The managers of professional wrestlers are probably as important to the rise in popularity of a wrestler as the booking itself, as the perfect mouthpiece in the manager is extremely important in “putting over” a superstar who isn’t that good on the mic themselves. Even though the managers are mostly given screen-time during backstage segments or rarely some mic-time inside the squared circle, their presence at ringside during the matches of their “clients” prove to be vital in the victories and success of the wrestlers they are managing, as the dirty tricks or mind-games played by these managers often prove to be successful in their wrestler getting wins and gradually rising up the ladder.
Often many people who try their hand in the wrestling industry don’t make it as a wrestler because of their lack of athletic ability to compete in the squared circle, but with wrestling becoming more about “entertainment” as the years roll on, the need for some captivating promos to hype up a match or a superstar seems to be growing in importance. These managers often up the prestige of their clients by talking great things about them, while hyping up their matches and indicating how they’ll go onto become the greatest things in the near future, and the magical promo abilities of many managers often help to turn an unknown wrestler into a relevant, strong superstar.
But much like many wrestlers in the industry, the shining times for wrestling managers also wear out after a point of time and they have to find work in a rather smaller wrestling promotion, or have to look for work somewhere else. Even though managers tend to survive in the wrestling industry longer than an average wrestler because of their superior ability to “captivate” the crowd, at the end of the day even they have to leave the industry to look for some other work and often get forgotten by the wrestling community. Let’s have a look at some of the forgotten wrestling managers, and where they are now.
30 Michael Hayes (then)
Though Michael Hayes is most notably known for his wrestling career, where he was a part of “The Fabulous Freebirds” with Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Buddy “Jack” Roberts, The Freebirds were mostly a success in NWA/WCW. When Hayes would arrive in the WWE in 1995, he was already worn out from wrestling because of various injuries and at first started as an interviewer and then a color commentator. Hayes would then find himself as the manager of The Hardy Boyz for a short time, helping them reach their full potential and become the best tag team in the competitive environment of the WWE. Hayes also continued to wrestle alongside them, and was the reason they lost the WWE Tag Team Titles against The Acolytes after he got pinned in a handicap match. He was later fired by the Hardy Boyz, as his time as a manager will be hardly remembered by many.
29 Michael Hayes (now)
After being fired by the Hardy Boyz as their manager, Hayes returned to be a color commentator for the WWE as he served as a commentator for Sunday Night Heat. He also became a backstage road agent at the same time, and made some sporadic appearances in WWE TV in the future years. In 2006, Hayes became the head of creative for Smackdown. Hayes also appeared as the manager of Tyson Kidd for some time in 2011, but turned on him saying “he has better things to do rather than hang with losers”. Recently, Hayes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of The Fabulous Freebirds and accepted the award alongside Jimmy Garvin. He is currently the head of the road agents and producers for the WWE, and can be seen backstage as his time as a manager in the WWE is probably forgotten by everyone.
28 Slick (then)
The son of professional wrestler Rufus R. Jones, Slick couldn’t really make it as a wrestler himself but his charismatic behavior got him a position in the WWE as a manager. Slick debuted by purchasing a “half interest” in Freddie Blassie’s heel stable, but eventually took over all managerial duties from the aging Blassie who was gradually phased out. Slick went onto manage Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik initially, before finding his greatest success when he took Akeem and The Big Boss Man (known as the Twin Towers) to main event matches against The Mega Powers. Slick would go onto manage The Bolsheviks (Volkoff and Boris Zhukov), Rick Martel, Power and Glory and The Warlod in his career as well. Slick would eventually be transitioned into becoming a commentator and a panelist for the WWE till retiring in 1993.
27 Slick (now)
After retiring from wrestling, Slick went onto graduate from Campbellsville University where he received a Bachelor's and Master’s degree as well. Since leaving the WWE, Slick has returned for some sporadic appearances in the company, appearing at WrestleMania 23 as well in the “Old School Edition” and 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw. Slick has also made various appearances in the Indy circuit since, and has been inducted in the IHWE and also received a lifetime achievement award from TX Stampede Wrestling in 2012. Slick appeared in the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, where he inducted the Big Boss Man into the Hall of Fame. Slick is now an ordained minister in Louisville, Kentucky and was part of the class-action lawsuit against the WWE for incurring brain injuries during his tenure at the company, but he’ll definitely be remembered for his charismatic, conniving nature rather than taking bumps during his time in WWE.
