WWE's depth in terms of mangers beyond Paul Heyman is as thin as Brie Bella.
After another trashing from CM Punk on Monday's Raw, Heyman will likely be off TV for a significant stretch. That will leave WWE without its best manager, mouthpiece and cornerman. His absence will highlight the company's deficiency in that department.
A great manager breathes life into a wrestler's character, makes up for a Superstar's lack of charisma and can elevate matches with facial reactions, causing interference or by taking a few shots to the face.
There simply aren't enough elite managers on the roster. Heyman can't be everyone's advocate.
Heyman's presence transformed Curtis Axel's career. As Michael McGillicutty, he rarely appeared onscreen. The biggest knocks on him were about his less-than-average microphone work and lack of "it" factor.
Having Heyman around didn't turn him into The Rock, but Axel was instantly more interesting. In his corner, he now had a conniving, deceitful man who handled the bulk of his promo work. Axel provided quality ring outings, while Heyman was a GIF-inspiring presence on the outside.
Axel went up against Chris Jericho, CM Punk and Triple H and won the Intercontinental Championship.
Would that have happened without Heyman's star power, without Heyman's dastardliness and eloquence? Not likely.
A number of other struggling Superstars could be elevated in a similar way with the right manager.
Justin Gabriel, Kofi Kingston and others impress in the ring while struggling to connect with the audience.
Had those men wrestled in the '70s, Capt. Lou Albano, The Grand Wizard or Freddie Blassie could have changed their careers for the better. Today, the managerial options aren't as grand.
The current manager/valet crop consists of too many forgettable faces rather than characters who engage the audience, including:
- El Torito
- Tamina Snuka
- Zeb Colter
- Summer Rae
- Ricardo Rodriguez
El Torito is more mascot than manager, a punchline to add to a comic-relief team.
The Funkadactyls and Summer are meant to be eye candy. They dance, they're attractive and that's about it.
Summer, though, has shown more of a distinct ringside personality—faking injuries, snarling and boasting—than Naomi and Cameron. She does a fine job, but what she offers is mostly superficial.
When you take Heyman away from Brock Lesnar or Axel, those wrestlers are drastically different.
With another dance partner, Fandango wouldn't miss a step.
Tamina is intimidating as AJ Lee's bodyguard. She adds an edge to the Divas champ's gimmick, but she doesn't have the charisma and presence to lead a group like Skandor Akbar's Devastation, Inc., Bobby Heenan's "family" or Heyman's Dangerous Alliance.
Colter is the only man on the above list who could.
He is a multi-dimensional character among cardboard ones. He makes fans hate Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro more through his controversial rhetoric. He provides scathing, memorable promos to their full Superstar package.
The mustached xenophobe is a valuable addition to the roster who rejuvenated Swagger's career and earned WWE mainstream media attention.
Swagger is an excellent in-ring performer who requires a mouthpiece because he's just not compelling as a speaker. He's not alone. The Superstar who can work the mic and perform in the ring at a high level is a rare commodity.
For every Steve Austin, there are five Swaggers.
That's why great managers are so important. Instead of letting Gabriel, Kingston, Evan Bourne, Yoshi Tatsu, The Usos and others struggle to make it to the top because they are better wrestlers than actors, why not return to the days of a manager-heavy WWE?
Heenan's presence did for Hercules and The Barbarian what Heyman has done for Axel. It turned them into more relevant performers.
While Heenan, Albano or Gary Hart aren't walking through that door, there are a number of potential great managers for WWE to pursue. Some of them already work for the company.
Imagine William Regal backing Drew McIntyre, transforming him from his current wanna-be rocker gimmick to a sadistic heel. Booker T would make an interesting pairing with a number of Superstars, his catchphrases, manic energy and Hall of Fame prestige aiding a career to two.
NXT's Enzo Amore may not be ready to wrestle in the big leagues, but his chutzpah and electric promos would help somebody become more relevant.
Without managers like those men, too much of WWE's roster gets wasted. The more wrestlers who mirror the metamorphosis that Axel made, the deeper and more interesting the entire product becomes.
Managers not only speak for superstars like Gabriel, they provide added reasons for the audience to care about their matches. Either these men and women generate hatred that rubs off on their clients like Heyman and Colter have done or they provide an added emotional layer the way that Miss Elizabeth did for Randy Savage and Ricardo Rodriguez once did for Alberto Del Rio.
There is a lack of depth in the manager ranks that needs to be addressed; WWE should be in search of the next Heyman as much as it searches for the next John Cena.