The WWE Icon Who Now Works At Trader Joe's

Former WWE announcer Tony Chimel has found his second act. According to an interview with "Insight" host Chris Van Vliet (via YouTube), Chimel was a prominent figure on "Friday Night Smackdown" in addition to working "behind the scenes" with the WWE. Former King of the Ring Booker T has advocated for Chimel to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, citing his commitment not only to announcing but to doing "a little bit of everything for that company for a very, very long time" (via Inside the Ropes). 

A part of that company for 38 years, Chimel was around when Hulk Hogan body-slammed Andre the Giant, and he had a chance to smell what The Rock was cooking. According to Inside the Ropes, Chimel also gained notability for his introductions of the wrestler Edge (AKA "The Rated-R Superstar"), during which his high-pitched voice cracked when drawing out the "u" in "superstar." 

The famed announcer even once got "fired" as part of a storyline with Kurt Angle. But a more recent departure from the company wasn't scripted. Per Wrestling-Edge, Chimel was furloughed in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately released. And now, in what some might call a 180-degree career switch, Chimel has since become a Trader Joe's employee.

Tony Chimel's career transition has been smooth

After a lengthy career with the WWE, Tony Chimel is enjoying his time as a Trader Joe's employee. "Moved on to life after WWE and it is great!" he posted on his Twitter page. Chimel said he applied to the store on a whim while passing by with his wife, who noticed a "Now Hiring" sign. One of the store's higher-ups recognized Chimel from his WWE career and was "a big fan." So the former announcer landed the position. By his own admission, he had never shopped at a Trader Joe's before and was even unaware that it sold groceries. Originally, Chimel thought it was an antiques or import store. 

Now that Chimel has settled into this new role, he's found it has more in common with the squared circle than some might think. "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," Chimel said.

Tony Chimel enjoys his new job at Trader Joe's

Tony Chimel appreciates Trader Joe's customer service-focused approach, loyal customers, and supportive management. "If you're in there and you're looking for something, we'll help you and find [it]. If you're in Home Depot, they're going to tell you 'Yeah it's in aisle 58' and send you down that way. We'll walk you to where you want to go. And it's nice, 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] like 'Well, I'm one of them," Chimel said.

It probably doesn't hurt that wrestling fans who enter the store recognize him. Plus, his daughter is a fan of Trader Joe's and recommended products to buy. However, while he describes the manager, bosses, and people there as "great" and even shops for his own groceries at the store, he seems less impressed by Two Buck Chuck, stating, "Well, I don't drink that."

As for the other pluses of his new gig, Chimel explained on the "Insight" podcast that he enjoys working eight-hour days as opposed to the 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. shifts he frequently worked with WWE. However, he told Trader Joe's hiring manager he was beyond ready to work after months of being laid off and expressed a willingness to come in early and stay late if desired. "I just want[ed] to work and get the job," Chimel said.

Tony Chimel's fans are happy for him

One fan, Reddit user tommykaye, saw the possible advantage of  Tony Chimel moving into a less travel-heavy line of work rather instead of sticking with the demanding schedule that comes with the squared circle. "Most wrestling promotions are a lot of time on the road. Makes sense he would want to stay with family and have a job at the same building every day," wrote the fan. Despite the support garnered from some fans, other Redditors wondered why and how Chimel could have ever been let go from the WWE. "How does he not have a job in wrestling? Guy was freaking great back in the day," said an incredulous user.

Regardless of others' opinions, Chimel seems to have acclimated nicely to his new role. "The people there are nice, I love the store, and it's a great place to be," he said on the "Insight" podcast. A Redditor who goes by TheGeauxrilla, however, couldn't resist a pun, imagining a situation where a customer asks Chimel where the beans are located in the store, writing he would reply, "Sure, they're right next to the SOUP...perstar."