November 8, 1965 |
Riverdale, Georgia, United States
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Boni Blackstone|
Bonnie "Boni" Blackstone (born November 8, 1965) is a retired American professional wrestling announcer, commentator, model, television and radio producer. She was a popular on-air personality in regional territories of the Southern United States during the 1980s, as part of the announcing team in the Global Wrestling Federation and briefly the World Wrestling Federation, as well as the longtime co-host of Superstars of Wrestling with husband Joe Pedicino and Gordon Solie from 1986 to 1992. She was one of the earliest, if not the first, female announcers in professional wrestling and has been praised by fellow women in the industry, such as Missy Hyatt, for portraying a more serious and intelligent personality in contrast to the typical wrestling valet.
She retired from wrestling in 1995, and eventually followed her husband into the radio industry. They produced and co-hosted WTLK TV-14 infomercial "Shoppers' Showcase" and, in 2000, began hosting Pro Wrestling this Week on FOX Sports Radio. Blackstone and Pedicino are also the owners of a successful publishing company, Food Fax, which puts out six specialty advertising guides a year. The company originally sent out fax listings to office workers listing lunch menus and daily specials from over 1,000 local restaurants in Cobb County, Georgia. It was the first of its kind to offer such service.
Early career and Superstars of Wrestling
One of two daughters born to Buster and Annette Blackstone in 1965, Boni Blackstone grew up in Riverdale, Georgia and graduated from North Clayton High School in 1984. She entered modeling, becoming "Miss Motorcraft 500" at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and was working as professional photographer with a studio in Fayetteville when Joe Pedicino, host of Superstars of Wrestling, began holding auditions to be his co-host. Out of 70 young women, Pedicino read 20-30 of the best letters on the show and selected Blackstone as the winner. As a lifelong wrestling fan, she impressed Pedicino with her knowledge of wrestling and natural camera presence. He later told The Atlanta Journal Constitution in a 1986 interview, "I feel like we saved ourselves six weeks in training by selecting her. Her professionalism and ease in front of the camera are outstanding. We're extremely happy with her".
Unlike most women in professional wrestling, Blackstone was portrayed as a serious, intelligent commentator who often displayed her wrestling knowledge both calling matches with Pedicino and in interviews during her own segments. She became an instant hit with fans and, in November 1986, a group of twenty people drove in a van from Snellville, Georgia to the locked studio in downtown Atlanta to see Blackstone and attend what they believed to be a live wrestling event. This became a common occurrence during the show's early years, as neither Pedicino or Blackstone disclosed whether the show was live or taped, and fans would often be turned away by security.
With the show's success, Pedicino and Blackstone became local celebrities although they often referred to themselves as "wrestling fans who got lucky". They often visited hospitals, were involved with charitable organizations and hosted major public events such as the 20th annual Miller High Life World of Wheels, a three-day international antique car show, held by the National Automotive Parts Association at Atlanta's World Congress Center from February 20–23, 1988. On July 17, she and Pedicino hosted a two-hour wrestling show, "Wrestlethon '88", which was broadcast nationwide via satellite by Fox Broadcasting as part of The Late Show.
She and Pedicino enjoyed a comedic yet adversarial relationship, such as Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan on WWF Wrestling Challenge, as Pedicino often teased and played pranks on Blackstone during skits. The two began dating during this time and they eventually married in 1990. This came as surprising news, to the studio as well as fans, as Blackstone and Pedicino had kept the relationship secret for two years before telling the staff. They continued to maintain kayfabe even off-camera by driving in separate cars after work and, as Blackstone recalled, addressing her then boyfriend as "Mr. Pedicino" in front of studio employees.
Global Wrestling Federation
In 1991, she joined Pedicino in Dallas, Texas where he and partner Max Andrews started the Global Wrestling Federation. Their new promotion was followed by much fanfare and, when Pedicino successfully negotiated with ESPN for a weekly television show later that year, Blackstone joined her husband as part of the announcing team with Scott Hudson, Steve Prazak and Craig Johnson. She remained the only female member, and primary interviewer, during her time with the promotion. On April 9, 1992, she and Pedicino were released from the promotion as a cost-cutting measure along with other core members of the GWF including booker Eddie Gilbert, head announcer Craig Johnson, and other key GWF members.
Retirement and recent years
When Superstars of Wrestling finally ended in August 1992, she and her husband started their own business Max Foods. The business initially began by distributing a two-page fax listing of 24 restaurants and their daily specials to office workers. The first company of its kind, the listing was sent out five nights a week to over 1,000 businesses in the Cobb County area.
Earlier that year, she appeared as a celebrity guest on Bill Cosby's You Bet Your Life. She was partnered with a parapsychologist to answer three questions about science and surprised the host and audience by correctly answering the first question, "What is sucrose?", and continued on to win $1,000 and a free trip to Philadelphia where the show was taped. The episode aired on television that October. Later that month, she also received $100 prize and an honorable mention as the winner of a halloween costume contest held by the National Inquirer. The contestants were required to create costumes using only thread, glue, paste and pages from the tabloid. Blackstone's costume, which she called the "Enquira", was parody of late night movie host Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
After taking a short break from wrestling, Blackstone did a makeover by losing some weight and changing her hair style. She initially sent an audition tape to World Championship Wrestling, and when nothing came of it, she tried her luck with the World Wrestling Federation. In March 1993, she was flown in for an audition and later met with Vince McMahon. Soon after, she was brought to the WWF as an interviewer and began appearing on WWF Superstars, WWF All-American Wrestling and the WWF Wrestling Challenge for several months. Between July and August, she appeared as a regular on-camera personality on WWF Mania interviewing a number of wrestlers including Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase & IRS), Adam Bomb and Johnny Polo, Bret "The Hitman" Hart and then WWF World Heavyweight Champion Yokozuna with Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji. She later joined Ladies Professional Wrestling Association where was part of the announcing team with Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Cornette and Ken Resnick.
In 1995, Blackstone retired from professional wrestling, after a brief return to Dallas for the National Wrestling Alliance as an interviewer. She joined her husband when he reentered the radio industry and together produced and co-hosted WTLK TV-14 infomercial "Shoppers' Showcase". In August 2000, they hosted Pro Wrestling this Week on FOX Sports Radio, which ran on Sunday nights from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am, and later appeared at the NWA 52nd Anniversary Show.
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