John Laurinaitis

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John Laurinaitis
John Laurinaitis crop.jpg
Born (1962-07-31) July 31, 1962 (age 51)[1]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) John Laurinaitis
Johnny Ace
Big Johnny
Billed height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[2]
Billed weight 250 lb (110 kg)[2]
Billed from San Bernardino, California[2]
"The City of Sunshine" (as part of The Dynamic Dudes)
Trained by Nelson Royal[2]
Debut 1986[2]
Retired June 18, 2012

John Hodger Laurinaitis (born July 31, 1962),[1][2] also known as Johnny Ace, is an American retired professional wrestler and senior producer, currently employed by WWE.

He has wrestled for such promotions as World Championship Wrestling (WCW), All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and WWE.[2] He is also the younger brother of Joe Laurinaitis (Road Warrior Animal; one half of the wrestling tag team The Road Warriors), and the uncle of James Laurinaitis, former Ohio State standout linebacker for the St. Louis Rams.[3] In WWE, Laurinaitis worked in the talent relations office for eight years, and as occasional wrestler from 2011 until 2012. After his on screen firing, he stepped down from his corporate backstage role to being a producer. Prior to joining WWE, Laurinaitis worked as an executive for WCW.

Career[edit]

National Wrestling Alliance/World Championship Wrestling (1985–1990)[edit]

John Laurinaitis started wrestling in 1986 as Johnny Ace.[2] At first, while wrestling in Florida Championship Wrestling, Ace frequently teamed with his brother The Terminator. Later, when he wrestled for NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions he formed a tag team with Shane Douglas called "The Dynamic Dudes".[4] They were managed by Jim Cornette until Cornette turned on them for Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane's version of The Midnight Express. Prior to entering the competition as one of The Dynamic Dudes at the NWA, he appeared as a flagbearer for the team of The Sheepherders. In his last televised WCW match, Ace lost to Mean Mark Callous, later known as The Undertaker, at Capital Combat on May 19, 1990.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1988–2000)[edit]

As All Japan Pro Wrestling was cutting its ties with the NWA in 1990, Laurinaitis chose to stay in it, thus becoming a permanent foreign fixture on the roster. In AJPW, he found a lot of success, teaming with Kenta Kobashi, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams and Bart Gunn.

Laurinaitis enjoyed significant championship success and acclaim during his tenure, becoming a two-time All Asia Tag Team Champion, a four-time World Tag Team Champion, and the winner of the New Year's Heavyweight Battle Royal on January 2, 1991 at Korakuen Hall. He won two "5 Star Match" awards and one "Match of the Year" award from the Wrestling Observer, and was ranked #77 in Pro Wrestling Illustrated's (PWI) top 500 wrestlers for 1997. On February 28, 1998, Laurinaitis would reach the highest point of his singles career as he challenged Mitsuharu Misawa for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. It would be Laurinaitis' only shot at those three prestigious belts. Following his retirement in 2000, he was placed #203 in PWI's top 500 all time rankings.

World Championship Wrestling (2000–2001)[edit]

Laurinaitis retired from the ring in 2000 after the split between All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah. He soon returned to World Championship Wrestling where he replaced Vince Russo as head booker. Laurinaitis was responsible for booking the highly-acclaimed one-night single elimination tournament held for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship that was won by the debuting Lance Storm.

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment / WWE[edit]

Backstage roles and Senior Vice President of Talent Operations (2001–2012)[edit]

Laurinaitis was hired in as a road agent after WWE's acquisition of certain assets of WCW in March 2001 and in June on the same year, Laurinaitis was promoted to Director of Talent Relations.[5] In June 2004, Laurinaitis replaced Jim Ross as Vice President of Talent Relations, then being promoted to Senior Vice President in February 2007[5] and finally to Executive Vice President in March 2009. However, when Stephanie McMahon took over Talent Relations and handed over the reins to Paul Levesque, Laurinaitis moved down from his executive duties to being Senior Vice President of Talent Operations.[6] Laurinaitis's tenure in this role has received criticism from those who have worked for him, including Jim Cornette who, in his interviews with Kayfabe Commentaries, described how Laurinaitis failed to work in the same capacity with Ohio Valley Wrestling (WWE's developmental territory) as Ross did, often failing to warn the promotion when wrestlers OVW were using at the time were going to be called up to the main roster or when wrestlers from the main roster were set to appear for OVW but never did. Eventually WWE would end their relationship with OVW.[7]

Following his tenure as an on-screen performer in 2012, Laurinaitis was relieved of his backstage executive duties and returned to his original role as a road agent. [8]

On-air authority figure (2005–2006; 2011)[edit]

Having operated for 5 years behind the scenes, Laurinaitis received his first mention on WWE programming during 2005 when Matt Hardy (who was not under contract at the time) called him out during a worked shoot backstage scuffle with Edge. His second mention was during 2006 when D-Generation X (DX) jokingly imitated his voice to The Spirit Squad. This was the last time for 5 years he would be mentioned on TV.

5 years later on the June 27, 2011 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis was described by CM Punk during his infamous 'pipe bomb' promo as a "glad-handing, nonsensical, douchebag yes-man" who would "tell Vince McMahon everything he wants to hear".[9] Laurinaitis would subsequently make an appearance alongside McMahon as a corporate stooge during the main event of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view the following month. At the climax of the WWE Championship match, under McMahon's orders, Laurinaitis tried to duplicate the Montreal Screwjob, but defending WWE Champion John Cena then proceeded to knock Laurinaitis out, not wanting to win the match that way. This interference allowed CM Punk to win the match and the championship. The next night on Raw, Laurinaitis appeared alongside McMahon as McMahon announced an 8-man tournament to decide a new WWE Champion following Punk's departure from the company. On the August 1 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis would interrupt Triple H, telling him to strip Cena of his WWE Championship, which led Cena to interrupt him and threaten to hit him again before Laurinaitis fled the ring. The following week on Raw, Laurinaitis would help Triple H officiate the contract signing between CM Punk and John Cena for their match at SummerSlam. After signing the contract, Cena would flip the table over and go face to face with Punk, but was stopped by Laurinaitis. As Laurinaitis talked to Cena, Punk would kick Laurinaitis in the back of the head, causing Cena to accidentally hit Triple H instead of Punk.

Following Summerslam, Laurinaitis began to make regular appearances on WWE programming as part of an angle in which Triple H attempted to find out who had sent a text message to the returning Kevin Nash telling him to attack CM Punk after his victory at Summerslam, causing him to lose the WWE Championship to Alberto Del Rio who cashed in his Money in the Bank contract immediately afterwards. On the August 15 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis would ask Nash for a private meeting in his office, and on the September 5 episode of Raw, after Triple H fired Nash, Laurinaitis would be seen entering Nash's limo with him, leaving the arena. During this period Laurinaitis was also regularly shown sending text messages backstage and at ringside. After Nash claimed that he had sent the text message to himself, it was implied that Laurinaitis was working to try and undermine Triple H in his new role as Chief Operating Officer, presumably because he wanted the job for himself. At Night of Champions, Laurinaitis interfered in the main event in an attempt to have Triple H removed from power but was stopped by The Miz and R-Truth, who would attack both Triple H and CM Punk, believing there to be a conspiracy. Nash would also interfere in the match after Laurinaitis sent a text at ringside.

On the September 26 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis acquired David Otunga, a Harvard Law School graduate, as his legal counsel and, as part of his kayfabe duties as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, assigned Otunga to assemble Superstars that were disgruntled with Triple H's actions as COO. On that week's edition of SmackDown, Laurinaitis and Otunga would sit down with Christian, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Vickie Guerrero to discuss the matter.

On screen General Manager (2011–2012)[edit]

Laurinaitis, background, had a rivalry with WWE Champion, CM Punk, from late 2011 into early 2012.

