Jimmy Korderas: From the ring to the rant

By: Joseph Casciaro

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Jimmy Korderas worked for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for 24 years before transitioning to broadcasting with Sportsnet, and he is now hosting his ‘Reffin Rants,’ on Twitter.

Korderas got his start with WWE in 1985 but did not begin as a referee. As a lifelong wrestling fan, Korderas says he used to take photos at events and then sell them outside Maple Leaf Gardens without permission, to buy tickets to wrestling shows.

Korderas says he did that until he got into trouble with an employee of Jack Tunney, a former Canadian promoter for WWE, to stop selling the photos due to copyright. He ended up friends with this employee and he helped him get a job with WWE.

Korderas was introduced to Tunney as a photographer, but he was given a different job.

“Tunney said ‘we'll find something for the kid to do’, so before becoming a referee I was the guy that did what needed to be done,” said Korderas. “Jack would hand me the keys to his car and say, ‘go pick up Andre The Giant at the Marriott.’”

Korderas started doing things of this nature very often.

“It’s like ‘go to the airport and pick up Hulk Hogan and his wife’., So, I'm trying to look calm, cool, and collected at the same time on the inside I’m like this is incredible,” said Korderas.

Eventually, it was the idea of Pat Patterson, former WWE superstar and employee, to make Korderas a referee in 1987. Korderas got thrown into the role unexpectedly by former WWE producer TJ Strongbow.

The first match he refereed was between SD Jones and The Masked Demon in Newmarket, Ont. Korderas went up to Jones before the match nervously and said, “I’ve never refereed a match before!”

“Jones said: ‘Well listen to me and I’ll talk you through it and that’s when I realized I got to start asking questions,” said Korderas. “So, I went to all the other refs and started asking them and then the wrestlers and I was learning from them, while also learning on the job because without doing it yourself you don’t really learn.”

There is a lot of work that goes into every match, he adds, saying each match is like a “mini-story” that he had to help tell.

“You don't want to be a distraction and that's what I think is becoming a little bit of a lost art in some cases today,” said Korderas. “It's hard for some people, [because] here you are you on television in front of however many people. A lot of times, your mind is telling you I want to get noticed, but at the same time, it's not your job to be noticed.”

It's this understanding of the business that helped former WWE superstar and current independent wrestler Tyson Dux become great friends with Korderas over the years.

“What sets Korderas apart from other referees is his knowledge of the business and how passionate he is,” said Dux. “He knows pro-wrestling and he knows psychology; you have to understand human beings and how to pull emotion out of them. He has a wealth of knowledge and he performs that knowledge.”

Korderas was lucky enough to referee some massive matches in his career, including Tyson Dux vs Kevin Steen (now known as Kevin Owens) and Kurt Angle vs Eddie Guerrero.

Steen, Angle and Guerrero are looked at as some of the best wrestlers of all time. All three men have had a lot of success all over the world and specifically in WWE.

He says his favourite match to referee was the main event of Wrestlemania 24 for the World Heavyweight Championship between The Undertaker and Edge, both superstars personally asked for him to referee.

Korderas also got to enjoy some fun moments in his career, many of which came with the late Canadian wrestling icon, Owen Hart. He highlighted a tag team match he was refereeing that included Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett against Edge and Christian.

In this match, Hart and Jarrett used red clown noses to distract their opponents and make the entire arena laugh.

“I picked them [red noses] up and put them in my pocket and I still have them to this day,” said Korderas.

Korderas had a great 24 year run in WWE and said he made a lot of great memories and friends. In 2009, he took a leave from WWE to attend to his ill father but never returned.

“After 24 years, I thought it was time and my family needed me, especially my wife who only got to see me a day and a half a week,” said Korderas.

Post WWE, Korderas says he took some time to decompress before returning to school for broadcasting. He began hosting Right After Wrestling for XM Radio, a show that aired right after Monday Night Raw weekly to discuss wrestling.

Eventually, that became a TV show on theScore network and switched names to Aftermath. The show moved to Sportsnet and Korderas continued to be one of the hosts to talk WWE. His work was enjoyed by many people including his long-time friend and wrestling journalist, Steve Argintaru.

“He’s entertaining, he’s funny, he comes with credibility and he’s not afraid to give his opinion,” said Argintaru. “I think all those are really great qualities to have in a role as an analyst in any sport.”

Aftermath has recently been off Sportsnet programming and may not return, but Korderas still shares his views on wrestling. Over the last two years, he posts a daily ‘Reffin Rant’ on his Twitter account to provide his wrestling takes.

(Twitter via @jimmykorderas)

His rants are short videos that he posts discussing what has gone on in wrestling that day. His strong opinions have allowed him to gain a large following on his Twitter account.

As for the future, Korderas says he is not sure what will come next, but he says he has some ideas in the works.