The Managers (Part 2)
January 20, 2009
Well, if you recall from yesterday, I took a look at a list put out by WWE.com where they listed who they feel were the "Greatest 25 Managers". I took some exception with a few names on the list and gave an opinion of each and every name on that list and whether or not I felt that they actually belonged there or not.
Well, this is "The Rest Of The Story" as now, I want to take a look at some of the names that possibly should have been on that list. The managers that were overlooked by WWE and deserve more credit and recognition than WWE seems ready to give them. So here you go. This will not be in any particular order, but just as they come to mind. Let's do this...
One of the two most obvious names missing from the WWE's list. Cornette managed the Midnight Express for years. He managed the Heavenly Bodies. He managed WWE Champion Yokozuna. He even managed the head of WWE Talent Relations, Johnny Ace (as one half of the Dynamic Dudes with Shane Douglas). Cornette has been a force both at ringside and behind the scenes for the WWE, WCW, Smokey Mountain, Ohio Valley Wrestling, and now TNA for years. He's without argument one of the greatest wrestling managers of all time and for WWE to leave Cornette off this list, despite the current ill will between Corny and Vince, is just plain dumb.
Corny might even give Heenan a run for the best of all time, depending on what part of the country you're in. Like him or hate him, Jim Cornette is a great manager. And the WWE needs to wise up, as Joey Styles, Jim Ross and Howard Finkel all seem to have done, and just admit so.
Before he was the mastermind behind ECW, Heyman was known as Paul E. Dangerously and was one of the most popular and successful wrestling managers in the business. His "Dangerous Alliance" ran amok through WCW and the AWA and consisted of such stars as Steve Austin, Rick Rude, The Original Midnight Express, Arn Anderson, Madusa, Adrian Adonis, Larry Zbyszko and so many others.
With his trademark cellphone in hand, Heyman was constantly doing whatever it takes to get his wrestlers over and excite (and annoy) the fans. In some ways, Heyman was the last of the "old school managers" with rotating stables of wrestlers, but he knew his role and did it well. He created a legacy that was further cemented when he acted as the "agent" for Brock Lesnar and then later for The Big Show in WWE.
Heyman left the WWE on bad terms, but with someone like Paul, that tends to change from day to day. Right now, he's on the "shit list" and got ignored by the WWE writers who made up this list, but who knows? Next week, he's liable to be the cover-boy of WWE Magazine. But all of that aside, he was a great wrestling manager. So there you go.
I can understand why the WWE didn't list Woman, aka Nancy Benoit among their top managers. They want to ignore and forget anything that reminds the fans of Chris Benoit and that terrible day back in June of 2007. But it's hard to ignore the career of this incredible lady who started off as the "Fallen Angel", a valet for her then-boyfriend and future husband, Kevin Sullivan. She moved to the NWA where she became the second for Rick Steiner as his "girlfriend", Robin Green. And then it was the transformation from mousy little Robin into the entity known as Woman.
She managed Ron Simmons and Butch Reed, the team of "Doom". She managed Ric Flair. She went to ECW and managed The Sandman. She came back to WCW and rejoined Flair as one of the Horsemen. She managed her future husband, Chris Benoit. She was great to look at, cut a great promo, and didn't hesitate a bit to get involved in the matches. I can still vividly remember Woman hanging on to the back of the Giant as she attempted to strangle him from behind with a cord during a Nitro match with Giant facing Ric Flair.
Her final days in the business are sad and tragic and controversial, but none of that takes away from what she accomplished as a manager and valet. She was truly an amazing woman and deserves credit for all that she managed to do during her time involved in wrestling.
"Number One" Paul Jones
Jones was a tough wrestler, but I never really got into him as an in-ring performer. But as a manager, he was amazing. His feud with Jimmy Valiant raged across the Mid-Atlantic area for close to four years and Jones really worked hard to make that feud entertaining. He brought in Ivan Koloff, The Barbarian, The Warlord, Mighty Wilbur, Shaska Whatley, Dory Funk, etc.. anyone he could get to help get rid of that cursed "Boogie Woogie Man". He never hesitated to get involved in the matches either and had some fun "street fights" and "tuxedo matches" against Valiant all across the region. He cut off Valiant's beard. Valiant shaved his head. It was a never ending war of words and violence. And the fans enjoyed every single second of it.
Jones would probably get more respect if he had branched out as a manager and feuded with someone other than Jimmy Valiant, but they drew crowds and made money and put butts in the seats. What more could be asked of these guys. And although Valiant gets most of the credit for the success of their feud, just remember it takes a great heel to make a great face... and Paul Jones, as the dastardly heel manager, was probably one of the best of all times.
General Skandor Akbar
If you think about World Class Wrestling or the USWA, you have to think about Devastation, Inc, led by General Skandor Akbar. As I've mentioned before, the "baby-faces" are only as good as the "heels" they face and do you really think that the Von Erichs or Eric Embry would have been quite as good without Akbar nipping at their heels? He managed Kamala, The Missing Link and so many others. And he drew heat and created controversy second to none. Without Akbar, there might have been wrestling in Texas, but it wouldn't have been nowhere near as exciting or fun.
Sheik Adnan El Kaissie
The center piece for the forces of evil in the old AWA, The Sheik (who incidentally is a true Iraqi) led his forces of Ken Patera and Jerry Blackwell to the AWA Tag Team Titles. He managed Bruiser, or as they called him in the AWA, "King Kong" Brody in classic battles against Crusher Blackwell and Greg Gagne. He brought Soldat Ustinov & Krusher Kruschev to the top of the tag team ranks.
He had some wild and intense feuds with the likes of Verne Gagne, Baron Von Raschke, Mad Dog Vachon and Sgt. Slaughter. And he created chaos and controversy and excitement with every word, every action, and every dastardly deed. And he tormented Larry Nelson without feel each and every time he had the opportunity. For that alone, he deserves to be ranked among the very best. (Just kidding, Larry... really).
And least I forget, he was also the manager for Sgt. Slaughter during Slaughter's WWE title run as "General Adnan". A true managerial wrestling legend who was truly a forced to be reckoned with.
Does she deserve to be ranked among the top managers of all time? Ask Tully Blancard. He'll say yes. Ask Ric Flair. I'm sure he'll agree. Ask Dusty Rhodes. He'll call her a "scheming ol' Jezebel". Ask Magnum TA what she's capable of and he recount all of the times she helped Tully out in battles against him. She was one of the first wrestling's first true "female managers" in that, according to her and Tully, she handled all of the technical mumbo jumbo for their team in booking flights, motel rooms, travel arrangements, etc.
And she wasn't afraid to get involved in the matches either. Whatever the situation required, Baby Doll was ready, willing and able to take care of business and get the job done. She was more than just Tully's "Perfect 10". She was one helluva wrestling manager, by anyone's standards, and deserves to be recognized as such.
I look at it like this. The nWo was a faction and Eric was the head of the nWo, so that would technically make him a manager, right? He accompanied Hogan and several of the nWo wrestlers to ringside. He acted as the spokesperson and leader for the group. He made the matches and represented the members of the nWo in both public and private. By all standards that are used in pro wrestling, Eric was the manager for the nWo. And truthfully, he did a great job. So give the devil his due and Eric Bischoff gets a place on this list of the "managers" who should at least be considered when looking at who are truly the best of the best.
I can hear the jokes starting already. Heck, a few have already formed in my mind as well. But before Missy became a walking sex joke (the day she was born), she was a notable figure in pro wrestling. And yeah, most of the guys had already noticed her figure at that point too. She was the girlfriend and later, wife of "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert and acted as one half of Hyatt / Hot Stuff, Inc. She managed Eddie Gilbert, his brother Doug Gilbert, Hollywood John Tatum and The Nasty Boys, among others. And who can forget Jason Hervey? OK, I'm not helping my argument here.
But Missy managed a lot of superstars in Texas and Tennessee and achieved a lot of notoriety during her career for many things besides just being a promiscuous young lady. She was actually a pretty good manager and did a good job in that role. And she deserves credit.
He put together the Varsity Club. He had a "cult of followers" in Florida that included Mark Lewin (Purple Haze), Fallen Angel (Nancy Benoit / Woman), Bob Roop, and Mike Davis. He formed and led the Dungeon Of Doom. He formed the "Alliance To End Hulkamania". All of these groupings and partnerships. And Sullivan was the leader, or at least the co-leader of all of them. That sounds suspiciously like a manager to me. Thus, the evil little devil also gets included on this list.
James Mitchell aka "The Sinister Minister"
He managed Mikey Whipwreck and Taijari in ECW. He managed Mortis in WCW. He managed Abyss and Judas Mesias in TNA. He's a unique and sinister character that always stood out from the crowd and was a master at being the spokesman for the odder and stranger wrestlers. And I don't think he's through in this business either. He's a great character and a great wrestling manager. And he'll be back in the spotlight again. And I may be wrong on that... but I doubt it.
Rogers came to the Mid-Atlantic in the late 70's and guided the career of the "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka as Snuka became the U.S. Champion and was involved in a bitter and brutal feud with Ric Flair. Then when Snuka was in the WWF, being "taken advantage of" by Lou Albano, it was Rogers that stepped in and took over as the manager of "The Superfly" and helped to make Snuka a "face" for the first time in the WWF. And he stayed by Snuka's side in a violent and brutal feud against Albano and Ray "The Crippler" Stevens.
That's pretty impressive for a man who was approaching his sixties as the time, but what else would you expect from the first man to hold both the NWA and WWWF Championships? And that also, in my book, makes him a manager with a prominent place in the wrestling archives. So there you go.
After Gene had to retire from active competition due to injuries, he became the manager and adviser for his "brother" Ole and Stan Hansen as they won and defended the NWA World Tag Team Titles. And then he took over the contract of "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka from Buddy Rogers and teamed Snuka up with Ray "The Crippler" Stevens to form yet another championship winning team.
Anderson was ruthless, sneaky, tough as nails and never hesitated to use his cane to beat one of his wrestler's opponent senseless. And he was very, very successful as the top manager for the Mid-Atlantic for several years before finally deciding to retire for good.
