Is There Still Room For Managers In Wrestling?

By Paul Stratoti, Contributing Writer


Wrestling Managers once played an important role in the development of their protégés by helping them to cut promos (or completely speaking on his/her charge’s behalf if he or she was unable to do so), help their clients book matches and appearances, or otherwise get them over. This way, a manager can get experience working in front of the crowds and may even serve as a handler whereby keeping their protégés out of trouble in and out of the ring.

During the years that I have been acquainted with the business I have seen many among the elite; Arnold Skaaland, Abdullah Farouk, Eddie Crechman, George Cannon, Precious Paul Ellering, Jimmy Hart, JJ Dillon and Rock Riddle among others.

After Bruno Sammartino took a leave of absence in frustration with certain aspects of the wrestling industry in 1963 he returned to challenge Nature Boy Buddy Rodgers for the WWE Heavyweight title. Since Rodgers’ health slowly had begun to deteriorate Bruno had an easy time defeating him in 48 seconds in front of a sell-out Madison Square Garden crowd. He quickly set out to seek the managerial services of Arnold Skaaland to help guide him and his career. Arnie accepted and as a result of this perfect match Bruno managed to hold on to his prized championship for a duration that has yet to be surpassed in one reign; 7 years, 8 months and one day! Although this reporter never met Arnie in person he has to top the list during the pre-1980 era.

This first shot shown above would be my very first photo ever published in the news-stand wrestling magazines. It was taken at the late Grand Wizard’s apartment at the Granada Highlands in Malden, Mass where the 2nd half of my interview with him was re-conducted. I asked him whether he may have had any props handy to coincide with our interview and he went into his room, put on his Wizard jacket and turban and pulled out a sword. The lighting wasn’t the greatest and only one out of 3 shots turned out ok.

George “Crybaby” Cannon took over the managerial contract of Fabulous Kangaroos Don Kent and Al Costello after their original manager “Wild” Red Berry left and helped them capture the NWA World Tag Team Championship. During one of their championship wins they broke thew Stomper’s leg and that historic match can even be seen on YouTube today!

He then managed Kurt von Hess and Karl von Shotz to NWA Tag team superiority shortly after which he also is reported to have helped bring WWE into Detroit assisting in the promotion’s being globally dominant. Adding to his unpredictability as a co-promoter he insisted that in Detroit a wrestler would be fined $100 for bleeding during a match.

The following photo was taken by Scott Romer after one of the bloody Cobo Arena encounters of the original Sheik as his manager the “Palestinian Brain” Eddie Crechman inspects his wounds:enter

My interview with Eddie Crechman conducted back-stage at the old Cleveland Arena also was obviously authorized by the Sheik as he took a table near our interview location and started to do calisthenic type exercises on it which made a lot of noise. It was kind of funny in retrospect but nonetheless I was nervous as I had an instamatic camera with me during that interview but Crechman insisted that the Sheik never agreed to backstage photo shoots and if one were to take place then it was generally known that the photographer would pay a stiff price. My adrenaline was running high and I was a bit unprepared for the Sheik’s overseeing of my short interview.

As I proceeded, Crechman answered my few questions in full heel fashion:

Strat: It seems as though Bobo Brazil is not quite finished with the Sheik as he wants his US title back.

EC: “We don’t care about Bobo Brazil. If he ever comes back against the Sheik then he’ll never come back anymore. This you can be sure!

Strat: So why doesn’t the Sheik like to wrestle in front of the TV cameras anymore?

EC: “Look, as long as we got the money for our pocket this is what counts the most and we don’t care what the fans are going to think about!”

Strat: You still didn’t answer my question.

“The Sheik doesn’t like to wrestle in front of any TVs or shmevies because he is a good looking and a handsome man and he doesn’t want anybody to look at his face. OK!?”

Strat: Would you like to comment on the Sheik’s use of his infamous fire?

EC: Would I like to vhat? I don’t understand your English!”

Strat: Would you like to comment on the Sheik using fire to win his matches?

EC: “The Sheik uses anything he wants to use and when he uses fire there is a big fire and everything burns!”

Strat: Do you have anything to say to those fans who do admire the Sheik?

EC: “Well, they are great connoisseurs and they know a great wrestler when they see one.”

Strat: Is there anything else that you would like to say before we conclude this interview?

EC: “We are going to make a clean up of the United States and then we are going to go and take a nice trip!”

Wrestlemania 1

Cindi Lauper on managing the Fabulous Moolah just following the Wrestlemania 1 ppv: “I just had to make sure that shew wouldn’t interfere again.”

JJ DIllon speaks at his 2011 CAC banquet table

“Beautiful” Bruce Swayze used to manage the Love Brothers at the Cleveland Arena and Akron Armory. In the following CAC 2011 photo he is sitting next to Dominic DeNucci. You can see CAC Lifetime Member Lord Zoltan Ken Jugan (without facepaint) sitting in the row behind.

Jimmy Hart comments:

Strat: Jimmy Hart, welcome to IWC’s Night of Legends III. Greg “the Hammer” Valentine is here tonight to face Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake. You managed both men to superstardom during their reign as WWE Tag Team Champions as well as managing Greg during his WWE Intercontinental Championship reign which were perhaps his most successful WWE experiences.

