And now for something completely different…
Wrestling is a funny sport. The majority of fans can name their favorite wrestler, their favorite match, their favorite manager, their favorite promotion. Most fans can describe where they were when a seminal wrestling event of their childhood occurred. Some can even describe the sights, smells and sounds, all of the sensations they felt in that moment. It is that experience that made me a wrestling fan, and it remains almost an infection that more current fans have suffered from. Wrestling is a quasi sport that, in the mass media, few understand. The mass media enjoys spirited competition from those on a baseball diamond or a basketball court or a football field, spending oodles of dollars on these sports, these institutions, that most of use (me included) hold dear. Yet, to a man, they all deride pro wrestling. Its not real. The performers are nothing but glorified carnies. They know how to fall. Give me a break. Wrestlers are great athletes who, in addition to putting their wares to work every night of the year, often in Podunk towns, subject their body, WILLINGLY, to rigors that would make NFL Lineman blush. Yet, while the NFL has seen a breakthrough in insurance coverage, a $786 Million Dollar settlement that was basically hush money to keep the weak and infirmed NFL alumni quiet, the world of pro wrestling has done nothing of the sort.
That is a side rant, something on my mind. But it is not without basis.
Most wrestling books describe wrestler A wrestling wrestler B, they kick the shit out of eachother all over the country, blood and years are shed, they make money, yet spend too much until said wrestler is broke and living a poor nomadic existence like Randy “The Ram” Robinson, the Mickey Rourke character from “The Wrestler.”
That is the template for most wrestling books. This is different. Jimmy Korderas was never a wrestler. He did not train with a Ron Hutchinson or Jim Cornette. He never main evented a WrestleMania, per se. No, Jimmy Korderas was a WWF referee.
Korderas was a huge wrestling fan back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s from the Greek portion of Toronto, Ontario. He got his start taking pictures of wrestlers at Maple Leaf Gardens from his ringside seat (next to the elevated ramp way WCW would later make famous). Twenty one year old Jimmy stood outside MLG and sold his prints, until an agent of WWF Canada confronted him and told him what he was doing was illegal. The man told him he could sell his pics a block away, and Jimmy complied. Soon, this man brought him to the altar, to the man who ran WWF Canada, the man who portrayed himself as the President of the WWF in the mid to late 80’s until the mid 90’s: Jack Tunney. Tunney, who oversaw all WWF events in Canada, liked this kid, so he put him on the payroll. Korderas’ first acts as a WWF employee were to drive talents from place to place in Canada. He loved it, and he was soon embarking on a long and prosperous run.
Korderas was basically a ring crew guy, the bottom rung of the ladder, transporting the stage and ring between various Canadian locales. He eventually graduated to driving Jack Tunney and Billy Red Lyons to events. Korderas was then, in 1987, taught how to be a referee. He had some tough learning curves (as the book shows) but he more or less was a duck to water.
Korderas continued as a ref, and became just about as decorated as a ref can. He was there for the February 5, 1988 match with Andre and Hogan. He was there in 1990 for the Ultimate Challenge. Korderas has a unique viewpoint on everything from Mania 3 to Mania 24.
Jim Korderas retired shortly after this book was published. He was someone who was central to most of the whims of WWF. Yet, he is hardly recognized. We remember Tommy Young, Earl or Dave Hebner, Joey Marella. Jim Korderas was THERE, through good and bad, and deserves recognition as a man who has greatly contributed to the game.
In short order, Korderas’ book is excellent. Read it, and kayfabe with it.