WWE: 5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About John Laurinaitis, the Pro Wrestler
For many casual fans of the WWE, John Laurinaitis was a complete stranger before he made his on-screen debut as a “stooge” of Vince McMahon.
Today, many people see him as the person CM Punk claimed him to be: a “glad-handing, nonsensical, d*****bag yes-man.”
As fellow Bleacher David Bixenspan graciously pointed out in his article, John’s reputation as the real-life Talent Relations V.P. is a complete joke.
Punk already exposed him for being incompetent on the microphone during promos and for bearing a visual and audible resemblance to Marty Funkhouser from HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
So why would anyone want to see this man face John Cena in a wrestling match at Over the Limit?
The answer is simple; unlike most authority figures such as Vince and Eric Bischoff, Laurinaitis is a trained athlete who has competed in high-caliber matches.
Before he was branded with the term “Clown Shoes,” John Laurinaitis was a professional wrestler named Johnny Ace.
It is true that Johnny Ace got into the business primary because he is the younger brother of Joe Laurinaitis, a.k.a. Road Warrior Animal.
It is also true that he began his career as a flag bearer for Luke and Butch of the Sheepherders.
But from 1990 to 2000, Johnny Ace was well-respected as a performer while working in Japan, a territory where the matches can be quite brutal.
And Johnny built several accolades for himself during his days in the "land of the rising sun."
So now, we will look at a few things that we need to know about the wrestling career of John Laurinaitis.
Johnny Was a Tag Team Specialist
CM Punk did remind us that Johnny Ace and Shane Douglas had one of the worst gimmicks ever as the skateboard-loving Dynamic Dudes.
But in the 1990s, he was a staple in the tag team division of All-Japan Pro Wrestling.
In fact, he became a six-time tag team champion while working in a major promotion in the Far East.
With Kenta Kobashi, Johnny won the AJPW All Asia Tag Team Championship on two separate occasions.
And then there was the prestigious Unified World Tag Team Championship.
Also known as the “Double Cup,” the title came into existence when the PWF Tag Team Championship was merged with the NWA International Championship in 1988. Therefore, the title is represented by a total of four belts, and they are still unified to this day.
Johnny won the Unified World Tag Team Championship four times, including two reigns with Kenta, one with “Dr. Death” Steve Williams and one with Bart Gunn.
Before he went to Japan, Johnny worked for the NWA Florida territory in the late 80s. While there, he became a two-time Florida Tag Team Champion with his brother Marcus Laurinaitis, a.k.a. The Terminator.
Johnny Wrestled in a "Match of the Year"
In 1996, Johnny Ace and Steve Williams wrestled a couple of matches against the team of Jun Akiyama and Mitsuharu Misawa.
But it was their match on June 7 that received critical acclaim.
It was voted “Match of the Year” and was ranked as a “5-Star Match” by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards.
Keep in mind that this year also gave us Bret Hart versus Shawn Michaels in the Iron Man match at WrestleMania.
So Johnny really isn't as terrible in the ring as we have been led to believe.
Besides, if Johnny can go toe-to-toe with Mitsuhara and Jun, surely he can hang with Cena.
Johnny Invented the Finishing Move of Randy Orton
As an individual performer, this may be Johnny’s greatest gift to the wrestling world.
Before he created “People Power,” Johnny Ace became the inventor of the Cutter, a wrestling move best described as a three-quarter facelock bulldog.
Johnny called it the Ace Crusher, and he could use it from multiple positions such as the center of the ring, the apron, the second rope or after a flapjack.
The Cutter would later become associated with Diamond Dallas Page, who called it the Diamond Cutter.
Over the years, many wrestlers have adopted the cutter and tweaked it to their likings.
Matt and Jeff Hardy use a 180-degree spinning cutter, known as the Twist Of Fate.
The Dudley Boyz used a high flapjack-cutter combination, known as the Dudley Death Drop or the 3D for short.
And of course, Randy Orton uses a jumping cutter, known as the RKO.
But none of these moves would have existed without the original Cutter, the Ace Crusher.
Johnny Has Appeared in a Video Game
In 1995, Johnny Ace was a playable character in the wrestling video game Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling 2: 3-4 Budōkan for the Super Famicom (the Japanese counterpart of the Super Nintendo).
Apparently, this game was very popular in Japan.
Its strengths included the All-Japan licensing and a very intuitive grappling system.
It also had 19 characters to choose from, which was a big deal during an era when console games were released on ROM cartridges instead of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.
The SNES and Sega Genesis versions of WWF Royal Rumble had only 12 characters each.
Seeing that most promotions contain more than 40 wrestlers, Johnny's inclusion in a game during that period is a testament to his popularity at the time.
In addition to the Japanese mainstays such as Giant Baba, Kobashi and Akira Taue, the game also features several of the "gaijin" American stars, such as Steve Williams, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, Stan Hansen and of course, Johnny Ace.
Both the Ace Crusher and Johnny’s “awesome Kentucky waterfall mullet” make an appearance as well.
Johnny Is NOT an Elderly Man
It is true that Johnny’s voice is reminiscent of a senior citizen, but don’t let that fool you.
Johnny Ace is 46 years old, and he is preparing to headline his first American pay-per-view. In fact, he is only four months younger than The Undertaker and two years older than Kane.
In comparison, Ric Flair was 56 when he first won the Intercontinental Championship.
Vince McMahon was 62 when he won the ECW Championship.
And The Fabolous Moohlah was 76 years old when she won her last Women’s Championship.
So, from a relative standpoint, Johnny still has time on his side.
Will Johnny use any suicide dives or top-rope leg drops against John Cena? Probably not.
Will Lord Tensai interfere on Johnny's behalf? Probably so.
Will the match steal the show from CM Punk and Daniel Bryan? Absolutely not!
But Johnny is definitely capable of giving us some better in-ring performances than Vince did against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan, and there is no denying that.
From a storyline perspective, there are plenty of reasons for John Laurinaitis to thrust himself into the main event.
Perhaps he wants to prove that he can achieve mainstream success in two continents like his brother Animal from the Legion Of Doom.
Maybe he is upset with the Brock Lesnar situation and he is taking out his frustrations on John Cena, the guy who he does not want to be the face of the company.
Or maybe he has hated John Cena ever since Cena struck him down last year at the Money In The Bank pay-per-view, and now is the time for his revenge.
Whatever the answer is, Johnny Ace is ready to throw on his boots one more time.
We saw no inklings of the corporate stooge last Monday when he tried to cripple the leader of the Cenation.
Instead we got the man that will hopefully show up on May 20th.
And that man is John Laurinaitis, the professional wrestler.