It is no secret among wrestling fans that the primary reason we don’t see more managers in the sport today is because Vince McMahon doesn’t like them.
Those who’ve worked for WWE and with McMahon in particular have said for years that pro wrestling’s most powerful man thinks managers are outdated, a throwback to the 1980s and before. As the Attitude Era kicked into full gear in the 1990s, managers were hard to find on WWE programming (with the notable exception of Paul Bearer), and this has remained true until today.
But has something – or someone – changed McMahon’s mind?
It appears so: Paul Heyman.
As Brock Lesnar’s “advocate,” Heyman has been one of the best parts of WWE in recent years and that success has reportedly made an impression on the company’s chairman. In the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer notes that WWE has plans to start using more managers on their programs.
This would be a significant shift. The reported reason legendary Road Warriors/Legion of Doom manager Paul Ellering was dismissed when his NXT tag team the Authors of Pain (AOP) were called up to the main roster was supposedly McMahon’s longstanding resistance to the whole manager concept.
But now we see Drake Maverick managing AOP on Raw. It was teased on Raw Monday that Lio Rush would start managing Bobby Lashley.
— WWE (@WWE) September 12, 2018
McMahon is also reportedly a big fan of Zelina Vega’s pairing with Andrade “Cien” Almas on Smackdown.
This is a marked change in WWE’s prevailing attitude toward managers in a relatively short amount of time. Ellering was only dismissed six months ago when AOP debuted in April.
McMahon is right that managers were a major facet of the 1980s and 70s – and who could imagine the golden age of wrestling without Ellering, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Jim Cornette, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, JJ Dillon, “Sensational” Sherri Martel, “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart – along with so many others?
Does anyone look back on this time in wrestling with less affection because of these famous names? Of course not. They were indispensable to the product and a part of so many childhoods.
The entire concept of managers was a way for promoters to get wrestlers over who might have been lacking in their promos (Hell, I always found it amusing that even the Four Horsemen – who had two of the greatest talkers of all time in Ric Flair and Arn Anderson – even these legends had a manager in JJ Dillon!).
Would Shinsuke Nakamura be more successful at this point in the WWE if he had Paul Heyman doing most of the talking for him? How many men and women on each roster have ring talents that aren’t always matched by their verbal skills?
WWE need more managers with the ability of Heyman on the mic. Good managers make a wrestler that much better. Blassie. The Wizard. Cornette.
— MJeFF Foxworthy (@JaimsVanDerBeek) August 21, 2012
My favorite manager of all time is Jim Cornette, who represented a tag team many consider to be one of the greatest of all time in The Midnight Express. But have you ever heard “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey, or “Sweet” Stan Lane speak? It’s hard to imagine them becoming legends without the uniquely talented and infuriating Cornette.
— ғaᴛᴋɪᴅᴄᴏᴏʟ (@fatkidcool) September 5, 2018
The same could be true of so many others in WWE today who can drop opponents but not the mic.
Meltzer also reported in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter that McMahon and WWE might be interested in hiring some managers from the indies. To date, many who dreamed of becoming wrestling managers and have been successful on the independent scene never would have expected to be called up to NXT or WWE. That’s a big new door opening for many talents.
Thanks to Paul Heyman – and Vince McMahon – could WWE be headed toward a new golden age of wrestling managers?