I’m Totally Here for a Revival of Managers in Wrestling
Managers in wrestling, by and large, feel like a thing of the past – a relic of a bygone era, if you will. I think back to the days of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Jimmy Hart, and Paul Bearer as the height of the wrestling manager. Those guys really added something of value to the WWE brand. They were mouthpieces for their talent, but they also added to the character and the onscreen dynamic of a match.
Putting Heenan with someone would get that guy instant heat. Hart’s colorful outfits and obnoxious megaphone always commanded attention. And, holy shit – can you imagine the early years of The Undertaker without Paul Bearer?! In those days, being a manager meant a lot more than just standing around at ringside. You were there to entertain as apart of the brand, and most importantly, to get the boys over.
For whatever reason, the Attitude Era seemed to crash in like a tidal wave and when the water subsided, it pulled the manager role out to sea…lost for good. The WWE tried here and there (big time shout out to Armando Estrada), but very few managers were able to connect the way managers did in years past.
Paul Heyman immediately comes to mind – the guy’s one of the greatest promos in the history of the WWE. For a hot minute there, it looked like he was going to get the Heenan Family treatment and guide a stable of guys (Ryback and Curtis Axel), but it never panned out. He always came back to being the advocate exclusively for Brock Lesnar. Heyman’s up there with the all time greats, but how many other managers can we say even hold a candle to Heyman over the last 20 years?
I loved that they brought back Paul Ellering with the Authors of Pain in NXT. The whole post-apocalyptic look, the foreboding promos – it took the pressure off two young big bois and allowed them to just wreak havoc in the wreak. It got over, and those guys improved immensely over the course of their NXT run. But, when they pulled them up to the main roster, they sent Ellering packing. The AoP just didn’t feel the same after that.
So, it’s easy to be disappointed if you’re like me, looking back on the glory days of managers in wrestling, and wondering why the WWE has elected to get away from that. But, the last several weeks has offered an encouraging glimpse into what could be the future of the role (assuming the WWE doesn’t just pull the plug at any given moment).
Zelina Vega has been killing it as Andrade‘s business manager for quite some time. But, now she has a full stable of guys that also includes Angel Garza and Austin Theory. Andrade is firmly entrenched as United States Champion. Garza and Theory wrestled the Street Profits for the Raw Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania 36. Meanwhile, Vega is at the center of it all. It looks like this group might be heading for a break-up, but that shouldn’t diminish Vega’s work here.
The seeds have been planted for MVP to serve in some sort of managerial role, as he recently got Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink their first win on the main roster as a tag team.
Then, you look at what they’re doing in NXT – Robert Stone launching the Robert Stone Brand and Malcolm Bivens launching Bivens Enterprises, which I love – both definitely have that old school Heenan Family vibe. Specifically, Bivens has all the tools to be one of the all-time greats.
Reading the tea leaves here, maybe the WWE is making some sort of attempt at reviving the position. Only time will tell – I’m also the guy that said there was a tag team revival back in 2015, so who knows?
But, if that is the case, I’m here for it. Let’s bring back managers in wrestling.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley