Former WWE veteran referee Mike Chioda was on a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily where he opened up about his current AEW status as well as the difference between how AEW and WWE treat referees. Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman first asked if he expected the fan reaction to his AEW debut this past summer.
“No, I really didn’t. That’s why I appreciate the fans that are so loyal for what I do in this business and respect what I do,” Chioda said. It was touching. I appreciate that too from all the fans and stuff, and it was awesome to get that response and even doing the last PPV match with the little bit of fans in there, gave me much love on that, much respect. I really do appreciate that.”
Chioda revealed on the podcast that he is not on a full-time deal with AEW, but he is on a part-time deal. He said he prefers that right now, and he spoke highly of the atmosphere at AEW.
“Right now, it’s not a done deal, a full-time deal,” Chioda revealed. “Right now, it’s part-time deal, which is great for me right now. I love the vibe there. AEW has a fantastic vibe with Cody Rhodes, and Chris Jericho and a lot of guys, Jake Hager over there and stuff. You got some good old school talent, FTR, and you got some young talent that is amazing there. It was kind of weird.
“I feel green sitting around looking at all this talent that’s upcoming because I’ve been watching the show on TNT, of course, before I started. I think they really got a good thing going on there with Tony Khan, and Cody Rhodes and them guys.”
Chioda was in WWE for over 30 years, and Hausman asked what it was like to step into a different locker room. Chioda revealed that he had a locker room next to Jake Hager, who he traveled with on the road when Hager was in WWE.
“It was very different because it just wasn’t the company I had worked for. It was very different, but they treated me with a lot of respect,” Chioda noted. “A lot of love and much respect and everything. Actually, Jake Hager, I was at a locker room with him. So it was like good old times because I used to travel with him a lot. [Hausman notes that Hager can “kick your ass”] He sure will, got my ass kicked many times in a hotel room with him and too many drinks.”
Chioda then compared and contrasted how AEW produces referees and how WWE produces referees. He noted that WWE has more than double of the amount of referees that AEW has, and he talked about the critiques AEW referees have received over not administrating the rules that often.
“It’s very different to be honest with you. Similar in certain ways but very different,” Chioda stated. “There’s only about six referees I believe over there right now. WWE has 17 referees, but they go by the rules. They try to stick by the rules and stuff like that, and I hear some some things from fans, from feedback that wish they had a little more rules in AEW with referees. And I think the the kids over there and the referees at AEW are doing a fine job. I think they probably get treated a little bit better in AEW than WWE referees.”
Chioda mentioned earlier in the podcast that refs in WWE are not really characters, and Hausman noted that AEW referee Aubrey Edwards is the complete opposite where she sells her own merch, is part of AEW Games and hosts a podcast as well. Chioda recalled WWE taking him off a video game after asking about his royalties from being in a video game.
“I was amazed about that,” Chioda admitted. “I was like, ‘You can sell shirts, 8 x 10’s, do a podcast and do that?’ I felt like I was in this bubble for so many years. I’m not gonna knock Vince, Linda, Shane and Stephanie, they gave me a hell of a run, 35 years. Had a hell of a run with them and I appreciate all they’ve done for me. Talking about from the referee standpoint, they let the referees have their own character. They they let them do other shows, do other things, have their own shirts, video games [and] all that.
“You’re tied down at WWE. You couldn’t get royalties off of video games because they wouldn’t let us in the video games. They let me in for a little while, and then once I was talking about, ‘Okay, where’s my royalties?’ They took me right out of the game. I was in the SmackDown video game, and I was talking to Johnny [Ace] about it. I said, ‘Johnny, I’ve been here for quite a while. It’s not like I’m just a referee that came in here for two years or three years,’ and he’s like, ‘Nah just not doing the referees.’ And I said, ‘Wow.’ It’s a little uncomfortable because when you hear all the boys are making a lot of money off the royalties, which so be — I mean, I own my own name.
“You got to think about guys that don’t own their own name [and] what they go through if they leave the company. I think the referees get really locked down at the WWE. There’s enough to go around everywhere, especially with the WWE. Take care of the referees. If you have 60 talents, 17 refs, take care of the refs too.”
Mike Chioda can be seen every other Monday as one of the hosts of “Mailbag Mondays” on AdFreeShows.com. Chioda’s full interview aired as part of a 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.