood, is not here. Can you do the ring announcing for us?’ So I did the ring announcing that night in the Charlotte Coliseum.

Chappell: Wow!

Schiavone: And they gave me a 100 dollar bill, okay? And the reason I remember this is because I went home to my wife Lois, and we were living in this old rickety house in Charlotte…and I showed her this 100 dollar bill. We were so excited about it, that I got paid 100 dollars for doing the ring announcing.

Chappell: Tony, that’s reminiscent of others I’ve talked with that got their break when they were at the matches, somebody didn’t show up and they filled in, and the rest is history. I believe Rich Landrum got his break in a similar fashion.

Schiavone: And you know, I did the interview with Ric and I started doing the local interviews with Big Bill Ward. They brought me in, and Bill would do a couple and I’d do a couple. I remember Bill was so nice…

Bill Ward hosted "Championship
Wrestling" on WBTV-3 in Charlotte
from 1958-1974. He returned to
wrestling in 1982 to host the local
promos during JCP shows.
Chappell: He sure came off that way on TV.

Schiavone: You know, he said, ‘You need to wear some comfortable shoes because you’re going to be standing all day!’

Chappell: I’m sure that was true!

Schiavone: He kept saying, ‘Boy, I’m glad you’re here to help me out. Anything I can do just let me know.’ He was just a genuinely nice man, but David I kind of knew what was going on…I knew that eventually it would just be me. And that’s not arrogance. I could just see what was happening then…I was young and kind of moving into his role.

Chappell: Bill had been around for a real long time. In fact, when we both started getting into watching Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in 1974, Bill pretty much seemed to be winding it down then, and lo and behold he pops back up nearly a decade later.

It’s nice to hear that he was helpful to you in your very early TV wrestling announcing days.

Schiavone: Yes, he really was and he was such a nice man.


David Chappell: Do you recall the first time you were a TV commentator for Crockett? 

Tony Schiavone: The first show I did, I think the first time I did commentary; we were in Shelby, North Carolina.

Chappell: Lots of TV tapings were done in Shelby.

Schiavone: I think they stuck me on with Tully Blanchard; I think that was in ’84.

Chappell: Right, Tully came into the Mid-Atlantic area in February of ’84.

Schiavone: I remember to this day, Tully and I did the commentary…it was the first show I did the commentary on.

Chappell: How did you graduate from doing TV interviews to doing actual commentary?

Schiavone: I don’t know if David couldn’t do it, and I can’t remember if that was the beginning of me working World Wide [Wrestling] regularly. I just remember Tully and I doing that show.

Chappell: How did you do in your first commentary shot?

Schiavone: I remember walking in the back after we did the show, and Ricky Steamboat said to me, ‘Boy, you are tremendous! Your voice, and the way you talked and the way you put things over made me want to listen!’

Chappell: High praise from one of the greats!

Schiavone: My wife says I have a defeatist attitude, but I think what I have is a very realistic attitude. I was very appreciative of what Ricky said, but I remember thinking in my mind, ‘No, Ricky, I’m not really that good…I’m just new.’ You know, I was a new voice.

Chappell: Yes, something different.

Tony Schiavone and David Crockett
World Championship Wrestling on WTBS (1986)
Schiavone: Something different. So in my mind I was thinking, ‘I appreciate that but I’m not so sure I’m as good as you think I am…I just think I’m something different.’ And of course, David and I started doing World Wide regularly at some point.

Chappell: You’ve mentioned David Crockett several times, and I would be curious to hear your thoughts about David as an announcer. He was certainly the excitable one, and Bob Caudle and later yourself were the ones that sort of kept the announcing on an even keel.

Schiavone: I loved David. We named our last son after David…

Chappell: Wow, that pretty much answers that question! Have you seen David recently?

Schiavone: (laughs) It’s funny, David came upstairs to the [broadcast] booth when they had a day at the Charlotte baseball ballpark where they recognized the Crocketts. And I was kind of the master of ceremonies there.

Chappell: Oh, I didn’t realize you were part of that.

L-R: Jim Crockett, Jr., Frances Crockett, Tony
Schiavone, and Jackie Crockett at BB&T Ballpark
in Charlotte
Schiavone: Yeah, and David came up to the booth and did a couple of innings with me. And I told him, I said, ‘Our last son, which is Timothy David, the David is named after you.’ And he said, ‘Really?!’ When I told him yes he said, ‘Are you telling me the truth or are you just blowing smoke up my ass?’

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: I said, ‘No, it’s true!’ Lois and I wanted to buy a house because we had been renting for so long. We wanted to buy a house, and we went to David and asked for a loan from the family to be able to afford a down payment. And they gave me a loan. It was a loan, around $5,000 or something like that, and they just took money out of my paycheck every week, and it was an interest free loan, to be able to put a down payment on a house.

Chappell: No question that would have made an impact on you.

Schiavone: They were so nice to me, and David was always so nice to me and he and I looked forward to working with each other all the time.

You know, David wasn’t an announcer per se; that wasn’t what he studied to be. That’s what I studied to be…that’s what I wanted to be. David was just kind of put in that role.

Chappell: David certainly got fired up at the announcer’s desk!

Schiavone: I always thought David’s enthusiasm was genuine.

Chappell: It certainly came off that way to me.

Schiavone: Yes! And as over-the-top as it was and maybe as crazy as it sounded sometimes, I knew that it was David’s money on the line…

Chappell: (laughs) If anybody should be enthusiastic, it ought to be a Crockett!

