Jimmy Korderas was one of WWE's longest-tenured referees and spent 22 years with the company. His employment spanned from 1987 to 2009 and he was a part of many special events over the years. One of those was Tribute to the Troops which originally took place in Iraq during the Iraq War before moving to various locations in the United States.
Korderas' insight on going over to Iraq is pertinent with the current situation involving WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. Korderas joined Wrestling Inc Managing Editor Nick Hausman on our WINCLY podcast where he discussed how WWE dealt with talent not wanting to go to Iraq.
"Never forced," Korderas responded when asked if he ever had to do a show that he felt uncomfortable in doing. "Even when we first went to Iraq for Tribute to the Troops [in 2003]. When I was approached by Talent Relations, [Jim Ross] at the time. JR said, 'We'd like you to go. It's totally up to you. You don't have to, there's no obligation. There's no heat if you don't go. We want to know if you're comfortable with going because we're going into basically an active war zone.'
"I'm like, 'Wow, let me think about this.' He said take your time and I called my wife and talked to her. It was something I wanted to do, but you're thinking about what it's like over there. There were assurances that we would be well-looked after and we were. So, I decided to go, but I was given that option."
WWE's current situation with Crown Jewel seems to deal more with politics and ethics than the safety of WWE talent. John Cena and Daniel Bryan have already decided to skip the event in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi being killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
There's no word on if WWE talent was given the option to not go but Korderas says no one was hurt by choosing to not go to Iraq.
"I know there were a few of the talent that expressed reservations and didn't go," stated Korderas. "They weren't hurt by the decisions though."