In the new millennium the art of the wrestling manager seemed to be mostly lost on the big stage until the resurgence of the role thanks to the work of the endlessly excellent Paul Heyman - although don't label him one.
There are so many benefits to a great wrestling manager. They can cover up the speaking weaknesses of an otherwise strong act, their interference in matches can prove invaluable and sometimes just aligning with a good enough one can create an instant star.
André the Giant's betrayal of Hulk Hogan was made so impactful to fans and the character of Hogan because of his alignment to the dastardly Bobby Heenan. CM Punk's battle with Brock Lesnar was so personal because their fellow advocate, Paul Heyman, stabbed him in the back to prioritize 'The Beast'. Kane's debut at the Hell in a Cell was so big because of the work of Paul Bearer building him up.
When you think of the all-time great managers and valets certain names will always come to mind: Bobby Heenan, Paul Heyman, Sensational Sherri Martel, Freddie Blassie, Miss Elizbaeth, Lou Albano, Sunny, Paul Ellering, Paul Bearer, Vickie Guerrero and many, many more. But what about the ones you'd rather forget? Or the ones who just weren't memorable enough in the first place? Here we compile a list of the 15 worst managers and valets of all time.
In 1991, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan decided to become an announcer full-time and retire from managing due to a history of neck problems. This left 'Mr. Perfect' Curt Hennig without a manager. Some would argue that he didn't even need one, as he was a very good speaker all by himself and Heenan is a near-impossible act to follow. When Heenan's replacement was unveiled, most people would be able to see that going solo would have been the best option.
What arrived instead was Coach. Not even WWE's best remembered Coach, that would be Jonathan Coachman who moved on to a successful ESPN career. Played by John Tolos, this Coach was a one note stereotype of a high school coach, complete with whistle. But unlike the later Bill Alfonso, he wouldn't use his whistle to annoy periodically. He would keep it in his mouth whilst talking, resulting in a promo that was often only half understandable.
Some would say that to call Babu a manager is a miscategorization. He was actually manager to Tiger Ali Singh but on-screen he served more as a man-servant, meaning that he spent the majority of his on-screen time being degraded by Singh.
Singh was basically a rehash of Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Man gimmick, degrading audience members for money, making him Singh's Virgil. There were however several big differences between Babu and Virgil. First, he had no physical presence. Secondly, he was not even vaguely sympathetic so Singh's treatment of him created no reaction. Therefore he added absolutely nothing to the act.
13 Frenchy Martin
When Frenchy Martin arrived in the WWE he did so as a wrestler. Within a year he ended up as manager of Dino Bravo. Bravo was an Italian-Canadian wrestler but when paired with Frenchy Martin, the fact he is born in Quebec became played up.
Frenchy Martin didn't offer very much at all. The best thing about him came from the sign he carried to the ring that read 'USA is not OK'. But that was it. Besides that, Martin mostly just stood about.
12 Oliver Humperdink
When Bam Bam Bigelow arrived in the WWE he was billed as the hottest free agent in wrestling. This led to a battle of the heel managers for his services but Bigelow ultimately chose to be a fan favorite and Oliver Humperdink won out.
Sadly Bam Bam never reached the heights expected of him in the WWE and whilst it could be argued that the face turn is part of the reason, Humperdink certainly didn't help his case. He wasn't a strong talker and struggled to truly sell Bigelow as an attraction or his matches. In fact, even Sutton himself hated the Humperdink character behind the scenes.
So Sutton returned to WCW, where he got rebranded as Big Daddy Dink - a biker who managed the Fabulous Freebirds. He found himself out of place with the team and was less charismatic than them too, and with him once again displeased with his character behind the scenes he retired.
11 Theodore Long
Most people will remember Teddy Long as SmackDown's long running General Manager but he actually started his career as a referee. He transitioned into a manager after making several controversial decisions that leaned in favor of heel wrestlers.