Schiavone: Damn right! When it’s your money, you take it up a level.

Chappell: No doubt!

Schiavone: To me David, that’s the backbone of why Vince [McMahon] succeeded and Turner didn’t, because it was always Vince’s money and it was never Eric Bischoff’s money and it wasn’t Jim Herd’s money and it wasn’t Kip Frey’s money.

Chappell: Very true…that’s a great way to look at it.

When talking about David Crockett, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about David’s announce partner for many years, the great Bob Caudle.

Schiavone: I can remember first working with Bob, I’m thinking it was in Spartanburg, and we were standing there holding those long microphones and just kind of talking, and I just marked out on him!

Chappell: (laughs) I understand that…I mark out for Bob every time I see him or hear his voice!

Tony reunites with Jim Ross and Bob Caudle
at the NWA Legends Fanfest in Charlotte 2016
Schiavone: (laughs) I said, ‘You don’t know how big a moment this is for me Bob, to be standing here with you, getting ready to announce with you, when I watched you all these years. This is one of the great moments of my life.’ And he was such a gentleman and so nice about it.

Chappell: I’m sure he downplayed that it was anything you should have been so excited about!

Schiavone: He sure did! But I can remember standing there with him thinking, ‘What the hell…I’m standing here with BOB CAUDLE!’ You know, the guy I watched all these years.

Chappell: I know, that must have been a surreal moment for you. As a fan, did you ever go to the Mid-Atlantic TV tapings that Bob did in the WRAL studios in Raleigh?

Schiavone: No, we would only go to the house shows. They would really sell us on the house shows.

Chappell: The Mid-Atlantic arena shows were tremendous, and you’ve already talked about traveling to the biggest venue in the territory, the Greensboro Coliseum. Do you have any thoughts about any of the other towns you took in Crockett house shows at as a fan?

Schiavone: I think the first event I went to was at the Augusta Expo…

Chappell: That makes sense; it was certainly the closest venue to you.

Schiavone: And when I was in college I started working for a radio station part-time, which became my full-time job as soon as I graduated from college. And I remember a guy I worked with at the radio station, we went to the Augusta Expo together and we talked to Peter Apostolou…

Chappell: The Crockett promoter in the Roanoke, Virginia area.

Schiavone: Yes, and I brought a tape recorder and interviewed some of the wrestlers, and he was very nice to me. And I remember telling Peter, ‘I would love to do this! Who do I talk to?’ He didn’t give me anybody’s name, but he told me that I just needed to work hard and get to know the right people and sooner or later it would happen.

Chappell: Sage advice! Who were you able to interview that night at the Expo?

Schiavone: I remember we interviewed Ricky Steamboat. I think I interviewed Tommy Young. So, I went to the Augusta Expo a couple of times. While I was in college, I was going to James Madison, JMU, and they had wrestling at the Harrisonburg High School Gymnasium.

Chappell: They had some great cards there, Tony. I remember some of those match promos aired on WTVR in Richmond.

Schiavone: I gathered up money from my relatives, because they all wanted to go, and I walked from JMU to the high school athletic office and when tickets went on sale I talked to the athletic director and asked for 15 ringside tickets! And he said, ‘FIFTEEN?’

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: He said, ‘You want FIFTEEN ringside tickets?’ I think he sold me the entire front row or something like that of ringside!

My Uncle John, who I used to watch wrestling with all those years, and he was very old and had arthritis and he had two canes that he would wrap around the arms, you know those?

Chappell: Yes, right.

Schiavone: Okay, he sat down at the other end of the row from me and my cousin Butchie. It was Ric Flair and Greg Valentine against Johnny Weaver and somebody…maybe Paul Jones. But I remember Johnny was definitely in it. (laughing) So, they spilled out of the ring, and this one guy jumped out of his chair at ringside and jumped on the back of Flair!

Chappell: Uh oh, not a good move by the fan!

Schiavone: No, so the s#*t was on then!

Chappell: (laughs) I bet! As J.R. would say, business was about to pick up!

Schiavone: (laughing) Exactly! This was the first time I’d witnessed something like this. All of a sudden I realized that this was a real fight. Okay, and they beat the s#*t out of this guy! They beat him mercilessly.

Chappell: You got an extra match, Tony!

Schiavone: (laughs) All of a sudden, [the fan] is trying to get away now, and they are pounding on him! Valentine is hitting him with those sledge-hammer blows he used to use. So the guy finally gets away, and Valentine wheels around and my Uncle John, God bless him, picked up one of those steel canes and cracked Valentine over the head with it!

Chappell: (laughing) Oh my God!!

Schiavone: BAM! Valentine wheeled around and could see it was Uncle John, an old man, so he didn’t hit him…

Chappell: Thank God!

Schiavone: So they finally got away from us. Now remember, I was at the other end of the row from Uncle John. We called my Uncle John “Baby” back then…his name was Baby. My cousin Butchie said, ‘Tony, did you see what Baby did?!? HE JUST HIT GREG VALENTINE WITH A CANE!!’

Chappell: (laughing)

Schiavone: So that was the main event, so the show was over. And my Aunt Frances called me over to come help Baby out because he’s all fired up!

Chappell: (laughs) No joke!

Schiavone: (laughs) He was shaking and everything, so Butchie and I helped Uncle John out of the arena…what a night!

Chappell: Whew! A lot of those Mid-Atlantic spot shows didn’t have much security, and things could pretty easily get out of hand…glad the Schiavone clan made it out in one piece!


David Chappell: Spot shows in the Mid-Atlantic area were great, but nothing beat going to a live show at a coliseum or a building in a bigger town, wouldn’t you agree?

Tony Schiavone: I didn’t know they were called spot shows then, but at the spot shows Butchie and I never saw a title switch and we never saw blood…and that’s what we wanted to see. I guess they just wouldn’t bleed for those spot shows!

Chappell: (laughs) It’s a shame you had to travel further to see blood!

Schiavone: So, we would go to Roanoke and we would see blood and we would see triple main events. (laughs) I remember Butchie the first time we saw blood saying ‘TONY, WE SAW BLOOD…WE SAW THEM BLEED!’ We were so excited!

Chappell: (laughs) And we’ll be coming back to the Roanoke Civic Center!

Schiavone: (laughs) That’s right! But we would never see a title switch, so then we would go to Greensboro…

Chappell: You definitely saw title switches there!

Schiavone: Yes, then we saw title switches. I know I saw Wahoo beat Greg Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic Championship.

Chappell: Right, the payoff in early 1978 from when Greg broke Wahoo’s leg. But then Wahoo lost it right back to Ken Patera.

Schiavone: I saw the U.S. Title and the World Tag Team Titles switch hands in Greensboro.

Greensboro ring announcer Tom Miller and RicFlair
Chappell: Going to Greensboro back in those days, you saw some of the greatest matches put on anywhere in the world. Do you have a favorite that comes to mind?

Schiavone: David, I’ll tell you the greatest match I’ve ever seen. The way we found out about the match, because we didn’t live in the Greensboro market, was that Tom Miller would announce it on the show before.

Chappell: Right, Truckin’ Tom Miller, the legendary ring announcer in Greensboro!

Schiavone: Right! Truckin’ Tom would say, ‘Fans coming to the Greensboro Coliseum, our next event will be October 23rd' or whatever. So one time he announced, ‘And you will see, the World Tag Team Champions DUSTY RHODES AND DICK SLATER defend their tag team belts against Ric Flair and Greg Valentine!’

Chappell: Yes, I remember Rhodes and Slater, who weren’t in Jim Crockett Promotions then, originally being billed as the champs for that match!

Schiavone: All right, now here’s what happened. We came back [to Greensboro], and it wasn’t Slater and Dusty, it was the Anderson Brothers.

Chappell: Yep!

Schiavone: Which kind of pissed me off!

Vintage Audio: Greg Valentine and Ric Flair promote their scheduled match with Rhodes and Slater

Chappell: (laughing)

Schiavone: (laughs) But, nevertheless okay, that match… [the Anderson Brothers] dropped the straps to Valentine and Flair, that match was like the greatest match I had ever seen!

Chappell: And to be there in person for that historic October 30, 1977 title change…unbelievable. I believe Gene Anderson was injured in that match.

Schiavone: I remember I had a friend of mine with me, named Tommy, and we went to the event and as the event was going on I remember looking at Tommy and saying, ‘This is the best match I’ve ever seen!’

Chappell: What made that match the absolute best in your mind? 

Schiavone: (pauses) I guess because we had four great workers, right?

Chappell: For sure.

Schiavone: But the fact of how they would get heat on each other, and they would go down on the floor and they would bleed…

Chappell: (laughs) I figured you’d mention the blood!

Schiavone: Yeah, and the other team would make a comeback, and then they would stop the heat.

Chappell: I bet the ebb and flow was tremendous, and you had a title change to boot.

Schiavone: You know, Flair and Valentine weren’t babyfaces back then…

Chappell: They were definitely heels back then. This was a “Battle of the Bullies” type deal.

Schiavone: Yeah, it really was. And then I remember later on, Tommy and I…his nickname was ‘Hippie.’

Chappell: (laughs) You mean like the 1960s hippies?

Schiavone: Everybody had nicknames when I was growing up! He would always go with me to Greensboro…others would always come up with some excuse, but Hippie would always go.

Chappell: Smart man, that Hippie!

Schiavone: Hippie and I would always try to get the ringside seats that were at the end zone where the wrestlers came out. And we would always try to get the ringside seats, you know where the first eight or nine maybe ten rows were on the floor but then they would have risers, that would go up a little bit…

Chappell: Better sight lines.

Schiavone: Right, so we would get seats that were on the risers so like you said David, we didn’t have to look around people’s heads!

Chappell: Certainly makes for a better viewing experience.

Schiavone: And we tried to get the ones on the end, where the heels came out…because we wanted to see them up close and we wanted to boo at ‘em!

Chappell: (laughs) Of course!

Schiavone: And I remember we went to Roanoke one time and all these heels came out and we booed ‘em, and Angelo Mosca came out and we were too afraid to boo him!

Chappell: (laughs) Completely understandable! They didn’t call him “Big Nasty” for nothing!

Schiavone: He looked big AND bad, okay?

Chappell: No doubt…

Schiavone: (laughs) Yeah, then after I got to know him years later I really got to like him. He was kind of a jovial old big guy and I remember telling him, ‘You scared the hell out of me one day, and now look at you!’

Chappell: (laughs) I’d be interested to hear what you think made Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling one of the best, if not the best, territory in the professional wrestling world.

