Former WWE official/referee Jim “Jimmy” Korderas, who worked for the company for over 22 years, recently took some time to participate in an exclusive in-depth interview with PWMania.com. Korderas shares a funny backstage rib story from his time in WWE, talks about Brock Lesnar re-signing with WWE, WrestleMania 31, Vince McMahon, his WWE departure, Ring of Honor and TNA. Korderas also talks about what it’s like being a WWE referee, what he misses about the company, what’s next for him and much more. Check out the complete interview below:
First of all thank you for taking the time to sit down with PWMania.com. What have you been up to recently?
Jimmy: Thanks for asking me. I am keeping busy by keeping up with today’s wrestling/sports entertainment industry. I am currently a wrestling analyst for a TV show in Canada on Sportsnet360 called Aftermath. Sportsnet360 airs all the broadcast WWE programing and we breakdown the week that was in the WWE. I like to refer to it as wrestling’s version of the talking dead. We discuss what we like or didn’t like that week, do PPV predictions etc. I also do some analyst work with the Fight Network. I’m looking at expanding my options, possibly doing some writing, blogs, articles etc. Of course I wrote a book a little while back which went fairly well. I kind of like writing because it allows me to express my thoughts on the business I still have a passion for.
What made you decide to become a referee and what has been the most satisfying moment of your career thus far?
Jimmy: It’s funny because my goal was never to become a referee. Like many, I dreamed of being an entertainer whether it was wrestling, acting, or singing. Wrestling just happened to be my favourite form of entertainment and I was literally fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. When Pat Paterson suggested I try refereeing, little did I know that would be my calling. Once I got a few matches under my belt, I knew this was for me. I had tons to learn but it just felt right.
As for the most satisfying moment of my career, it is refereeing the main event at Wretlemania 24. Just being in the ring with legends like Edge and The Undertaker is beyond words. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
It’s been almost 2 years since you book was published, what kind of feedback do you receive on it? Any plans to write another book?
Jimmy: The feedback has been mostly positive. Of course you can’t please everyone but I am more than happy with the finished product. It was never meant to be an exposé on the business or a tell-all account of whatever some were expecting. The book was the story of my life as a wrestling fan who got to live his dream in an industry he was blessed to be a part of. There are plenty of other books if people want dirt. I wanted mine to be a good story. Another book is always a consideration. I have plenty of stories in the vault, maybe it will be sooner rather than later.
What are your thoughts on WrestleMania 31? You performed at several WrestleMania events. How different did you find it from performing in the likes of Raw, SmackDown and live events?
Jimmy: Like every year, I am very much looking forward to Wrestlemania. I know that the lead up or build this year has been questionable for many but that should not deter people from the fact that the show looks like it will deliver. If fans would just concentrate on watching the event and focus less on micro-critiquing every single aspect of the business, they may find that there is a show going on. Didn’t mean to rant but I sometimes think that some fans have forgotten what being a fan is like. They critique before the story plays out without knowing the ending or where the story is leading. I can vent all day long about this but I think you guys get my point.
When performing at ‘Mania, you try to tell yourself it is just another show but at game time, the adrenaline is pumping and there’s a nervous excitement. No better feeling in the world than being in that ring on the grandest stage in wrestling.
How was your time in WWE, what was it like meeting Vince McMahon for the first time?
Jimmy: My time with the WWE was great. I won’t lie and say every day was biscuits and gravy but it was truly awesome. Even the difficult days were worth it because I love the business and what I was doing. I have no regrets from my time there.
Meeting Vincent K. McMahon for the first time was intense. Vince is a big guy. I was definitely intimidated but he shook my hand and said welcome aboard and that was pretty much it for the first meeting. Over the years I came to discover he was very approachable and I felt more comfortable around him. Not totally comfortable but more comfortable. LOL
Are there any funny backstage ribs you can share with our readers?
Jimmy: Of course there are. Not to be a bad guy but I think I will save them for book number 2. Ok, here’s a quick one, we used to have a weekly NFL pool. Johnathan Coachman was the point man, he made the sheets and collected the money etc. One day Vince got the police to arrest Coach at the arena for “illegal gambling”. It was one of the greatest ribs in the history of ribs. If you ever talk to Coach, you should ask him about it. It was tremendous. One of those you really had to be there moments.
You were part of the Kurt Angle and Daniel Puder situation, what are your memories from the incident and how was the backstage reaction to everything?
Jimmy: I still remember that incident very well. Kurt was definitely not 100% at that time. Not an excuse but a fact that his neck was giving him some trouble. When Puder got him in a Kimora or keylock, even my “untrained in MMA “ eye knew it was not a good situation. While I was thinking about how to end the impromptu match, Kurt got Puder down on his back. I instinctively counted to 3 to end it. Puder’s shoulders may not have been down for 3 but in hindsight, a 1 count was enough in amateur wrestling. When I got backstage, very little was said and I just kept to myself. I never brought the incident up again with Kurt. I was told by more than one producer that my quick thinking may have saved Kurt from a broken arm or shoulder as he would have never given up. Like I said, I just reacted.
