By David Dickson, Columnist
Whilst there are still a few… managers are a lost art in wrestling these days.
We cling to likes of Paul Heyman, one of the greatest Managers of all time, but he is one of a dying breed. As is evident with Heyman, acting as the mouthpiece for Brock Lesnar to make up for his lack of mic skills, managers are more than simply someone who stands at ringside.
When I was growing up, every promotion had several managers, each leading a stable of wrestlers. The purpose was, as I said, to act as a mouthpiece to those who did their talking in the ring, but who couldn’t deliver their message. They were also there, like a Coach, to motivate their clients, to cheer them out, and to offer moral support. They also acted as a distraction to their clients’ opponents. They’d distract the opponents to allow their clients to attack from behind and get the advantage. They’d also distract the Referee to allow their client to cheat. They’d skip foreign objects to their clients, to use in the match. They’d grab the leg of opponents. Wrestlers would throw their opponents out to where their managers were, then distract the referee, to allow them to cheap shot their opponents. It really was and still is an art form. One that is sorely missed in today’s wrestling.
In the days before factions were common place, managers would have a stable of Wrestlers, which wasn’t technically a faction, but acted in the same way. Those stables paved the way for the likes of the NWO, DX, etc, in later years.
Back in the day, we had a wealth of managerial talent. I grew up with the WWF having the recently deceased Bobby The Brain Heenan, who was many fans’ favorite ever Manager, including my own. He was so good on the mic. He wasn’t afraid to take a bump. He really did have a great mind for this business. He made you hate him, that’s how good he was. As you got older, you realized that, and it made you love him.
The then WWF also has The Mouth Of The South Jimmy Hart, who on paper, is the greatest Manager of all time. He managed heels and babyfaces in the CWA, WWF, WCW, XWF, TNA, Wrestlicious, and so many other promotions.
He also managed men and women. He managed the biggest wrestling star of all time, in Hulk Hogan, meaning he also managed a World Heavyweight Champion, and he really was Hulk Hogan’s Business Manager. He was also a singer who knocked Elvis off the number 1 spot. He was wrestler, a commentator, a road agent, and a promoter, (Co-Founding the XWF). Plus, Hart used to work with the music side of Wrestling, both in the WWF and WCW- writing, composing, producing, and performing, many of the classic entrenched themes of the day.
The WWF had Captain Lou Albano, another of the all time greats. He managed more Tag-Team Champions than anyone They had Classy Freddie Blassie, the devious Mr. Fuji, the Doctor Of Style Slick, plus many more.
WCW had the likes of Paul Jones. Precious Paul Ellering. Gary Hart. Plus, many more, including WCW’s answer to Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart, Paul E. Dangerously, no known as Paul Heyman, and James E. Cornette. Again, both masters on the mic, both getting very actively involved, and both having the skills to make you hate them.
Then there were the valets. The likes of Sunny, Sable, Terri, and more, who did everything the Managers did, but could also use their sex appeal to distract an opponent, as well as seducing their Clients, and of course, many times, the babyface Wrestlers couldn’t hit a woman. 2 of my favorites and all time greatest were Elizabeth, who I feel was the most beautiful and classy woman in the history of this business, and Sensational Sherri Martel.
Now, Sensational Sherri Martel is my all time favorite, all-around woman in the history of this business. She worked for the AWA, WWF, ECW, WCW, TNA, and more. She was a great Wrestler, one of the best, holding World Women’s Championships in the AWA and the then WWF. She did everything a male manager did, including taking the bumps. She was the toughest woman I ever saw in this business. She really stuck it to her Clients’ opponents, without fear. And she was perhaps the best woman on the mic, in this business. Sunny and Stephanie McMahon are right up there, but Sherri, I feel, was the best.
You just don’t get that, anymore. It’s such a shame.
There is obviously still a market for managers. There are many talents who could really use a manager. Talents that could get elevated to the top, by having that much needed support from a talented manager. The problem is that there aren’t that many left and promotions aren’t making plans for the next generation of managers.
WWE NXT is the ideal place to bring in Managers who could hone their craft, before getting the call up to the main rosters. It’s not just Wrestlers that should be getting the developmental treatment. The WWE Performance Center should be offering training to those who want to be a manager. I personally know people who would love to be managers. I think it’s certainly something that all Promotions should be looking to bring back. As well as helping in-ring talents, they offer an added entertainment value to the product.
Until next time, I’ve been Davey Dickson and that’s been my bottom line.