He was the leader of the ECW faction, the "bWo". He was the spokesperson and leader of the "Right To Censor" group in the WWF. And for their very brief run in the WWF, RIchards served as the manager for Bryan Clark and Brian Adams, aka "Kronik". He accompanied Victoria to ringside for many of her matches for a time as well.
When all of that is put together, Richards definitely sounds like a wrestler / manager to me. He was a great talker and could get anyone over with the crowd. And although not really a manager in the traditional sense, he did it far more often than James Dudley ever did and thus deserves to be on this list.
She managed her husband, "Diamond" Dallas Page. She managed "The Booty Man" for a while. She was the leader of a faction in "The Nitro Girls". Add all of that together and it says "manager" to me. Maybe she wasn't the biggest or the best or had the strongest team behind her, but she was what she was and was very good at it.
The former 8-time NWA World Champion was the manager for Lex Luger in 1991 when Luger won his first NWA / WCW World Championship from Barry Windham. Harley also managed Yoshi Kwan (Chris Champion) for a while and who can forget about the big man they call "Vader". Harley was his manager as well until an unfortunate car accident forced Harley to leave WCW and the wrestling ring for good. He's only managed three wrestlers and two of them were dominant World Champions. Doesn't sound too shabby to me.
Harley was a great wrestler and a great manager, although the latter part of his career is often overshadowed by all that he accomplished in the ring. It's understandable, but Harley deserves credit for ALL of his accomplishments, including his time as the manager of Luger and of Vader. And he deserves to be listed among the best of the best.
He's the only current "full time manager" on the WWE roster right now and the WWE doesn't even include him on their own list? What does that say about the WWE? Atlas has done a fantastic job as the manager and adviser for Mark Henry and has really added several new levels to the Mark Henry character with his presence.
Henry is a big and strong monster. We all know this. But he's always been portrayed, fairly or not, as a big goof. Now he's presented as a legit bad-ass and a monster. And I think the presence of Atlas makes all the difference. Will Atlas eventually be ranked among the top managers of all time? I doubt it. But he's doing a great job right now in ECW with Henry and deserves credit and recognition for that.
She managed David Flair. She managed Lenny and Lodi in WCW. She managed Test. She managed Scott Steiner. She managed the Dudley Boys. She paid her dues and earned her stripes. Does that mean she's a great manager? Not really, but it does mean that she was a manager and deserves credit for making the best out of the roles she was given and doing a great job with entertaining the fans and putting butts in the seats. She's not really among the best, but when you look like Stacy does, does it really even matter?
As a wrestler, Ox was the shits. He had a great look and could cut some pretty decent promos, but when he got into that ring, he pretty much sucked. But he made the best of what he could do and had a good career. And when the days of wrestling were over, Ox took a young guy named "The Night Stalker", aka Bryan Clark under his wing and helped give him a rub. He went to the AWA where he managed "The Beast" and had a good run with that young man.
Ox will never be confused with Jimmy Hart or Bobby Heenan or even Sheik Adnan as a manager, but he looked mean, talked well and knew how to be intimidating. His look alone put butts in the seats and when people took under consideration what kind of maniac would take someone like Ox Baker as a manager, they were curious and would come out to see who Ox would have as his protege. It was a system that worked. And Ox deserves some kudos for being able to prolong his career by being a manager.
Diamond Dallas Page
He was loud and he was brash. But he led Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond, aka "Bad Company" to a long and fruitful run as the AWA World Tag Team Champions. He managed Col. DeBeers in the AWA. And then he went to the NWA where he became the manager for the Fabulous Freebirds. DDP could talk. He could draw a crowd. And he actually turned out to be a fairly good wrestler.
Page did things backwards from the usual routine by going from manager to wrestler instead of wrestler to manager as most of the men listed here have done. But he did it and did it quite well. As good as Page was in the ring though, I think his strongest talents were on the mic and his ability to work a crowd. That's why he was so good as a manager. And believe me, he was definitely very good and potentially one of the best WCW or the AWA ever saw.
And there you go. Twenty names that are just as deserving, and in many cases, far more deserving, than the names that WWE decided to list as the best managers. Just my opinion here, but you know and I know that I am right on this.
As for my favorite "what the...?" pick from the WWE's list, James Dudley, I went to Wikipedia and looked him up. According to that site and WWE.com as well, Dudley was listed as the manager of record for Bobo Brazil during his WWF runs. Dudley's gimmick to excite the crowds was running to the ring before Bobo's matches and wave a towel. You can't make this stuff up, folks. And for that, he's in the Hall of Fame and ranked as one of the top wrestling managers of all time.
So there you go. It's my look at the best wrestling managers of all time and who I consider among the best (or at least better than James Dudley). Thoughts and questions can be sent to Doug28352@yahoo.com. Come visit me at MySpace at www.myspace.com/salt_palace. Add me as a friend. You know you want to.
And that's enough for now. My "Six Minutes" are up. I'm Doug and I'm down and I'm gone. Until the next time, have a great week and always be a fan.