Jimmy Korderas Breaks Down WWE Survivor Series, WarGames Matches, What's Next For Sami Zayn, And More! - Exclusive

For more than twenty years Jimmy Korderas called it down the middle as a referee for WWE. Now, as a former official, he is free to call it down the middle in regards to what he thinks of WWE, and sometimes AEW, products.


In this exclusive conversation with Wrestling Inc. Senior News Editor Nick Hausman, Korderas breaks down all five matches from this past weekend's WWE Survivor Series War Games, including the two big WarGames matches, the collision between Finn Balor and AJ Styles, Ronda Rousey's latest "SmackDown" Women's Championship defense, Austin Theory's big United States title win, and more. He also takes some time to look at possible roads to the WWE Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 39, with names like Cody Rhodes, The Rock, and possibly even CM Punk in the mix.

You can check out Korderas' "Reffin Rants" every morning on his Twitter page, @JimmyKorderas, or support him by visiting his Pro Wrestling Tees store.


WWE Women Fly High

Nick Hausman: Let's get to it. WarGames was this past weekend. What a show, man. First of all, I'd like to run this thing top to bottom, so we could build to this beautiful ending we had to the show. With the women, what were the big takeaways you had? This match was very different than the men's match. This was much more chaotic, I felt, than the men's match.


Jimmy Korderas: Yeah, definitely the introduction of a lot of accessories, let's put it that way, for lack of a better term. We had tables, we had ladders, we had kendo sticks, and the whole bit. I know there's an argument out there, were they needed in the match? Technically speaking, no, but it did add and enhance the brutality of the women's match. It was very violent. Did they need several of these items? Possibly not. They could have gotten away with fewer items. At the same time, it did add to the match as well. The women did work hard, and it was exciting. It was entertaining.

It's weird, as fans, we've gotten used to the women delivering these kinds of matches. Three to five years ago, this would've never happened, I feel like.


Especially in the WWE, where they have that unspoken or unseen barrier, so to speak. For the women now, it's full throttle, and pedal to the metal for the women. Let them do their thing.

All the women look like bad-asses here. You have a pretty broad landscape of women right now that, in my opinion, look credible. So what do you do coming out of this one, Jimmy, specifically, with Bianca and that "Raw" women's title? What would you do here, coming out of it?

There are a lot of directions you can go, because in that match, none of the women came out of that match on a lower stature. Everybody was elevated in that match, to a certain degree. That's the goal, the goal is to have options. Where you go with Bianca now... everybody wants to cheer Becky. Bianca's your babyface champion, and Becky wants to be cheered. Is there, "Okay, I agreed to join your team, but you said you were going to give me an opportunity at your title for a chance to join your team," or something like that. That would be the endgame, but in the meantime, there has to be something in between, I think. That's a WrestleMania match, Becky versus Bianca.

Is it time to turn Bianca, do you think, to spice this up? If Becky's flipping to baby, does her nemesis go the other direction? What do you think on that?


You can make it work, anything is possible. I think this is not the right time. You have to build slowly towards that, I think. Take your time, tell a bit of a backstory to it, and if you're going to flip Bianca, do it when it doesn't seem like it's coming.

The Man Flies High

Lastly here, on the women's match, Becky has become a commodity for them. She's had her fair share of injuries as well. Should she be doing what we saw at the end of the match, these big leg drops off the top of the steel cage? How'd you feel about that moment to close the match?


It was spectacular, but at the same time, you do worry about the safety, as well. For someone like Becky, who has had injuries in the past, you are concerned. At the same time, Becky doesn't seem like someone who would risk something like that if she wasn't comfortable doing it. At the same time, sometimes the excitement overtakes your better judgment in these types of matches, and you go overboard. Maybe she did, to a certain extent, but at the same time, I feel like Becky wouldn't have done it if she didn't feel comfortable doing it.

Is it just me, or has that spot become expected in cage matches? We saw Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus do it at AEW All Out. I feel like now, with cage matches, I'm surprised if I don't get something coming off the top of the cage anymore.


It is expected, that's why sometimes you have to think outside of the box. That's why the leg drop looked spectacular. You expect an elbow, you expect a splash of some sort, but the leg drop is something you don't normally see. Again, the creative juices need to flow, because spots off the top of a cage, like you said, are somewhat expected nowadays.

Props to Rhea, and I forget who else was on that. I think it was Dakota that was also on the table. You're just sitting there, waiting to get sat on. Somebody sits on you for 20 feet up, it's tough.

Yeah. I'm surprised that the commentating team hasn't bought into this tag team, and just call them Kai and Sky.

Maybe somebody backstage doesn't want them to be called that, I don't know.

Yeah, probably.

The Bullet Club Powers Explode

Then we get this New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Wrestle Kingdom main event-worthy match between AJ Styles and Finn Balor. Is it just me, or does it feel like not just these two guys, but really, everybody involved in this program is just, week after week, ratcheting up. They're becoming more focused. What do you think of this match, and the program that's been built around it?