Schiavone: Well, I didn’t watch any of the other territories. The only way I heard about the other territories was reading about them in the magazines.

Chappell: Right…

Schiavone: The magazines were how you found out about the other territories…

Chappell: It’s hard to believe, now that we’re in the Internet age, but that was very true back in the 1970s.

Schiavone: But I think what made [Mid-Atlantic] great was the great workers. Like Flair and Mulligan, like the Andersons…like Tim Woods, like Ricky Steamboat.

Chappell: We were blessed to see some phenomenal talent over the years.

Schiavone: David, that’s kind of a hard question. I just knew that I loved it.

Chappell: I think maybe a better way to have phrased the question would be what did you enjoy most about Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. Because you’re absolutely right, most of us didn’t see the other territories back then to compare Crockett to.

Schiavone: I think back then the Crockett’s knew how to make you want to watch them. And it’s an art that’s long gone…because they show everything on TV now.

Chappell: Yep, very true.

Schiavone: But you would watch those TV shows knowing that you would not necessarily see a good match, you’d see a squash match or a job match, whatever we’d call it now.

But you’d still watch it because you’d watch it for the interviews; you’d watch it for those two and a half minute interviews to see where Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling was coming to your town…

Chappell: Yes…

Schiavone: And sometimes you would tune in and you’d see Ricky Steamboat win the television title or see a title switch or see some sort of angle. But to me back then, the angles and the interviews were what drew you in and made you watch, and not necessarily a great match between two guys.

Chappell: The TV show was done to get you out to buy a ticket for the arena shows, but it was still must see TV.

Schiavone: Exactly…it was just the way they packaged it, and the characters they had, that made me come back week after week!

* * * * * 

Read all about the world tag team title match that never was - -Rhodes & Slater defending the NWA World Tag Team titles against Ric Flair and Greg Valentine in Greensboro - - and how that led to the greatest match Tony ever saw as a fan: Rhodes and Slater defend the World Tag Team Titles in the Mid-Atlantic Area - - Almost by Dick Bourne.

* * * * * 


David Chappell: The Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling TV shows were the absolute best…I would go to great lengths to never miss a show.
Tony Schiavone: David, I can tell you this…I remember this. My father passed away in ‘74 like I said, and I graduated from high school in ’76. Before he passed away, we talked about me going to college at Penn State, because that’s where he was from and we had relatives in Pennsylvania and I was going to go up there and live with them...

Chappell: I think I may know where you’re going with this.

Schiavone: Well, he passed away in ’74 and I started watching wrestling and I remember my Mom saying, ‘Now that your father’s passed away, I don’t know if we can afford to send you to Penn State.’ And I remember thinking in my mind at that time, ‘It’s okay Mom, I don’t think I would want to leave this area, because I want to see Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling!’ (laughs)

Chappell: (laughing)

Schiavone: (laughs) That’s how big it was in my eyes! I really thought; I didn’t want to leave the area. Of course, I probably could have gotten into the WWWF up there back then, but I remember thinking, ‘Man, I don’t want to leave Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling!’

Chappell: I had the EXACT same thought process when I went away to law school outside of the Mid-Atlantic area in the fall of 1984. Luckily, that was about the same time Crockett began to expand outside of the Carolinas and Virginia so I really didn’t miss anything for those three years.

The Greensboro Coliseum (1988)
Schiavone: Yeah! Then of course my life really changed after I graduated from college. I get a job in Greensboro, which to me was fantastic, that’s where I watched wrestling, right?

Chappell: The Mecca of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling...

Schiavone: I’m going to go down there and watch wrestling! Oddly enough, I go to Greensboro, get a job, meet Lois…then we fall in love and I get married. And all of a sudden with Lois and baseball, wrestling kind of gets pushed to the back.

Chappell: Real life enters the equation.

Schiavone: Here I am in Greensboro, where I saw all those great matches, right? I remember, one of her brothers, Dan; we went to the Greensboro Coliseum and we saw Flair and Steamboat in a cage, and it was a long match.

Chappell: Bet it was a classic!

Schiavone: It was, but I remember sitting down with Dan thinking in my mind, ‘Here I am again, but my life has changed dramatically…I’m not with the gang; I’m not hanging out with my friends. I’m just kind of going here, like, why not?’

Chappell: I’m with you 100% on that, Tony. For me in the 70s, wrestling was the biggest thing in my life…I think that’s why I remember it so well. But as you get older and real life starts to kick in and you have adult responsibilities, then wrestling is no longer the be-all-end-all. It’s just not the same. But you know even as the many years have passed, I’ll still see something at wrestling shows at the Richmond Coliseum that will remind me of the Blackjack-Flair split, or some other classic angle from the Mid-Atlantic days.

Schiavone: One of my fondest memories was the split between Blackjack and Flair. When Blackjack had that bag and pulled all that stuff out of the bag…the pantyhose and all that stuff?

Chappell: Yes, from the van that Blackjack said they owned together and he was cleaning out after the split!

Schiavone: Flair came out with the hat and tore up his hat, and [Blackjack] came out with Flair’s robe on and tore up Flair’s robe!

Chappell: Classic stuff! We have a very in-depth piece on that whole story and angle on the Gateway.

Schiavone: To me, in the Mid-Atlantic days, that angle is number one.

Chappell: I don’t think you’ll get much of an argument on that pick!