26 Teddy Long (then)
Much before he was going all “Holla Holla” and making random tag team matches as the General Manager of Smackdown in the WWE, Teddy Long was actually quite the compelling heel manager who would create quite a reputation for himself. After serving in the WCW as a referee, Long came to the WWE where he was also a referee for a number of years before he was given the responsibility of being a manager. He was mostly known for ushering the lack of respect or opportunities for black wrestlers during his time as a manager, and went onto manage wrestlers like Mark Henry, D'Lo Brown, Jazz and Rodney Mack and is remembered for his catchphrases of “Get Down wit’ da Brown” and “Back Da Mack”. After his impressive stint as a manager, he was upgraded to the role of a General Manager.
25 Teddy Long (now)
Long would excel at the role of being a GM of Smackdown, as he would be a good guy to contrast the heel GM of Eric Bischoff and give everyone a fair chance at winning. Teddy would serve as a GM of Smackdown for a number of years, almost for the next decade as he excelled in entertaining the fans with his “fairness” and also made for some amusing moments in his stint as a GM. During his final years in the WWE, Long would be under the pressure of the heel authority in the WWE and was released in 2014. Teddy went onto be the general manager for Booker T’s “Reality of Wrestling’s” Summer of Champions iPPV and also reappeared on Raw recently, trying to audition for another attempt at becoming the Smackdown General Manager. Teddy will definitely be remembered by most as a GM, but his time as a manager is extremely under-rated as he flourished in his role as this heel manager and put over a number of superstars.
24 Armando Estrada (then)
Armando Estrada actually started out as a wrestler in the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) developmental territory of WWE, but transitioned into a manager because of his impressive mic-skills. Estrada debuted as a heel manager to WWE Superstar Umaga, mocking Ric Flair, saying he’s too old for this work and that Umaga would be the “next hero”. As Umaga started demolishing jobbers to rise as a top contender in the WWE, Estrada would use his promo skills to hype him up even more. Estrada continued to use his rich Cuban gimmick well, as he tried to buy off John Cena during his match against him on Raw during Umaga’s feud with the 15 time World Champion. But as Umaga became more powerful, Estrada lost his position as he was attacked and injured by Bobby Lashley in a story-line and later written off TV.
23 Armando Estrada (now)
Estrada would become the General Manager of ECW for some time, as Estrada would also wrestle a few matches during his stint in ECW. After being relinquished of his duties as the GM, Estrada would become a jobber in ECW before being released from the WWE in 2008. After his departure from the company, Estrada would return to the Independent circuit as a wrestler before being recalled by the WWE in 2010. This time he would be the manager of Tyson Kidd, and was more of a professional businessman rather than his earlier one of that off a Cuban rich man. This was fairly brief, as he lasted for only a week as Kidd’s manager and was again released from the WWE in 2012. He opened his own restaurant “Baby’s Steak and Lemonade” after his first departure, but that has since closed down, as he wanders in the Indy circuit with his stint in the WWE fairly forgotten by the fans.
22 Terri Runnels (then)
Terri Runnels debuted in the WWE as the on-screen manager of the bizarre Goldust, as she was the erotic Marlena(which she was named) would see her smoke cigars during Goldust’s matches and helped to bring about the Attitude era and Divas Division. After a story-line with Brian Pillman which halted due to Pillman’s untimely death, Runnels would then go onto become a vixen in the WWE before going onto manage Edge & Christian, who “won her services” through a best of five series. Runnels would then go onto manage Christian, before being dumped by Edge & Christian when they reunited, and also went onto manage Perry Saturn later on. Her seductive nature and dirty tactics made her quite the glaring manager, as she left the WWE after a successful stint as an entertainer in 2004.
