Pro Wrestling: 10 Greatest Managers of All-Time

Will J BakerCorrespondent IIIMay 31, 2011

Pro Wrestling: 10 Greatest Managers of All-Time

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    When wrestling enjoyed a major boom period in the 1980s, the manager figure still had an integral role to play.

    Managers could add something to the storylines and rivalries, and sometimes they could create their own feuds out of nowhere.

    They were mainly used as tools to win wrestlers with limited mic skills over with the crowd. They acted as a mouthpiece in their interviews and helped them find their voice.

    But during the Attitude Era, the manager breed started to die out, mainly due to the fact that sexuality and violence was all that was needed to get over.

    There was a recent attempt to revive the manager gimmick by pairing up Michael "P.S." Hayes, former manager of the Hardy Boyz, with Tyson Kidd.

    Although this seems to have been dropped, there are some wrestlers in the WWE now that have the basic skills but cannot get over due to a lack of charisma.

    Kidd is an example as is Ted DiBiase, and maybe a manager is all they need to receive a main event push.

    Whether or not the WWE decides to instigate this, managers were responsible for so many entertaining moments back in the day, and they were an everyday feature of wrestling during the Hulk Hogan era.

    Here are 10 of the greatest managers to ever grace professional wrestling.

10. Miss Elizabeth

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    Although Elizabeth was not a manager in the traditional sense, she helped to pioneer the role of the valet in wrestling.

    She was involved in several of the Macho Man's key feuds, including the explosion of the "Mega Powers," where she became the focal point for the dispute between Hogan and Savage.

    Men like Ric Flair and Jake Roberts targeted her to get to Savage, and her worried presence at ringside added to the emotion of Randy's many classic matches.

    Macho Man and Liz were arguably the most iconic duo of the 1980s, and they will always be remembered as they were together.

    Their wedding, the reconciliation after Savage's retirement match with the Ultimate Warrior and the WWF title victory celebration are all memories that will never be forgotten, and "Wrestling's First Lady" played an integral part in all of them.

9. Sensational Sherri

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    Sensational Sherri was vital in establishing Shawn Michaels' gimmick as the arrogant "Heartbreak Kid."

    She accompanied him to the ring and contributed to his entrance music.

    She was a legendary bump-taker and was not afraid to put her body on the line for the sake of a storyline.

    As well as HBK, she also managed Randy "Macho King" Savage in his heel run, and the character differences between her and Elizabeth helped establish Savage during this period of time.

    She also managed Ric Flair, The Honky Tonk Man, Jake Roberts and Ted DiBiase in the WWF.

    Her run in WCW managing the Harlem Heat, the tag team of Booker T and Stevie Ray, really showed her credentials as a manager.

    She managed these two former nobodies to seven World tag team title reigns, and Booker T would eventually become a five-time world champion. 

8. J.J. Dillon

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    James J. Dillon was famous for guiding his wrestlers to championship gold.

    He is perhaps best known for his time as leader of the legendary Four Horsemen, but he always took a back seat to Ric Flair.

    He was not needed to enhance the voice of the Horsemen because Flair was perhaps the greatest stick man of all-time, and Arn Anderson was also blessed with the gift of the gab.

    But Dillon's management of the Horsemen were iconic and he helped establish their credibility as the original professional wrestling stable.

    He also managed numerous NWA wrestlers to success throughout the 1980s.

7. Paul Bearer

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    Two of the most well-known gimmicks in wrestling history can largely thank Paul Bearer for their initial success.

    When The Undertaker and Kane burst on to the WWF scene in 1990 and 1997 respectively, they were both non-speaking characters.

    This heightened the importance of Percy Pringle's role, as the haunted funeral director whose high-pitched tones and continual references to the "power of the urn" added to The Undertaker's mystique.

    Bearer is an integral part of the Kane-Undertaker feud that has spanned 14 years and was reincarnated in 2010 along with Paul Bearer.

    Unfortunately, his last involvement with the company was during the horrifically written angle between Edge and Kane.

    However, he will always be remembered for announcing the imminent arrival of Kane, betraying the Phenom on numerous occasions, but, most importantly, for ensuring the success of one of wrestling's all-time greats. 

6. "Classy" Freddie Blassie

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    Freddie Blassie was adept at portraying one of the most obnoxious villains in professional wrestling history.

    He inspired hate from the crowd, and the methods he used to rile up the masses were legendary.

    He attracted 10 times the heat of Vickie Guerrero, and he was much better at transferring that heat onto the wrestlers that he managed.

    Nikolai Volkoff, Peter Maivia, Adrian Adonis, Jesse Ventura and The Iron Sheik benefited vastly from the Blassie association.

