WWE Raw: John Laurinaitis and a Look at His Career as a Wrestler

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterMay 2, 2012

Photo from wwe.com
Photo from wwe.com

John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis is coming. 

Over the Limit 2012 will feature one of the most unexpected pairings in recent memory.

When Vince McMahon was onscreen all the time, he managed to pull off some compelling matches despite his age and not actually being a wrestler.

John Laurinaitis was a wrestler for a long time.

We know he wasn't anywhere nearly as talented as his brother, Road Warrior Animal, but what was Laurinaitis' career in the ring like?

Laurinaitis wrestled as Johnny Ace.

He was a gangly and awkward performer who had some decent in-ring skills, but lacked the "it" factor.

Johnny Ace was an unsuccessful hybrid, a big man who wasn't all that strong and a high-flyer who wasn’t all that agile. 

His finishing moves included the Ace Crusher II (a leg drop bulldog) and a diamond cutter he dubbed the Ace Crusher. 

The lariat and cobra clutch suplex also featured prominently in his matches. 

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WCW/NWA/Jim Crockett Days

In the late '80s he and his less famous brother, Marc wrestled as a tag team for Florida Championship Wrestling.  Laurinaitis later gained Shane Douglas as a tag partner.

The two were known as the Dynamic Dudes, laid-back, cool skateboarders with long blond hair.

For fans who have only seen Laurinaitis as Mr. Excitement, it's hard to imagine him with long hair, much less attempting such an ill-fitting gimmick.

The Dynamic Dudes did not last long.

Laurinaitis was beginning to spend more time in Japan.  The fans didn't seem to particularly dig the team, either. 

During his tenure in the States, in singles or tags, Laurinaitis didn't have many noteworthy matches, but did go up against one huge star and huge star to be. 

In a match vs. Mean Mark Callous at Capital Combat 1990, Laurinaitis showed off some high flying, but ultimately earned a chant of "boring" from the crowd.

Callous went on, of course, to become WWE legend, the Undertaker. 

In this match, Undertaker's greatness seems ready to boil over while Laurinaitis comes off as nothing special.   

At a WCW Main Event show that same year, Johnny Ace fought Ric Flair.   

Though Ric Flair is among the best ever at putting his opponent over, even the Nature Boy can only do so much.

photo from prowrestlingwikia.com
photo from prowrestlingwikia.com

Much of the action is clunky and Laurinaitis worked timidly. 

A Home in Japan

Laurinaitis wrestled for All Japan Pro Wrestling from 1990-2000 and earned most of the notches on his belt there.

He didn't suddenly become the second coming of Lou Thesz in Japan, but Laurinaitis got into a groove. 

Working with some of Japan's most legendary wrestlers, he held his own. 

Against a young Kenta Kobashi in 1989, Laurinaitis battled hard, milked the drama and ultimately won with an Ace Crusher.

In 1991, he won the Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal.

He was also a six-time tag team title holder, capturing the AJPW All-Asia Tag Team Championship twice and the AJPW Unified World Tag titles four times.

During those championship runs, Johnny Ace partnered with most notably "Dr. Death" Steve Williams and Kenta Kobashi.

It was in the tag division that he had his greatest matches.

He earned two five-star ratings for matches with Steve Williams at his side. 

In a 1995 battle vs. Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuharu Misawa, Laurinaitis received and dished out chest-stinging chops.

With his blond locks flying, he showed raw emotion.  Clearly, being in the ring with such icons of the sport inspired his best. 

Johnny Ace and Williams' match against Misawa and Jun Akiyama earned five stars as well as Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Match of the Year in 1996. 

Even at his highest level, in these acclaimed matches, Laurinaitis was a solid worker at best.  The American audiences had little interest in him, but the Japanese fans took to him.

Retirement and Beyond

John Laurinaitis hung up his wrestling boots in 2000. 

He's been a booker, a behind the scenes man and now most recently the kayfabe head of Raw and Smackdown.

At Over the Limit 2012, he's going to climb back into the ring against WWE's biggest star.

While he may have more credentials and ring skills than Vince McMahon, the storyline won't have the same heat as Stone Cold vs. McMahon. 

Laurinaitis is 46.  He's not ancient yet, and could still surprise some people with his ring work. 

Will he manage to make his battle with John Cena anywhere near as good as work in Japan or is the WWE Universe in for an embarrassing eyesore?

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