JH: “You know, I did and I really had so much fun doing it. Greg was the first person that I got to manage when I left Memphis. A lot of people there always ask me how I managed to go from working the Memphis, Tennessee promotion to what was happening up in the big league in New York.”

“Well, Howard Finkle had been watching a lot of our older tapes and he commented that he saw this crazy kid named Jimmy Hart down in Memphis running around the ring like a lunatic. Harley Davidson had just left us to become Hillbilly Jim in WWE and WrestleMania was ready to happen. One day I was out of town with Koko B Ware, Plowoy Frazier (soon to be WWE’s Uncle Elmer), and “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert. We were sharing a room at the Days Inn up there on Thursday night up in Nashville.”

“Well, I called home to check on phone calls when I was told that I got one from a Vince McMahon. Well, my heart sank. Then I blurted out a loud, drawn out giggly laugh after which I said Vince calling me? This has got to be a joke. It must either be Austin Idol or “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant wanting a ride because I was managing him then. I didn’t call the number back and a week went by. Well, I was in Louiseville on that Tuesday during which time I was managing ‘Handsome’ Jimmy and I think the Moondogs and we stopped before we got to the building. I used the pay phone to check on my calls again as there were no cell phones back then of course. I got the message that George Scott had called. He was the booker of the WWF back then. I instinctively then called Austin Idol and said “OK, what’s the deal? What’s the rib? Austin then insisted that he didn’t call. “Well, about a week later when I got home Hillbilly Jim called me and asked why I wasn’t returning WWE’s calls. When I explained that I thought it was a rib Austin said that he thought that he heard that they wanted me on Wrestlemania. So to make a long story short, Howard Finkle called me. Vince McMahon called me and the next day I was on a plane heading for New York and the rest is history.”

Strat: You had to make a snap decision during a critical time. You jumped for greener pastures with Titan Sports and I don’t think many people differ with you on that decision.

JH: “It was a quick move during which time everybody was against the then WWF because they were eating up the territories. It was a tough decision to make but I also knew that if I ever was going to do anything the time is now. With the good Lord’s willing it worked out a beautiful thing.”

Strat: I remember that time well too. I was busting butt trying to support the NWA promotion under the instruction of Ole Anderson who was the actual leading NWA agent for the Cleveland, Ohio event center location. Word was circulating that Jimmy Hart hasn’t been answering his phone the day of the Cleveland card and that he may have jumped.

JH: “I’ll even tell you who that Cleveland match was with…I was working with Jerry Jarrett and we had been working in Atlanta with Ole. Ole had me booked with Tommy Rich up there in Cleveland. Now Ole and Jarrett weren’t really seeing eye to eye so we didn’t know whether we were with them or without them. Ole stated that Jim Barnett was going to give me a break of a lifetime. Ole then said that he was going to get me a camera crew and a percentage. I then broke the news that I had just signed on with WWE.”

Strat: Not long ago you were involved with the Naked Women Wrestling Federation where Annie Social worked an impressive match. Is it still running?

JH: “I don’t really know if it’s still around. It was a great deal. Carmen Electra flew to Canada. I was the acting commissioner while filming up there. I guess they figured that all the girls were safe with the Dick Clark of wrestling Jimmy Hart and it turned out really well. All the girls worked really, really hard and we had a lot of fun doing it. The guy who trained these girls was well known for training Trish Stratus, Edge, Christian, and all the guys from Canada.”

Strat: If you had a chance to either manage Beefcake or Valentine tonight, who would you pick?

JH: “Greg, of course because he was my first protégé but I love Beefcake too. Matter of fact we wrote his theme song “Beefcake Strut”. I also managed Beefcake with Hulk in the Mega Maniacs. Both guys are just great! … “The past is still the future as far as I’m concerned. Remember, championship belts are won and lost but Legends last forever.

“Quote Jimmy Hart, nevermore!”

Strat: Thank you for all the years you have given us in this professional wrestling business.

JH: “Don’t send us no flowers because we ain’t dead yet!”

Strat: Amen, brother!

“Precious” Paul Ellering

Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase shoves money down the mouth of Chest Flexor

Lord Zoltan even managed Abdullah the Butcher in IWC action

April 2010 Tommy “Wildfire” Rich: “I’d say that the greatest manager in wrestling back in the day was Dr. Ken Ramey and Sir Dudley Clemens. Then came the Full Blooded Italians in ECW with the greatest manager of the 90s who was called the Big Don, Wildfire Tommy Rich.”

Missy Hyatt is a professional wrestling valet who began her career in 1985 in WCCW as the manager of her then boyfriend John Tatum. After they jumped to UWF Hyatt joined a group with Rick Steiner and Sting called Hot Stuff International when it was renamed H & H International, Inc. Then, she left Tatum for the late Eddie Gilbert in 1987, and they split up on screen as well. She married Gilbert in 1988.