I loved the match, I thought the match was great. For an old school traditionalist like myself, I thought the match was well paced, well planned out. Great storytelling in the match from two guys that could really go in the ring. They also showed expression, they showed emotion during the match. The other thing I liked about it, both guys had their respective groups at ringside. They had their moment where they brawled, then they left the picture, and left the match to the two guys involved. I really did enjoy that. We got a nice good finish. I hope this rivalry continues, to some degree, but I don't know how you top a match like that. Do you make it a gimmick match? That takes away from what these guys can do, though.


That's one of the things I was going to ask you about this match, how long do you play out Judgment Day and The Club? This was the big leaders facing off, but there are a lot of players and iterations we haven't seen with these two teams quite yet.

Exactly, and it's not like you have the tag team championships involved here. Maybe you have the tag teams go against each other to challenge the Usos. Or, something like that, whoever wins the opportunity there. Maybe AJ and Finn could battle to see who goes next against Roman, and filter one of the groups — you would assume the babyface group — to take on The Bloodline in some form or fashion. Maybe that's a direction you can go.

It's going to be interesting. 

WWE Possibly Playing The NJPW Game

In regards to this match, the last thing I wanted to ask you about, every time one of the announcers says "Bullet Club," my timeline explodes, and everybody goes nuts. "Oh my God, I can't believe they're saying Bullet Club." Do you think we should read anything into the fact that they're becoming more casual using Bullet Club as part of the storyline?


I think it's interesting. Commentary did a great job on Sunday as well at Survivor Series, reviewing the history between these two in Japan, and all the references to companies outside of WWE, which normally isn't done. I think they're a little more free, but at the same time, they're making it sound like, "Yes, they had some great matches in New Japan, they had some great matches here and there, in this company and that company, but now they're bringing it to the big time." They're making themselves look like, "This is the goal, this is where you want to be, WWE."

I'm going to put my tinfoil hat on here.


I do this occasionally. Am I reading too much into the idea that Triple H, possibly for many reasons, would really like to have that New Japan Pro-Wrestling relationship? Do you think that's something that Hunter is actively trying to get going, or would be interested in creating between the two companies?


I don't see why not. I think Hunter is someone who could actually pull it off, but at the same time, he's smart enough to know that, in some form or fashion, even if they do have a positive working relationship, WWE is their priority. Obviously, from a business standpoint. 

To answer your question, I think Hunter is someone who is open to all possibilities right now. As we saw in the news, especially we saw on Wrestling Inc., I know this is a little off topic, but they've got a big show planned for India. I think Hunter's goal is to really expand the global audience of WWE right now, that's what feels like, anyways.

From a strategic standpoint, that New Japan relationship has become a big part of a AEW's vibe. If you were to lure New Japan away, that could potentially set your competition back.I always think that's somehow in the back of Hunter's mind, especially since it didn't go so well when "NXT" and AEW had to go head-to-head.

I see your point exactly. It's almost like it's turning into a bit of a, I don't want to call it a war, that's the wrong word. A little bit of a competition now, some one-ups-manship.

Surviving Title Matches

Your latest "Reffin' Rant" was about the women's title match, between Ronda and Shotzi. Why didn't you dig this one, Jimmy? What was up here with you?

I don't know, something just didn't click. It didn't feel like these women connected very well together. We talked about this on the post show, with Justin LaBar and Jack Farmer, on Saturday night, Ronda just doesn't seem comfortable in her heel role, or heel persona. It doesn't feel genuine. You see others, who could I use as an example? Austin Theory, or somebody like that, you feel like it's genuine. You feel like that's the guy. With Ronda, it feels like she's playing heel wrestling. It just doesn't feel authentic. Obviously, I don't like matches that look overly choreographed. At the same time, there weren't botches, but things were not smooth.


The pacing was off.


It was two dancers that were a half step off.

Yes, exactly. It takes two to tango. You could point your finger at one or the other, but at the same time, it falls on both of them.

For sure. You brought up Austin Theory, he had a good night, walked away with the U.S. Championship. Why do you think they did this short Seth Rollins reign only to eventually get the title back onto Theory? I'm a little befuddled about the path we took to get here.

It's interesting that the U.S. title reign for Seth was short, but at the same time, it fits with this story that Austin Theory tried to cash in, and obviously, it didn't work out well for him, but at the end of the day, he ended up with a championship thanks to Bobby Lashley again, almost by accident. Austin Theory could come out on "Monday Night Raw," "Hey, I had it planned. I knew what I was doing all along. I won the championship, I defeated two men," and going on and on, the whole time being that heel persona, and people just saying, "What an idiot. The guy lucked into this thing." That's how you're supposed to feel, and not overly react to, "That's a bad storyline." No, you're supposed to sit back and enjoy it like it's a TV show.


Agreed. Do you keep Lash and Rollins in the picture with him? We're about to get to the main event, but it would seem Roman Reigns is going to need some competition here. Do you see Lashley or Rollins in that picture? Do you keep him in the U.S. title picture?