What is involved when referring a wrestling match, how much planning in advance and during a match is needed?
Jimmy: Referees are an important element in a wrestling match but also need to be relatively invisible. The art of refereeing is doing your job in a manner that is not a distraction from the story the wrestlers are trying to tell but at the same time, helping them tell their story. I liken it to being a supporting actor in a movie or TV show who is not the star but an iatrical part of the storytelling. I can only speak for myself but I like to be there for the entire planning which varies depending on the wrestlers. Some plan the entire match while others call it out there. Sometimes things change on the fly but that’s all part and parcel to what we do.
What is the toughest part of refereeing; do you have any tips for people that want to become referees?
Jimmy: Toughest part of refereeing is staying out of the way and like I said earlier, not being a distraction but not looking lazy either. My best advice to young refs, treat matches as if it were a shoot and study the good referees out there. There are several good refs from not just WWE but TNA & ROH. While the ref basics are all the same, each company has slight differences in rules and presentation. Learn from everyone and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of something. No such thing as a stupid question.
What are some of your favorite matches from your career as a referee, is there any match in your career you will never forget?
Jimmy: Like I said earlier, WM24 with Edge vs Taker is #1 in my book. There are so many others I remember vividly, Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle from Smackdown in Chicago, Rey Mysterio vs JBL again on Smackdown from Bakersfield California which was JBL’s first retirement match. There are so many that there is not enough time or space to list them all. Thanks to the WWE Network, I get to relive all those matches plus ones I don’t remember.
Was there any main reason to your WWE departure?
Jimmy: I was dealing with a family illness and to make a long story short, it was the right time. I go into detail about it in my book, The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee. Yes, that was a gratuitous plug for my book.
What do you miss most about WWE?
Jimmy: I miss two things about the WWE. First I miss the performing. Especially around Wrestlemania season is when I really miss being in the ring. There is no feeling that compares. Second thing I miss are my friends. While I still keep in contact with many of them, it is difficult to do so from a distance. One thing I do not miss is the travel schedule. Too bad the Star Trek Transporter has not been invented yet.
You’ve done some work for Ring of Honor, how different was that experience after being with WWE for so long?
Jimmy: I refereed one match for Ring of Honor. It was fellow Canadian Lance Storm vs Mike Bennett at Border Wars 2012 in my home town of Toronto. It was an awesome experience I will never forget. Everyone at ROH was so kind and treated me fantastic. The difference working that match was the pop I got. Not to pat myself on the back but I got a huge reaction from the hometown crowd complete with streamers. It was overwhelming. An overall great time with some great people. For me, whether it is 2,000 or 20,000 fans, it’s still a rush.
Would you consider signing with TNA if given the opportunity?
Jimmy: The old adage in our industry is, “never say never” and that certainly applies here. If the circumstance were right, why not?
What are your thoughts on Brock Lesnar re-signing with WWE?
Jimmy: I think it’s tremendous. A win/win for both sides. I can hear the diehard fans complaining about the “part-timer” label he has but Brock is such a huge superstar, being a so called part-timer works for him. He is a special athlete and should be treated as such. A special attraction that fans should pay to see. You don’t see Mayweather fight for free. People want realism in wrestling; no one is more real than Brock Lesnar. One thing is for sure, with Brock sticking around it adds intrigue to the outcome of the main event this Sunday at ‘Mania. Do you proceed with the game plan of making Reigns the next one or do you invest further in the unbeatable beast? I’ll say this about resigning Brock, It is what’s best for business!
What’s next for Jimmy Korderas?
Jimmy: First and foremost, continuing with the Aftermath TV show and growing that brand to possibly include radio and other media platforms. I am putting together some material to begin working on a second book. As I’ve said, I’m looking at dong more writing not only a book but articles, blogs, opinion pieces etc. I am always looking at doing more and to expand my presence.
This summer I am being inducted into the New England Wrestling Hall of Fame. That event takes place June 27th, 2015 in Providence Rhode Island as part of New England Fanfest 5. It is going to be a great event with tons of wrestling greats appearing. Here is their web site: newenglandfanfest.com Check it out it is worth it.
Jimmy: It was my pleasure gents. Only thing I have to say is, it is so easy to find the negatives in everything. The challenge is to focus on the positives regardless of how small you may perceive them to be. And if anyone wants to message me, they can via twitter @jimmykorderas or through facebook. I try to answer all questions. Last but not least, enjoy Wrestlemania31. Going in with an open mind may help your enjoyment of the event. At least try.