Recently I wrote an article about the greatest valets in pro wrestling and how they work to accentuate the best attributes of the wrestlers that they are aligned with while at the same time being eye candy and support in order to help gloss over any areas where a wrestler is having issues. A more straightforward way of helping a struggling wrestler get over with the crowd is by giving that wrestler a traditional manager. With a manager, a wrestler can now have a mouthpiece to do the talking for them and allow the wrestler an opportunity to showcase their skills in the ring without having to worry as much about giving a promo to the audience. A manager can also be helpful in winning matches as they can distract the referee or their wrestler’s opponent, in the hopes that the distraction will lead to a win for the managed wrestler.
Managers can be just as memorable as the wrestlers that they have managed over the years with many like Freddie Blassie and Bobby Heenan even being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame due to the great work they did as representatives for numerous wrestlers over the years. These are the people that when their names are simply mentioned, fans instantly have a favorite memory of the person working alongside a wrestler or giving a great promo to build up the anticipation for a match.
This list is designed to look at the greatest managers in pro wrestling ranked according to popularity, talent of the manager and the quality of wrestlers that the manager helped along with how the manager is remembered in the history of wrestling. So please read, enjoy, and let us know what you think down in the comments section. How would you have ranked these differently? Are there other managers that you felt should have made the list or that one of the entries should be ranked differently?
15. Sir Oliver Humperdink
With baton in hand and decked out in a shiny sequined jacket, Sir Oliver Humperdink was not your stereotypical wrestling manager. Working for promotions all over the country including Jim Crockett Promotions, Florida Championship Wrestling, and the WWE, Humperdink would manage such teams and wrestlers like Bam Bam Bigelow and the Fabulous Freebirds to varying degrees of success. While John Sutton did not like his gimmick as Humerdink, he was professional enough to work through the dislike to help the wrestlers he managed and boost their status within the wrestling world.
14. Skandor Akbar
After retiring from in-ring wrestling, Skandor Akbar would go onto his second calling in the wrestling world, this time as a manager for dozens of wrestlers over the course of the late 70s and 80s. Some of the more famous wrestlers that Akbar managed would include King Kong Bundy, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, and Steve Austin. Akbar would create a signature image of smoking cigars at ringside during matches and would help his wards in a variety of ways including using various weapons, specifically fireballs.
13. Harvey Wippleman
When you first see Harvey Whippleman, you see a skinny guy who looks like he got stuffed into a lot of lockers in high school, yet when you look at his career you see that he has managed over 50 singles wrestlers and 10 teams or stables. Managing such wrestlers as Sid Justice and Cactus Jack, Whippleman showed he could help bigger named stars along with lower level wrestlers like the Brooklyn Brawler and Adam Bomb. Whippleman also has the distinction of being the only male performer to win the WWE Women’s Championship after he beat The Kat in a Lumberjill match on Raw in 2000.
12. Bill Alfonso
Easily one of the most annoying managers in wrestling history, you always knew Bill Alfonso was near so long as you heard that shrill whistle blowing of his blaring throughout the arena. After a stint as a straight-laced referee in ECW, Alfonso would eventually become the manager of Taz before turning on him to manage Taz’s rival Sabu and Rob Van Dam. ECW would capitalize on the fans’ hatred of Alfonso on a few separate occasions, putting him in matches against ECW founder Todd Gordon and Beulah, the latter which left Alfonso a bloody mess.
11. Paul Ellering
With a shaved head, sunglasses, and an ironic t-shirt, Paul Ellering was a manager in the truest sense of the word. Known primarily for his work with the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom, Ellering was the duo’s actual manager where he would book their travel needs and their matches alongside helping them from ringside. While he would manage other teams, including the Disciples of Apocalypse, Ellering would eventually return to managing the Legion of Doom and would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame alongside them in 2011.
10. Vickie Guerrero
While Bill Alfonso was one of the most annoying managers in wrestling history, Vickie Guerrero was THE most annoying manager in wrestling history. With a shrill voice and her infamous catchphrase “excuse me,” Guerrero had a way of drawing heat from the crowd like few can these days. Managing such stars as Edge to multiple world title reigns along with Chavo Guerrero as part of the La Familia faction, Guerrero shot up to being one of the most loathed characters in pro wrestling, which only made her more aggravating to listen to.
9. Mr. Fuji
The master of slinging salt, Mr. Fuji comes in next on the rankings of greatest managers in pro wrestling. Managing such wrestlers as Ric Flair, Demolition, and fellow Hall of Famer Yokozuna, Fuji was a constant reminder to wrestlers that they needed to be vigilant in watching him at ringside because you never knew what trick Mr. Fuji might try to pull. These tactics would backfire occasionally, most notably when Mr. Fuji accidentally blinded Yokozuna in his impromptu WWE Title match against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania IX, ultimately costing Yokozuna the title.