I think it'd be interesting to have one of those two in the picture. Obviously, you could take one of those guys and move them over to challenge Roman, but it looks like Kevin. We'll get to that.

Let's roll into it here, let's talk about it...

With what happened at the end of the men's WarGames match, maybe Kevin Owens is the guy who's next on Roman Reigns' plate.

The Bloodline Runs Deep

Scale of one to ten, how much did you enjoy the end of Survivor Series?

One to ten? I enjoyed it extremely well. I'm not going to give it a 10 and go overboard, but I'm going to give it an 8.5, because it hit a lot of marks. The match was really good. Again, you talk about emotion, and the little things like the facial expressions, and stuff like that, meant so much. You felt these guys.


That ending, where KO hits the stunner, covers, and as he covers, the referee counts one, two, and here comes Sami. Instead of making a save by pushing Kevin off, he hooks the referee's arm, to prevent the three count. Roman didn't kick at all. The audience that's watching goes, "He had him pinned for a three. He had the champion pinned for a three, but if it wasn't for Sami, his so-called good buddy, the guy who he was best man at his wedding," which they pointed out. See, the story at the end, I get it. The WarGames match, with the cage, is supposed to be the main focus. Coming out of that match, everybody was talking about the ending, and what Sami did to his good buddy Kevin in siding with the bloodline, and that's the goal.


It is just some of the best storytelling going on in wrestling. Coming out of this, Jimmy, it is really choose your own adventure. Everybody seems to have an opinion about what is next for Sami Zayn. I'll throw one scenario. Do you think Sami Zayn is the favorite to win the Royal Rumble this year?

I didn't think of that. He's definitely in the conversation, that's for sure. He is, I don't want to say the most entertaining guy in wrestling right now, but he is up there as one of the must-see acts in pro wrestling today. He has elevated his stock beyond what I expected. I knew he had the talent, a lot of us who saw him in the past knew he was capable of it, but man has he delivered. He is on fire.

Yeah, it's true. It is really cool to see. If not Sami Zayn at the Rumble, how do you use Sami Zayn here? Do you keep him with The Bloodline? Do you think it's time, we're getting close? God, I don't want to miss that shot. How do you feel about Sami right now?

I feel he stays with The Bloodline, at least for the time being. There is that possibility that, at the end of the day, his old friendship with Kevin Owens means more than anything. Maybe those two go together to relieve the Usos of their championship, their record-setting championship reign, who knows? We'll see. As far as who's next for Roman Reigns, obviously, we hear the rumors about WrestleMania, and stuff like that.


The Rhodes To WrestleMania

There was always that talk that started a while ago. I remember, sadly, I think it was right after Jay's last DUI arrest, I remember he came right back to work, and everybody was like, "How do you bring this guy right back to work?" They were like, "We have huge plans for the Usos and Roman." Then they put the titles on them, and they've been just as untouchable as Roman. Rock with Sami and Kevin versus The Bloodline at WrestleMania, does that have the same pop to you? Would you do tag on the undercard, with Rock and Roman up top? How do you feel about all that?


That's interesting. I haven't thought about the six-man idea. Is it possible, since WrestleMania is two nights, to have that headline night one, and if the babyfaces win, they get the title matches? Rock gets to face Roman for the championship on Sunday night, and Kevin and Sami get to face the Usos for the tag titles?

That could be very fun. Two names I wanted to bring up, as we're going into Mania. Cody Rhodes. Let's say Cody is back at the Rumble, a little after the Rumble. How does Cody Rhodes affect the landscape when he comes back, in your opinion?

Again, you talk about people who are in the conversation to face Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, Cody's definitely in the conversation, especially after that video package we saw at Survivor Series, and him touting the dream, and trying to fulfill that legacy for his father. Family above all else.


Yeah, a big name. The other one I wanted to bring up, obviously, CM Punk looks to be leaving AEW. Some people think there's a shot he could come back to WWE. What do you think about the possibility of him coming back, and if he did, how does he change the landscape, in that scenario?

It's interesting, because me personally, I don't have an issue with CM Punk, he always treated me well. There is that perception that he is a little bit of a disruption backstage. Can they work together? I know, business above all else. If they think they can make money with it, as long as they get an agreement with him that he won't stir the pot, why not? There's money to be made there. I don't see why not. Again, it all depends on CM Punk, too. He sometimes has a little bit of that on his shoulder

Does a possible "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. CM Punk match do anything for you?

It would be interesting to see if they could do business together, because Steve's up there in the hierarchy. To me, it'd just be the curiosity of how they would make this match work.

If not Punk, there is a lot of talk that, as well as that Kevin Owens/Steve Austin match went, does Steve pull in that Undertaker card?

Interesting. Do we get the WrestleMania Stunner versus Stunner?


Yeah, that's the Kevin Owens thing too. I don't know, it's just interesting to think. Again, if not Punk or Kevin Owens, is there anybody else that you think would be good, money-wise, for them to put up against Steve Austin right now?

Do you bring back another Hollywood in John Cena?

That would be big, wouldn't it?

Yeah, huge. How much more can you add to that? That would be huge.