Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jimmy Korderas Interview

Jimmy Korderas was a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) referee for over 22years.  He has been involved in the professional wrestling business for nearly 3 decades, being apart of it’s most storied eras, calling matches for likes of Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, the Rock, and John Cena.  After parting ways with the WWE in 2009, Korderas began spending some much needed time with his wife and family, as well as taking classes in broadcasting.  While a chance meeting with Arda Ocal,  (of the then Score Television Network, and also previously interviewed on my blog as seen here -, saw Jimmy brought on both as a co-analyst on "Right After Wrestling" radio show, which aired on SIRIUS Radio, and also as a co-host of the Aftermath Television Program with Arda.  Even though Jimmy Korderas is no longer a WWE Referee, wrestling is in his blood- he runs seminars on ‘how to be a Pro-Wrestling Referee’, he has released a DVD on the subject called “Refereeing 101 with Jimmy Korderas”.  He has even suited up as a wrestler himself recently with the local Toronto promotion Smash Wrestling.  While doing all this, Jimmy Korderas has even managed to write and release a book called “The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee”, in which he honestly and candidly depicts some of his most memorable moments working in wrestling.    Jimmy is a reputably nice guy,  and proved his upstanding character by offering to help out my blog and do an interview.  Here’s what he had to say.

Nick:I have read that you grew up watching the greats of the past wrestle at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.  You even started taking photos, and pretty good ones at that, selling them outside ‘the Garden’ to help pay for the events you attended.  This got the attention of some prominent promoters, and luckily for you it ended up being a foot in the door to the business.  How did this lead to you becoming a Professional Wrestling Referee?  

Jimmy:Well, I was fortunate enough to start my career in the wrestling business with the esteemed Jack Tunney. After about a year & a half working as a driver, on the ring crew etc., Pat Patterson made the suggestion to Jack about training me as a referee. Jack was a little reluctant at first but then agreed. In my book I go into much detail about the training process (or lack thereof) before the first match I officiated. It was pretty much on the job training. Much different from how refs are trained today.

Nick:So wrestling was obviously something you had a passion for and wanted to be involved with.   Did you ever consider a career as a wrestler?  The late & great Stu Hart saw some potential in you as he offered to help train you in the legendary Hart Foundation Dungeon.  How could you turn that down?

Jimmy:Haha! I’m not so sure if he saw potential in me or saw another “student/victim” he could torture in his dungeon. Like many other die-hard fans, I also had thoughts of becoming a professional wrestler. But while on the ring crew, we used to have our own little matches before anyone would show up to the venue. We had fun but after tasting how the ring felt and thinking about taking bumps on a nightly basis, I decided that maybe being a wrestler was not my calling after all.  

Nick:By all accounts, online and in your book, you Jimmy Korderas are regarded as a real stand up guy, who always has a smile on his face, and time for every fan.  Was there one person in the business who rubbed you the wrong way?  

Jimmy:Of course there was. The wrestling business is just like any other business, it is virtually impossible to like or get along with everyone. That being said, there were very few people I did not have a positive experience with but I choose not to name them. As someone who tries to look at the glass half full, I’d rather not “out” people I may have an issue with. That’s how I roll! ;-) 

Nick:With over 22 years experience as a referee, you have seen some incredible and unexpected moments in WWE history.  Can you narrow down all those memories to a simple best & worst moments?

Jimmy:Best moment for me is actually an easy choice to make. Refereeing the main event at WM24, the World Heavyweight Title match between The Undertaker and Edge tops my list. To be a part of such an incredible and emotional moment is indescribable. It’s funny but every time the subject of that WM24 match comes up, I have a very hard time putting into words how much that match meant to me. 
As for worst moment in my career, it would most definitely have to be the tragic accident involving Owen Hart. Again, very difficult even to this day for me to put in words how much that incident affected me and how I still think about that horrible day. 

Nick:How has wrestling changed from when you started in the business over 20 years ago to today?

