Paul Heyman is firmly ensconced as a WWE manager with his stable of Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel and, presumably for now, CM Punk.
Now comes word that Zeb Colter, whose star rose while that of his protégé Jack Swagger fell, may not be a one-off ringside adviser. WrestleZone.com reports that the former “Dirty” Dutch Mantel may be on the verge of getting a stable of his own, and his first client could be the ultimate anti-American, Antonio Cesaro.
If that does happen, it would be a great addition to today’s WWE. Managers and their antics can be almost as entertaining as the wrestlers they manage. It's time WWE began bringing more of them back to let the new generation of fans enjoy what the older generation once had.
Heyman can draw heavy heat just by peeking around the corner of the LED wall. Never mind that he also is one of the best talkers in the industry. When he talks, the heat level in the arena rises dramatically.
Colter’s character draws heat for what he says, too. But unlike Heyman, Colter’s best barbs are politically tinged as a grizzled, jaded Vietnam veteran and Tea Party extremist. He is what some would call an “equal opportunity offender” railing against anyone who is nowhere near the Yankee Doodle Dandy he believes himself to be.
Remember back in the “golden days” when managers were ringside staples? There they were advising their charges, distracting the referee, riling up the crowd, even taking one for the team in a flop that would make LeBron James look like a hack.
And think about some of the great managers of WWE: Captain Lou Albano, “Classy” Fred Blassie, the Grand Wizard, Jimmy Hart, Slick, Paul Bearer and (my personal favorite) Bobby Heenan. Not only could each of them talk a blue streak, but they also usually delivered on what they said. They were fun to watch and fun to hear.
It’s very unfair to compare Heyman and Colter to the managers of yesteryear. However, one advantage they have over that crop is their creativity.
Love him or hate him, Heyman is a self-made genius at development. Remember, this is the guy who helped give birth to ECW, which WWE later bought and absorbed its innovations into the product it has today.
As for Colter, look beyond the character he is playing, and you find what could be the gold standard of a creative mind. One does not last more than four decades in the industry without a certain amount of smarts, and Colter probably has forgotten more about creative development than the current crop of WWE writers will ever know.
Colter truly defines the term “manager.” Whereas Heyman’s stable already has star power, a Colter stable would be the equivalent of a master’s level course in how to become a wrestling star.
The advice he could give his charges at ringside would be storyline in part, but they could also be mostly tips and adjustments on how to work the opponent in the ring. He could be a mishmash of a tough drill instructor and a mentor who truly cares about the direction of his clients.
Sure, the Colter-Swagger partnership was different and somewhat refreshing as a storyline, but Swagger’s out-of-ring troubles quickly doused any flames they might have fanned. Through no fault of his own, Zeb Colter almost found himself as the answer to a trivia question rather than someone with staying power.
Let’s hope that Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter will lead WWE into possibly another golden age of colorful manager characters.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.