I won't not
disappoint on purpose.
Would WWE benefit from an increased focus on managers with wrestlers?
One of the best ways to understand the power of a manager is to compare their heyday to the current product, and how managers are perceived and portrayed now.
A few decades ago, a man renowned as one of the greatest managers of all time – Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was in his managing heyday. Heenan is one of the most well-known names from the 1980s and 1990s; and he was just
a manager. Though Heenan managed some of the biggest names in WWE history, like Jesse Ventura, Paul Orndorff, Mr Perfect, and André the Giant, it can be easily said that Heenan is a much more famous wrestling name than most of his clientele.
In this time, a manager was synonymous with one dimensional heels. The combination of a weasel-like master of wordplay, badgering, and a forceful wrestler toying with their opponents garnered some great reactions from the fans – for good reason too.
Basically, Heenan was able to use his undeniable charisma and skills to directly make his clients look much more unstoppable than they really were, and catapulted some men to stardom.
In modern times, it seems that managers have not played as much of a role in WWE programming as “The Brain” had. But it’s not because people with traits like Heenan haven’t come around; it seems to purely be booking.
In the past few years, one name who is also synonymous with the phrase “one of the greatest managers of all time
”, Paul Heyman, has been using his
undeniable charisma, wordplay, constant badgering, and all-round skills to attempt
to catapult his clientele to stardom too. However, booking has not been so kind to Heyman and his clientele – namely Curtis Axel and Ryback.
One of the largest similarities between managers from the 1980s and managers today is that they are often the opponents’ main enemy, and their clients are pawns. However, decades ago, when the manager and his pawns were defeated, the manager would eventually come back, with bigger, better, badder
pawns. Today, it doesn’t seem to be this way.
Currently, WWE book face managers as more important than their clients, and heel managers as more important as their clients. The difference is that the face managers are protected, and the heel managers are almost always beaten and essentially finished after the first feud!
Take for example, Paul Heyman against CM Punk, before, during, and after SummerSlam 2013. Punk had to work his way through a total of three
of Paul Heyman’s clientele. In the first match, Punk was screwed out of a victory and lost the match. The next PPV, Heyman was able to pin Punk in a handicap match in which Ryback, another “Paul Heyman Guy” interfered. Everything was looking good for Heyman in theory. He and his clients were winning matches.
Eventually though, Punk was able to defeat Ryback on two different occasions with relative ease. After this, Heyman wanted nothing to do with Ryback.
So, what was the problem?
A few months prior to this, Heyman had re-debuted Curtis Axel, who won his first match against Triple H, and he was looking great. He had one of the best managers the WWE has ever had behind him, and he picked up a victory over one of the biggest names in wrestling today.
But when Axel and Heyman were booked in a proper feud against CM Punk, Heyman was the main enemy. Axel, a relatively new face to the product (as he was re-debuted) was booked as a pawn, and eventually after that, an afterthought and a regrettable decision by Heyman. Axel lost time and time again to CM Punk, and eventually, so did Heyman’s other client, Ryback. Punk abruptly ended the feud by beating down his nemesis in Heyman, and neither Axel nor Ryback wanted anything to do with him after.
Though Heenan and Heyman are very similar as managers, one was booked to put both their clients and their opponents over, whereas the other was booked to solely put their opponent over.
Ultimately, the concept of a manager is in no way going to inherently damage the product or any of the superstars/divas of the WWE, assuming the manager is at least average; but if booked well, a manager can do absolute wonders for everyone involved, and therefore, the entire product.
Though it is rare these days, a well booked manager who puts the clients first can assist in the development of all kinds of heels – cowards, weasels, monsters, you name it; and when that manager and their clients are defeated, and the babyface gets the sweet vengeance they strived for weeks to get, everything they worked so hard to get comes naturally.