When he arrived in the WWE, he did so once again as a referee, but after a few years he would return to the role of manager. His gimmick was fueled by race as he spoke about his black clients being held down by the man and ran a 'White Boy Challenge' when managing his longest running client, Rodney Mack. Unfortunately Long wasn't a brilliant talker, repetitively spouting out the same catchphrases and not really bothering to talk about his clients themselves.
He would end up moving to SmackDown and having a brief unsuccessful stint managing Mark Jindrak before becoming GM. As GM he would occasionally return to the role in one-off capacities and wasn't any better at it.
10 Hiroko Suzuki
Most readers will have reacted to this entry with the word "Who?", and that sums her up entirely. The valet and translator for her real-life husband Kenzo Suzuki - who you also likely don't remember - she did very little to help get her husband over with crowds and was little more than an offensive stereotype.
The biggest thing she ever did was a rivalry with Torrie Wilson that involved the two wanting to strip each other down to their underwear. This was because Kenzo had a crush on Torrie and Hiroko decided that stripping her would be the best way to tackle that. This eventually culminated in a Kimino match between the two that saw just that as the aim.
9 Queen Sharmell
A lot has been said on the accent Booker T adopted when he became King Bookaaahh but the absolute worst part of his post-King of the Ring success persona came from his wife, Queen Sharmell.
The former Nitro girl first began accompanying her husband whilst he was a fan favorite, before he became 'King'. She would soon begin interfering in his matches, with Booker supposedly ignorant to it. It would later be revealed Booker knew all along.
It was easy to see why Sharmell was turned heel almost as soon as she arrived, she just comes across on TV as plain unlikable. This would lead you to expect she would've made a great heel manager for Booker but even that didn't work. Her annoying nature would make fans want to see her get her comeuppance but equally, they just wanted to see her go away.
Deuce 'n Domino were a 50s throwback tag team that were ripped straight out of Grease. Accompanying them was Cherry, the storyline sister of Domino. The team were a one-beat gimmick anyway and despite winning the WWE Tag Team Championships within their first three months, they made very little impact.
As little impact as the duo made, their valet Cherry made less. She was so bad that she actually got kicked out of the group, despite her family tie to Domino, to be replaced by Maryse. Maryse wasn't even given a look to fit the gimmick but given that she was replacing Cherry, that didn't matter. Even with a lack of reason for her being there, she was still more use to the team.
7 Harvey Wippleman
When Bruno Lauer was brought in to the WWE from Memphis, he did so with a good reputation for his managerial work under the guise Downtown Bruno. Bruno was quite possibly the most hated manager in the promotion as a weasel of a character. Jerry Lawler even compared him to Jimmy Hart.
However, when he came to WWE he was rebranded as Harvey Wippleman, who was basically PeeWee Herman. He would get character shifts a few times, all under the Wippleman name, but none of them worked and worse still, his wrestlers were far from stars. The only person of note that he managed to success was his real-life friend Sid Justice.
His resume was so poor that he became a literal joke, even entering a rivalry with legendary announcer Howard Finkel that culminated in the infamous Tuxedo match. Think Hiroko's Kimono match but two middle-aged men in suits. Then later he would enter the Women's division and capture the championship. Really.
6 Kim Chee
The main job of a manager is to promote. Promote their wrestler, promote their storylines and their upcoming matches and feuds. Yet Kamala's two-time manager Kim Chee was silent. Played by Steve Lombardi - better known as Brooklyn Brawler among many other gimmicks - Chee was the masked 'handler' of the cannibalistic African warrior.
With Kamala only capable of speaking a few words and Chee silent, there was little point to their main event programs with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. This saw Chee replaced by Mr. Fuji.
When Kamala returned to the WWE a few years later, he did so once again paired with Chee. Only this time he was also managed by Harvey Wippleman. That's right, Kim Chee was so bad that he had to draft in the management services of our previous entry, Harvey Wippleman.
5 Mini Me
Many wrestlers have made use of little versions of wrestlers to mock their opponents in one-off scenarios. Examples include The Rock's Booker Wee, Kurt Angle using a mini version of himself to attack him while dressed as John Cena, and JBL's tiny Undertaker. While these are tasteless, at least they are one-offs. However, the use of 'mini me' sidekicks was not.