Jimmy: That is a good question. Wrestling today has evolved just like every sports and entertainment property has. The basics are fundamentally the same. We have good guys and bad guys battling each other. However, the fans perceptions of good and evil have changed which caused the wrestling business to adapt and change with those ideals. With that being said, the biggest change in my opinion is how stories are told. It seems years ago, the stories were simpler in their presentation. They were easy to follow for the viewer. Today, the focus seems to be on adding layers to the stories making the story telling a bit confusing at times. While there is room for more elaborate story-lines , I believe that keeping it simple works best. So to answer your question, the biggest change I find is in how the stories are being told. 

Nick:Some non-wrestling fans may question the WWE’s image of the ‘blind’ or distracted referee.  However, you note in an article for Slam Sports Canada ( that “contrary to the stereotype of the blind and incompetent wrestling referee, the role plays a definite purpose in a match, and it's important that the person filling it understands what the role is, and how to best perform it”.  What are some of the most important nuances that professional referees must be mindful of to compliment the story being told in the ring?

Jimmy:First and foremost, the referee should not be a focal point or distraction in a match. His actions should never distract the viewer from the main focus of the match which is the talent. Unless of course it is by design and the ref is to be noticed at that time. I have never heard of a referee that ever drew a dime. The referee is there to help tell THEIR story in much the same way a supporting actor helps tell a story in a movie or TV series. I find that some young referees today don’t appear authoritative in the ring or sometimes overcompensate for that by being too aggressive while enforcing rules or admonishing talent. I tell young refs to watch not only some of the veteran refs in the business to learn but to also watch the top MMA refs. The top MMA refs have this way of officiating where they are not a distraction but if you pay attention to them, they are always doing their job in the ring. Their motions are fluid and do not draw you attention from the fighters. Same should apply to wrestling refs. There is so much more but in my opinion, that is one of the most important aspects of being a good ref. 

Nick:One of my favorite story-lines that involved you was from back in 1999 when you crossed the picket line against the other refs in their strike, therefore becoming the ‘Head Ref’, according to the gimmick.  This led up to the ‘Unforgiven’ Pay-Per-View when you got beat down by the other refs.  On the following episode of Raw you even wore a cast indicating that the other refs had broken your arm.  The best part in all this, was that the next time we saw you on TV, you were 100% fine, no cast, no bumps or bruises at all.  Now that’s comedy.  There was also the rumour, that you have since dispelled, of the legendary talent-manager Jimmy “the Mouth of the South” Hart knocking you unconscious with his trademark megaphone.  Were you ever legitimately injured on the job?

Jimmy:I have been very fortunate to have not suffered any serious injuries during my career. I don’t consider the surgery on my dislocated and fractured thumb as serious as I was reffing (wearing a cast) the following week. I’ve suffered multiple bumps and bruises, separated shoulders, hip flexors, tweaks to knees & elbows, had my bell rung a few times including getting busted open  in a backstage segment involving the Road Warriors right before my wedding. It is inevitable that a pro wrestling ref will get hurt to some degree at some point in their career. It is all part of the job and I would happily do it all again. 

Nick:There have been some incredible and ridiculous articles of WWE merchandise over the years.  I have a talking bar of soap that tells me to “wash up, cause Stone Cold said so”.   I am sure you come across some amazing ones as well, do you have a favourite piece of WWE memorabilia?  

Jimmy:You are so right that there have been some incredibly ridiculous merchandise over the years. I hate to bring this particular item up as I don’t consider it a favourite but the one that always made me laugh and cringe at the same time were the Stone Cold Condoms. I don’t think I have to get into too much detail on why I felt that way. I’m sure you and everyone who sees this can figure it out. 

Nick:When I interviewed your friend and former co-host Arda Ocal previously, I asked about his opinion on  ‘the Undertaker’ keeping the streak alive at Wrestlemania30.  What do you think about it?  And how long can the ‘Taker’ keep going?

Jimmy: I first have to state that I may be a little biased as Undertaker is probably my favourite superstar. I would like to see the streak remain intact until the day the Deadman retires whenever that may be. I think the Undertaker can go for several more years. By limiting his appearances and making them a special treat for fans when he does appear is what I think is best for business. Yes, I said it. As for who should end the streak, I do not believe there is anyone in the business today that should end the streak. Some may argue John Cena or Daniel Bryan or Bray Wyatt. At this stage in the Undertaker’s career, if someone were to end the streak, I do not think they would get the right kind of rub for it to mean what it should. If that made sense! 

