Butts In Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story is a brilliantly fun look at the life and career of a much-loved professional wrestling commentator who has worked for almost every major wrestling company across five decades. Tony Schiavone – along with veteran comics writer Dirk Manning and several talented artists – present vignettes focusing on both his career and his take on the history of wrestling.
Schiavone was introduced to wrestling by his uncle during the territory era when multiple wrestling companies operated across different US states. He was quickly hooked after attending live shows and subsequently began a long and fruitful career as a wrestling play-by-play announcer. He got his start in the NWA where he got to spend several years commentating on matches featuring some of the best wrestlers of the 80s. After spending a year in WWE, he arrived in WCW in 1990 where he would remain as the lead announcer all the way through it’s time as the world’s top wrestling company up to its eventual fall and demise. His voice is plastered over plenty of memorable moments from Monday Nitro and he is fondly remembered as one of the leading voices of the Monday Night Wars. He would spend subsequent years announcing for various wrestling promotions including TNA and MLW alongside other sports until 2019 when he found a new home in the rapidly rising hot new promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and has since won over a new generation of wrestling fans.
With a career as long as his which covered several promotions, you can be sure that Schiavone has plenty of stories to tell. Each chapter covers key moments in his career with some reflective commentary by Schiavone at the chapter’s end. It’s fascinating to see how wrestling has changed in the decades since he became involved in the industry, with his first exposure being in the territory days where everyone by and large didn’t know wrestling was predetermined and hardcore fans like his uncle were invested enough to attack the heel wrestlers, through to the 90s where the curtain was lifted and up to today where everyone knows it is staged.
Schiavone has a terrific insight on key figures in the wrestling industry including Jim Ross, Ric Flair, Sting and many more. We also get to see his perspective on key moments in modern wrestling history including the Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW, and the void left after WWE became the only player in town. The tone is mostly kept light though and Schiavone is not afraid to poke fun at himself, whether it be him being prone to hyperbole in his Nitro days, or the unfortunate “butts in seats” incident (where the name of the comic comes from) during the Monday Night Wars where he was instructed to spoil the pre-taped results of a World Championship Match on WWE Monday Night Raw between Mick Foley and The Rock which ended up backfiring horribly on WCW. The thing that ultimately shines through is his love for pro wrestling. You can tell in the latter chapter focusing on AEW that his passion has been reinvigorated and he is loving being part of a fresh new wrestling company achieving great success.
There are plenty of wrestling fans who grew up hearing Tony Schiavone’s voice regularly on TV. This comic will be a fun trip down memory lane as well as fascinating reflection on the last 30 years of wrestling. A perfect read for wrestling historians and AEW fans alike!
Butts In Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story is out now from Source Point Press (9781954412323, p/b, £20.99)
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