5. Paul Heyman

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    Paul E. Dangerously managed the Midnight Express, Stunning Steve Austin, Adrian Adonis and Don Muraco back in the day, but he is perhaps better remembered for his creation of the ECW brand.

    In recent times, Heyman demonstrated his skills as a manager with the nurturing of Brock Lesnar, the "Next Big Thing."

    Heyman's reputation preceded him, and the heat that he received was transferred to Lesnar, who was quickly established as a monster heel in the WWE and a legitimate main event player.

    Lesnar's short but successful WWE career in which he became a three-time WWE Champion, a Royal Rumble winner and a King of the Ring is a testament to Heyman's managerial skills.

4. Jimmy Hart

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    "The Mouth of the South" was instrumental in the rise of the Hart Foundation and made sure that Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart's lack of confidence in the early days was not a stumbling block.

    His megaphone was symbolic of his prominence on the mic, and he quickly built up a reputation as an arrogant loudmouth.

    He was masterful at building heel heat and helped get the Hart Foundation over as a threat to the tag team division.

    He was perhaps best known for his management of The Honky Tonk Man, but he also managed Hulk Hogan, King Kong Bundy and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine.

3. Captain Lou Albano

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    Captain Lou Albano was a legendary figure in pro wrestling and he was the most prominent manager in the 1970s.

    He was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the likes of Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart to follow in his footsteps.

    The role that perhaps sums up his skills the best was when he managed the ultra-talented tag team, the British Bulldogs.

    The Dynamite Kid and his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, were two of the best wrestlers that the WWF had at their disposal, but they were clumsy and awkward during interviews.

    When Vince McMahon added Captain Lou to the mix, it was the perfect combination and the Bulldogs went on to cement their legacy as one of the great tag teams.

    The Wild Samoans, the Headshrinkers, Andre the Giant, Jimmy Snuka and Hulk Hogan, to name a few, also benefited from his management at one time or another.

2. Jim Cornette

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    Jim Cornette has an almost uniquely creative wrestling brain and has contributed endless positives to the sport.

    His work in OVW and the developmental territories has been instrumental in finding new WWE stars with the likes of Batista, John Cena and Randy Orton passing through Cornette's tutelage.

    His Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion also produced many stars, with Chris Jericho and Kane enjoying stints with Cornette's brainchild.

    His booking ability and his uncanny knack for recognizing new talent helped get TNA off the ground, and it was a big mistake for Dixie Carter to let him go.

    He has now established Ring of Honor as the third wrestling company, and they continue to go from strength to strength under his direction.

    But in a managerial position, he was able to establish so many great talents.

    "Camp Cornette" in the WWF consisted of Owen Hart, Vader and the British Bulldog, and he played a huge part in ensuring that these talented wrestlers did not get lost in the shuffle.

    It would have been a crying shame if the likes of Hart and Smith, with their supreme wrestling skills, were to get released based on a lack of promo ability.

    But Cornette's most famous managerial position was with the Midnight Express in the old NWA.

    Cornette was the mouthpiece of Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey's rise to serious tag team success in Mid South and World Class Championship Wrestling.

    However, their most famous run was in WCW where they were multiple-time tag team champions.

    There were many different incarnations of the Midnight Express over the years, but the duos that boasted Cornette as the frontman were always more memorable.

1. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

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    Hilariously funny, outrageously biased and financially corrupt, there is only one man that can be called the greatest manager that ever lived.

    His name was Bobby Heenan, and he was a feature in many of the main storylines of the 1980s.

    The group of wrestlers that he took under his wing was known as the Heenan Family, and they acted as a stable looking out for the interests of each other under the direction of the "Brain".

    Heenan's back and forths with his good friend and on-air enemy Gorilla Monsoon on Primetime Wrestling are legendary and make for entertaining viewing on YouTube.

    The Heenan family engaged in many feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, and its key members were Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, Big John Studd and Mr. Perfect.

    Curt Hennig's legacy was cemented in the WWF based on his time with Heenan, and it is arguable that his face run would not have been as successful if it had not been for his heel run with Heenan.

    When Perfect turned on the Family and Ric Flair, it was similar to Batista turning on Triple H in Evolution which started a similarly successful babyface run for the "Animal."

    Heenan's protégés could not fail to learn from his quick wit and ability to run his mouth, which allowed him to become one of the greatest announcers of all-time with WWF and WCW.

    Anyone that claims that Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were the greatest announcer duo in history clearly has not listened to the chemistry of Heenan and Monsoon.

    Bobby Heenan was a character the fans loved to hate and the heels would feel that heat by aligning themselves with him.

    Heenan deserves his place in the Hall of Fame and he deserves his place at the top of this list.


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