The shows the WWE puts on are among the most difficult in all of entertainment. Raw, SmackDown and PPVs all go down live with everything having to run perfectly on the fly with no chances to have retakes or to make up for potential mistakes. The touring aspect requires the Raw and SmackDown rosters to stay active every weekend and that also takes a lot of work to run effectively. WWE has perfected their system in a way that sees everything running like a finely tuned machine. Part of the reason for this is the company hiring a plethora of talented backstage employees to pull it off.
WWE is a team effort that goes beyond the wrestlers and other on-air talents that entertain the masses. Backstage roles that impact the success of the company belong to road agents, producers, writers, executives and other positions who help get the shows finalized. William Regal, Fit Finlay, and Dean Malenko are just a couple of the bigger names that have noteworthy backstage roles in the WWE landscape today. There have been plenty of noteworthy stars to come in and out of the company serving in various roles. We’ll look at some of them now featuring fifteen stars you forgot worked behind the scenes in the WWE.
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15 Tully Blanchard
Tully Blanchard's underrated career is often most remembered for his time in The Four Horsemen. Blanchard entering the squared circle always guaranteed an impressive outing. Arn Anderson and Blanchard had a great run as The Brain Busters tag team. Unfortunately, Blanchard was always overshadowed by the likes of Anderson and Ric Flair, but he was truly great.
WWE recognized his talents by having him enter the backstage world in the mid-2000s as a producer and road agent. Blanchard used his wrestling knowledge to provide input in putting together matches. His tenure with the company was short-lived with it apparently not working out. Tully has since left the wrestling business with his only current ties coming from watching his daughter Tessa Blanchard progress in her career.
14 J.J. Dillon
Another person on this list that’s remembered for his time in The Four Horsemen but did much more in the wrestling industry is J.J. Dillon. Most wrestling fans first think of Dillon’s time managing The Horsemen or for being an on-air authority figure for WCW during their feud with the New World Order when his career is discussed.
The aspect of Dillion’s career that is forgotten happens to be arguably the most important. WWE hired him as the Vice President of Talent Relations for eight years from 1989 to 1997. Dillon was responsible for the talent coming in and out of the company. The retired veteran has stated he takes pride in knowing The Undertaker and Triple H were two stars he helped show the world with their hiring coming under his regime. Dillon was eventually replaced by Jim Ross and went back to WCW.
13 John Laurinaitis
Sticking with the theme of Talent Relations’ Vice Presidents, one of the more recent names to hold that position was John Laurinaitis. The majority of John Laurinaitis’ success as a wrestler came in Japan but he held an office job in WCW towards the end of the company’s existence. WWE purchasing WCW was the best thing to happen to Johnny Ace’s career.
Vince McMahon loved Laurinaitis’ work enough to have him replace Jim Ross for the position of hiring the talents for the WWE. Many critics despised Laurinaitis for being one of the worst to hold the job, as he'd be looking for recruits in fitness magazines rather than scouting the globe for the best wrestlers. Laurinaitis was replaced by Triple H and is married to the mother of The Bella Twins. WWE still employs him as a producer.
12 Harvey Wippleman
Harvey Wippleman worked for the WWE in many roles with his most high profile time coming as an on-screen character. Fans remember him for his appearances as a manager, referee and overall comedic character. Wippleman’s smaller stature allowed him to use it to his advantage in a world of massive performers at the time. WWE respected his work ethic and loyalty enough to give him backstage work.
Wippleman served as a road agent for quite some time starting around the early 2000s. You could even spot Wippleman in a few backstage segments over the years when someone was needed for extra work. Fellow former referee Jimmy Korderas stated Wippleman’s most recent backstage role in WWE was as a concierge, taking care of things like food service and rental cars for the wrestlers.
11 Al Snow
WWE allowed Al Snow the opportunity to begin the next chapter of his career while still working as a wrestler. The peak of Snow’s wrestling career was during the Attitude Era giving him his best chance to have succeed in the WWE. This carried over to his next life as a trainer when the WWE wanted to start the Tough Enough reality show on MTV.
Snow was the lead trainer and arguably the star of the show that became associated with the first few seasons of Tough Enough. This culminated in him running WWE’s developmental program Ohio Valley Wrestling to teach the aspiring WWE Superstars the tools needed to thrive on the big stage. WWE eventually let him go and he found his way to TNA in another backstage role. Snow currently works as a wrestler, producer and trainer for TNA.
10 Ranjin Singh
Ranjin Singh's on-air tensure may not stand out as anything special, but it landed him the job that would become his career. Singh’s main role on WWE television was being the heel manager and translator of The Great Khali. Hornswoggle would become the Singh's rival during Khali’s feud with Finlay. Khali eventually split from Singh and the latter was removed from television for his new role.
WWE allowed Singh to transition into a writer backstage, joining the staff of minds putting the shows together. Raw and SmackDown both have seen Singh serve as a lead writer for many years now. His writing career is still going strong and he’s regarded as one of the highly valued writers on the WWE payroll. Not bad for someone that started by translating the incoherent sentences of The Great Khali.
9 Brooklyn Brawler
The thirty-three year career of the Brooklyn Brawler in the WWE earned him a reputation as one of the most loyal employees in company history. Brawler spent the majority of his career as an enhancement talent being used primarily to lose matches to help other wrestlers get over. The years of losses made Brawler a beloved figure to the longtime fans, especially in his home of New York that allowed the WWE to use him in a few fun moments through the years.
