Throughout the history of professional wrestling managers have proudly stood behind some of the greatest that ever graced a squared circle. I’m not talking about just eye candy. I’m talking about those that would talk the talk and when it came to would walk the walk if it meant landing their guy (or girl) a win.
Guys like The Grand Wizard, Captain Lou Albano, Jim Cornett and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan pioneered the art of making someone else relevant. You had guys like Paul Ellering stand behind The Legion of Doom while J.J. Dillon did the same with The Four Horseman and Jimmy Hart did the same for a who’s who of talent.
Until today I can recall the days when Paul Bearer would send chills down your spine and how James Mitchell would have you listening in silence as the demonic madman would paint vivid pictures with his vocabulary. Even in smaller roles guys like Mr. Fuji would add that missing touch and amplify the cultural diversity that a guy like Yokozuna was already offering to the sport.
Let’s also give due to the ladies who did more than just walk down the aisle as eye-candy. The likes of Miss Elizabeth and Sensational Sherri helped their men break into the main event seen while other ladies like Sunny, Sable and Debra held their own during the Attitude Era.
In recent years it has become a dying breed with a few standouts along the way. You had ECW’s Bill Alfonso managing Rob Van Dam and then TNA’s Scott D’Amore leading the way as Team Canada’s coach. You even had the likes of Daivari play a pivotal role in Muhammad Hussan’s time in the ring, on a mic or behind a camera. Lastly, in the later days of the WWE you had none other than Paul Heyman single handily convince us all that Brock Lesnar was the next big thing!
Nowadays you can count the number of real managers on one hand. With the recent “future endeavors” that Abraham Washington received you only have Ricardo Rodriguez doing a standout job behind Alberto Del Rio and Vicky Guerrero leading many to great success with Dolph Ziggler being most notable. As for Heyman, he was recently back alongside Lesnar and is now behind the current reigning WWE Champion C.M. Punk.
Beyond these three there are no true managers left in the sport’s number one organization. There may be a few others who walk down as eye-candy but none that talk the talk and walk the walk when needed. Part of the reason is that it is a lost art. A manager can’t be a weak talker nor one that is an equal talker to the talent they manage. That is to be their strong point.
There job at ringside is just as important. It’s also about building chemistry with your talent and the audience. Knowing when to capitalize on everything that is going on from the moment you walk through those curtains to then you walk back through them. Lastly, it’s also a special art to know when to shut up and be invisible. The fans didn’t pay to see you the manager. You are the unsung hero who makes your guy (or girl) look like a million bucks.
That’s exactly what Heyman is doing for Punk and as a result he has been an irreplaceable asset for both Punk and the WWE. The same could be said about Guerrero who arguable receives one of the loudest reactions period and no less consistently for years now. Then there’s a guy like Rodriguez who provides an extraordinary introduction for his talent while complimenting Del Rio at ringside. These three are money well spent and add a different element to the product that it dearly needs.
Is it time for the WWE to invest more managers? Or even for the wrestling scene in general to do the same? I think so. The common worry with the WWE is in the lack of true main eventers. Guys who can command the attention of live and televised audiences like The Rock and Steve Austin did. They are far and few between and as evident by the likes of Heyman and Guerrero, maybe another one or two managers couldn’t hurt.
There are star in the making who need that final push. Maybe a dependable manager is just the last piece of the puzzle.