The art of managing has played a huge role in the history of pro wrestling. A manager’s role is to accompany a wrestler to the ring and add to their act. The manager should play a role in the matches that benefit the wrestler,but should never overshadow the wrestler. The wrestler is supposed to be the star of the act and the manager has to find a way to entertain without outshining the talent. It is a very difficult job and that’s why very few have been able to succeed at making a career out of it.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Paul Heyman and Sensational Sherri are three managers that delivered everything needed for the position. Anyone who watched them in their prime has great memories of promos or antics that left an impact on the viewer. The key to their success was they made sure the wrestlers they managed were better with them at ringside. Randy Savage would not have been as great of a heel if Sherri wasn’t raking the eyes of his opponents when the referee turned his back. Brock Lesnar would have never got over in 2002 and would not be as big a star today in WWE if Heyman wasn’t cutting promos that made him look like a superstar. Heenan carried too many wrestlers in his career to name them all.
Those are cases of a manager contributing a great deal to a wrestling star, but sometimes talented performers can be put together and just not have the right chemistry which causes it to fail. On the other hand, sometimes, due to storyline or need, the manager just doesn’t work or holds back a wrestler. Many managers lacked these necessaries and harmed their wrestlers in the process. These are the fifteen top stories of a wrestler being brought down by their manager.
15. Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter
It’s hard to say something is a complete failure after just a couple of weeks but having Zeb Colter manage Alberto Del Rio has already ruined his return to the WWE. Del Rio was one of the hottest free agents on the market and built up his value to a much higher level than it was before he left WWE. The company re-hired him and had him defeat John Cena cleanly for the United States Championship. This should be huge news but his momentum has already died out due to his association with Colter. As entertaining as Colter has been in the past, an old man on a scooter is not who you want with a top star.
14. The Steiners and Ted DiBiase
The Steiner Brothers were one of the best tag teams in WCW history but they lost a lot of their credibility when Ted DiBiase became their manager. WCW originally hired DiBiase to be the spokesperson and financial backer of the New World Order but Eric Bischoff replaced him and DiBiase quit the faction. They would have him become the face manager for Rick and Scott Steiner but it made no sense. The Steiners were one of the biggest targets of the nWo and DiBiase played a huge role in that. Why would they make him their manager because of his change of heart? The silly booking made all three men look like goofs.
13. Carlito and Torrie Wilson
During the mid-00s, Carlito was being pegged as the next star in WWE. Ultimately he would get stuck in the midcard for years but things really took a downturn when he was paired with Torrie Wilson. On the surface, getting into a storyline with one of the best looking women in wrestling would benefit one’s career but the two lacked chemistry. Carlito was more viewed as “the guy with Torrie” rather than the star of the tandem. Wilson was never a great manager, so she could not add to the matches and their time together was just awkward. If you look back at Carlito’s entire WWE career, his time with Torrie was when he started to become irrelevant.
12. Vader and Paul Bearer
Paul Bearer was one of the most celebrated managers in WWE history due to his time with The Undertaker. Both men worked great together and showed stellar chemistry for years. Bearer eventually turned on The Undertaker to join Mankind. That also worked due to Mankind fitting with Bearer’s gimmick. Vader was added to the heel trio and did not fit in at all. Despite a successful stint in WCW as a top heel, WWE never knew how to use Vader and it showed with Paul Bearer. Vader was not a “spooky” personality like everyone else Bearer managed and the poor fit helped end Vader’s mediocre run in WWE.
11. Shawn Stasiak and Terri Runnels
Terri Runnels was a gorgeous valet and contributed to the female wrestling roster in WWE as eye candy during the Attitude Era but she wasn’t a great manager. Aside from her run as Marlena with her then-husband Goldust, she would not help and would actually harm most wrestlers she managed. The best case of this was Shawn Stasiak. While Stasiak never did anything of importance in his wrestling career, he did have some potential and a rich pedigree as a second generation star… until he was renamed Meat and paired as the sex slave boyfriend of Terri. The gimmick was terrible and the storylines being focused specifically on Terri ruined Stasiak’s first shot in WWE.
10. Ted DiBiase Jr. and Maryse
Ted DiBiase Jr. was viewed as a “can’t miss prospect” and was expected to become a future WWE Champion. At one point, there were rumors that DiBiase was being discussed as a name that could have ended The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak. How insane does that sound today? DiBiase struggled as a singles star and had a hard time showcasing any personality, so WWE tried pairing him with the very charismatic heel Maryse. She was a great personality but she definitely harmed DiBiase’s career in WWE. Maryse overshadowed him in most promos and the duo could not develop chemistry. The most memorable moment of DiBiase’s work with Maryse as his manager was when she climbed the ladder at Money in the Bank – another case of her outshining him.
