He has wrestled for such promotions as World Championship Wrestling (WCW), All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and WWE. He is also the younger brother of Joe Laurinaitis (Road Warrior Animal; one half of the wrestling tag team The Road Warriors), and the uncle of James Laurinaitis, former Ohio State standout linebacker for the St. Louis Rams. In WWE, Laurinaitis worked as Senior Vice President of Talent Operations for eight years, and as occasional wrestler from 2011 until 2012. After his on screen firing, he stepped down from his executive backstage role to being a producer. Prior to joining WWE, Laurinaitis worked as an executive for WCW.
Professional wrestling (1986–2000)
National Wrestling Alliance/World Championship Wrestling (1985–1990)
John Laurinaitis started wrestling in 1986 as Johnny Ace. At first, while wrestling in Florida Championship Wrestling Ace frequently teamed with his brother The Terminator. Later, when he wrestled for NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions he formed a tag team with Shane Douglas called "The Dynamic Dudes". They were managed by Jim Cornette until Cornette turned on them for Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane's version of The Midnight Express. Prior to entering the competition as one of The Dynamic Dudes at the NWA, he already appeared as a valet (a flagbearer) for the team of The Sheepherders. In his last televised WCW match, Ace lost to Mean Mark Callous, later known as The Undertaker, at Capital Combat on May 19, 1990.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (1985–2000)
As All Japan Pro Wrestling was cutting its ties with the NWA in 1990, Laurinaitis chose to stay in it, thus becoming a permanent foreign fixture on the roster. In AJPW, he found a lot of success, teaming with Dan Spivey, Kenta Kobashi, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams and Mike Barton.
World Championship Wrestling (2000–2001)
Laurinaitis retired from the ring in 2000 after the split between All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah. He soon returned to World Championship Wrestling where he replaced Vince Russo as head booker.
World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment / WWE (2001–present)
Backstage roles (2001–2010)
Laurinaitis was hired in as a road agent after WWE's acquisition of certain assets of WCW in March 2001. In 2004, Laurinaitis replaced Jim Ross as Vice President of Talent Relations, then being promoted to Senior Vice President in 2007 and finally to Executive Vice President in 2009. He also appeared when Vince was kicked by Randy Orton on RAW. Laurinaitis's tenure in this role has received criticism from those who have worked for him, including Jim Cornette who, on his interviews with Kayfabe Commentaries, described how when direction shifted from Jim Ross to Laurinaitis things took a turn for the worst. Laurinaitis failed to work in the same capacity with OVW, WWE's developmental territory (also under the direction of Cornette), as Ross did often failing to warn the promotion when wrestlers OVW were using at the time were going to be called up to the main roster or when wrestlers from the main roster were set to appear for OVW but never did. Notable incidents include when Randy Orton was scheduled to appear at an OVW event but was never notified to appear, leading Orton to purchase a non-refundable vacation the week he was scheduled to appear. Another came at the time Cornette was using Doug Basham as OVW's top heel. At the time Basham had long hair and out of nowhere at an OVW taping Basham showed up bald, his reason being WWE creative wanted to see how he looked bald. Cornette was infuriated that he was not at least notified two weeks in advance (as Ross would have done) so that he could have prepared for Basham's makeover for future storylines. Sometime in 2000 Laurinaitis sent WWF rings that OVW had not requested for. OVW used only one ring which used cable ropes since it was not only used for events but for training as well. Cornette refused to take the rings as the weaker real ropes could have ended up doing more harm than good. This fear was realized only a few weeks after the WWE rings began to be used as Mark Henry (who was in OVW at the time) would break the ropes while running them, hurting him in the process. Eventually OVW would end their relationship with WWE. Florida Championship Wrestling is WWE's developmental territory as of 2012.
