The art of the manager used to be one of the pillars of the wrestling business. Not every wrestler is blessed with the gift of the gab or knows how to get over with a presence. That’s just life. Everyone has different strengths and flaws in any field. Some wrestlers need a little help in the presentation to harness their talent into success. A manager’s role is to help add to a wrestler’s act and accentuate the positives while making up for the negatives. The most common scenario is a charismatic manager being paired with a wrestler that struggles with cutting promos.
Managers used to be more prominent in the 80s and 90s. The WWE would utilize managers to improve the work of a wrestler. There are many things a manager can do to help add to the story of a match while ringside. Between spots like distracting a referee so the wrestler can get an unfair advantage or throwing in a weapon, managers can contribute to the performance in every way, including the actual wrestling match. The ability to get love or hatred from fans by their mannerisms is the biggest job of a manager. They can’t do things in the actual ring to sell their personas so the character work is key.
Currently, there are less successful managers and WWE has phased the art out but there may be an upswing coming. Paul Heyman’s return to the company with Brock Lesnar a few years ago reminded the world just how tremendous a great manager can be. Lana has been another great manager with her character work being a very valuable asset to Rusev’s act. There’s hope for more managers coming into the business but the roles are limited and success is not always guaranteed. Not every wrestler can be saved by a great manager and we’re looking at those stories here. These are the top fifteen stories of legendary managers who couldn’t save terrible wrestlers.
15 Paul Heyman and Ryback
14 James Mitchell and Judas Mesias
13 Sunny and The Smoking Gunns
12 Missy Hyatt and The Nasty Boys
11 Teddy Long and Rodney Mack
10 Jim Cornette and Dan Severn
9 Jimmy Hart and Hugh Morrus
8 Mr. Fuji and The Berzerker
7 Ted DiBiase and Tatanka
6 Vickie Guerrero and Eric Escobar
5 Bobby Heenan and The Brooklyn Brawler
4 Paul Heyman and Heidenreich
3 Paul Ellering and D.O.A
2 Bobby Heenan and Lex Luger
1 Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel
For the third time on this list, Paul Heyman failed to get over a poor wrestler. Curtis Axel was viewed as a can’t miss prospect as the son of the late, great Mr. Perfect. His WWE run was extremely disappointing and the company tried rebuilding him with Heyman as the manager to help turn it around. Axel entered a feud with Triple H and won the Intercontinental Championship within months. Despite the push and the work of Heyman trying to mold him into a superstar, Axel fell flat and didn’t have the ability to become a top guy. Axel’s mundane matches and lack of charisma prevented Heyman from saving him, making this one of the saddest stories of a top manager failing to save a bad wrestler.
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