21 Terri Runnels (now)
Runnels started to travel around the world after getting released from the WWE, as she became more of a philanthropist after her time at the WWE. Runnels began working with various charities after leaving the wrestling business, having valuable contributions with charities like “Make a Wish Foundation”, “Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America”, “Children’s Miracle Network” and “Hermie and Elliot Sadler Foundation”. She also began a contest in 2008 called “Make the World Write” where the contestants wrote on how they would make the world a better place. Runnels recently appeared in the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony for The Big Boss Man’s and Jacqueline’s induction, and also had an interview with WWE.com afterwards, as her stint as a manager would open the doors for more women to manage superstars in the WWE.
20 Virgil (then)
Though Virgil is considered as more of an “assistant” than an actual manager, he did manage to keep “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase at the top of his game. Virgil would be the guy to take all the beatings for Ted DiBiase, often carrying around his bag full of money which The Million Dollar Man would love to flaunt around. Virgil would also go onto wrestle a few matches for Ted DiBiase, losing to the likes of Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Hercules. After a failed run as a singles wrestler after leaving Ted DiBiase’s side, Virgil would join the WCW where he would be the “Head of Security” for the NWO. He often managed Nwo members like Scott Steiner, and later on went onto manage Ernest “The Cat” Miller but would soon be replaced. Virgil then saw his popularity dim to a low, as he spent out his WCW days before being released in 2000.
19 Virgil (now)
After leaving the WCW, Virgil went onto become a high school math teacher in Pennsylvania. But he stopped his work as a teacher and travelled around the world trying to regain his prominence as a wrestler, as he’d wrestle in some Independent shows. He returned to the WWE in 2010 as a valet for Ted DiBiase Jr, but was soon replaced by Maryse. Virgil has since attended many conventions around the US and some fans have created the “lonely Virgil” memes with photos of him sitting in conventions with nobody lining up. In June 2015, Virgil created a GoFundMe campaign to help make him a millionaire. In July last year, a documentary called “The Legend of Virgil and his travelling Merchandise Table” was released which discusses his wrestling career and surge in social media popularity. Virgil continues to attend conventions and wrestling events, as he can’t come to the realization that his popularity ended in the 90’s itself.
18 Joel Gertner (then)
Joel Gertner was definitely one of the most entertaining parts of the prime ECW days, as he provided some amusing entertainment as well as having the ability to really piss off the audience. After spending some-time as a color commentator for ECW, Gertner started to manage the Dudley Boyz, going to call himself “Studley Dudley”. His promos often got himself a lot of heat for himself as well as the Dudleys, as he started to wear an infamous neckbrace after taking Total Elimination from The Eliminators. Gertner would get quite a lot of popularity during this time, wrestling a couple of matches but more importantly he guided The Dudley Boyz to winning the ECW Tag Team Titles eight times, before they left for WWE.
17 Joel Gertner (now)
Upon The Departure of the Dudley’s from ECW, Joel Gertner became a broadcaster for ECW on TNN alongside Joey Styles, turning himself face and feuded with some of the heel superstars. He stuck with the ECW until its closure in 2001, after which he would make his TNA debut in 2002. He started to manage The Rainbow Express here, but he left the company shortly after debuting. He was also a part of WWE’s first ever ECW One Night Stand PPV and did some hilarious antics in the show. Gertner has continued to make appearances for many ECW reunion shows, and is currently the promoter for Connecticut’s MXW Pro Wrestling independent organization, as he’s a forgotten man now inspite of being one of the most entertaining managers of his time.
16 Dawn Marie (then)
Before she was a lackluster wrestler in the WWE, Dawn Marie was a damn good manager in ECW where she debuted as the manager of Lance Storm. Her impressive chemistry with Storm earned her a contract, and she continued to aid Storm in his feud with Chris Candido and Sunny. After Storm formed a tag team with Justin Credible, Dawn Marie started to manage both the wrestlers as they went onto win the ECW Tag Team Titles, and continued to stick with ECW after Storm left for WCW. She would then become a color commentator for the promotion, and managed her husband Simon Diamond and Swinger till ECW went broke in 2001. Marie continued to manage Diamond in the Indy circuit as both made an appearance alongside Swinger in the short-lived X Wrestling Federation, before she made the move to WWE.