This slot encompasses all of WWE's parade of 'mini me' sidekicks, and there has been a worryingly high amount of them. While many would jump to label Hornswoggle as the worst, thanks to his time as a 'leprechaun' accompanying Finlay, his in-ring work was entertaining enough if given the chance. He was very entertaining when paired with 3MB and in his feud with fellow midget mascot El Torito.
Other such terrible pairings came with The Heart Throbs 'Pocket Rocket', Goldust's MiniDust, and Viscera's Cloacas. The worst offender of all came in the form of Little Boogeyman who feuded with Hornswoggle, who himself was then called Little Bastard. There are just no words to describe the farce of it all.
4 Momma Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin was one of the most naturally gifted athletes in WWE history. The college roommate of Brock Lesnar made his WWE roster debut alongside Charlie Haas as a part of Team Angle, managed by Paul Heyman. This is a dream debut for any talent, any the duo were very successful with the stable and after they left it and dubbed themselves The World's Greatest Tag Team.
When they split up, Shelton moved to Raw where he scored a series of upset wins against top dog and World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H. The sky seemed the limit for him, except for one flaw - he wasn't very good at talking.
So after some midcard success WWE decided to give him a mouthpiece, a smart move that could elevate him to the main event picture. Except they gave him 'Momma Benjamin', a racist character ripped straight from Big Momma's House (but even WWE refrained on the drag act). Bearing in mind, only the previous year saw Shelton defeating Chavo Guerrero's racist "If it ain't white, it ain't right." Kerwin White gimmick.
Momma Benjamin was undeniably racist but at least thanks to casting a comedienne in Thea Vidale, it managed the occasional chuckle. Kai En Tai, a stable of Japanese wrestlers, however, were just straight up racist without any laughs.
The group came together in Japan as an ordinary wrestling stable but when they arrived in the WWE they found themselves relegated to a comedy act. Worst of all was the manager they were paired with - Yamaguchi-San.
Yamaguchi-San's biggest contribution to the WWE was a rivalry with Val Venis (whose character was a porn star) that was spurned by a sex tape between Val and his wife. This led to his most infamous line, "I choppy-choppy your pee-pee."
Dusty Rhodes is one of the greatest talkers and characters in the history of professional wrestling. 'The American Dream' was never short for words both on and off camera and had had great success in the NWA, where he became a three-time World Heavyweight Champion among other accolades.
Yet when WWE signed him in 1989 they decided that he needed a new image and gave him his infamous polka-dot trunks and a manager, in the form of Sapphire. The pair entered a rivalry with then 'Macho King' Randy Savage and his partner Sensational Queen Sherri, but Sapphire would sell Rhodes out after Ted DiBiase proclaimed he had purchased her.
Her time was brief but she was utterly pointless. Even Dusty himself agreed. In his DVD, Rhodes revealed that he had actually gone to Vince McMahon himself to say that, while he liked Sapphire, he should release her as it was pointless having her around. McMahon convinced him otherwise but it was plain to see which side of the argument was correct.
1 Ranjin Singh
The Great Khali was an interesting act for a promoter. On the one hand, he is a freak of nature - at over seven foot tall he is a giant even in the wrestling world. However, he is inept inside the ring and watching him just attempt to walk and move is awkward viewing. Given this, he needed a strong promoter to cover his weaknesses and accentuate his one true positive. Initially he had that in Daivari but after a lack of faith from the company, Khali was relegated to his muscle - a logical role for him.
After splitting with Daivari, Khali debuted a new representative in the form of his translator and on-screen brother, Ranjin Singh. As heels, Singh was a bad talker and failed to get crowds interested in anything he did.
When the two were faces however, Singh became unbearable. He would dance to the ring like a drunk dad at a wedding and jumping about like a child who had been given too much sugar. In all the efforts to stop cringing viewers ended up looking as awkward as Khali himself. In less annoying circumstances fans may have thanked Singh for distracting from the awful experience that is The Great Khali, but he ended up worse.