In February of 2016 Missy Hyatt appeared as a special guest for Absolute Intense Wrestling where she managed Dick Justice during his match and during which time he proposed to her. After getting snubbed, Colonel Robert Parker agreed to giving us the following short interview:

Strat: Colonel, welcome to AIW’s “Don’t Feed Me After Midnight” where you are making your 2nd appearance for the promotion tonight.

CP: “Have you ever been out to the Circa de Soleil? That’s where the oriental people do that high flying and death defying stuff. These boys here in AIW, they are the cream of the crop, the Circa de Soleil of wrestling. Their wrestling skills far exceed that of many of today’s tough and hungry competitors and seasoned veterans.

“It’s no wonder that once this program is over the hospital doesn’t fill up with the young boys wrestling on this card because they are nothing short of death defying. You won’t know what I’m talking about until you come down here and see it for yourself. You’ll agree with me. I’m never wrong, you know. “Now, you saw me congratulate Missy Hyatt this evening and she had the nerve to scorn me, didn’t you?

Strat: AIW at its best and it seems as Missy didn’t particularly like your alliances, past and present.

CP: “You know, you’ve got the greatest wrestler and promoter standing next to you right here in AIW tonight. I figure that I should be tops on the Legends list as I’ve got the 24 carat solid gold credentials. I’ve been in the business for 45 years and I’m only 50 years old. I’ve managed a lot of your wrestling Legends that you see in the pictures here right in front of you. You can buy any of these pictures here for $10, you know.”

Strat: …and the fans just keep on coming!

CRP: “That’s right, they just keep on coming!

Rock Riddle as he looked during CAC 2016

As seen here, Jebediah once got a hold of you as you were interfering on the ring apron and then entered the ring. What business did you have there?

Minka: “I do my job… Which is to help my boys succeed. I will do this by any means necessary. Therefore; I always have “business” in the ring!”

Strat: So you do, in fact, admit to handing him a foreign object which should have disqualified your protege at that time. The referee must have been distracted and you must have as a result aided in that distraction. Are you in cahoots with Mayor Mystery or something?

Minka: “You interrupted me as I wasn’t finished! Secondly, Robby Starr thought he was so cute putting his hands on me. He had no business kissing me, either! I’m a classy woman! I will get revenge. Lastly, the “foreign object” you speak of was a cup. It may or may not have been filled with something not so pleasant.”

Mayor Mystery Under Fire!

The other day, Mayor, you reportedly poked La Lucha in the eye with his cane. Later in another match you connected Jay Flash with a cane to the ribs and later attacked Bobby Badfingers with your cane. Although I was not there to bust you on this, how can you even look at your masked self in the mirror when you wake up in the morning? That’s disgusting!

MM: “First off, get it right; her name is Jane Flash. Secondly, this is all a conspiracy by Joe Perri to make me look bad!”

Strat: Good Morning, Camilla! I see that you are training to wrestle and are a manager who’s ring name is Camilla Rose and you woke up annoyed and are in a lot of pain after attending a recent WCWO card. I hope that your activities that day did not aggravate an already painful experience seeing that you were hospitalized for a few days.

“Yes and no. I mean managers work great for heels for sure because they can help undermine the heels’ opponents every step of the way and be their little sidekick whereas the faces don’t usually cheat to get ahead. If that makes any sense. I think managers are always going to be used and that’s just that. Yes they were more popular in the past but I feel like more people nowadays are just wanting to train to wrestle themselves and aren’t really considering being a manager, whereas I manage while I train.”

Strat: How far do you live from the Heroes and Legends events?

CR “I live in Shelbyville so it’s a little bit of distance but all of the talent that Heroes and Legends distance is never a factor unless it’s California or somewhere completely crazy.”

Strat: Props to your decision to return to your promotion even though you are not at 101%! Be careful.

“Thank you.”

Strat: You are ring announcing tomorrow, May 11, 2019. This shows your dedication and perseverance which in itself is what any credible promotion should have on its roster. In addition, I see you as a potential CAC member and performer.

“Thank you so much.”

JJ Dillon, Mil Mascaras, the late Sir Oliver Humperdink and Nigel McGuinness

Chazz Moretti: “Managing Matt Longtime on December 1, 2012 at Blizzard Brawl VIII against Hacksaw Jim Duggan at Blizzard Brawl.”

Photo provided by PL Myers

PL Myers: “I Guaranteed a POWW Title for Matt Dewar, the “New” POWW Midwest Champion! Again PL Myers “The Shot To The Top” has proven I am the best at what I do. The Pro Wrestling Manager Extraordinaire of Championship Dominance since 2000. Class is over for the rest of the Managers in the Midwest!”

“On another note I just received my Official “Cult of Cornette” Member Certificate.

PL Myers also sent us the following shot of himself with Bobby Heenan

I am grateful for my friendship with Jim Cornette. I always learn something from him about Pro Wrestling and advice to be coming the best manager I can be. If you want to expand your wrestling knowledge, listen to The Jim Cornette Experience and the Drive thru Podcast.”

The Cauliflower Alley Club will always cherish honoring Bobby “the Brain” Heenan in 2004 with his own Iron Mike Mazurki Award as well as having him in attendance in 2016 when the following photo was taken.

Article and photos by Paul Stratoti unless otherwise noted.

 

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