In professional wrestling, the only thing more important than being able to rip apart opponents in the ring is giving them a verbal beating on the microphone. Unfortunately, not every WWE superstar to excel at body slams and head locks has necessarily been capable of weaving an entertaining story through words alone. The plus side for these unlucky few monster lacking in charisma is that long ago, promoters discovered a solution that would allow someone else to speak for grapplers who might not be so great at it: managers.
A sports entertainer’s manager does everything the superstars can’t, and the good ones will throw in a few unique touches of their own that can add immensely to the show on top of their mastery of the microphone. Some wrestlers will bounce around between a bunch of managers throughout their careers, but typically, if a pairing actually works well enough to start bringing in fans, the two will stick together for a long time coming.
Merely linking up with a manager isn’t going to turn a nobody into a headliner, but should the right chemistry exist, the money they make together will ultimately speak for itself. Taking into mind championships won, time spent together, and anything else that establishes success in sports entertainment, can you match the following wrestlers with their most famous managers?
Oooh yeah! While all the other wrestlers on this list needed a manager to do their hot dogging and grandstanding, the “Macho Man” Randy Savage had that more than covered with his own unmatched charisma. Of course, part of Savage’s gimmick was his ability to attract the ladies, specifically the one he loved having by his side the most. When the Macho Man started having trouble with his original lady, Sensational Sherri Martel took her place, but it wasn’t long before the original couple got back together.
As the son of Dusty Rhodes, the man later called Goldust was born into this world prepared to live the American Dream. Dustin Rhodes was content using his real name in WCW, but when it was time to jump to WWE, he knew a major change was in order to differentiate himself from his famous father. To achieve that goal, the Goldust character was created, a persona more bizarre and unique than the WWE Universe may have been ready for. The one thing grounding Goldust to reality was his manager, who added the right touch of classy arrogance to make it work.
In many respects, the failure of Jack Swagger in WWE was a case of too much happening too soon. Out of nowhere, Swagger went from a nobody to World Heavyweight Champion, and rather than do anything special in the role, he kept on being a plain, run-of-the mill wrestler with no defining characteristics. The one definable quality Swagger had is the fact he hails from America, which was luckily all it took for his manager to take notice and try and save his career.
The Dudley Boyz
Winning gold in more championships that almost any other duo, Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley could easily be considered one of the best tag teams in sports entertainment history. Their journey began in ECW with a half dozen more brothers in tow, and also a handful of managers that helped infuriate the crowd before their matches. In WWE, the Dudleys briefly received help from Stacy Keibler and later their former boss Paul Heyman, but this question refers to their original manager down in Philadelphia.
He’s The Miz, and according to him, that’s enough to make him awesome. Apparently, though, it’s not enough that he can speak for himself, although he did a fine job of doing just that for the majority of his career. Without a manager, Miz achieved truly great heights in WWE, winning just about every championship the company had to offer. That said, there’s no wonder why Miz would want someone special by his side, especially when you know why he picked the person he did.
It’s pretty rare that a single word can express the totality of a wrestler’s thoughts, even one delivered with as much menace as Yokozuna was able to throw into his trademark “BONZAI!” Not that Yokozuna could have said much to an American crowd with his gimmick contending he was Japanese anyway, and even his manager needed an American consultant in Jim Cornette. Prior to Corny joining the fray, however, a primary manager was taking care of Yoko’s affairs, and the fact he stuck around to the very end makes him the answer to this question.
From the moment he stepped into a WWE arena, The Undertaker was terrifying and imposing in a manner that no mere words could explain. It didn’t matter whether the man himself opened his mouth or not; the entire crowd was captivated by his look, and then horrified once the Dead Man began picking apart his victims in the ring. Wrestlers can only go so long before something needs to be said, though, and the ghoulish Undertaker was a man of few words at first, meaning someone who shared his mentality would need to do the talking.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Flying around the ring like a man half his size, the thing that always set Bam Bam Bigelow apart from other super heavyweights was his agility. On top of that, Bigelow wasn’t content using his massive frame alone to intimidate opponents, tattooing vicious flames across his skull and later adorning his ring attire with that same fire. Despite this flash, Bigelow was never one to waste time with words, making him a top prospect for every manager he met. Bigelow wasn’t content with who WWE had to offer, though, and instead brought in a ringer to do the job.
All Brock Lesnar needed to say for the entire WWE Universe to fear him is his nickname, the Beast Incarnate. Toss in the fact he’s the sole resident and police force in Suplex City, and one would need to be an absolute fool to ever challenge him. With all this power, its amazing Lesnar can be controlled, and yet a certain genius mastermind has been calling the shots virtually from the day he decided to go pro. Does Lesnar need the help? Probably not, but we don’t intend to question him.
André The Giant
Take everything this quiz has asserted about wrestlers needing managers if they aren’t great on the microphone and toss it out the window for a second, because that certainty wasn’t the case with André The Giant. Speaking with a thick accent and rarely having much in particular to say, André was hardly a master of the microphone, but he never needed to be, his impressive size more than enough to turn him into a legend. That all fell apart when the Giant felt jilted, though, and a manipulative mastermind convinced him he could use some help.
