Tony Schiavone revealed this week on the AEW Unrestricted podcast that he knew Sting was imminently debuting on AEW before it happened.
Speaking with his co-host (and AEW referee) Aubrey Edwards, they were discussing their perspectives on some of AEW’s most explosive moments to date. One iconic moment of Schiavone’s was his “It’s Sting!” line when Sting made his shock AEW debut. He opened up to Aubrey about when he knew it was going to happen.
Well, I had known that there was a chance that Sting would come to work for us. I think that had been bantered around quite a bit. The last thing I had heard was well, Sting may go work for AEW, but he’s concerned because of his time with the WWE. He doesn’t know what he wants to do, and that’s all I heard, didn’t know when it was happening, and then when we got there the day of, I get there early in the backstage area.
Turns out it was AEW Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes who revealed the secret to Tony, speaking just before the Stinger’s debut he reveals a discussion he and Cody shared backstage.
And Cody says, ‘your buddy’s here today.’ Dude, I got a lot of buddies. I said, ‘Who are you talking about?’ He said, ‘My best buddy.’ I said, ‘Who you talking about?’ He said, ‘Sting.’ I said, ‘You are shi**ing me.’ He said, No. You just got to keep it quiet.’ I said, ‘Don’t worry. I’m good at keeping stuff quiet. I come from the old school.'”
Schiavone admitted on the Podcast that he did in fact tell one person about Sting’s arrival, he told Private Party’s Marq Quen who is apparently a big Sting fan.
I did this because I knew I wasn’t really letting on that I knew that Sting was there, but Marq Quen of Private Party is such a big Sting fan. I know there’s a lot more, but Marq Quen of Private Party would always come up to me and go, ‘It’s Sting!’ And I go and put my thumbs up, even to the point to where Marq Quen, in one of these matches, I went, ‘It’s Marq Quen!’ No one got that but he did, so he’s a big Sting fan.
So I saw him during the day, and I said, ‘Hey buddy, don’t get too excited about tonight’s show.’ And he takes his headphones off. He said, ‘I’m just in the battle royal. How excited can I get?’ I said, ‘Just don’t get too excited.’ Hit him up second time. ‘Hey buddy, don’t get too excited about tonight.’ That’s all I said to him, and then when Sting came out, Stevie, our stage director handed me a note from Marq Quen that said, ‘OMG!’ So I knew that it was happening, and I didn’t know how we were going to present it, but Tony brought me in.
Tony revealed the details that AEW President Tony Khan gave to the commentary team about Sting’s appearance too.
He told the other announcers. He says, ‘When Sting comes out, I want Schiavone to hit that, ‘it’s Sting’ line. He said, ‘I want you to do it because that’s really going to sell it. I want you to say it’s Sting. Sting is back on TNT for the first time since March 26, 2001, and Sting is in AEW.’ And so I hit those. I think I hit two of those lines, and JR hit ‘Sting is in AEW’, which I thought really worked out well.
Giving great insight into the commentary legend, and Tony’s reach backstage, he also revealed what he told Sting to do the day after his debut. Revealing that Sting was “a God” to the guys backstage and just to be able to mingle with him would “mean the world” to the younger members of the roster.
So I told Sting the next day, I said, ‘Listen, you need to do this,’ and I think he understood. And I hoped he was going to do it anyway. I said, You need to go out today and mingle with these kids because you’re a god to these guys and girls. You need to go out and just say hello. It will mean the world to these people,’ and I think he did on Thursday.
Schiavone revealed more details later in the podcast about what Khan had told the commentators. He said all they knew was that the post-match angle was going to be “a lot of fun!” Tony just chuckled, knowing that thanks to Cody, he already knew what was in store that night on AEW Winter is Coming!