Tony Condello: WFWA & IWA
April 6, 2007
This is the next installment in my ďPromotersĒ series of commentaries. Tony Condello promoted the WFWA and later IWA in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I worked for Tony numerous times, doing several TV tapings, road tours, and of course the infamous Death Tour.
I first worked for Tony in early 1991 and got the gig through Chris Jericho who, as you should know by now, was from Winnipeg. Chris got booked first and then insisted that they start booking us as a team so I got booked thanks to Chris. Some of the best stories of my career come from working for Tony. When I first started working for Tony, Bull Dog Bob Brown was his booker, which led to a lot of interesting tours because he and Jericho often clashed heads. Don Callis later replaced Bulldog, which increased the fun of working in Winnipeg, and is the reason we are such good friends to this day.
WFWA was one of the last surviving true Indy promotions when I broke in. Tony had a weekly TV show and ran relatively frequent road tours. We (Jericho, myself and a few others) would often make the 13-hour drive from Calgary to Winnipeg for a one night TV taping. Tony would tape an entire month of TV in one night and then we would make the return drive home. We would all cram into Chrisís car and stay at his Momís house, so expenses were minimal and it was a chance to get some matches on TV.
Unfortunately Tonyís TV taping didnít happen every month. He would often be short on cash and just keep replaying the same shows over and over again until he could get another taping together. At one point I joked and started calling it the WFWA annual TV taping, and wondered how many people watched the show since Tony seemed to stretch 4 or 5 weeks of TV out over an entire year. I think I did a total of 4 or 5 tapings for Tony, and likely a dozen of or more tours. I first met Edge, Christian, Rhino, while working in Winnipeg and had a lot of fun on those shows, and it is amazing the number of former or current WWE stars that at one point in their careers worked for Tony.
Bad News Allen
Don ďThe JackalĒ Callis
Iíve kept in touch with Tony briefly over the years, and Iím still struggling with the best way to describe him or our relationship. Tony is a very short Italian man who has a very strong accent who is at times hard to understand but great fun to impersonate. Thatís one of the few things my wife loves about this business. Whenever the boys tell wrestling stories, we always use voices and impersonate the people we are talking about. Whenever anyone talks about Tony it is always with a great Tony Condello impression. Stu Hart is likely the most imitated wrestling voice, but in Canada Tony is a not to distant second. Tonyís accent is actually so strong that his Stu Hart impression was so bad that no one knew he was impersonating Stu and just thought it was Tony, and most people today who do Tonyís voice are actually doing Tony, doing Stu.
As for our relationship, heís would be the equivalent of your least favourite uncle. If you werenít related (in the wrestling business together) youíd likely have nothing to do with him, but heís still family so when you see him at family reunions (at a wrestling show) he brings a smile to your face and you want to catch up on old times. Iíve had both ups and downs when it comes to Tony.
As a promoter he was very typical of the small time Indy promoter. He was always struggling to stay afloat so while I think he wanted to be honest and up front he still had to be shifty and crooked to a certain extent. We were in numerous battles over money over the years, whether debating the validity of transit expenses, or over hotel cost the odd time we included that in or trip. Tony usually caved in and paid up when push came to shove but we did have to physically back him into a corner on occasion. There were also a few tours when he fell short and just didnít have the money to pay, but would make good your next time in.
That being said when it comes down to the big question, does he owe me money the answer is yes. Tony stiffed me the last time I work for him. I think I may even be the only guy he owes money to from that trip. It was a tour around a TV taping and at the end of the tour he was short and couldnít pay everyone. There were a few people on the trip he was afraid of, so they got paid first and I think anyone he booked to come back got their money on the next tour. I was off to Japan full time after that last tour so I never did get the $550 he owed me for that tour.
Iíve seen Tony a few times since, and he always insists I will get my money, but I donít ever see that happening. Itís not like the Indy Wrestling scene has picked up and heís making a ton off money, and from what I understand heís become even more shifty in his old age. Last I spoke to him he had agreed to book some of my students on this years Death Tour, but later lied to both them and me claiming the tour was cancelled in order to books guy who would work much cheaper. This tour was actually the inspiration of the Johnny Devine commentary I mentioned a week or so ago.
In closing I should add what WFWA and IWA stood for. I received emails from people curious what CNWA stood for after I failed to mention it in that commentary. For the record CNWA was the ďCanadian National Wrestling AllianceĒ, WFWA was the ďWest Four Wrestling AllianceĒ The west four was in reference to the 4 western provinces he was to promote in. IWA stood for International Wrestling Association or Alliance Iím not sure which. If you find the occasion to work for Tony Condello in Winnipeg, it will certainly be a memorable trip, but be careful not to take a cheque.