Managers bring a whole other element to the storyline landscape. Back in the heyday of managers, a wrestler’s association with a top notch manager could immediately elevate the wrestler. The manager’s reputation proceeded him and the fans bought into the notion that said manager was an elite talent evaluator and that his/her guidance could bring the wrestler’s game to a whole new level. Additionally, managers actually feuded with wrestlers. So, if a wrestler and a manager have a beef, we could be treated to months of feuding, with the manager releasing his newer, bigger charges to take down his nemesis.
The model for a successful manager is quite simple. Take an annoying, conniving, well spoken nuisance and pair them with big, bad wrestlers who fight their battles for them. They interfere, they talk trash, and they ruffle the fan’s feathers. In turn, the fans love seeing managers get beat up. This is not rocket science. The best of the best all fit this mold…Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Slick, etc. The WWE’s current roster brings us a pathetic array of managers who range from undeveloped to useless to incoherent. The one unifying factor between Tony Atlas, Ranjin Singh, and Ezekiel is that nobody could care less about any of them whatsoever. The best and only current example of how a stable can benefit all involved would be La Familia. In essence, Vicki played the manager role and it took useless jobbers in Ryder, Hawkins, and Bam Neely and made them into useful upper card players via their association with Vicki. So naturally what does the WWE do to recognize this – they are in the midst of breaking them up. Fools.
So who could be used in this capacity and break out like some of the fore father’s of management? In terms of the WWE’s internal options, Matt Striker would certainly be the best bet for managerial success. As he exhibited on ECW this week, the man is both wrestling savvy and can really talk. I have touted his excellence before and I’ll say it again. I had the pleasure of working with Matt when he was first starting and I would have bet my bottom dollar he would not still be with the company. He was, in fact, too smart, too intelligent, and above the product. He was hesitant to take direction from the idiots who were giving it to him. However, ultimately he had the good sense to get with the program. I helped to produce some of his Matt Striker’s classroom pieces for .com – the guy has great mic work. And, he’s annoying to boot. I know they kinda tried this once before, but they didn’t commit to it…give him the mic, let him interfere, and let the faces kick his butt. Why is this so hard?
Regarding potential candidates from outside of the organization, I’m going to give a plug for my fellow reality TV star/wrestling aficionado, Johnny Fairplay. In the interest of full disclosure, Johnny is a friend of mine. He is also super talented guy and would be a major asset in this capacity. He is a former wrestling promotion owner, commentator, and radio talk show host. Couple that with his close association with Roddy Piper, his stint in TNA feuding with AJ Styles and hosting Xplosion, and the fact that even his wife (the equally talented Michelle Deighton of “America’s Next Top Model” fame) has a background in wrestling and you have a guy who knows his stuff. A natural born heel (or at least he plays one on TV), the fans just love to hate this guy. He’s quick-witted, a professional instigator, and folds like an accordion when he takes a bump. When I think of your prototypical heel managers like Heenan and Hart, my mind immediately shoots to Johnny, who fits the bill better than anyone out there today. Plus, he’s extremely passionate about the wrestling industry. Best of all, then we could form a reality stable with me, him, and The Miz. Hell, we could even sign David Archuleta to be our enforcer.
Point being, managers bring a lot of options and fuel to the fire. These are the types of simple changes that could be easily installed with very favorable results. However, creative would rather spend their days debating whether or not Cena should be given 15 or 17 minutes for his promo and if they should have Jericho and Michaels blowoff their feud with a respect on a pole match or a Summer Super Soaker Squirt-off. Wrestling has changed a lot over the past 20 years and much of it has been for the better. Yet, sometimes a little appreciate for the past would go a long way.