Brawler spent the latter years of his WWE career working backstage as a road agent and producer of promos. The wrestlers would film backstage segments or vignettes with Brawler often being the man behind the camera to give them feedback. A lot of the young wrestlers picked up little tidbits of knowledge from the veteran. WWE randomly fired him in early 2016 for undisclosed reasons and he’s wrestling on the independent scene again.
8 Paul Bearer
The late, great Paul Bearer will always be synonymous with the early years of The Undertaker’s career in the WWE. Bearer and Undertaker were a perfect unit that got over big time with the fan base. As great as The Undertaker was, Bearer's character work was instrumental in Taker's early success before fans got accustomed to him. Bearer was highly respected in the wrestling industry and WWE rewarded that for a few years.
After Bearer left WWE television in 2000, he moved into a backstage role doing a variety of jobs. The company paid him to not only be a road agent but also as a stage manager and talent scout. Bearer’s wrestling knowledge was good enough to contribute to all titles. Unfortunately, the relationship ended within two years when his contract expired with the company. Bearer luckily returned to the company a few more times to reprise his character before his passing.
7 Ted DiBiase
An early retirement from the ring due to injury forced Ted DiBiase to find a new job in the world of wrestling. His incredible heel work will always be what’s most associated with his career but it ended due to a neck injury in 1993. Following a few stints as a manager, DiBiase transitioned into a backstage role in the business. WCW introduced him to the road agent job and he reprised the same role years later in the WWE.
DiBiase returned to the WWE originally for a creative role in 2004. The company hoped the former wrestler could provide another intelligent mind to join the writing staff as a creative consultant. DiBiase worked as a road agent in addition to his creative duties. Some wrestlers, namely Paul London and Brian Kendrick, didn’t like working with DiBiase due to his alleged poor attitude. DiBiase was eventually released from his backstage position, but has still made occasional appearances on WWE television for nostalgic purposes.
6 Jim Ross
Jim Ross' broadcasting career will see him go down as the greatest commentator in the history of pro wrestling. Ross served as the voice of the Attitude Era and beyond with his voice adding to many memorable moments that shaped the WWE into the phenomenon it has become. A lesser known fact is Ross held a backstage job for many years in addition to his on-air role.
JR was the Vice President of the Talent Relations for many years. Ross' tenure gave us many stars of the future. Most experts regard him as the best to hold down the position. WWE replaced Ross with John Laurinaitis in 2005. Ross wanted to cut down on his duties to focus on his health and family. His commentary work is iconic but the backstage work provided equally successful results.
5 Freddie Prinze Jr.
The most peculiar name to work backstage for the WWE has to be Freddie Prinze Jr., who actually worked for them on a couple of occasions. Prinze Jr. was a successful actor that transitioned into the writing game and landed the dream gig at WWE. His first stint in WWE saw Prinze Jr. get a spot on the creative team thanks to making connections by coming to shows as a fan.
WWE and Prinze Jr. parted ways for a year before he returned again as a writer, producer and director. His Hollywood experience allowed him to add input into segments and help wrestlers learn new tricks to get their character across. Prinze Jr. shared many noteworthy stories of interacting with Vince McMahon on various podcasts, but stated the travel made him leave the job due to wanting to spend all his free time with his children.
4 Barry Windham
Many of the underrated wrestlers of their eras have found their way into jobs as producers and road agents, as the technicians of the wrestling world know how to put together a compelling match. Another one of these men to get a spot as a producer and road agent was Barry Windham. Anyone who watched Windham growing up had a world of respect for him.
WWE hired Windham in 2007 for the backstage role and it also led to him having a few more on-air moments. Unfortunately his time in the new job didn’t last long. Windham was let go in under two years into his tenure, with the fit apparently not working out for both parties. WWE respected him enough to have him enter the Hall of Fame as a member of The Four Horsemen.
Lita's career sees her go down among the greatest female performers in WWE history. Lita was a groundbreaking talent making fans care about the women’s division for more than just the looks of the wrestler. After retiring from wrestling and spending time away from the business for a few years, Lita returned to WWE full time in 2015 as a producer and creative writer.
The women’s division rising in popularity, with a movement in creating change in the division, meant having a female backstage employee with the proper experience to help the new stars. Unfortunately, Lita could not do well enough in the role to hold it down. WWE removed her from the backstage jobs within a few months. Lita still works for the company in a broadcasting, role appearing on all of the pre-shows before the big events.
2 Ricky Steamboat
Ricky Steamboat was ahead of his time as a pioneer in the wrestling business. His exciting in-ring work proved there was an alternative style to the slower muscle heads like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Everyone remembers the iconic show stealing match at WrestleMania III when Steamboat faced Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship. WWE tried to harness his wrestling genius many years later.
Steamboat took the position as a road agent in 2005 and had the reputation of being one of the better former wrestlers to help put together matches. At some point, WWE transitioned him into a less active role as a trainer helping the younger prospects in NXT. The perk of working with his son Richie Steamboat gave him extra incentive to keep working until Richie’s release. Ricky Steamboat eventually left the backstage life and is now just an ambassador for the company.
1 Sgt. Slaughter
The legendary Sgt. Slaughter had a great wrestling career with his highest accolades being a former WWE Champion and main eventing WrestleMania VII against Hulk Hogan. WWE loved working with Slaughter enough to keep him employed for many years past his shelf life as an active in-ring performer. On various occasions, we saw Slaughter come to the ring with Vince McMahon or break up fights during the Attitude Era. That was art imitating life as he worked backstage as a producer.
Slaughter held the producer job for many years and was one of the more loyal employees in the company. WWE ended that part of their relationship in 2009 when he was released from his contract as a backstage employee. Things are still good between the two parties with Slaughter appearing in the occasional segment on television and being an ambassador for the the company.
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