Dutch Mantell was instrumental to The Undertaker’s career and certainly has an eye for talent.
Former WWE manager Dutch Mantell [AKA Zeb Colter] spoke with WrestleZone’s Bill Pritchard to promote the SportsKeeda Wrestling Awards, which include some categories such as Rookie Of The Year. During his 50-year career, Mantell has certainly seen his share of young talent that has gone on to pro wrestling stardom. One of those names is The Undertaker, who Mantell discovered back when he was known as Mark Calaway.
The Undertaker is now a 2022 WWE Hall Of Fame inductee, but he was known as “The Master of Pain” when Mantell first crossed paths with him as his manager in the USWA. Asked what he saw in the future “phenom”, Mantell said that Calaway was incredibly athletic, tough and a quick learner, all of which aided him in his career.
“First of all he’s big and you can’t teach athleticism, you can’t teach it, the guy’s either got it or he doesn’t have it. But I knew with Mark because he was really good with interviews but there he was something about him that was marketable and Vince was the one who found it when he invented The Undertaker gimmick.
“Rumor has it that Vince invented that character in an image of himself because he can’t die, he can’t be hurt, he’s unfeeling and that’s why even before Taker lost his WrestleMania run, I didn’t ever think he’d get beat because I didn’t think his ego would let him get beat and that showed me a thing or two about Vince. He was a great performer in the ring, he was quick, he was fast plus he was a legitimate tough guy. He didn’t get in the dressing room and run his mouth and talk a lot and sometimes keeping your mouth shut will help you more than anything else. But I brought him in and he did well and the rest is history.”
When it comes to developing new stars and pushing new talent, Mantell said that in his eyes, it’s always been about drawing money.
“It’s drawing money for one thing but I don’t know because now in WWE it’s for ratings. If I see a guy go unseen and he goes in the ring and fans respond to him right off the bat without having really done anything, then he has what I call chemistry and you can take and you can create more chemistry with him because he has it naturally when he goes to the ring. So, you can’t invent it, you can foster it and nurture it and that’s what I look for in a new performer. I’ve booked a lot of territories and if he’s the new guy, I’ll always watch his first or second match to see how the fans react to him because the fans are the nature of the business. If the fans don’t buy tickets, you don’t have a business and that’s why sometimes you’ll come and see a guy have a match and the next time he doesn’t and you don’t have to think long and hard and know. Especially in WWE, you got about 30-seconds for him to draw a conclusion about you and a lot of careers have probably been made and destroyed in those 30-seconds.”
Vote for Rookie Of The Year and the complete list of categories in the SportsKeeda Wrestling Awards at this link.