Tony Sirico passed away on Friday. Even if you didn’t know him as Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos, you likely knew his face from commercials and cameos. In real life, Tony Sirico had a history in organized crime, and after 28 arrests, he turned it around to create quite the career in entertainment.
Just a scroll through his IMDb reveals a list of character names such as: Bobster, Carmine’s Wiseguy, Tough Guy, Tony Stacks, Tony Batts, Escaped Convict, Porno Witness(?) and many more. But perhaps his greatest role came in the early 2000’s…Don Tony.
Don Tony was the head of a crime family that happened to use very recognizable professional wrestlers as heavies, and he existed only in Stacker 2 commercials, thanks to a deal between NVE Pharmaceuticals, the creator of the alleged “World’s Strongest Fat Burner” and WWE, who produced their ads, which were wonderful.
More Professional Wrestling
- The Missing Episode of The Sopranos Where Tony Goes to WWF Raw
- Claudio Castagnoli’s Long Road to the Top of Professional Wrestling
- WrestleWar 1992 Is Still the Bar for WarGames Matches
Don Tony Gets Stratusfaction
In this ad from 2001, Don Tony takes his stugotz goons on a trip to a local convenience store, under the pretense of gettin’ ziti. But soon they realize they are on a trip to get Stacker 2. For some reason, on his arm, is Trish Stratus. And it’s sort of implied that they could be dating by the “sweetheart” thing?
This theory is continued in a follow up where Trish is introduced by name(!), via a sweaty goon. How did a top WWE superstar wind up with a middle-aged mob boss? Does Trish have friends in low places? Or was she just like America, charmed by the handsome smile, expert tailoring and skunk-like streaks in Tony’s hair? I’m just saying, it’s unlikely but I GET IT, and no judgment, Trish.
Bubba Ray Dudley, Mob Heavy?
In this ad from 2003, Vincenzo (sweaty goon #2) visits Don Tony, who has employed WWE star Bubba Ray Dudley for some reason. There’s some confusion as to why he’s there, for both the character and the audience, as these ads don’t make a ton of sense. (I’m more willing to believe Bully Ray has mob ties though.) He thinks he’s done for, until Bubba reveals new ephedra-free Stacker 2! Studies show that ephedra-free products pose similar health problems as ephedra products, like high blood pressure, which could explain Vincenzo’s sweating.
Taz(z) and His Old Friend Joey Numbers
And in the best one of the bunch, we see a true natural addition to the cast. Don Tony is checking in with his boys, and one of them just happens to be Tazz, and I have no questions. It’s fully believable that in between road gigs, Tazz would meet up with his old Red Hook buddies and make sure something falls off the truck for baby Hook.
In what I’ve never been more confident to call an ad-lib, Tazz mentions his friend Joey Numbers who works down at the Port Authority, who MUST be a real guy because he continued to namedrop this dude for years on WWE and AEW commentary. I’m not saying he had connections, he probably worked at a Hudson News or something.
Don Dony, displeased with the Xanastuff and Metabowhateva, intercepts a shipment of Stacker 2, bringing a smile to Don Tony’s face, just like the one he brought to ours. Assuredly, you are a made man.