While generally behind the scenes, on June 27, 2011, Laurinaitis was mentioned on WWE programming, during a worked shoot on an episode of WWE Raw by CM Punk who called him a "glad-handing, nonsensical, douchebag yes-man" who would "tell Vince McMahon anything he wants to hear". Laurinaitis would subsequently make an appearance at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view as a corporate stooge the following month on July 17 with McMahon as part of a "contract renegotiation" angle. During the WWE Championship match, under McMahon's orders, Laurinaitis tried to duplicate the Montreal Screwjob, but defending WWE Champion John Cena then proceeded to knock Laurinaitis out, not wanting to win the match that way. McMahon then struck him personally after the show went off the air. The next night on Raw, Laurinaitis appeared alongside McMahon as McMahon announced an 8-man tournament to decide a new WWE Champion. On the August 1 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis would interrupt Triple H, telling him to strip Cena of his WWE Championship, which led to Cena to interrupt him and threaten to hit him again before Laurinaitis fled the ring. The following week on Raw, Laurinaitis would help Triple H officiate the contract signing between CM Punk and John Cena for their match at SummerSlam. After signing the contract, Cena would flip the table over and go face to face with Punk, but was stopped by Laurinaitis. As Laurinaitis talked to Cena, Punk would kick Laurinaitis in the back of the head, causing Cena to accidentally hit Triple H instead of Punk.
On the August 15 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis would ask Kevin Nash, who returned at SummerSlam after the WWE Championship match and attacked the winner, CM Punk, who would then lose the title to Alberto Del Rio after he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, for a private meeting in his office. On the September 5 episode of Raw, after Triple H fired Nash, Laurinaitis would enter Nash's limo with him, leaving the arena. At Night of Champions, Laurinaitis would try and help CM Punk win (with Punk not wanting the help), but was stopped by The Miz and R-Truth, who would attack both Triple H and CM Punk, believing the whole thing is one big conspiracy. Nash would also interfere in the match after Laurinaitis sent a text at ringside.
On the September 26 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis would advise David Otunga, a Harvard Law School graduate, to help the disgruntled wrestlers with his legal knowledge who are complaining to him about Triple H's decisions and actions as COO. On that week's edition of SmackDown, Laurinaitis and Otunga would sit down with Christian, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Vickie Guerrero to discuss the matter.
General Manager; sporadic matches (2011–2012)
On the October 10 edition of Raw, Laurinaitis was announced by Vince McMahon as the new Interim Raw General Manager, as the decision by the Board of Directors. That same night, Laurinaitis would fire Jim Ross and reinstate The Miz and R-Truth. After a few weeks of impartiality, Laurinaitis would ask Alberto Del Rio to get CM Punk disqualified so Punk could lose the WWE Championship, but was unsuccessful in doing so. On the December 26 edition of Raw, Laurinaitis would place Punk in a gauntlet match, where if one of his three opponents were to pin him, they would receive a shot at the WWE Championship on the following week's Raw. Punk agreed to the match, only if he beat all three, then he would get to face Laurinaitis himself afterward, to which Laurinaitis would agree to. During the match, Laurinaitis would distract Punk, allowing Dolph Ziggler to win the match. The following week on Raw, Laurinaitis would distract Punk once again, allowing Ziggler to win the match by count-out, thus, Punk still retained the championship. John Laurinaitis is set to be the special guest referee at the Royal Rumble between Punk and Ziggler for the WWE Championship. Intermeddling from Laurinaitis caused Punk to lose to Ziggler throughout January which ultimately led to Punk attacking Laurinaitis in retaliation. Laurinaitis then declared himself to be the soon to be permanent Raw General Manager rather than just the Interim General Manager. In response to this, the Board of Executives believed that Laurinaitis was abusing his power and authority, especially due to the declaration to favor Ziggler in the match and his position as Interim General Manager would be taken under review by Chief Operating Officer Triple H. At the Royal Rumble, Laurinaitis brought in another official to help and allowed Punk to claim a victory over Ziggler. On January 30 edition of Raw, Laurinaitis was set to have a performance review by Triple H. During the review, Triple H would degrade Laurinaitis fully and before he could announce the decision, he was interrupted by The Undertaker. The WWE Board of Directors decided on February 7, 2012 to retain Laurinaitis as Raw's interim General Manager. It was also determined on February 27, 2012 that the respective General Managers of Raw and Smackdown would be changing places for one night only with Laurinaitis in charge of SmackDown for March 9, 2012 and Theodore Long in charge of Raw for March 5, 2012. On that week's edition of SmackDown, Laurinaitis wrestled his first match in 11 years (as well as his first for WWE), losing to Theodore Long in a Singles match.
Following his match against Long, the two began a feud that led up to WrestleMania, in which both Long and Laurinaitis chose six superstars to represent them, the winning team would decide the new General Manager of both respective brands.
