Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Managers

You know me by now, and you know I like to gripe about the good old days, like some whiny old bastard you've got sat next to on a damp bus, on a rainy winters day. The bus is full, and you've got nowhere to go, all you can do is listen and nod. Well... I don't like to disappoint.

Managers in professional wrestling are a vanishing breed. Where have they all gone?Is it that long ago when we had "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano and the Grand Wizard?
Well what about Bobby " the Brain " Heenan, Jimmy "the Mouth of the South " Hart, "Doctor of Style " Slick, Harley Race, "Precious" Paul Ellering, Sir Oliver Humperdink, Gary Hart, "Gorgeous" George Gillette, General Scandor Akbar, Sheik Adnan Al Kaissie... Hell what about George "Crybaby" Cannon, Big Bad John, or "number one" Paul Jones?
Times change and the wrestling manager is becoming something for nostalgia. Marketing wrestling now involves eye candy, and I don’t mean in the manner of "Luscious" Johnny V. Now it is pneumatic bimbos, not sartorial splendour or eloquence. The wrestling Diva may be pleasing to the eye, but what does she bring to the ring? Certainly nothing that can turn a match as quickly as Mr Fuji’s cane. Now I don’t deny that there have been some fantastic women managers - the Fabulous Moolah, Sherri Martel, and Tammy Sytch immediately come to mind. But these were managers, not valets and certainly not diva contest winners.The only recent managers that I can think of, that have any level of success and staying power get props from me here today...

The first, made his return to the world of wrestling only recently, after much silence, and he did so in my homebase on the Sun online. One of wrestling's true visionaries and the man behind the late lamented ECW. Extreme Championship Wrestling in the mid 90's, is without doubt, the high-water mark for any promotion, any wrestling television show, in recent history. And most of that success was on the back of wrestling's true mad genius, Paul Heyman.The second has been a part of Smoky Mountain, of WCW, of the original ECW, and most recently in TNA. Originally under the name of the Daryl Van Horn, then James Vandenburg, later as the Sinister Minister, before settling in under his real name of James Mitchell. Most recently the manager of Judas Mesias, he never gives anything less than 100%, and is a throw back to another time ( which he manages to do, while still treading new ground himself ).
The last of these men, spends more time commentating than managing these days, but he is none the less a "Star-Maker" of the first order. In the last few years he has managed John Cena, Christian, Eugene, Mark Henry, Lashley, Rene Dupree, Rico, Rob Conway, Lance Cade, and most of the Spirit Squad ( amongst others )... I'm talking of course about Kenny Bolin. The "round mound of sound" to steal a line from another great manager ( Jim Cornette ) has been a mainstay of OVW since the start, and personally, more than anyone else there, I cannot imagine the show without him.
WWE issued a dvd late last year in honour of these men and women, titled "The World's Greatest Wrestling Managers", and my hat's off to them for it. But as the company most responsible for euthanising this great breed, I do have to point the finger their way as well.
For the sake of all the joy, all the heartache, and all the infuriation these managers have brought over the years, I only hope you will join me in honouring them all here today.

Maybe times will change, and we will see a rise of wrestling managers again. Maybe, but probably not. Now is the time of the diva and the celebrity guest. I think this breed may well soon be as extinct as a gobbledy-gooker.

2 comments:

aaron jamison said...

You're absolutely right of course. It's something I've missed a lot in wrestling recently. Every time I see Bobby Heenan on TV somewhere I think, "Why doesn't the WWE hand him guys like Mick Knox and have him make them a star. Or at least a little less annoying."

mrjslack said...

The managers made up such a part of the show, and good ones really talked people into the seats.
I do think the rise of the "diva" was the beginning of the end for managers. Which is SUCH a pity.
Bobby Heenan is still so good in watching old tapes even now... Cornette too. Sigh...