Schiavone: The old adage was back then David, or the old adage has always been since I’ve been in the business, the best time to turn a heel babyface is when he’s red-hot as a heel.

Chappell: Yes…

Schiavone: Blackjack was a tremendous heel. I loved the way he talked. We liked Blackjack…we wanted him to turn babyface and he did. We really loved him, and I remember a couple of things about that angle that were kind of odd.

Chappell: What were they?

Schiavone: It seemed like Blackjack was kind of turning babyface before he and Flair did the split. There was an interview that the Masked Superstar did, I think it may have been done in Japan, and he was coming back to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling for one reason, and he kind of drug out the interview. And the reason he was coming back was to get vengeance…

Chappell: I remember that well because it was the last time I recall Superstar appearing on television with his manager, Boris Malenko. The deal I think was that Superstar was in a world tournament overseas. Superstar said an ex-friend that he used to confide him had caused Malenko’s suspension. It turned out the ex-friend was Mulligan.

Schiavone: Another part I remember about the Blackjack turn…was at the Richmond Coliseum.

Chappell: Near and dear to my heart!

Schiavone: We would sit in Richmond, David, we didn’t sit ringside but we would try to sit where the heels would come out…they would come out under us.

Chappell: I know the exact location you’re talking about.

Schiavone: Okay, that’s where we would sit. I remember Blackjack was wrestling as a heel, but heels came in and jumped him. Not so sure who they all were, but they ran out and jumped on his ass. And one of them was Baron von Raschke…

Chappell: Oh yeah, I remember that!

Schiavone: And Blackjack fought them off, and Paul Jones came out to help him…

Chappell: Paul Jones, who was his great rival over the U.S. belt in all those amazing matches. Man, Tony, that’s great recall!

Schiavone: (laughs) Yeah, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday! So, Paul Jones helped him and Blackjack reached his hand out to shake Paul Jones’ hand, and like you said he and Paul Jones had all those great matches, and Paul Jones did what he always did…he kind of looked around and said, ‘Should I shake his hand, should I shake his hand?’

Chappell: Asking the crowd for guidance…

Schiavone: Then Blackjack reached his hand out again…and Paul Jones shook it!

Chappell: That was an amazing moment…for that to happen after all the matches they had against each other.

Schiavone: I remember that night, and one of the things I remember about it was Baron von Raschke running out and Hippie said, ‘Here comes that flatfooted son of a bitch…I can hear him running!’

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: (laughs) I don’t know why that sticks out…'that flatfooted son of a bitch!'

Chappell: It’s funny how little things like that will stick out and you’ll remember them years later…the same things happens with my Mid-Atlantic memories from the Richmond Coliseum. Do you have any other wrestling memories from the Richmond Coliseum?

Schiavone: We were also in the Richmond Coliseum when Snuka and Orndorff won the World Tag Team Championships.

Chappell: Right, that was around Christmastime 1978 when they beat Greg Valentine and Hippie’s buddy, Baron von Raschke. That was huge! I think that card was on a Tuesday night, rather than Richmond’s normal Friday night slot.

Schiavone: Yes it was.

Chappell: If a Richmond Coliseum card wasn’t on Friday, it usually meant something was up. In this instance, I think they wanted the title change on Tuesday so they could announce the change at the Wednesday TV tapings. I remember they brought Snuka and Orndorff out as the new World Tag Team champs the next night, which was the TV taping for the 1978 year in review show.

Schiavone: I was kind of unfamiliar where TV was taped then. I do remember they had Joe Murnick as the ring announcer on TV?

Chappell: Oh yes…he was outstanding! Great voice!

Schiavone: I can remember him doing some ring announcing. You’re absolutely right, what a great voice!

Chappell: The title switch to Snuka and Orndorff was right about the time Joe Murnick stopped doing the ring announcing on TV, and they just had Bob Caudle announce the wrestlers in the ring with a split screen.

And in the Richmond Coliseum title switch to Snuka and Orndorff, didn’t the Baron attack the referee after the match?

Schiavone: Yeah, he sure did!

Chappell: And I think the Baron got suspended for 30 days or something like that for striking the ref.

Schiavone: You’re exactly right.

Chappell: The Richmond Coliseum had so many incredible Mid-Atlantic cards.

Schiavone: Yes…we went to the Richmond Coliseum a lot!


It's Sunday, so it's Tony Schiavone time on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, where we talk with Tony about his days as a fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling before he went to work for Jim Crockett Promotions.

With the launch of his podcast "What Happened When" (WHW Monday) on the MLW Radio Network where Tony and Conrad Thompson will discuss Tony's career with Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW, we thought it would be fun as fans to hear Tony talk about his experiences before he got started in a career that would eventually lead to him becoming one of wrestling's most recognizable broadcasters. These are Tony's memories as a fan.

So now enjoy PART 6 of what we like to call "Sundays with Schiavone." And be sure to check out the earlier installments of David Chappell's interview with Tony: 
PART 1   PART 2    PART 3    PART 4   PART 5

* * * * * * *


Chappell: We’ve talked a good bit about the Richmond Coliseum, but did you ever attend any shows at the Richmond Arena, which was Crockett’s ‘B’ venue in Richmond for a number of years?

Schiavone: Yes, David, one time we went to the Richmond Arena…which I guess was an old airplane hangar near Parker Field, the Diamond.

Chappell: (laughs) Quite a place!

Schiavone: I remember the reason we went was because it was Blackjack Mulligan, this was when Blackjack was a heel, against Thunderbolt Patterson.

