Stephon Smith decided to put his focus on refereeing.
All Elite Wrestling referee Stephon Smith has officiated for a handful of independent promotions including PWG and he worked for WWE prior to joining AEW.
For nine years, Smith was an active in-ring performer and as he was on the latest AEW Unrestricted podcast with Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards, he recounted what led to him leaning into refereeing full-time.
Smith recalled having a conversation with IMPACT Wrestling’s John E. Bravo and that talk being a big part of the reason why he opted to put his in-ring career to the side.
It was around that time (I was tagging with Nyla Rose on the independent scene). So I did a few matches for them (Capitol Wrestling). I started off refereeing but then I just became a wrestler for them, teamed with Nyla so just kind of doing different bits and different matches like, it was largely intergender which was new for my career at the time. Me and Nyla, we got to face ‘Brutal’ Bob (Evans) and Timmy (Hughes) and then I believe not too long after that, she signed with AEW and we stopped tagging but, my wrestling career in that company kind of continued on until I gave up wrestling at that point right around that time. One of the referees at IMPACT because I was doing some stuff for them at the time, John (E) Bravo, he actually told me, he’s like, ‘Hey, you can either keep on being a good wrestler and just going along with that or you can become a great referee’ and that was around the time that I just made the hard choice of, okay, wrestling’s been fun but refereeing is what I feel like is really gonna catapult me to where I wanna be because there’s more opportunities coming along with refereeing with IMPACT and eventually with EVOLVE and WWE and now with AEW so, him really having that conversation with me was what changed the trajectory of my career. I’m really thankful for him having that hard talk with me about transitioning over.
Smith was present on the March 8th AEW Dynamite and to hear POST Wrestling’s review of that event, head over to the Rewind-A-Dynamite folder on the site.
If the quote in this article is used, please credit AEW Unrestricted with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcription.