Well, WWE superstars can’t do everything (unless you’re John Cena). A lot of the time, the crowd proves to be generally unimpressed with you, even if you have an arsenal of moves and some other-worldly athleticism. Sometimes, a little extra magic outside the ring helps, and that’s where the Managers step in.
These “agents” add layers to the storyline, with their own antics and personalities. Managers were a mainstay in the 80’s and their numbers reduced for a while, during the Attitude Era.
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With the legendary manager, Paul Ellering, who managed arguably one of the best Tag Teams of that era: The Road Warriors, returning to NXT to manage the Authors of Pain; this article seems perfectly timed.
Now, we’ve seen many great Managers over the years and trying to narrow that down to just five is a tough ask, but here goes nothing.
#5 Miss Elizabeth
Now, Miss Elizabeth may not fit the traditional manager role, but we can forgive that..considering that she may have been one of the pioneers of the role in the first place. Miss Elizabeth was most famously the manager of Macho Man Randy Savage. She also managed wrestlers like Sting, Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes at points in her illustrious career.
Miss Elizabeth played an integral part, in both the formation and eventual split of the Mega Powers- the team of Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man. The team eventually developed a lot of friction, given Hogan’s overly friendly behaviour, with Randy’s beautiful valet.
Further cracks appeared when Hogan accidently eliminated his partner from the 1989 Royal Rumble. She tried to play a neutral role in their Wrestlemania V match but was eventually replaced after that.
Her replacement, Sensational Sherri worked with Savage, who now portrayed a heel, for a few months. The Saga ended in a beautiful way, however, when Macho man lost a retirement match against the Ultimate Warrior.
Sherri began assaulting a distraught Savage, only to be rescued by Miss Elizabeth; reuniting the couple in a moment cherished by fans of the Era.
#4 Mr. Fuji
Mr Fuji was a true entertainer. Having been a wrestler himself, he knew what the business was about. Always strutting in with the essentials, a bowler hat, cane and a bag of salt to blind your wrestlers’ annoying opponent.
Despite being successful as a Tag Team manager, his true rise to the top of the managerial ladder came with his stint with the enormous Yokozuna.
He switched his attire, now favouring a Kimono and Japanese Flag (and the salt, never forget the salt). He led the Big man to a Royal Rumble victory and two stints with the WWF title. Yokozuna beat Bret Hart at Wrestlemania IX with the help of Mr Fuji, blinding the champion when he had Yokozuna locked in the sharpshooter, to change the tide of the match.
#3 Vickie Guerrero
I would have constantly heard the high-pitched voice in my nightmares, had I left Vickie out of this list. Vickie knew how to get a reaction from the crowd. The woman was a heat machine left on full blast, and she played the role of the villain to perfection. A much-loved personality backstage, in reality, Vickie had great runs managing wrestlers too.
After turning heel by attacking Rey Mysterio, she went on to manage Chavo Guerrero and eventually form La Familia with Chavo, Edge and the team of Hawkins and Ryder. She used her powers as interim manager to give Edge every opportunity at the World Heavyweight Title.
This led to the formation of interesting storylines, where the Deadman was faced with overwhelming odds and unfair restrictions (like the ban on his hell’s gate submission).
She also managed Dolph Ziggler and helped him on his way to his first WWE title. It takes a lot to get a former member of the spirit squad over, and I’m glad Vickie did that for our current Intercontinental Champion.
#2. Paul Bearer
Few managers are as iconic as Paul Bearer. When you successfully manage one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, you know you’re doing something right. William Moody adapted to the role of Paul Bearer brilliantly. The ghostly appearance, expressions and reactions timed to perfection and the Iconic Urn that houses the soul of the Deadman.
The Undertaker gimmick was no easy feat to pull off, and Bearer definitely added to the longevity of the character.
From a truly bizarre, convoluted and somehow still extremely fascinating backstory, Bearer made feuds that can’t be forgotten. Bearer made incredible moments.
The first appearance of the Masked Kane, where he ripped off the cell door to attack his brother, which ranks as one of the best debuts of all time, was all thanks to some brilliant storytelling on the part of Bearer.
In an industry where you have to bend the line between reality and the storyline masterfully, Bearer excelled. He developed characters on screen. He had a presence that was something truly distinct from the powerful wrestlers he managed and will go down (along with Undertaker) as a great of the industry.
P.S – He also managed Mankind for bit (Who doesn’t love Foley?)
#1 Paul Heyman
From the moment I began to compile the list, I knew Paul Heyman would sit firmly on top for me. Heyman is a master of his craft, and honestly, not many can do it better (pick a promotion from any corner of the world).
In the WWE, Heyman has managed a record number of World Heavyweight Champions – Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Kurt Angle, Big Show and Rob Van Dam. This comes as no surprise, given his eye for talent and knowledge about the industry – If you’re a Paul Heyman guy, success usually follows.
I guess the ability to cut amazing promos is something that this manager passes on because Paul Heyman is one of the best mic workers in the business. He can get you hyped up about a fight between his client and a broom. Take Brock Lesnar (Always read it in Heyman’s voice) for example.
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He was Lesnar’s mentor in 2002 and on his return to the company as a part-timer in 2012, Heyman has kept him afloat. We know what he can do in the ring, and Paul backs it up on the mic.
He manages to get us involved with a character we barely see on screen. He adds on to the layer of fear we normally attach to Lesnar (the man ripped off a car door) and elevates it. When Paul began building up to Lesnar’s match with the Taker, I found myself being legetimately worried about the streak. That is the sort of magic Heyman produces.