Former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas was with the company for 22 years and learned the WWE way of officiating. He talked about the AEW style of officiating and their "at the ref's discretion" policy when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"I think Cody came out with the video saying 'referee's discretion' which is the new buzz word. In my mind, it just means we have no other way to get out of this so we'll just fudge the rules so we can get our stuff in," stated Korderas.
He added that basic rules like a five count after a tag are not being enforced. He also said he thinks AEW has a 20 count like NJPW and if the wrestlers can't get in their stuff on the outside in a 20 count then "I don't know."
"I've seen instances of the referee goes out and hangs out out there and starts admonishing everybody and doesn't count," noted Korderas. "At the end of the day… the audience for AEW is a hardcore-based audience and has bought into everything they do. In their eyes they are the cool kids and can't do anything wrong. They're being entertained. It's fun and different, yes.
"But at the same time, if you want to grow your audience and get those casual wrestling fans back, those are the ones that remember the rules to this. You can't tag into a match when both guys from the same team are standing on the apron. When you have a finish, the legal guy has to be pinning the guy in the ring, not both guys pinning the guy at the same time."
Korderas knows he is being nit picky but this is how he made his livelihood for 22 years and he calls it frustrating to watch.
"If that stuff was going on in WWE there would be outrage like you wouldn't believe. I get Hall of Famers making excuses for it, but at the same time I don't agree with it. I want it to make sense and when you start fudging the rules that much, then it stops making sense. Why is okay in this match for it to happen but it's not okay in another match?" asked Korderas.
"It's frustrating me to watch because it distracts me from what is going on with the product."
AEW has many veteran referees including Earl Hebner but he doesn't see them controlling the action in the way that he thinks they should be.
"Aubrey is the new one and she seems to have the most authority out of all of them. For example in the street fight, there was the Walls of Jericho and Darby Allin got to the ropes and she started to put the five-count on Chris. But he doesn't have to break as there is no DQ in a street fight," stated Korderas.
"Yes, you can admonish him all you want…but it's little things like that that don't make sense that are frustrating. Yes, I'm harping on this a lot but it matters."
Another example of officiating that didn't make sense was Jon Moxley crashing the eight-man tag main event for Dynamite's premiere and the match not ending.
"It's a DQ, plain and simple. It's a basic rule that if someone who is not in the match interferes, then it is a disqualification. You know an easy way to get out of that? Have him attack Kenny before the bell starts…I don't know what they are thinking," Korderas said before adding that Omega's team should have won that match because they were attacked and joked that AEW should have a "Director of Officiating" in the booth to review calls."
WWE is working to create the next generation of referees in the same manner in which they create the next generation of Superstars and that's at the Performance Center. Korderas was asked about the referee program at the PC.
"I speak with a lot of the officials in WWE and some of the guys in NXT and it's developmental not only for the wrestlers but the referees as well. They train the refs down there in a style that the WWE likes to present their referees. One of the elements that they do down there that they didn't do when I was there is working out and being in great physical shape. They're part of that program as well," Korderas said before joking the only shape he was in while refereeing was a round shape.
"I think people are so focused with the actual wrestlers that maybe [refs] get looked over a little bit and that's okay. As I said earlier, the referees not supposed to be the focal point anyway… the unheralded actor supporting actor."
Jimmy Korderas can be seen hosting Aftermath on SN360 every Friday night. For TV listings and more info please click here. His full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of yesterday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. Featuring Jimmy discussing Eric Bischoff's WWE firing, the finish to WWE's Seth Rollins vs The Fiend HIAC match, the role WWE referees play in deciding match finishes, his criticisms of AEW's officiating, if The Wednesday Night War has lived up to the hype and more.