15 Dawn Marie (now)
Marie debuted in the WWE as Vince McMahon’s legal assistant, and had a short feud with Stacy Keibler over him. Afterwards, she’d have an awful step-mother vs step-daughter feud with Torrie Wilson after she had (kayfabe) married Wilson’s real father, who died(kayfabe) after rigorous sex in their honeymoon. After this, she feuded with Miss Jackie over Charlie Haas and then had a feud with Michael McCool. Her lack of talent in the ring cost her dearly, as she soon saw her release after the ECW One Night Stand PPV in 2005, where she managed Lance Storm in his match against Chris Jericho. After being wrongfully released by the WWE, Marie filed a complaint against the company and the case was settled. She continued to appear in some Independent events, and even performed for “Women Superstars Uncensored” for a while before she became a full-time family mom and hasn’t been seen in the wrestling circuit much since getting inducted into the Women Superstars Uncensored Hall of Fame in 2010, as her lackluster time at WWE ruined her managerial talents in the wrestling business which was soon forgotten by everyone.
14 Harvey Wippleman (then)
Brought by Sid Vicious to the WWE, Harvey Wippleman had a natural talent at managing wrestlers as he was instantly given the outlook of a calculative heel manager with a suit on, and would be the mouthpiece of some powerful superstars lacking in mic skills. After managing Big Bully Busick and The Warlod, Wippleman managed his real-life friend Sid, who was then on the main-event scene. After Sid destroyed jobbers, Harvey would come in with a stethoscope and listen to the defeated superstars’ hearts. Afterwards, Harvey would get in a feud with The Undertaker as both his clients in Kamala and then Giant Gonzalez fell in the hands of the Deadman. After a scuffle with Howard Finkel, Wippleman would now manage his on-screen girlfriend in Bertha Faye who won the Women’s Championship under him. But after things didn’t work out between them, Harvey was written off television.
13 Harvey Wippleman (now)
Wippleman saw the end of his managerial career after Bertha Faye, and would appear in WWE Superstars to critique the performances of the referees and give some detailed reports to WWE President Gorilla Monsoon, who made him into an official referee. Wippleman would also appear as “Handsome Harvey”(as a mocking to Ravishing Rick Rude who left WWE for WCW at the time) during this time, when he would be introducing D-Generation X. Wippleman continued to referee matches for the time being, before he got himself in the history books for all the wrong reasons, when he won the WWE Women’s Championship as “Hervina” in a Lumberjill Snow Bunny match in 2000. This would end very soon, after which he’d appear in various back-stage segments with hilarious acts. At the point of the Invasion story-line, he became a road agent for the company. He reappeared in WWE TV in 2010, managing the Brooklyn Brawler in a squash match against Ezekiel Jackson, and now works in a backstage role for the WWE at TV and PPV events, though his shining point as a manager is long gone and forgotten now by most fans.
12 Sunny (then)
Sunny was definitely one of the reasons on why people encouraged more and more female wrestling managers, as the beautiful woman showed her amazing skills by managing the Bodydonnas as they won the WWE Tag Team Championships at Wrestlemania XII. Sunny went onto win the 1996 Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Manager of the Year” award and was also AOL’s most downloaded woman that year. She then later went onto manage The Goodwins, The Smocking Guns and also had a short stint as the manager of Farooq. After hosting some of WWE’s shows like Livewire and Shotgun Saturday Night, Sunny went onto manage the Legion of Doom briefly before leaving the WWE in 1998. She then went onto have stints as a manager for ECW and WCW in the next years, before constant drug abuse didn’t let her get another chance at WWE.
11 Sunny (now)
Sunny continued to appear as a manager in the Indy circuit, appearing for Xtreme Pro Wrestling and continued to appear for many Indy promotions shows. Sunny also went onto appear for Ring of Honor for a couple of shows, before making an appearance in the 15th Anniversary of Raw. She participated in the “Miss WrestleMania” crown match at WrestleMania XXV, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011. But she saw some tough days afterwards, as she was arrested in five times in 2012. Sunny also inked a deal to appear in a porn film for Vivid Entertainment, which took away all the credibility she had as a WWE legend and it’s depressing to see how she’s fallen since her hey-days in the 90’s, where she ruled the roost as an amazing manager.
