Former WWE Star Says John Laurinaitis Enjoyed Releasing Him
A former WWE superstar recalled a time when John Laurinaitis enjoyed telling a veteran wrestler that he was released from the company.
John Laurinaitis worked behind the scenes in WWE following their purchase of WCW in 2001 until he was fired in the summer of 2022 for having a role in Vince McMahon’s hush money payments scandal. Laurinaitis worked in many different roles, including as a Producer and the Head of Talent Relations that was in charge of hiring and firing WWE superstars.
Matt Hardy has been a pro wrestler for over 30 years and he spent about 15 years in WWE. Matt’s first run in WWE started in 1998, then abruptly ended in 2005 for a few months due to his girlfriend Lita cheating on him with Edge, which was a very personal situation. Eventually, Matt was brought back within a few months. Meanwhile, John Laurinaitis was the Head of Talent Relations by that point.
During a recent episode of the Extreme Life of Matt Hardy podcast, AEW’s Matt Hardy spoke about how John Laurinaitis put a stop to a storyline that Matt wanted to be part of early in his career. In this instance, Matt spoke about Laurinaitis removing Matt from a key storyline with Edge.
“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 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?”
Matt Hardy would then bring up his April 2005 release while talking about how John Laurinaitis enjoyed releasing him due to their past issue. He was re-hired by July of that year.
“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.”
As Matt Hardy continued, he explained that in his most recent run in WWE in 2017, he was okay with John Laurinaitis after the issues they had in the past.
“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 at 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.”