Have you ever restrained Randy Orton in the middle of the ring as The Viper stalks his prey, or banished Triple H to the backstage area for meddling in the action at ringside? Ever ordered Bret “Hit Man” Hart to keep fighting Shawn Michaels in a WWE Iron Man Match after time expires, or made Chris Jericho listen to reason after reversing a decision at Y2J’s expense?
As the brave soul charged with the responsibility of maintaining order in the WWE ring, the referee must call every moment down the middle despite the looming presence of any Superstar. The referee represents the forgotten participant of every match, as someone needs to count the pinfalls, acknowledge the submissions, and call fair or foul on every maneuver.
It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. And the officials on the following pages do it daily by relying upon their extensive training and expertise to demonstrate what it takes to be a referee in WWE.
After being introduced to the WWE family by a friend, Jack Doan, Chad Patton began his career. Patton would help set up the ring for WWE events in the Midwest on his days off and on weekends. Soon, officials took note of his hard work and put him in charge of setting up the stage. Eventually, it became a full-time job for Patton. At one point, he was asked to try his hand at ring announcing, which Patton admits he was terrible at. But, he was thrilled when a referee position became available. He went on to win that position and has been a WWE referee ever since.
Patton cites two matches – Steve Blackman vs. Tiger Ali Singh and his first Cage Match, pitting The Rock against Al Snow – as memorable moments of his officiating career.
When he’s not calling matches, Patton likes to stay active, working out and helping coach his son, Chase’s, sports teams. He is happily married to his wife, Stacy.
Charles Robinson got his start as a referee for a small independent promotion in Charlotte, N.C., before getting called up to work for Ted Turner’s WCW in the late 90’s. First officiating a match between Chris Taylor and a local talent as a tryout, it wasn’t long before Robinson was overseeing some of the most memorable showdowns in the organization’s history, including Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan for the WCW Championship at the Georgia Dome and a First Blood Match between Rick Flair and Hulk Hogan.
Robinson also has the rare distinction of tag-teaming with the “Nature Boy,” Ric Flair, which Robinson cites as the highlight of his career. Robinson, like many other North Carolina natives, grew up idolizing the 16-time World Champion and at one point was referred to as “Lil’ Naitch.”
Robinson came to work for WWE shortly after WCW was bought out by WWE in 2001 and refereed, among other matches, the Wrestlemania X8 classic between The Undertaker and Ric Flair.
A lover of his job, Robinson can’t think of a better way to earn a living than by being a WWE referee. Outside of the ring, he enjoys spending time with his daughter, Jessica, with whom he enjoys skiing and riding horses.
Referee John Cone got his start in the Ohio River Valley, working for Harley Race from 1999 to 2006, where he happened to get noticed by a WWE Official who was in attendance. Cone started working matches on ECW and SmackDown before moving on to Raw. His most memorable moment, he says, is when he officiated a boxing match between former Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield and Superstar Matt Hardy in The Most Famous Arena in the World, Madison Square Garden.
Outside of the ring, Cone runs Donut King, a Kansas City, MO-, based doughnut shop, with his wife Lauren. Speaking of the differences between his two occupations, Cone says, “Making doughnuts, you have to start in the middle of the night and end early in the morning. With sports entertainment, on the other hand, it could start early in the morning, but it ends in the middle of the night."
Referee Mike Chioda has been a part of the WWE family for 20 years and has been a referee for the past 15. He started out working for late WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon, selling event programs and setting up the ring every night. Around age 19, Chioda was approached by WWE Hall of Famer Chief Jay Strongbow, who wanted him to train as a referee.
The first match Chioda ever worked was between the Brooklyn Brawler and Barry Horowitz, but he has since gone on to oversee some of the most memorable moments in WWE history. Among his favorites are Brock Lesnar’s superplex to Big Show on SmackDown, which collapsed the ring. There’s also Triple H vs. Batista at WrestleMania 21, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV and The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8.
Rod Zapata began his career as a WWE official in 2010. The Las Vegas native joined WWE after working for Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE's developmental promotion.
Ryan Tran began his career as a WWE official in 2010, calling matches for NXT before getting sent up to Raw in February, 2012. Born in Malaysia, Tran spent his childhood in Hayward, Calif., where the future official grew up idolizing WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat, and initially trained under legendary WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race with the goal of becoming a WWE Superstar himself. However, when WWE offered him a position as a referee, he jumped at the opportunity.
Tran cites the Triple Threat Tag Team Match between Cody Rhodes & Goldust, The Shield’s Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins and The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championships at Hell in a Cell 2013 as the most memorable contest he’s officiated.
When not in the ring, Tran is an avid sports fan, rooting for the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco Giants. He also enjoys collecting McFarlane Sports action figures.