I love managers.
Back in the day, the manager role in pro wrestling was very important. Some of the all-time greats, like Bobby Heenan, JJ Dillon, Gary Hart, Jim Cornette, Paul Ellering and Jimmy Hart, not only played the role of business agent who looked out for their wrestlers’ best interests, they defined it, as well.
They were among some of the best the industry has ever seen.
These days, of course, the pro wrestling manager is all but a lost art, thanks in large part to Vince McMahon and the powers that be in WWE not focusing on the role that much at all, if any.
It’s been an issue for a long time for fans, one that we have discussed, debated and, quite frankly, lost a significant amount of sleep over.
Yeah, it’s that bad.
But, if there is any glimmer of hope in pro wrestling’s largest company in history, we may be seeing it now.
Heavy stress on the word “may.”
There’s Vickie Guerrero, whose win/loss record as manager for Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger may not be all that impressive, but she still has a highly visible on-air role nearly every week.
A.W., the talent formerly known as Abraham Washington, is evidently being groomed to be the next big heel manager. It’s still early, but if the right amount of time and attention is put toward his character and he is allowed to stretch his wings in a good storyline, then he may be one to watch.
Then we come to Ricardo Rodriguez, the manager of former WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio.
Wait, is he a manager?
Okay, he’s Del Rio’s personal ring announcer. It’s an odd role, one that, let’s be honest, is fairly original, especially in a company that is often accused of doing nothing but recycling old ideas and shoving them down the fans’ throats.
The truth is, Ricardo is comic relief. He’s there to score cheap heat for Del Rio, to be the laughingstock whenever he’s in the ring and to provide some funny moments for the crowd.
There’s no shame in that.
We as fans and writers like to complain about characters like Rodriguez, suggesting that they’re making the product too silly, that it should be taken on a more serious, dramatic level.
But to that I say: Relax. It’s Vince McMahon. It’s WWE. They entertain. It’s kind of their thing.
It’s the “E,” remember?
Comedy has traditionally always been a big part of what the company does. It lightens the mood for both younger and older fans and sets the tone for a fun evening. And, if you have ever been to a WWE event live, then you know that if you can get the crowd laughing, they get warmed up and are more ready for the real action that inevitably comes later in the card.
Speaking of funny, want to hear a good one? Ricardo is getting over.
Perhaps it’s that the WWE crowd are so programmed to embrace the ridiculous, to pop for the insane. Or maybe it’s that the fans know what they like and who they want to see.
Perhaps a little of both?
Either way, even when he’s being made to look foolish, Ricardo is getting some cheers from the crowd. It’s a chance that WWE takes whenever they paint a heel as a clown. The possibility always exists that the guy will eventually grow on the fans and they will really enjoy seeing him.
I believe that is what we’re seeing with Ricardo, and it immediately brings to mind a very important question: Is he more over than Alberto Del Rio?
There is no denying that Del Rio has talent. The guy can definitely get it done in the ring and has come a long way since his debut back in 2010. He’s a great heel, and he just has the look.
You know, the look that says, “Man, bet you want to pitch me off a roof, huh?”
He may not be the top heel in the company right now, but he very well could be, especially if his current program with Sheamus ends in a World Title victory.
But there are moments when I am honestly not all that sure if fans have totally connected with Del Rio as a great heel character. I don’t know that he needs a mouthpiece per se, but when I look at Ricardo and see the reaction he gets from fans, I begin to wonder if perhaps he should be transitioned into that manger role.
At this point, however, it may be too late to bring Ricardo back to that heel perspective, because once the crowd decides they like you, then you’re on your way to turning face. It’s just that simple.
Don’t believe me? Look at Santino Marella.
A heel. A clown. A guy who had nothing to offer and was considered a joke among nearly every fan who watched the WWE product.
Look at him now. He got over. They love him. And the rest is history.
As far as the pro wrestling manager gig goes, I am one of those fans who really wants to see it make a serious comeback in WWE. Vince may not be totally committed to it, but I believe it could be good for business, provide some drama and help revive, in some small way, a piece of the past that fans still talk about to this day.
As for Ricardo Rodriguez? Maybe he will eventually become more than a ring announcer, and be given a shot as a manager. If not, then maybe he will become the next Santino Marella.
And, that’s no joke. Well, sort of. You know what I mean.