Chappell: Oh, I remember that very well! It was in the spring of 1977, and it was one of the last regular cards held at the Arena. T-Bolt was just in for a single shot. (SEE ALSO: Thunderbolt Patterson Makes Guest Shots from Georgia by Dick Bourne)

Schiavone: Yeah!

Chappell: I remember on that same card the semi was Johnny Weaver against the Missouri Mauler. It was sort of a blast from the past, with Thunderbolt there along with Weaver and the Mauler who had great battles back into the ‘60s.

Schiavone: We wanted to see Thunderbolt wrestle, and I remember it really ended up being kind of a shi#@y match.

Chappell: Yeah, I agree…it just didn’t work in the ring.

Schiavone: I remember Hippie saying, ‘Boy, we got f@#ked out of money that night,’ or something like that. I remember him bitching about it.

Chappell: The match was great on paper and had appeal to draw you to the Arena, but it didn’t pan out in person.

Schiavone: Hippie and I were talking about it, that maybe the Richmond Coliseum wasn’t available that date. That was kind of odd.

Chappell: There might have been enough intrigue for the Thunderbolt versus Mulligan for the U.S. Title to draw a good house at the Coliseum, so I agree it was a little odd to have T-Bolt come all the way in from Georgia to appear at the smaller venue.

Schiavone: You know during the same time as that match, I remember Professor Malenko, Boris Malenko, and the Masked Superstar, and the angle with Igor and the cigar in the eye.

Chappell: Oh yes, that was huge! What did you think of the Mighty Igor? He was really a different type of wrestling character, particularly for that point in time.

Schiavone: I remember him, and I remember some of his interviews. I remember one time he did an interview, and I had a friend of mine named Johnny, and Johnny said, ‘Do you realize that he slipped out of character there? He didn’t sound like he was from Poland; all of a sudden he sounded English.' All of a sudden he did!

Chappell: (laughs) I’ll be honest with you Tony, Igor wasn’t one of my favorites and I tried not to listen to him that closely!

Schiavone: I can remember one time Hippie’s brother, Hippie had two brothers, one was named “Rat.” -- (laughs) We all had nicknames! --

Chappell: (laughs) Sounds like a rough crew you ran with, Tony!

Schiavone: (laughs) Yeah, no really they were good ol’ boys! One was named Rat, and he had another brother named Johnny, and then another brother J.L. And J.L. would go with us to events, and the Mighty Igor was in one of those events. And I remember saying to J.L. that I didn’t care that much for Igor, he was okay but he wasn’t my favorite…

Chappell: My feelings exactly!

Schiavone: J.L. said, ‘Yeah, but he’s a tough son of a bitch, man. He’s a strong son of a bitch!’ I guess that’s the way we thought about Igor. He was strong and you could beat on him and he was tough…but he wasn’t one of our favorites.

Chappell: No doubt he was strong; do you remember those feats of strength he did on TV with Ivan Kalmikoff?

Schiavone: Yeah…impressive!

Chappell: Igor was certainly a unique character, a spectacle in a manner of speaking! Another unique kind of event that I have strong memories about in the Mid-Atlantic area was when title belts were put up for grabs for whatever reason, and there was a one night tournament to establish a new champion. Those one night tournaments were rare, but great spectacles! Did you ever see any of those tournaments live and in-person?

Schiavone: I can remember going to the Greensboro Coliseum for the World Tag Team Championship tournament, because Flair and Valentine were stripped of the titles…

Chappell: Right! Jim Crockett had come on TV and said Ric and Greg no- showed some title matches, and ran from the ring on some others. That was in early 1978 I believe. That was a huge deal. Didn’t Paul Jones and Steamboat win the tournament?

Schiavone: Yes. I remember a lot about that night…we took two carloads from up in Virginia to go down and see it!

Chappell: That shows you how big those one night tournaments were to the fans.

Schiavone: I remember we drank a LOT of beer too!

Chappell: (laughs) And you still remember that night?

Schiavone: (laughs) Okay, I remember going there and it was sold out…completely sold out.

Chappell: I bet…

Schiavone: And I remember Greg Valentine coming out. He and Flair were part of the tournament. Greg said this was all kind of bulls#@t, and that he and Ric refused to wrestle. They were not going to be in this tournament. Valentine did this speech on the mic; I don’t even think he got into the ring.

Chappell: Okay, I’ve seen some results of that tournament, and I remember them saying that Flair and Valentine lost by forfeit. Now we know the reason why! Who else do you remember participating in that tournament?

Schiavone: I remember the Brisco’s were there and wrestled. I remember the Masked Superstar and Baron von Raschke were there. I think the Masked Superstar and Ken Patera was the team that faced Jones and Steamboat in the championship match; I think they made it all the way through.

Chappell: Yep, I believe that’s right. Do you have any memories of the Brisco’s in the tournament?

Schiavone: The Brisco’s weren’t in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling at that time. Actually, they would come in later when I was starting to work there, doing the microphone and everything.

Chappell: Back before they became regulars in the Mid-Atlantic area, you knew the event was a big deal when the Brisco Brothers were flown in to participate. If memory serves, Andre and Stan Hansen were flown in for this tournament as well.

Schiavone: Yes, they were in it and Gene and Ole Anderson were also. But I remember Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat won it, and Tom Miller said, ‘Your new World Tag Team Champions, Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat!’ They would hug each other and they fell down! They were so excited, and the fans were going crazy!