8. Ric Flair
After decades of being one of the top pro wrestlers in the world, Ric Flair slowly segued into managerial roles as he further removed himself from in-ring work. Acting as a manager for members of Evolution and Fortune, specifically AJ Styles, amongst others, Flair showed why it was always a good idea to have “the dirtiest player in the game” in your corner. Always willing to distract opponents or get in the occasional cheap shot, Flair was always there for those he was managing, especially when it meant that wrestler would either be winning or retaining a championship.
7. “Classy” Freddie Blassie
Working for various promotions around the world including the WWWF and the WWA, “Classy” Freddie Blassie was a true elder statesman of pro wrestling. After wrestling for over two decades, Blassie retired from in-ring work as there were laws preventing people over the age of 55 from obtaining wrestling licenses, he would go on to manage such superstars as Hulk Hogan, the Iron Sheik, and King Kong Bundy. Due to his strong relationship with Vince J. McMahon, Blassie would remain on the WWE payroll and would make sporadic appearances for the promotion all the way up to his death in 2003.
6. Captain Lou Albano
With a career that spanned four decades, Captain Lou Albano was a manager who knew how to take his wrestlers to the top. With 15 tag teams and four singles competitors obtaining championship gold under his tutelage, Albano was a manager who knew how to bring the best out of his wrestlers. Decked in Hawaiian shirts and with rubber bands pierced into his cheeks, Albano looked more like a mental patient than a wrestling manager, but he would also help bring wrestling into a surge of popularity after frequently working with Cyndi Lauper on a few music videos leading to a crossover wrestling event on MTV titled the Brawl to End It All.
5. Jimmy Hart
Decked out in sunglasses, brightly colored jackets, and carrying his trusty bullhorn, Jimmy Hart was a manager who really knew how to get the crowd on your side or make sure that they absolutely hated you. Managing such superstars like Hulk Hogan and teams like the Hart Foundation, Jimmy Hart could play the role of face or heel incredibly well. He had a gift of gab that could sell not only the wrestlers that he managed but could make any match that they were involved in seem like the biggest fight of the year.
4. Percy Pringle/Paul Bearer
OOOOOHHHH YESS, WWE Hall of Famer Paul Bearer comes in at number four on the list. As the longtime manager for the Undertaker and Kane, Bearer was the perfect fit as a manager for two demonic characters. As a manager Bearer was more of a moral support than a physical support, carrying the Undertaker’s urn which held the source of his power while with Kane, Bearer would light a metaphorical fire under him to prepare him for fights.
Bearer’s use of words would prove vital to building mystique for both the Undertaker and Kane while they built their reputations and developed their promo skills. He would also be a source of numerous storylines including the buildup for the match between CM Punk and the Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXIX after Bearer had passed away.
His phenomenal work as Paul Bearer may be what he’s remembered for most, but William Moody also did phenomenal work as Percy Pringle, managing names such as Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin, and oh yes, Mark Calaway before his Undertaker years.
3. Paul Heyman
As arguably one of the greatest mic workers in pro wrestling history with a love of the industry, it is easy to see why Paul Heyman made a great manager. Starting out as Paul E. Dangerously, he would create the Dangerous Alliance in WCW featuring such stars as Steve Austin, Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko. After leaving WCW and going to Eastern Championship Wrestling before it became Extreme Championship Wrestling, Heyman would manage a number of wrestlers there as well and in the eventual Invasion storyline.
Most recently Heyman has done arguably some of the best work of his career, leading both CM Punk and Brock Lesnar to WWE World Title reigns giving him a total of five WWE champions that he has managed.
2. Jim Cornette
Known as a loud mouth and for being one of the most brutally honest men in pro wrestling, Jim Cornette is a strong example of how important a manager can be to building a wrestler up. With his signature tennis racket, Cornette led his wrestlers to victory on countless occasions in various promotions including the WWE, WCW, and Jim Crockett Promotions. While rarely wrestling himself, Cornette has taken his fair share of bumps, including an infamous drop from a scaffold used in a tag match between the Road Warriors and the Midnight Express, severely injuring his knee and legs in the process.
1. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Some called him the “Pretty Boy,” others “the Weasel,” but to most he was “the Brain.” Bobby “the Brain” Heenan is without a doubt the greatest manager in pro wrestling history. From managing legends like Ric Flair and Andre the Giant to a brief stint in Ring of Honor managing the Second City Saints, Colt Cabana and CM Punk. Heenan was a wealth of knowledge in the wrestling game and could get the crowd to hate him with ease. Even after leaving his role of manager he would become a commentator for both the WWE and WCW and continue to share his knowledge with wrestling fans up until his release in 2000. In 2004, Heenan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
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