5 SmackDown GMs and why WWE had to let them go
The role of an on-air authority figure tends to be a tumultuous one for performers in WWE. After all, the person in power tends to get featured prominently, whether it’s a heel throwing obstacles in the way of faces or a face cutting promos week after week in support of the heroes, chastising the villains.
Authority figures have a tendency to wear out their welcome for overexposure week in and week out, or to simply run their course for the storylines that creative has drawn up for them in the role. Other times, people get cast in the GM role on a trial basis when WWE sees potential, other plans don’t work out, or an injury forces a hot performer out of the ring and WWE seeks to maintain momentum by plugging him or her into a different role in the short term.
This article takes a look back at five of SmackDown’s most memorable general managers, recalling their performances in the role, and looking at why WWE ultimately transitioned them out of that role, if not the company on the whole.
#5 Theodore Long
There may be no one more synonymous with the SmackDown GM role than Theodore Long. After a lengthy career as a manager and referee, Long stumbled into the GM spot and wound up more entertaining and likeable than most authority figures can be. He wound up transitioning in and out of the GM spot over the course of an eight-year period, all but the default SmackDown GM for the length of the first brand split.
The end of Long’s tenure atop SmackDown seemed to come down to WWE’s creative direction. First, the company consolidated kayfabe power under John Laurinaitis when he took control of both Raw and Smackdown. Then, in the absence of much better for Long to do, and having run his course as GM, WWE ultimately released in a major talent cut in 2014. There don’t seem to have been hard feelings, though, as WWE ultimately welcomed Long back into the fold for a Hall of Fame induction.