The latest guest on Insight With Chris Van Vilet was longtime ring announcer Tony Chimel, who spoke in-depth about his time in WWE, which included being released after 38 years with the company during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. Highlights, including the full video interview, can be found below.
On being released from WWE after 38 years:
“I never not wanted to work. I was willing to get on a plane from day 1 to do anything. But when COVID first hit, I was sitting at home and was like well this will be great if it lasts a couple of weeks and I get a pay check. Then they started running shows in Orlando and I said I would be willing to go. They said it would be laid back and I didn’t think much to it. A couple of months go by and I ask if I can still come and kept wanting to come in. They were letting the independent contractors work, not the employees. Then I got furloughed, couldn’t do anything. Then I got the call from Kevin Dunn, who said there was good news and bad news. The good news was that I was going to be getting my pay check back. I’m like cool, because I got an email saying some are coming back in October, November or December, mine said I would be back in December. He was calling me in November and he said ‘You are going to get your pay check because we are going to have to let you go.’ I said ‘Well the email says that I’m coming back in December. He asked me who sent it and I said human resources did. He wanted it forwarded, but he called me and said that’s it. I was getting my salary back because it was my severance, I was being let go.”
Where is he working now?
“I figured out there is life after WWE, because you figure I started when I was 22-years old and now I’m 60. I found a job at Trader Joe’s, which I never really knew about. I had heard of Trader Joe’s, but I didn’t really know what it was. And when I first told my daughter that I was working at Trader Joe’s she was like ‘oh dad, that’s great. You gotta get this and get that’ and I was like ‘what are you talking about?’. There’s a lot of similarities because at WWE they always wanted to put smiles on people’s faces and at Trader Joe’s all they want to do is wow the customer and make the customer feel happy. I’ve always been a big customer service guy and traveling for a living, you don’t get any of that crap from the airlines and you get crappy customer service from hotels. At Trader Joe’s, if you call the store they actually answer. If you’re in there and you’re looking for something, we’ll help you and we’ll walk you to where you want to go. And the customers there are like cult followers, I didn’t get it at first but now that I’ve been there for a year I’m one of them. A lot of people love it and they swear by the store. The people are great, the bosses are great, the manager is great. Everybody’s great there.”
The origin of his iconic “Rated R Superstar” introduction for Edge:
“So here’s the thing about how that started. I used to travel around with Jimmy Korderas, the referee. We would talk and solve the world’s problems or whatever. If someone said something stupid, we would say something like ‘Wile E. Coyote, Super genius!’ So when the Mexicools came to WWE, I started introducing Super Crazy as [high pitched] Super Crazy. Then they left, and when Edge was The Rated R Superstar, I would introduce him as The Rated R [high pitched] Superstar! He loved it every time I did it. I was happy to do it. He would show up once in a while after retiring and he would say ‘Hey Chimel, you got your suit? Because you are going to introduce me tonight.’ I’m like really? I didn’t know he was coming. But that was fun and a pleasure to do.”