Wrestling managers, remember those? For whatever reason, WWE has currently devalued the presence of a manager in today’s era.
Long gone are the days of wrestling managers running stables such as “The Heenan Family”, “The Million Dollar Corporation”, or any of the factions run by “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart.
There is a long line of wrestlers that either would have never made a dent in wrestling, or wouldn’t have had near the success that they did have, if it weren’t for a mouthpiece accompanying them to the ring night in and night out.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good manager
Could you imagine the quiet, stoic Undertaker having nearly the success he had early on without the late, great Paul Bearer?
There had to be someone to vocalize what was going through the mind of the deadman. Those body bags and burials wouldn’t have made a lot of sense, if we didn’t have the eerie sidekick giving us a play by play.
Or look at Yokozuna…
Okay, okay, maybe he wasn’t actually a sumo wrestler from Japan who couldn’t speak a lick of english (and now that I mention it, his manager, Mr. Fuji was half Hawaiian)… but would Yoko’s run in the early 90s be nearly as impactful without the devious one throwing salt into the eyes of his adversaries? Or without his “official spokesperson” Jim Cornette drawing heat with his mile-a-minute rants? Not a chance.
And don’t even get me started on Bobby “The Brain” Heenan – a genius mind if there ever was one when it came to drawing heat for his clientele.
How do you think that build for the Hogan vs. Andre dream match would have been if we didn’t have “the Brain” selling it like it was biggest event in history?
You get the point.
Female Wrestling Managers and Valets
The art of managing isn’t exclusive to the Y chromosome either. There has been a litany of powerful and successful “valets” or women managers as well.
Think of the impact that Sensational Sherri and Miss Elizabeth had in the the late 80s and early 90s.
And I’m not just referring to their role in the matches themselves either – they were integral parts of the storylines, as well. The heat that Sherri could generate and on the flipside, the compassion that Elizabeth could elicit was simply off the charts.
The entire culmination of the Mega Powers explosion at WrestleMania V was directly related to Macho‘s jealously over Miss Elizabeth.
The whole premise of a manager typically works best when it involves heel work. Wrestlers that may not be the strongest on the mic or that may be working out the kinks when it comes to promo work, can truly benefit by having a manager that can draw heat.
One of WWE’s (few) current managers: Paul Heyman
We see it working in spades in the modern PG Era with Paul Heyman.
Heyman, a mastermind when it comes to anything wrestling, often gets louder pops than a lot of the locker room due to his masterful promo work. The connection that he and Lesnar have is indescribable, yet obvious.
Heyman’s mic work combined with Lesnar’s freakish talent makes for a rare combination not often seen in the modern era. And this certainly isn’t lost on Lesnar. After one unsuccessful interview with John Laurinaitis, Lesnar personally got in touch with Heyman and brought him back to the WWE. The two are inseparable at this point, and the aura wouldn’t be the same without them being a tandem.
Talk is not cheap
In today’s WWE, which is often described as the “work rate” era, you would think there would be an added emphasis on recruiting and bringing in talented managers.
Most of WWE’s active roster is comprised of wrestlers who have gotten to where they are due to ring work – not necessarily because of mic skills or from being a scary looking dude who was spotted at a gym.
That’s why so many heels get cheered – today’s heels are the most entertaining or best promo guys on the WWE roster.
Look at Chris Jericho for example. Y2J is pushing 50 years old and has lost more than a considerable step in the ring… yet he’s still as relevant as ever because of his ability to talk and his ability to adapt.
Same goes for The Miz. Despite never being praised for his in ring abilities, Miz excels at selling a feud and drawing legitimate heat.
Are wrestling managers needed today?
To the dismay of “the smart/internet WWE fans” – much seems to get lost with WWE’s front office. Strange things happen, whether it’s storylines that seemingly go nowhere, or a promising young talent getting cut from the roster.
But of all things to drop the ball with, aren’t wrestling managers one thing that should have added value?
The importance of telling a story or selling a feud is the backbone of professional wrestling and when over half your roster can’t speak for themselves, aren’t you missing out on a critical opportunity?
What do you think? Are wrestling managers a lost art? Or is simply an old school thing that doesn’t have a place in today’s wrestling world? Sound off in the comments section below!