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John Laurinitis


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On his podcast this week, Jim Cornette suggested compiling all of John Laurinitis' biggest mistakes in one place for convenience. It seemed like a good idea, so I'll follow Cornette's lead. I'll start with the obvious:

 

- Hiring the wrong one-legged guy

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- Hiring the wrong one-legged guy

Gonna need the story on this.

 

 

When the company wanted to hire Zach Gowen, apparently there were two one legged wrestlers in the indies at that time. Our boy John hired the wrong one at first. I'm sure that had to be an awkward conversation: "my bad, we were looking for the other one-leg guy".

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Supposedly, his favorite thing to do is ramble at length about how awesome a time he had in All Japan. Not about the quality of the matches or the culture of Japan or anything interesting, mind you. Johnny just goes on and on about how much he was paid and how much Mrs. Baba loved him and how big a star he was.

 

Interestingly, this also illustrates one of the beginner's traps for young talent in WWE. If you don't know anything about Johnny's tenure in Japan, you're pidgeonholed as a clueless ignoramous who doesn't know shit about the business. However if you do know about it, don't make the mistake of actually bringing it up (as in, "I liked the matches you had teaming with Kobashi, Mr. Laurinitis") or else you're put down as a mark for the biz, i.e. someone who'll be relentlessly mocked and bullied for actually giving a shit about the art of wrestling.

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- Authorizing Bob Orton, who had hepatitis, to bleed all over the Undertaker. John knew about the hepatitis, and didn't tell Undertaker in advance

- Turning developmental from a successful program into what it is now, because he likes going to Florida to party with his friends

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- Letting The Rock's contract expire without a phone call

To be fair, I think The Rock was expecting a phone call from Vince McMahon, not John Laurinaitis, and the technical oversight excuse reeked of political BS to make Laurinaitis the fall guy in the farcical affair.

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The WWE was willing to let his contract expire and honestly if he had made the phone call this story would have gone down as as big of a mistake: “The WWE let Rock’s contract expire and adding to the insult the only guy they had contact Rock was middle manager John Laurinitis”.

 

Very little of this looks like legit Laurinitis mistakes. Most of this is just him doing his job. You don’t blame middle management for doing what upper management wants/tells him to do.

 

Even something like the A-Train push in 2002, where pretty much everyone (outside the company) knew that having A-Train be the guy who took out Rey was a complete waste of Reys value. It’s seven years later and it’s unclear if the WWE values Rey significantly more. Laurinitis was acting in accordance with management philosophy.

 

The idea that the firing of a pregnant woman (who If memory serves Vince thought was ugly to begin with) was Laurinitis decision alone or wouldn’t have happened if someone else had the job seems silly.

The WWE wants disposable women who look model pretty and not just "wrestling pretty".

The WWE wants Laurinitis to be the guy they can use to play bad cop.

Those aren't his "mistakes".

 

Legit errors that can be blamed on him.

-Authorizing Bob Orton, who had hepatitis, to bleed all over the Undertaker. John knew about the hepatitis, and didn't tell Undertaker in advance

- Hiring the wrong one-legged guy

 

The first is a serious error. Felt like the type of thing that gets you fired. The second still amuses me and I have no idea why no US indy has run the one legged match up between the two.

 

I’m unsure about what to say about this one:

 

Turning developmental from a successful program into what it is now, because he likes going to Florida to party with his friends

They WWE didn’t want to run OVW anymore.

 

 

Who are the WWE guys that didn’t go through any other WWE “developmental territories” besides Florida? Only two I can think of are Ezekial Jackson and Ted Dibbiase Jr. It feels a little early to say program is failure.

 

Part of me thinks that it was a big mistake not to work with Booker T…a semi retired Booker T with a program in Texas and Africa could be useful asset. You have a place already set up a guy who has contacts with local businesses and a Texas wrestling audience that is a significantly better than the Florida ones and Booker T does media appearances well. So not using booker Ts program can be blamed on Laurinitis' desire to party in Florida.

 

I have no sense of pros and cons of Jody Hamilton’s program in Georgia.

 

And yeah they had a lot of fuck ups in the set up of the Florida program…(the no bathrooms, etc)..but my sense is that the WWE was committed to building a program from scratch instead of piggybacking on an already established program. They were going to fuck that up in really predictable ways (permits, bathrooms, etc) and it didn’t matter if they put it in a place where Laurinits liked to hang out or not.

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I would agree with that for the most part, except there were less cases of things like this happening when Jim Ross was in the same position.

 

Jim Ross also largely recruited or signed guys who were able to contribute and got over.

 

Sure, there were decisions Vince made that JR was stuck having to enforce like the Lawler/Stacey firing, but those things were fewer and farther between than they have been under Laurinitis.

 

WWE looked for the same type of men and women for the main roster back then that they do now, yet there were less people who bombed and more people who succeeded that got through during Ross's time in that spot.

 

I'm interested in knowing if WWE would have been interested in people like Benoit, Jericho, Guerrero, Misterio, etc. without Jim Ross in that role. Maybe they would have, maybe they wouldn't have I don't know. I think Rey got in based on Benoit and Jericho going to bat for him, so maybe not Rey, but after the Kevin Sullivan/Vince Russo thing in early 2000, those guys could have easily ended up in ECW or Japan if John Laurinitis was heading talent relations.

 

I 100% agree that WWE should have used Booker's group as a developmental territory, especially because WWE wrestlers who lived in Texas were willing to come in and help out on off days, and Booker had connections and a nice facility that he had funded.

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Before anyone mentions the Matt Hardy firing in 2005, I would actually defend WWE in that one. It was probably an overboard reaction to fire him, but Matt going public on his blog was childish. That said, I'm curious who made the final call on that. I'm not saying Vince wouldn't support firing Matt, but it would surprise me if Matt Hardy blogging mean things about Edge and Lita was high enough on his radar to warrant his attention.

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I would agree with that for the most part, except there were less cases of things like this happening when Jim Ross was in the same position.

 

Jim Ross also largely recruited or signed guys who were able to contribute and got over.

 

Sure, there were decisions Vince made that JR was stuck having to enforce like the Lawler/Stacey firing, but those things were fewer and farther between than they have been under Laurinitis.

People butted heads with Ross (HHH, Russo, Ferrera)...they just happen to be people I don't put much value into.

 

Still the question is what's wanted out of guy in this position?

It's possible that basically upper management wants midddle management to be the fall guy.

It's possible that they don't want a guy in that role who workers feel loyalty to.

It's possible that they don't want a guy in that position who is very good at saying "sorry I don't want to do this but my hands are tied"

 

I think the nature of the promotional wars was such that the NJ3 plus Saturn would have ended up on RAW no matter who was in charge especially with Benoit just winning the title... as it comes accross as a coup. I mean they hired Meng when he had the WCW Hardcore title too. That's classic Vince.

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Before anyone mentions the Matt Hardy firing in 2005, I would actually defend WWE in that one. It was probably an overboard reaction to fire him, but Matt going public on his blog was childish. That said, I'm curious who made the final call on that. I'm not saying Vince wouldn't support firing Matt, but it would surprise me if Matt Hardy blogging mean things about Edge and Lita was high enough on his radar to warrant his attention.

Matt Hardy's childish blogging was actually a brilliant long term career move for him though.

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The book "Long Bomb" implies that firing Stacy was a roundabout way of firing Lawler for referring to a poorly-performing kicker during an XFL game as "about as dependable as a Honda automobile." Honda had pulled advertising from XFL broadcasts, but I'm sure NBC wasn't happy with that line.

That sounds like a Vince line to me. And why would they need to remove Lawler from RAW instead of just getting him off of NBC?

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