At WrestleMania XXVIII, Team Laurinaitis defeated Teddy Long's team, resulting in Teddy Long losing his position as the General Manager of SmackDown, and John Laurinaitis became the permanent General Manager of both brands. After WrestleMania, Laurinaitis used his power against those who were against him, constantly attempting to bend the rules unfairly to the advantage of those who befriended him. On the April 23 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis appointed WWE Diva Eve Torres as Executive Administrator of Raw and SmackDown. On the April 30 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis came to the ring to announce John Cena's opponent for Over the Limit. Laurinaitis, with the aid of Lord Tensai, attacked Cena, and subsequently announced that he will be returning to the ring to face Cena at Over the Limit. On the May 14, 2012 episode of Raw, Laurinaitis fired Big Show from the WWE after Show mocked Laurinaitis' voice, despite Show giving in to Laurinaitis' demands and begging to keep his job. Later in the episode, Laurinaitis received a letter (which was taken away from him and read aloud by Cena) from the WWE Board of Directors stating the rules for his match against Cena at Over the Limit: the match will be one-on-one, Laurinaitis may not appoint a special referee, all superstars are banned from ringside, the only ways to win are pinfall or submission, any WWE employee who interfered in the match will be immediately fired, and if Laurinaitis lost the match, he would be fired. During the match, Laurinaitis made several attempts to run away from Cena before he was finally brought back to the ring by Big Show who eventually helped Laurinaitis win the match via pinfall after hitting John Cena with the WMD. Laurinatis suffered an array of injuries from the match, including a possible concussion and contusions over his body.
Laurinaitis returned the next night on Raw, using a power chair and crutches for mobility purposes. John Laurinatis told everyone that he rehired Big Show to help him win the match against John Cena. On June 4, it was reported on WWE.com that Laurinaitis would be evaluated by Mr. McMahon on the June 11 edition of RAW. On the June 11th episode of RAW, Mr. McMahon would give him one more chance. At the end of the Raw Supershow, Big Show would give Vince McMahon the WMD just moments before firing John Lauriniatis. On the June 15th episode of Smackdown, he gets smacked by John Cena. On the June 17, 2012 No Way Out Pay-Per-View, John Cena defeated the Big Show by escaping the steel cage. Mr. McMahon then fired John Laurinaitis. Afterwards, he was given an Attitude Adjustment through the announcer's table by John Cena. On the June 18th episode of RAW, John Laurinaitis appeared and stated that he made the main event for the show before being fired, a 3 on 1 handicap match between the team of Laurinaitis, David Otunga, and Big Show vs John Cena. However, Show would not participate in the match and Otunga would leave the match midway because Laurinaitis refused to be tagged in by Otunga twice, leaving Laurinaitis to face Cena one on one finally with Laurinaitis getting AA'd multiple times and beat by John Cena.
Return to road agent (2013–2015)
On July 30, It was announced on WWE.com that Laurinaitis resigned as the Senior Vice President of Talent Operations and returned to being a road agent. On December 8, 2013, WWE.com announced that Laurinatis would return to WWE on the December 9, 2013 Monday Night RAW results that he would present the Slammy Award for the Breakout Star of the Year.
Laurinaitis made another appearance during SmackDown's 15th Anniversary Special on the October 10, 2014 episode of SmackDown in which he formed a team to face Teddy Long's team to be determined as the greatest GM in SmackDown history. The match was won by Teddy Long's team. He made another appearance at the Slammy Awards in December.
Return to Raw (2016–present)
Laurinaitis' brothers have both been involved in professional wrestling: Joseph, also known as Road Warrior Animal; and former wrestler Marcus, mainly known as one half of the tag team The Wrecking Crew (Terminator / Fury). Laurinaitis' nephew, James (Joseph's son) is a linebacker for the St. Louis Rams.
He is noted for his distinctively raspy voice. As a friendly joke among fellow wrestlers, he is sometimes referred to as "John Laryngitis", both a play on his last name and a joke that he sounds as though he has a permanent case of the disease.
- Finishing and signature moves
- "Funk Man"
- "Clown Shoes" (coined by CM Punk)
- "Mr. Excitement"
- "Big Johnny"
- "John Laryngitis"
- "Mr. Unpredictability"
- Job titles
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- International Championship Wrestling Alliance
- ICWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Oregon Wrestling Federation
- OWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Other titles
- PWF Florida Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with The Terminator
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him # 77 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI 500 in 1997
- PWI ranked him # 203 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Match of the Year (1996) with Steve Williams vs. Mitsuharu Misawa and Jun Akiyama on June 7
- World Wrestling Entertainment