Nick: Speaking of  Arda, any dirt or embarrassing stories about him?  And if your too nice to tell a story about him, how about one of yourself?

Jimmy: Arda is a very good friend who has helped me so much with my post refereeing/broadcasting career. I can’t thank him enough so I will not give any embarrassing stories just yet. I’ll save that for a later time. As for myself, one of the most embarrassing moments for me was when I refereed my very first match at Maple Leaf Garden. I split the back of my pants wide open. That match was filmed for Maple Leaf Wrestling so there is a video of it in the WWE vault somewhere. I just hope it stays there. That day, I learned to wear black underwear under my black ref pants. 

Nick:You give back to the same business you worked so hard for, by being involved with the local wrestling community in Toronto with promotions such as ‘Squared Circle Wrestling’.  Would you ever consider getting back into refereeing again on a more regular basis?  And if so, would you go back to the WWE or join some other wrestling promotion?

Jimmy: I enjoy donning the stripes every once in a while for groups like Smash Wrestling and Squared Circle. No plans to referee on a regular basis. I am very happy working with Canadian TV networks Sportsnet360 and The Fight Network as a wrestling analyst. That is my focus right now. I want to help make our weekly post game show Aftermath and that brand as big as possible. Plans are in the works to expand the brand’s presence and that is my priority right now. I get to watch and talk about something I still feel passionate about and I get to sleep in my own bed every night. No longer do I have that crazy travel schedule. Would I ever go back to WWE or other promotion? It would have to be the right circumstance for that to happen. Never say never but like I said, I am very happy doing what I am doing now! 

As a big Ottawa Senators Fan, I love watching the Toronto Maple Leafs collapse. Do you have any predictions on how the rest of their season might go? Is there any way I can connivence you to cheer for the Sens?

Jimmy: Spoken like a true Sens fan! Haha! I think it is very evident that the Leafs' season will only go as far as the goal tending takes them. Both Reimer and Bernier have been outstanding for much of the the year so far. There have been some not so good outings by both but they can't carry the entire load. There are still a few pieces to the puzzle Dave Nonis has to fill before this team becomes a serious contender. OH, and by the way, I will never cheer for the Sens! ;-) 

Nick: In your book "The Three Count" you talk about your love of Golf. I enjoy following Canadian golfers on the tour such as Graham DeLaet and Brad Fritsch. Is there a golfer that you really enjoy watching and do you have a favorite course that you have played at?

Jimmy: I do follow the Canadians on the PGA tour. I really believe that Graham DeLaet will have a great year after his break out year last year. Others to watch I think are Brad Fritsch, David Hearn & Adam Hadwin. All will eventually do well on the tour. I really don't have a favourite golfer to watch, just enjoy watching in general. As for favourite course I've played, too many to list. I've been fortunate to play in Canada, USA, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, Too difficult to pick just one. I know it sounds like a cop out so I will say Ballantrae G & CC here in Ontario would be my fave. 

Nick: The Royal Rumble is tonight any Predictions?

Jimmy: The rumble is probably my favourite match of the year. That said, I will go with Daniel Bryan even though he is not officially entered into the Rumble match. I think that this YES YES YES wave has to continue with a huge win at the Rumble and have Daniel Bryan go on to WMXXX to face Randy Orton and finally win the WWE WHC title. Can you imagine the entire Superdome chanting YES YES YES! That would be one the biggest WM moments of all time in my opinion. 

Nick:Thanks so much for your time Jimmy!