10 Jim Cornette (then)
Jim Cornette was quite the hot stuff in wrestling during the 80s and some of the 90s, as he rose from the low-key promotions to the top wrestling promotions in the world. After a year at Continental Wrestling Association, Cornette joined Bill Watt’s Mid-South Wrestling promotion and started to manage “The Midnight Express”. This was the beginning of an iconic partnership, as Cornette’s amazing, eccentric skills on the mic and The Express’ dominance over Mid-South Wrestling made the three of them into stars. They went onto join the WCW, where Cornette suffered a dangerous injury after trying a stunt. Cornette would then become the commentator for Jim Crockett Promotions and also a booker for the WCW. He would the finally join WWE, where he’d create and manage his own stable “Camp Cornette” with some prominent stars and later start an NWA invasion, before seeing his managerial role being diminished soon.
9 Jim Cornette (now)
Cornette would become the leader booker and part owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling, the WWE’s developmental territory and is responsible for the successful promotion of superstars like John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. He was fired in 2005 for slapping a wrestler, and later joined TNA as “The New Face of TNA Management”. As the “Managing Director”, he’d be the mouthpiece of the authority of TNA for a couple of years, before he was fired in 2009. He then signed on with Ring of Honor to be their Executive Producer and in 2010 returned to OVW as the head booker. He left OVW in 2011, and in 2012 he became head booker of ROH for a short period. He worked some Global Force Wrestling events last year in June, and is now on an extended break from wrestling as he focuses on his personal projects, but his time as a manager will probably be overshadowed because of his shenanigans after he was finished as a manager.
8 Mr. Fuji (then)
Mr Fuji had quite a memorable career as a wrestler, but it was his managerial career which really built his legacy in the history books. After retiring from wrestling, Mr Fuji became a heel manager who would go onto manage many superstars to make them great. Mr. Fuji infamous throwing salt into the opponents eyes or hitting them with his ever-present cane led to his clients winning many matches, as he went onto manage many legends like George Steele, The Demolition and lastly the Mighty Yokozuna. Under Mr Fuji’s guidance, Yokozuna went onto win the Royal Rumble match as well as the WWE Championship twice in his career. After his time as the manager of Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji retired from wrestling as a whole.
7 Mr. Fuji (now)
After leaving wrestling, Mr. Fuji retired in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1997, he sued the makers of the video game WCW vs NWO World Tour, claiming that the character of “Master Fuji” was actually based off him. Mr. Fuji also went onto operate a training dojo outside of Jefferson City, Tennessee and Dandridge, Tennessee until 2001. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 but his former charge in Don Muraco, and was seen in a wheelchair because of going through nine knee operations previously. Though he hasn’t appeared in the squared circle for a long time, he’ll still be remembered to be one of the most powerful wrestling managers of all time by the few who followed his work in his hey-days, as many probably can’t even remember him.
Note: Since the publication of this article, Mr. Fuji has passed away. From everyone at TheSportster, we send our condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.
6 Paul Ellering (then)
After not quite making it as a professional wrestler himself, Paul Ellering decided to use his intimidating personality to manage the destructive team of The Road Warriors. He united with The Road Warriors in 1981, and continued to not only manage them in the ring but also did the stuff on the outside, like negotiating on contracts as well as travel arrangements. Ellering also managed the Warriors during their WWE Run in 1992. Ellering also managed The Road Warrior’s rivals in the Disciples of Apocalypse in 1998, which he stated to be a very difficult time. He gradually returned to manage the Road Warriors till the end of their WWE run.