On the October 10 edition of Raw, following a kayfabe 'strike' by members of the WWE roster as a result of Triple H's management, Laurinaitis was announced by Vince McMahon on behalf of the Board of Directors as the new Interim Raw General Manager.[10] That same night, Laurinaitis would fire Jim Ross and reinstate The Miz and R-Truth, who had been suspended following repeated attacks. After a few weeks of impartiality, Laurinaitis began showing bias against WWE Champion CM Punk, who had repeatedly criticized Laurinaitis and questioned his integrity over the past few months.[11] On the December 26 edition of Raw, Laurinaitis would place Punk in a gauntlet match, where if one of his three opponents were to pin him, they would receive a shot at the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. Punk agreed to the match under the condition that if he beat all three, then he would receive a match against Laurinaitis himself afterwards. During the match, Laurinaitis would distract Punk, allowing Dolph Ziggler to pin Punk and earn a title shot.[12] The following week on Raw, Laurinaitis would distract Punk once again, causing him to be counted-out in his title match against Ziggler, thus retaining the championship.[13] Laurinaitis then made a WWE Championship match between Punk and Ziggler at the Royal Rumble, in which he named himself special guest referee. Laurinaitis continued to cause Punk to lose to Ziggler throughout January[14][15] which ultimately led to Punk attacking Laurinaitis in retaliation, claiming that he was abusing his power.[15] Laurinaitis began to declare himself as the soon to be permanent Raw General Manager. In response to this, the Board of Directors ordered that his position as Interim General Manager would be taken under review by Chief Operating Officer Triple H. At the Royal Rumble, Laurinaitis brought in another official to allow Punk to claim a victory over Ziggler. On January 30 edition of Raw, Laurinaitis was set to have a performance review by Triple H. During the review, Triple H would degrade Laurinaitis and his actions, but before he could announce the final decision he was interrupted by The Undertaker. The Board of Directors then decided on February 7, 2012 to retain Laurinaitis as Raw's interim General Manager.[16] Laurinaitis subsequently began a feud with Smackdown general manager Theodore Long. It was announced on February 27, 2012 that the respective General Managers of Raw and Smackdown would be changing places for one night only with Laurinaitis in charge of SmackDown for March 9, 2012 and Long in charge of Raw for March 5, 2012. On that week's edition of SmackDown, Laurinaitis wrestled his first match in 11 years (as well as his first for WWE), losing to Theodore Long in a singles match.[17]

Laurinaitis would continue his feud with Long through to WrestleMania XXVIII, where both Long and Laurinaitis chose a team of six superstars to represent them, with the winning team earning General Manager control over both brands. At WrestleMania, Team Johnny defeated Team Teddy, resulting in Long losing his position as General Manager of SmackDown. On the April 6 edition of SmackDown, Laurinaitis forced Long to become his new assistant after threatening to discontinue Long's grandchildren's trust fund. On the April 23 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis appointed Eve Torres as Executive Administrator of Raw and SmackDown.

On the April 30 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis, with the aid of Tensai, attacked John Cena, before announcing that he would be Cena's opponent at Over the Limit. On the May 14 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis publicly humiliated and then fired Big Show from the WWE after Show disrespected him. That same night, the Board of Directors sent Laurinaitis a letter stating that he would be fired if he lost the no disqualification match against Cena at Over the Limit. At the pay-per-view, Laurinaitis defeated Cena despite taking a heavy beating after Big Show interfered and attacked Cena. The following night on Raw, Laurinaitis, now using a power chair and crutches for mobility purposes, would announce he had rehired Show after helping him win the match against Cena.

On the June 11 episode of Raw, Vince McMahon would give Laurinaitis a job evaluation. Before McMahon could announce the firing of Laurinaitis, Big Show would hit the WMD on McMahon by accident. At No Way Out, Cena defeated Show in a Steel Cage match. After the match, McMahon fired Laurinaitis, and this was followed by Cena hitting the Attitude Adjustment on Laurinaitis through the announcer's table. The next night on Raw, Laurinaitis announced that as it was his final show in charge, he had booked a 3-on-1 Handicap Match, teaming up with Big Show and David Otunga against Cena. During the match, both Show and Otunga walked out on Laurinaitis, which allowed Cena to hit Laurinaitis with three Attitude Adjustments before making him tap out to the STF. Laurinaitis has not appeared on Raw since.

Return to road agent (2013–present)[edit]

Laurinaitis made an appearance on the March 29, 2013 edition of SmackDown, offering The Rock his services as manager for his match at WrestleMania 29 against John Cena. Rock responded by giving Laurinaitis a Spinebuster and a People's Elbow. Laurinaitis made a brief appearance in a backstage segment at Survivor Series, alongside Los Matadores, R-Truth, Santino Marella, and Fandango. He also made an appearance at the 2013 Slammy Awards, presenting the Rookie of the Year award to The Shield.