Jimmy:Thanks again for the chat.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Stuntman Stu Interview

I’ve been a fan of Stuntman Stu since his days with ‘Three Guys on the Radio’ at Team1200, now TSN1200 Sports Radio in Ottawa.  He began his career in radio doing his stunts for a local rock station ‘TheBear’, in Ottawa back in the 90's.  Now Stuntman Stu is a part of the morning team at Majic 100 FM Radio in Ottawa, as well as being the PA announcer for the Ottawa Senators.  In 2004, he received a United Way community builder award, and was the recipient of a Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon award in 2005.  Stu is graduate from the radio broadcasting program at Algonquin College in 1997, and was chosen as the college’s top alumni in 2003.  He supports various charities including the CHEO foundation, Senators Foundation, Queensway Carleton Hospital, Boys and Girls Club, and Rogers House.   The Stuntman lives in Ottawa with his wife Connie, who also works in the radio broadcast business.  They have 2 children and love to spend downtime together as family, which is a bit of a balancing act considering their hectic schedules.  With all that in mind, Stuntman Stu- the voice from Sens games and the radio that I have listened to for years here in Ottawa, was kind enough to offer me, someone he has never met, his time for some personal and in depth questions.

Nick:  Should i call you Stuntman Stu, Stuntman, Stu, Schwartzy, or?
Stuntman:  You can call me whatever you like, most people call me Stu.  Visa usually calls me Mr. Schwartz when I've missed a payment.

Nick:  Your work in radio has allowed to do variety of things in different places over the years, like the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.  You even got to see the epic Canadian gold medal Men’s hockey game.   Do you have a favourite work experience?
Stuntman:  I can't narrow it down to just one specific experience but the fact that I get to do this everyday is what I enjoy most.   OK, so I didn't really answer that did I?  My best moment happened recently when my wife and kids co-hosted the MAJIC 100 morning show with me on Christmas eve. 

Nick:  You’ve had the opportunity not only to go to all these different places, but also to try different roles and markets within the media, all while staying in Ottawa.  Why stay in the same place? 
Stuntman:  It's rare for sure to do it all in one place and there was a time when all I wanted was to move to Toronto or New York City.  I'm very happy to call Ottawa home and work in this city. 

Nick:  Working in radio has allowed you to explore many avenues.  You are very involved in charity work within the community- starting the ‘No More Bullies’ Campaign; and have even collaborated with Huff Estate Winery, in Prince Edward County, for ‘Stuntman Stu’s Red Line Merlot’ in 2008, where 2$ from every bottle sold went to the Ottawa Senators Foundation.  What adventure is next for you?
Stuntman:  That's what I wonder every day! I would love to do some acting in movies and recently had a small part in a CBC TV mini series that was shot in Ottawa.  I played a TV news announcer and had a blast shooting it! 

                       Click for more information 'No More Bullies'

Nick:  It is amazing that you get to try and do so many interesting things, while also making important contributions to the community.  You also seem like a very happy individual who is always laughing.  How important comedy in your life?
Stuntman:  You have to laugh everyday, some people take life too seriously.  My kids make me laugh which is the greatest feeling in the world.  My wife laughs too.. usually when I have my clothes off.   

Nick:  You are obviously a sports fan, and notably a New England Patriots Fan.  I am a Sens fan, a massive supporter of the Liverpool Football Club, and a bit of a WWE fanatic.  What sport do you think has the most passionate fans?
Stuntman:  Wow.. that's a loaded question!  My guess is soccer fans... my Father-in-law cheers for Juventus and he's nuts if they lose.

Nick:  Speaking of watching sports, I love to snack on junk food while the game is on.  I noticed that you made a New Years Resolution to eat less potato chips back in 2012?  How’d that go for ya?  What’s your favourite kind of potato chip now?  And what was your resolution this year?
Stuntman:  It didn't! I have ZERO will power.  Best chips are sour cream and onion and cheesies! 

Nick: You’ve met some incredible celebrities.  Who’d you like better Oprah or Ellen?
Stuntman:  They were both very nice, but Oprah grabbed my bum.  Well that's what I told people anyways...

Nick:  Why do you think ‘Cone-ing’ never took off like ‘Planking’?
Stuntman:  It involved more work than planking. 

Nick:  How much do you love Huey Lewis & the News?
Stuntman:  On a scale from 1-10, put me down for 10.  Huey was as cool as you wanted a rock star to be.  I've been lucky enough through my radio career to meet many musicians and he was one of the best.  Very down to earth guy.

