One of the greatest mysteries in pro wrestling is what Vince McMahon is like behind closed doors. Tony Schiavone was working for WCW in 1989 but when he was lied to about how much money he was going to make it rubbed him the wrong way.
Tony said he was told he would be making the same about of money as Jim Ross. When he found out JR was actually making more than him it didn’t both Tony. But what bothered him was being lied to from the beginning.
So when WWF called Tony Schiavone and expressed interest in his services he was more than willing to talk. Schiavone said Vince offered him a great deal which was 40% more than WCW was offering and Vince offered to not only give him upfront money, but also pay moving expenses, and pay for Schiavone’s family’s housing until they found a place to stay.
Schiavone was very happy with this deal and said his wife Lois told him to let her know when to start packing. McMahon flew Schiavone up to Connecticut to meet with him to have a face-to-face in his home.
Schiavone spoke about how his first meeting with Vince McMahon went down on What Happened When.
“From what I remember, I remember this from 1989. From what I remember Greenwich is obviously a high rent district. A lot of big houses that step back from the road and we went through a gate, I don’t think it was manned by any guards or anything but we drove through this long drive and drove up to this very, very big brick house — I mean it was a mansion there’s no question.”
“Vince didn’t meet me at the door. The driver walked me in and Vince was in his — and Pat Patterson and Terry Garvin were all there and Vince was in his den that was kinda sunken down from the main level of the floor.”
Tony said Vince McMahon was wearing workout clothes during the meeting. After all, the legend is Vince only walks around his home in a full suit or workout clothes. “It was a great meeting, it was a great day and I felt so good about what I was getting ready to do” Schiavone continued.
“I do remember during the meeting [Vince] saying this. He said, ‘I wanna take myself off television I need to’ — I don’t know how he said it exactly but ‘I need to take myself off television and be more attentive to the day-to-day operation that’s going on and I want you to replace me. You’re gonna be the person who replaces me.'”
“And I guess he and Jesse [Ventura] were on Superstars at that time and Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby [Heenan] were doing Challenge and I said, ‘okay.’ So he said that’s basically what it was and I told him the same thing I had often told Jim Crockett and I had often told Turner Broadcasting. I said ‘I wanna do more than just announce’ so he said I will have you work on that and you’ll get to know Bruce Prichard, you’ll get to know Kevin Dunn. And I said ‘great, I’d love to do it’ so that’s how it all worked out.”
“They had a place downtown in Stanford, this was before Titan Towers,” Schiavone said as he started to discuss his first day with WWF. “I go into the office and I go through all the procedure of you know, signing up for insurance and health care and HR and all that and I go over to 120 Hamilton which is the production facility. I’m told ‘there’s my office’ and I meet Kevin Dunn.”
“Kevin Dunn brings me in, brings the staff in, introduced me and he said ‘normally’, and this was kinda the thing they did back then — he says, ‘normally a new employee here, we make you sing Hulk Hogan’s theme song Real American, but I’m not gonna make you do that.’ I said, ‘okay, thanks!'”
Schiavone went on to talk about how he met everyone in the offices and said: “it was a tremendous working environment — it was.”
He said Vince McMahon arrived on his first day to welcome him aboard and Hulk Hogan came in during the first week and said to him, “I always wondered when you’d arrive here.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t last too long for Tony Schiavone and Vince McMahon and Company. “The more I talk about this the more I’m thinking ‘what a dumb f-ck I was for going back to WCW” Tony Schiavone admitted.
If you use the quotes in this article please credit What Happened When with a H/T to Still Real To Us for the transcription