WWE recently released or furloughed a number of talent and employees in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. That is something that former referee Jimmy Korderas can relate to as he was released in 2009 after 22 years with the company.
Korderas talked about the recent releases when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
“It was sad, very sad. I try to look at it from all angles as opposing to point fingers and blaming the bad guy. I wish I understood more of the financials as it’s easy to make judgment calls and say, ‘Oh, they have all this money. So, why did they have to do this?’ But there’s a lot more to this than we know,” said Korderas.
“I have a lot of friends there that have been furloughed or released and I’ve been spending the day messaging them back and forth. You feel for them. Then, you hear the news about Howard [Finkel] this morning and it puts things into perspective because I’ve been there. I’ve been that guy who’s gotten the call where they wish you well on your future endeavors. But never to this extent and I think that’s what’s got everybody up in arms over it. It’s how many people have been let go all at once. I’ve never seen a purge this huge.”
There were some big names released including people that worked WrestleMania 36. Korderas talked about the talent he was most surprised that got released or furloughed.
“It’s hard to single out one person but I was surprised about Gallows and Anderson because they recently re-signed so that took me back,” revealed Korderas. “From a refereeing standpoint, I hate to see my buddy Mike Chioda go as he’s been there 30 years. It’s just sad to see everybody go. But again, not to sound callous, but the events with Howard today kinda put everything in perspective.”
He then talked about how when he left WWE, he was directionless for a while, but he did eventually get his feet under him.
“Once we can get back to some sort of normalcy, these guys can probably bounce back and I’m some will be re-hired. Not all of them, but I’m sure some will,” said Korderas. “Who knows? It could work out for the best for the industry as a whole. These people can spread out and apply their crafts elsewhere. I’m trying to look at the positives. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.”
Often times when talent is released, there are plenty of other opportunities available to them. But that’s not the case at the moment as everyone is going through the same thing. Korderas talked about how it’s a tough time to be a wrestler out of work with limited opportunities.
“It’s different for a company like AEW. They’re still relatively new but, other than their Tuesday web show, they’ve only got one two-hour show a week. You can only feature so much talent and it’s gonna be tough for them to take on a lot of people,” admitted Korderas. “I’m sure some will eventually end up there, but it could open the door for other companies. There’s Impact Wrestling and they could benefit ROH. We can’t really put a finger on it until this crap settles down and we can get some sort of normalcy back in our lives.”
It’s well known that wrestlers are viewed as independent contractors instead of employees but Korderas revealed if referees are viewed as the same.
“Unless things have changed since I was there, they should be the same as a wrestler. It’s different if you’re on the ring crew and a referee as well because those are two different jobs. You get paid by one section of the company for being on the ring crew and you get paid by talent relations for your in-ring stuff. But you’re still not an employee of the company, you’re an independent contractor,” stated Korderas who noted that anyone is free to correct him if that’s changed.
Korderas mentioned that Mike Chioda was a WWE ref for over 30 years and he was asked if Chioda was released or furloughed.
“I’m not 100 percent sure. I know he was injured for a while with his rotator cuff and bicep that he’s been treating. I don’t know if he will be brought back and if they do, he could always be brought back in a teaching capacity,” said Korderas.
“If anybody is as critical as refs out there, it’s me. They’re doing their best but some could use a little bit of guidance and Mike could do that.”
You can follow Jimmy Korderas on Twitter @JimmyKorderas. Jimmy’s full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.