Chappell: I bet that was an amazing night of wrestling to be a part of.

Schiavone: You know David, I had the event poster for that too.

Chappell: Really?

Schiavone: It was blue in red ink, and it just listed the tag teams. And of course I lost it!

Chappell: No! I love those event posters…I have quite a few of them from Greensboro, but not that one.

Schiavone: Every time we went [to Greensboro], there was a place between Roanoke and Greensboro that always had a poster…and we would always steal it!

Chappell: (laughing) Well, that answered my upcoming question as to whether you were into Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling memorabilia!

Schiavone: I had a stack of the posters from Greensboro. Everywhere we went we would look for them. But there was one place near Greensboro that we could always find them…and it was near this old store. And there was never anybody around, and I always took it!

Chappell: Man, I wish I would have been on the lookout for them like that back in the day.

Schiavone: So I had a stack of them, and when I started working for Jim Crockett Promotions I brought them into the office and let everybody see them and they looked at them, and of course they weren’t as impressed as I was.

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: They lived this s@#t...

Chappell: Yeah, it was their job.

Schiavone: I let everybody see them, and I had them all wrapped up or something and put them behind my desk at JCP and somebody took them.

Chappell: Oh my God!

Schiavone: Yeah, they’re all gone.

Chappell: (laughs) I’ve probably bought several of them on eBay!

Schiavone: (laughs) You may have! But I remember vividly the one from the World Tag Team Championship was blue with red ink with red letters and just listed the teams. It was really nice.

Chappell: And, damn, it got stolen along with the rest of your poster stash!

Schiavone: Yeah, I had a lot of them and from everywhere I went. That’s one of the things I always tried to do.

I may, the next time I see Frances, or get in touch with Frances, see if she knows where all those posters ended up!


David Chappell: It’s great to hear that you were into Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling memorabilia, even though your prized poster collection was stolen. Do you still have any Mid-Atlantic memorabilia? 

Tony Schiavone: I tell you what I have in my attic somewhere, and I need to look for them before the next Mid-Atlantic Fanfest convention…I have all my old ticket stubs from the Greensboro Coliseum!

Chappell: Wow!

Schiavone: That I know, because hell, I put them in frames!

Chappell: Nice deal! Did you get the Mid-Atlantic Magazines that were sold at the shows?

Schiavone: I may still have some of those, but I’m not sure. But the ticket stubs I do remember.

Chappell: Switching gears a bit, I just want to say how great it is to have you talking about the old Mid-Atlantic days. There was a significant gap in time when wrestling fans didn’t hear from Tony Schiavone. Then you appeared last August at Greg Price’s NWA Legends Fanfest in Charlotte, and in my humble opinion you stole the show!

Tony Schiavone during Q&A at the
Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte

Schiavone: Thank you David, I appreciate that. A lot of people said that to me. I’ve always been a completely different person than I was on TV, you know. I always try to be funny, I try to be irreverent. I love to pick on people; I try to give people s#@t!

Chappell: (laughs) I think that’s what made your appearance at the NWA Legends Fanfest so enjoyable for the fans there. We had never seen that side of you before.

Schiavone: Yeah, Mike Tenay used to say, ‘You’re the best heel in the business, but nobody knows it!’

Chappell: (laughs) Yeah, you hid that side of yourself well on television! But now you can let the REAL Tony Schiavone out on your new podcast with Conrad Thompson, “What Happened When Monday.” Please tell us about this exciting new adventure.

Schiavone: Yeah, this is how it started. I work for IMG, the University of Georgia Radio Network. And basically what I do is I set up the equipment for basketball and football, I make sure we’re on the air, I make sure the announcers have all their readers and we log all their readers. So, I’m the producer also. But we hook into IMG, which is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and there’s always a producer on the other end in Winston-Salem that we’re talking to.

Chappell: Winston-Salem, another great Mid-Atlantic town. It always comes back to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Tony.

Schiavone: (laughs) Our producer is a kid that went to Wake Forest, and his name is Cabell Philpott…and he’s a big wrestling fan. And Cabell, not too long ago, told me that he needed to talk to me about something. He said, ‘Have you listened to Bruce Prichard’s podcast with Conrad Thompson?’ I told him I had not.

Chappell: (laughs) Tony! Shame on you!

Schiavone: (laughs) Cabell said that Conrad does a show with Bruce Prichard and he also does something with Flair and he said, ‘You ought to get in on that! I’m telling you, these things are big. I listen to them and I love them.’

Chappell: Wrestling podcasts have really taken off, and Conrad is tremendous in his role. Did Cabell peak your interest in this new medium?

Schiavone: (laughs) I went ‘Okay, yeah…I’ve got my f@#king four jobs. Thank you very much!’

Chappell: (laughing)

Schiavone: But as fate would have it, the very next week, Cabell and I talked on a Saturday, the very next week, it had to be on a Tuesday, I get this LONG email from Conrad…

Chappell: Great timing!

Schiavone: Isn’t it! He set up what he wanted to do, not necessarily how much money he thought we could make but that he thought we could make some money…and here’s what he would like to do and how much time it would take of me. So, I just thought that was kind of fate.

Chappell: Oh yeah, for sure!

Schiavone: So the very next week I connected to Winston-Salem and I said, ‘Cabell, you’ll never guess who I got an email from…CONRAD THOMPSON!’ He said, ‘You gotta be f@#king kidding me!’