5 Paul Ellering (now)
After retiring from professional wrestling, Ellering travelled to Alaska to become a sled dog racer and participated in the Iditarod, where he came in 54th place. Ellering was inducted into the WWE hall of fame in 2011 as part of The Legion of Doom along with The Road Warriors by Dusty Rhodes. He currently owns and operates the Historic Rock Tavern in Grey Eagle, Minnesota on Big Birch Lake. Ellering is also working for WWE NXT at the moment, where he debuted in the NXT Takeover: The End PPV, aligning himself as the manager of The Authors of Pain, as we can expect these two young men to excel under a legend like Ellering, who saw himself get the minimal reaction when he returned inspite of being such a legendary manager himself.
4 Jimmy Hart (then)
Jimmy Hart was quite the mouthpiece for many superstars in the 80’s, as the “Mouth of the South” was definitely one of the most vocal managers of all time. After impressing at Memphis Wrestling, Jimmy went onto join the WWE where he started to manage Greg Valentine before moving onto other wrestlers like King Kong Bundy, The Funk Family and Adrian Adonis before going onto take it to the next level with Jim Neidhart. He formed the Hart Foundation with Jim and Bret Hart, as he guided them to win the WWE Tag Team Titles from The British Bulldogs. Jimmy then became the manager of “The Honky Tonk Man” and was managing various superstars spontaneously, which led him to take some incredible bumps at WrestleMania III. Hart was named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Manager of the Year in 1987 and again in 1994 and he continued to do immense work as a manager till 1993, when he left the WWE along with Hulk Hogan.
3 Jimmy Hart (now)
Hart followed Hogan to the WCW, where he managed him for a point of time before also managing the Dungeon of Doom. He also managed Ric Flair during his WCW stint, and joined the company’s booking committee in 2001 shortly after which WCW was bought by WWE. He along with a consortium of former WCW wrestlers decided to form Xcitement Wrestling Federation after the sale of WCW to bring back that feeling, but it didn’t work that well. Hart continued to make appearances in the Indy circuit, as well as going to TNA for making sporadic appearances before Hart was resigned by the WWE in 2011. Hart has since hosted many house shows, and has made some sporadic appearances in WWE TV. Hart is a regular cast member on the WWE Network’s Legends’ House and is currently on a Legends deal with the WWE, as his managerial talents are sadly not required anymore as fans these days probably don’t even remember the eccentric man, who revolutionized the promo segments of wrestling with his amazing ability.
2 Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (then)
Bobby Heenan was probably the reason on why the role of promos and a mouthpiece became so important in the field of sports-entertainment, as the man’s incredible ability to grip the audience’s emotion when in action was amazing. After not really making it as a wrestler, Heenan decided to use his impressive talking skills to become a manager and created his legendary “The Brain” gimmick at American Wrestling Association, where his antics would reap the attention of everyone. This included Vince McMahon, who lured Heenan away from the AWA to join his company as he started to manage some of the legendary wrestlers in the WWE. After being mocked by commentators for never managing a champion, Heenan finally found a champion in Rick Rude who won the Intercontinental Championship from The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania III, as The Brain Busters also won the WWE Tag Titles. He then managed Mr. Perfect and the Colossal Connection(Andre the Giant and Haku) to some glory as well. In 1991, he retired as a manager to start his career at “Broadcast Journalism”, while he also served as a color commentator for some-time now, making him probably the pioneer of the “entertainment” bit of Sports-Entertainment.
1 Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (now)
Heenan moved to the WCW in 1994, replacing Jessie Ventura as the lead commentator of the promotion and acted mostly as a heel commentator. He continued to serve for the WCW till he was released in 2000. Heenan returned to the WWE at WrestleMania X-Seven as he served as a commentator for the Gimmick Battle Royal match, and served to put over some smaller promotions as well. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, and continued to make sporadic appearances at the WWE. Heenan also appeared in TNA for some shows, with his last WWE appearance being in 2007 during the WWE Draft. Heenan has received a lot of honor, with December 9th, 2009 being named as “Bobby Heenan” day by The Mayor of Milwaukee. Sadly, Heenan has suffered through numerous health issues in the past years, even after recovering from throat cancer. He was recently hospitalized in May of this year after suffering a fall, and recent pictures show the awful state of this charismatic person who can barely talk nowadays because of his bad health and probably the “greatest sports-entertainer” of all time is barely remembered by fans anymore.