Thank you to Stuntman Stu for his time and efforts.  You can follow Stuntman Stu at the following social media links:

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Team Canada's Selections for Sochi 2014

Today Hockey Canada announced it's roster for the Sochi 2014 Olympics which will be starting up in five weeks. I was glued to the television and active on twitter in anticipation of this announcement. So when 11am came around, I was excited to hear Steve Yzerman(team Canada General Manager) announce the roster. Apparently I was not the only one to be excited because as Marcel Aubut(Head of the Canadian Olympic Committee), team representatives and the transport ministers speeches all carried on, Twitter began to blow up. Here are some of my favorite tweets during that time.

Ugh. I can't listen to Aubut ramble on. I'm making up my own Olympic roster instead: Whitey Stapleton, Lanny, Steve Larmer & Andre Racicot.
"Next, Hockey Canada will have Yoko Ono setting fire to an electric violin. This is symbolic of hockey somehow."

Team Canada Roster Predictions

With Hockey Canada announcing there roster for the Sochi Olympic games at 11am this morning, I figured I would put together a list of players that I believe should be on the team. The team consists of 25 players, 3 goaltenders, 8 defense and 14 forwards. With so much talent there are bound to be some big names left off the team. I will analyze and dissect Hockey Canada's decisions in a later blog post today. For now take a look at who I think deserves to be on the team.

Carey Price, Roberto Luongo and Corey Crawford

Duncan Keith - Drew Doughty
Alex Pietrangelo  - Jay Bouwmeester
Shea Weber - PK Subban
Brent Seabrook - Dan Boyle (reserves)

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Steven Stamkos
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Rick Nash
Matt Duchene - John Tavares -  Jordan Eberle
Jamie Benn  -    Ryan Getzlaf        Eric Stall
Martin St, Louis     Patrice Bergeron.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

WWE Network Rumor

Something big is happening on January 8th, 2014.  World Wrestling Entertainment (the WWE) is holding a press conference in Las Vegas, with rumors of an announcement regarding the long awaited, much anticipated, WWE Network.   I have anxiously been waiting for this announcement ever since I first caught wind of the ‘WWE Network’ on the September 5, 2011 episode of ‘Raw’.  This was the first time the ‘Network’ was advertised, and at that point it had a projected launch for sometime in 2012.  

But, due to delays, and a lack of interest from Cable Television providers, this date has continued to be pushed back further and further. 

Which brings us to 2014, and according to more speculation, the WWE’s current plan for the network is to launch it during the 1st quarter of the year, specifically February 24, 2014- the day after the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.  

I can’t wait!

After researching a few sources, it may well be that WWE creates its’ network in a similar platform to Netflix.   Meaning that it will feature streamed content via the internet, as opposed to being carried by traditional Cable TV providers.  Subscribers will be able to watch online and on devices like smart TV’s, newer Playstation and XBox consoles, etcetera.  As well, there will be a live 24/7 stream of content on the network, which will separate it from apps like Netflix.  Yet, On-Demand viewing will still be a major component of the network, as entire libraries of ‘Raw’ and ‘Smackdown’ episodes, pay-per-views, footage from WCW, ECW, NWA and AWA, will all be available to watch at launch.  The projected initial price point for the the WWE Network will be in the $10-$12 per month range, with subscribers signing-up for a minimum of 6months.  WrestleMania 30 will be a throw-in bonus for those who sign up early.  It is also speculated that the WWE's eight 'secondary' pay-per-views would be featured on the network for subscribers, while the four ‘primary feature’ pay-per-views (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series) would remain on pay-per-view.  

I love the idea of a WWE network app for my smartTV.  Put it this way, I often have my WWE On-Demand channel on at all hours, even while I sleep.   This new ‘WWE Network’ will be very much like my On-Demand channel only on steroids.  I will have to contain my excitement though.  The  WWE’s Director of Public Relations has issued this following statement to quell the rumors and speculation in regards to the status of the WWE Network.

“In addition to not being able to confirm timing of WWE Network launch, WWE is still considering all options for distribution, pricing, and role of pay-per-view.”

So, I guess i will just have to continue to be patient (ahem) and wait until the Jan.8th WWE press-conference from Las Vegas to get any straight facts.