9. Mr. Perfect and Coach
There were very few talents in wrestling as great across the board as Curt Hennig. The name Mr. Perfect was fitting, as he was a superstar that could do everything well in a wrestling ring. After a successful run with the great Bobby “The Brain” Heenan accompanying him to the ring, Heenan retired and Perfect named “Coach” John Tolos his new manager. Coach portrayed his namesake and would walk down to the ring in sweats while carrying a whistle. The act was ridiculous and made Mr. Perfect look less like of a star. It takes a lot to make Curt Hennig look bad, but Coach was able to somehow pull it off.
8. Dolph Ziggler and Lana
A very recent case of a manager bringing down a wrestler and potentially vice versa was Dolph Ziggler and Lana. In her work as a heel with her real-life significant other Rusev, Lana was stellar and one of the best managers in the business. WWE tried turning her face by making her Ziggler’s love interest and manager. The two had negative chemistry and created some terrible television together. Many would argue that the whole Rusev/Lana/Ziggler/Summer Rae love storyline was the worst of 2015. Ziggler is still popular but he definitely lost momentum by having Lana as his manager. Seeing Lana in a jean jacket with a phony smile wasn’t natural and Ziggler suffered for it.
7. 3-Minute Warning and Rico
Quite simply, the tag team of Rosey and Jamal as 3-Minute Warning was supposed to be intimidating. Eric Bischoff introduced them as hired guns that would destroy anyone he asked them to. Rico would turn on Billy & Chuck to join 3-Minute Warning as their new manager. The idea made no sense given Rico’s flamboyant character and their act lost a lot of believability with Rico’s comedy. Rico would eventually turn on them and it would make them look even worse, considering his prior role compared to theirs.
6. Rob Van Dam and Ricardo Rodriguez
Ricardo Rodriguez was superb as the personal ring announcer and eventual manager of Alberto Del Rio. They worked perfectly together as heels and Rodriguez’s role added great depth to Del Rio. During a storyline in 2014, Del Rio turned on Rodriguez and Rodriguez aligned with Rob Van Dam. RVD was working one of his short stints with WWE and Rodriguez became Van Dam’s manager for his feud with Del Rio. The visual of RVD and Rodriguez looked silly and the two had no reason for their association aside from both disliking Del Rio. Van Dam would lose a lot of his luster as a returning legend and his association with Rodriguez was a contributing factor.
5. Legion of Doom and Sunny
The Legion of Doom returned to WWE at WrestleMania XIV with Sunny as their manager. The legendary tag team was repackaged as L.O.D. 2000 and were sporting new looks. Sunny was a big deal in WWE at the time due to her beauty and personality but none of the wrestlers she managed ever truly benefited from having her at ringside. The act would turn into the Sunny show and the wrestlers would be left for dead after she was moved to someone else. The same thing happened with the Legion of Doom as Sunny was just eye candy and contributed nothing to the team. WWE ended the association quickly and the L.O.D. were quickly irrelevant in the WWE.
4. Cesaro and Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman is deservedly viewed as one of the greatest managers in wrestling history. His work with Brock Lesnar, CM Punk and The Dangerous Alliance was incredible but he’s had some big failures in recent years. Curtis Axel and Ryback flopped with Heyman but the man Heyman brought down most was Cesaro. After WrestleMania XXX, Cesaro was over with fans due to winning The Andre Memorial Battle Royal. Instead of getting a run as a face, Heyman was named as Cesaro’s manager and he worked as a heel. Cesaro lost all of his momentum and hasn’t received that big a push since.
3. The Hardyz and Michael Hayes
Michael Hayes, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy are all future WWE Hall of Famers and had a great relationship but their on-screen pairing together was absolutely awful. They looked hilarious together as Hayes would wear skin tight shirts and jeans to fit in with The Hardys. It was like seeing a dad going through a midlife crisis and trying to dress like his kids. Matt and Jeff were not getting over and did not achieve true success in the tag team division until they ditched Hayes. The duo would begin to showcase their personalities while having great matches with Edge and Christian but the stint with Hayes as their manager is a time we all want to forget.
2. Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire
Dusty Rhodes was one of the all-time greats during his time in the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions but his WWE in-ring career was not as successful. Rhodes was dressed in a polka-dot outfit and was managed by Sapphire. Meant to represent the “common woman” to Rhodes’ “common man,” Sapphire was not much of a manager. She didn’t have much personality or relevant wrestling skills, so she could not contribute. The act was all around bad for Dusty and it was a wasted opportunity for Rhodes and the WWE, as Rhodes never was able to carve out a great legacy during his time as a wrestler for WWE. The casting of Sapphire as his manager was one of multiple reasons why.
1. Shelton Benjamin and His Mother
The promise and potential of Shelton Benajmin had wrestling fans full of excitement for the future. Benjamin’s in-ring work and athleticism were at the top of the company but he never had the personality or charisma that was necessary to move up the card. WWE decided to write a storyline where Benjamin’s nosy and overprotective mother would show up and motivate him as he was going through a losing streak. An actress was hired to play the role and it was a disaster. The comedy was poorly done and it ruined Benjamin’s credibility. After it ended, Benjamin lost his reputation as a future star and he became just another midcarder until his time came to an end with WWE. “Momma Benjamin” was a deathblow that Benjamin was unable to survive.
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