Former WWE Head Of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis is no stranger to controversy and has had notable fall outs with many personalities including current AEW commentator Jim Ross.
Laurinaitis, known by many under his former in-ring name of Johnny Ace, held a number of backstage roles across multiple tenures in WWE as well as being a former WCW Executive. Whilst also known for his on-screen role as RAW General Manager, it is in his position as Head Of Talent Relations that he has caused the biggest stir over the years and one former WWE Superstar has revealed that the former All Japan Pro Wrestling Tag Team Champion seemed to relish one of the harder duties of the job.
John Laurinaitis May Have Enjoyed Releasing Matt Hardy
On a recent episode of his podcast, The Extreme Life Of Matt Hardy, the former ECW Champion revealed that he believed Laurinaitis enjoyed handing him his release in 2005 and claimed he had a major role in changing a planned feud:
“So whenever Johnny first came over from WCW, and I had turned on Jeff, and I was just starting Matt Hardy version one, the sensei of Mattitude, we definitely clashed quite a bit. And we had different views on how I should do the character, I think. And they wanted me to be more out, more straightforwardly a heel, I think and just cheat and be bad and try and get heat all the time. And I wanted to be a heel but also wanted to be entertaining. I thought that was important, because I knew I was up against a beast in Jeff Hardy, who was one of the most popular wrestlers of all time.
So there was a point where I was going to have to take out Rey Mysterio, I was going to feud with Edge and it was going to be something that was really going to elevate me because Edge had been getting a lot of juice at this time from being pushed. And they ended up taking me out and putting A-Train in. So you know, Prince Albert, A-Train, he got that role and not me.
And that was a Johnny Ace thing. And I think we’ve talked about this a little bit on the podcast, but I was very upset about that. I stood up for myself, talked to the writers, talked to Vince, why I should be getting this opportunity, and I didn’t get it. And Vince said, well, we’ll give you another opportunity down the road.
And they ended up giving me the opportunity of becoming the Cruiserweight Champion, and I made the most out of that really happy with how they ended up going on with WrestleMania 19, wrestled Rey Mysterio. We did the deal where I dropped the title to him in the main event of Smackdown. It was really a big deal for the Cruiserweight title and also, it was a big deal for me because Rey was such an over talent at that time, right?
So John and I had a lot of issues and I felt like whenever he called to release me, in 2005, I felt like he was getting a little, a little bit of enjoyment out of it, because he’s like, Okay, well, this guy kind of like, you know, he clashed with me and he questioned my judgement and how I was asking him to work and whatnot. So I feel like there was a part of him that enjoyed that a little bit.”
Hardy would go on to highlight that he would work again with Laurinaitis in WWE and noted that the pair had recovered their relationship:
“Eventually, as everyone knows, I ended up coming back. He’s there, I get along fine with him. And whenever I came back for those last three years to WWE in 2017, I was absolutely cool with them and it was fine and John Laurinaitis has a really sh*tty job.
The job he was doing that time was talent relations because he’s ultimately the bad guy for Mr. McMahon. Vince McMahon doesn’t need to give people the bad news. He doesn’t need to tell people the bad things that they have to hear. That’s John Laurinaitis’ job. So that’s a tough job.
It’s a very thankless job in many ways, too. So at the end of the day, I’ve had my issues with John Laurinaitis, but I’m okay with John Lauriniatis now, and I’m fine with him. I have respect for him. And I wish him nothing but the best.”
Laurinaitis was removed from his role as Head Of Talent Relations in June 2022 by the WWE Board amidst investigations into Vince McMahon and alleged hush money payments before being quietly released from WWE in August 2022.
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