In wrestling[edit]

  • Nicknames
    • "Big Johnny"
    • "Funk Man"
    • "Mr. Excitement"
    • "Sniklefritz"
    • "Clown Shoes"[18]
    • "John Laryngitis"

Wrestlers trained by Laurinaitis[edit]

Job titles[edit]

  • Legit
    • AJPW Booker
    • WCW Head Booker
    • WWE Director of Talent Relations
    • WWE Vice President of Talent Relations
    • WWE Senior Vice President of Talent Relations
    • WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations
    • WWE Senior Vice President of Talent Operations
    • WWE Producer (current)
  • On-air

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  • Other titles
    • ICWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    • OWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Cagematch Profile". Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "OWOW Profile". Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  3. ^ "Star from Wayzata feels a draft". StarTribune.com. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  4. ^ Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.187)
  5. ^ a b "Forbes Profile". Retrieved 2013-02-04. 
  6. ^ "More Details On John Laurinaitis’ Resignation As WWE SVP Of Talent Operations". Retrieved 2013-02-04. 
  7. ^ "jim cornette shoots on johnny ace". YouTube. 2011-12-21. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  8. ^ Breaking News: John Laurinaitis Officially Removed as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations
  9. ^ CM Punk Rant Transcript[dead link]
  10. ^ Bishop, Matt (2011-10-11). "Raw: Triple H out, Laurinaitis in". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  11. ^ Tylwalk, Nick (2011-11-29). "Raw: Rematch time for Punk and Del Rio while Cena gets a reality check". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  12. ^ Bishop, Matt (2011-12-27). "Raw: CM Punk returns home, runs the gauntlet". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  13. ^ Medalis, Kara A. (January 2, 2012). "Kane's hateful torment continues". WWE. Retrieved January 9, 2012. 
  14. ^ Passero, Mitch (January 16, 2012). "WWE Raw SuperShow results: Laurinaitis snaps!". WWE. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Powers, Kevin (January 23, 2012). "WWE Raw SuperShow results: Laurinaitis takes a nap". WWE. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  16. ^ "WWE Board of Directors to Laurinaitis: You're NOT fired". 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-02-07. 
  17. ^ "WWE.com: SmackDown: General Manager Theodore Long vs. General Manager John Laurinaitis". Vids.wwe.com. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  18. ^ "WWE: 5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About John Laurinaitis, the Pro Wrestler". Turner Broadcasting. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Dynamic Dudes profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  20. ^ "Diamond Dallas Page's OWOW profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  21. ^ a b c Umfeld « John Laurinaitis « Wrestler-Datenbank « CAGEMATCH. Cagematch.de. Retrieved on 2012-12-06.
  22. ^ Themes « John Laurinaitis « Wrestler-Datenbank « CAGEMATCH. Cagematch.de. Retrieved on 2012-12-06.
  23. ^ "WWE theme "Fanfare to the Rule"". itunes.apple.com. 
  24. ^ All Asia Tag Team Title. Wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved on 2012-12-06.
  25. ^ World Tag Team Title (All Japan Pro-Wrestling). Wrestling-titles.com (2012-10-30). Retrieved on 2012-12-06.
  26. ^ http://www.prowrestlinghistory.com/supercards/japan/alljapan/miscaj.html#hvywt
  27. ^ NWA Florida Tag Team Title. Wrestling-titles.com (2011-11-17). Retrieved on 2012-12-06.
  28. ^ John Laurinaitis « Wrestlers Database « CAGEMATCH. Cagematch.net. Retrieved on 2012-12-06.
  29. ^ "Pro-Wrestling Illustrated 500 of the PWI Years". Pro-Wrestling Edge. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  30. ^ Non-televised WWE Slammy Awards. Pwtorch.com (2011-12-12). Retrieved on 2012-12-06.
  31. ^ Meltzer, Dave (January 23, 2013). "The 2012 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Annual Awards Issue". Wrestling Observer Newsletter (Campbell, California). ISSN 1083-9593. 

External links[edit]