Chappell: (laughing)

Schiavone: So I talked to Conrad back and forth. I’d stayed away from the business for a long, long time…so I thought why not, why not give it a shot.

Chappell: You made a lot of wrestling fans really happy with that decision.

Schiavone: Thank you David. So that’s how it kind of worked out.

Chappell: So how have you made the transition back into the world of professional wrestling?

Schiavone: Right after we agreed to do the podcast, I watched the Royal Rumble which was the first WWE event I’ve watched since I left.

Chappell: Really?

Schiavone: Yeah, and I watched it because I have to get on the WWE Network now because if Conrad asks me about some of these matches, I’ve got to be able to remember some of this s#@t! (laughs)

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: So oddly enough I was sitting at the computer downstairs in my office watching the Royal Rumble, and I sent a text to Conrad. Well, he’s there; he’s there in-person at the Royal Rumble.

Chappell: Oh, okay.

Schiavone: The reason that I sent him a text was I’m looking at a fan shot, and there’s a fan in the back with a giant caricature face of his…holding up a face poster of Conrad!

Chappell: Awesome!

Schiavone: I told him, ‘I just saw your face up there!’ He said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: I think he was actually backstage, but we were texting back and forth. I said, ‘I’m watching this stuff, and it’s your fault you son of a bitch that I’m watching this stuff again!’

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: I watched the A.J. Styles and John Cena match on that show…

Chappell: You know A.J. lost the title on that show, but he won it from Dean Ambrose in September at…the Richmond Coliseum!

Schiavone: Really?

Chappell: Yep!

Schiavone: That match between those two was really a great match; those two kids really performed. And I knew Arn Anderson had something to do with it.

Chappell: There you go, another name from the Mid-Atlantic days! But he’s an agent with WWE now, right?

Schiavone: Yeah, so I sent Arn a text and said, ‘Did you set that match up?’ And he texted me back and said he did! I said, ‘Dammit, that had you written all over it…I knew it was you!’ I knew it was him, and he confirmed that it was. You know, it takes two good workers and a damn good agent to be able to set that up.

Chappell: It’s great to still have those old school connections to connect the current product to. Another thing that has changed in the current wrestling landscape is the proliferation of social media. How have you adapted to that?

Schiavone: I immediately got a thousand new followers on Twitter when the podcast first started!

Chappell: Holy cow!

Schiavone: Yeah!

Chappell: The format of your podcast, which is much like the Bruce Prichard show, has four poll topics that go up on Twitter and the fans actually vote on the show’s topic for a particular week.

Schiavone: Yes, and that’s why I got the WWE Network. Our second show was Souled Out ’97 and I had to watch that on the Network, because it was supposedly the worst pay-per-view in history!

Chappell: (laughs)

Schiavone: I was watching it on the Network, and I sent Conrad a text and I said, ‘Oh my God I’m seven minutes into this thing and I want to shoot myself in the head!’

Chappell: (laughs) That pay-per-view was memorable, but not necessarily in a good way!

Schiavone: So I had to watch the whole thing so I knew what I was talking about…

Chappell: That’s right, you didn’t do the commentary on that show.

Schiavone: Right, and when I knew we were going to talk about Souled Out ’97 on the podcast I called David Penzer…

Chappell: The long-time WCW ring announcer.

Schiavone: Yeah, I hadn’t really talked to David in a long time. And David said, ‘Probably the reason you don’t remember that show much is because you didn’t do the commentary.’ And David also reminded me that even though I did the commentary on Nitro and Thunder, my job during the course of the week was to produce WCW Saturday Night and WCW Worldwide, so I had to work on those shows.

Chappell: Your plate was full for sure.

Schiavone: So a lot of my attention wasn’t always on what was going on with Nitro and Thunder. I wasn’t always in the meetings for those; I was doing something else a lot of the time.

Chappell: It’s so great for us fans to hear your insight on these great Crockett and WCW events and angles. And the podcast drops every Monday morning, so you have that built-in Monday connection to all those great Monday Nitro events you were a big part of.

Schiavone: I hope the fans are enjoying it, and they really jog my memory and I enjoy giving them some stories that have stuck with me. It’s funny how your memory can be jogged loose! I hope we can continue this for quite a while, and I hope we don’t run out of things to talk about!

Chappell: I don’t think coming up with show topics will be an issue! Well, Tony, thank you so much for visiting with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and sharing all the great memories of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. It’s been great talking with you! And continued success on the new podcast…it’s terrific.

Schiavone: Same here, David, it was a great talk. Let’s stay in contact and I’ll find those ticket stubs for you.

Chappell: Cant’ wait…you have a spot on the Gateway reserved that we’d probably call “Tony Shiavone’s Mid-Atlantic Memorabilia (that wasn’t stolen from the Crockett offices)”

Shiavone: (laughs) All right, thank you buddy.

Tony and David at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte

* * * * * * *

That concludes our discussion of 1970s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling with Tony Schiavone. Don't miss Tony's podcast this Monday with co-host Conrad Thompson. It's "What Happened When" (WHW Monday) and it drops every Monday on the MLW Radio Network and everywhere you get your podcasts.

Follow Tony Schiavone at @tonyschiavone24
Follow Conrad Thompson at @heyheyitsconrad
Follow the MLW Radio Network at @MWL
Follow Tony's podcast at @WHWMonday