Thursday, 14 June 2012


Have you heard about WWE’s latest talent acquisition? No, not Brock Lesnar. WWE hasn’t secretly re-signed Batista, Jeff Hardy, or Goldberg. I’m not talking about Vader either. No, the man I’m talking about is John Laurinaitis.

At this point you’re probably thinking that John Laurinaitis has been working for WWE for years. Well, yes, he has. He joined WWE after the purchase of WCW in 2001. After starting out as a talent agent he quickly became the chief lieutenant to then talent boss Jim Ross. After three years of being Good Ol’ JR’s understudy (and unofficial hatchet man) Laurinaitis became the new Vice President of Talent Relations in 2004. He was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2007 and then Executive Vice President in 2009.

Yes, two promotions for doing the same job. That’s quite the lucky streak he has, no?

Back to the point. Laurinaitis has recently been relieved of his position as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations which leaves his sole role in the company (officially anyway) as the on-screen General Manager of RAW and SmackDown. He’s still being billed as the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations on TV but that could change if a storyline firing comes his way on Sunday (which it might).

John Laurinaitis: no longer the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations but still General Manager of both RAW and SmackDown. Phew!

The man who’s replaced him as the chief of WWE’s talent department is Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque. It’s too early to say whether or not he will do a better job than Laurinaitis but it’s difficult to imagine him doing worse. In his eight years in charge of talent relations Laurinaitis has signed only a handful of grapplers of have become genuine draws.

CM Punk and Daniel Bryan were both signed on his watch but in truth it’s difficult to imagine Laurinaitis was the only man involved in their signing (it’s all too easy to picture Jim Ross being dispatched to sign men with their reputations). John Cena is the only man to rise to prominence and stay with the company during the “Laurinaitis Era”, but again that will have had little to do with the talent head. The success of Cena can be attributed to Cena himself, Vince McMahon and the writing team.

A hefty list of talented wrestlers opted not to stay with the company while he was in charge. It’s unfair to blame the leaving of men such as Christian, Jeff Hardy (twice!), Goldberg, and Batista solely on Ace but he has to be considered a factor. That, coupled with his failure to sign anyone who has become a big money star for the promotion, has likely played a part in his removal from the role.

Triple H is WWE's new talent boss, and will bring a fresh approach to the role

It’s time for a new approach and fresh ideas. Triple H can provide that. ‘The Game’ has been easing into the role of talent boss for the last year or two. In that time he has been credited with the signings of Sin Cara, who is regarded as a flop by everyone, and Kharma, who has yet to make the impact predicted due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances. It’s very likely that he was instrumental in the signing of former ROH stalwarts Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli (now Kassius Ohno and Antonio Cesaro respectively) and he certainly would have played some sort of role in the negotiations with Brock Lesnar in March and April.

Laurinaitis doesn’t appear to be on his way to a future endeavour. His work as an on-screen authority figure has improved greatly since his introduction this time last year. He’s effective in the role, and provides unintentional humour with his frequent verbal botches. Because he’s established himself so well I expect he’ll stay with the company with a new backstage position of some sort for some time to come.

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