When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside, Hulk Hogan arrives to save the day. That was the theme of the WWE Universe from Hogan’s reemergence in 1984 pretty much to the day he jumped to WCW in the mid-‘90s, at which point Ted Turner’s company kept the story going relatively unfettered. Possessing more charisma in his pinky finger than the average wrestler of his day, the last thing Hogan needed in this era was a manager, and yet WCW being a land of bizarre decisions, they gave him one the moment he arrived.
The Great Kabuki
To a Texas wrestling crowd in the early 1980s, The Great Kabuki was more than a foreigner, he was entirely out of this world. Painting his face red, hailing from “the Orient” and spraying mist in his opponents faces, Kabuki originated dozens of tropes that would later become commonplace in American and Japanese wrestling, and he did it all without ever saying a word. Of course, it’s not like the Texans would understand his Japanese, and on top of that, he had one of the best orators in the business doing his talking for him.
If we could be serious for a minute, Lance Storm was the sort of fine athlete who doesn’t need a manager in the slightest, much preferring to let his skill at technical wrestling speak for itself. Well, that’s how he felt while wrestling for WWE and WCW at least, although his opinion on the matter seemed a little bit different down in ECW. Granted, looking at the woman who stood by his side, chances are Storm didn’t need much convincing to let her hang around and turn him into an impact player.
The Authors of Pain
Hearkening back to the destruction of teams like Demolition or The Powers of Pain, NXT’s latest crop of monsters Akam and Rezar, aka The Authors of Pain, are more about destruction than either style or substance. In no time flat, the Authors went from completely unknowns to NXT Tag Team Champions, leaving a path of bodies in their wake, and having progressively impressive matches as they did so. Along the way, they picked up a manager already in the Hall of Fame, which no doubt helped this ascent.
Few people look forward to paying their taxes, and thus the government body enforcing they do so are pretty unpopular. Naming a wrestler after the IRS was an inspired move, and teaming him up with a wrestler known for his extravagant wealth was even better., Mike Rotundo, the wrestler behind the gimmick, had previously been managed by Captain Lou Albano when teaming with Barry Windham in the US Express, and then moved on to a second tag team with the man who turned into his more famous manager.
By winning the WWE Championship and 28 years old and defending it for nearly six years, Bob Backlund forever went down in history as one of the greatest wrestlers the world has seen. His technical skills were unmatched and his energy out of this world, but one thing Backlund never quite mastered was hyping up the crowd before a big match. Speaking slowly and without much emotion, Backlund couldn’t rile the audience on his own, and needed an old pro to help him along the way.
The original “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers was the first of his kind in more ways than one, many of them related to how fully he lived his gimmick. Rogers was flashy and bombastic in a way that most heels of his day had yet to realize would sell tickets, and his skills at insulting the many challengers to his NWA World Championship were second to none. Due to the era Rogers competed in, having a manager was pretty much a requirement, and he appropriately picked perhaps the most annoying of his day to stand by his side.
Rob Van Dam
So arrogant that he refused to respect the ECW audience, let alone any of his competition, Rob Van Dam was slow to make friends in the industry thanks to his cocky attitude. On the other hand, his flashy maneuvers and incredible agility were impossible to ignore, causing fans to start supporting him by loudly cheering RVD during all of his matches. The only thing that could solidify Rob Van Dam as a villain was an obnoxious manager yelling at whoever dared cheer his name.
The Midnight Express
Surviving through multiple incarnations good and bad, the most consistent element of The Midnight Express was actually their manager. While the man in question wasn’t there when Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose formed the team in the AWA, he was there from their beginning in Mid-South Wrestling, when Bobby Eaton replaced Rose. Not long after that, Stan Lane replaced Condrey as well, and the true dream team was made at least. The less said about what came next the better, with some insiders even guessing it was a rib on this question’s answer.
Considering the “Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino’s two reigns as WWE Champion both rank in the top five longest in history, merely by being his manager, the answer to this question could call himself one of the best in history. Truth be told, back in their day, managers weren’t quite as integral as they are now, at least when cameras were rolling. That said, the man controlling Sammartino’s contract actually might have helped him out a bit behind the scenes, making him entirely worthy of the Hall of Fame induction he would later receive.
Unable to stick around anywhere long enough to be a star, Eddie Gilbert’s main pitfall as an athlete and performer was his instability. Whenever the going started to look good, Gilbert would leave a company and head somewhere else, usually without much of an explanation either stated or implied. Perhaps if his manager was a little more forthright about their dalliances, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but alas, personal problems would eventually drive them apart, leaving her with little reason to do so.
Can you dig it, sucka? Booker T and Stevie Ray are more than just a tag team; the two are brothers, who trained together to become wrestlers after a lifetime of hard living in their a Texas neighborhood. The Huffman family didn’t have much when they were growing up, leading a young Booker to make some questionable decisions, and Stevie to adopt a tough demeanor to protect them both. Rather than dig into these personas, the brothers often did their best to get the crowd on their side, and the work of a stunning manager helped them achieve that goal.
The Iron Sheik
With a war cry that Iran was number one, it would be reasonable to think The Iron Sheik would demand any manager of his be a fellow countryman. Of course, there weren’t many Iranians in the WWE Universe during the 1980s, or at any point for that matter, so he needed to settle for an American manager willing to adapt to his sensibilities. Luckily, all the WWE consultants wanted to do at the time was end Bob Backlund’s reign as champion, and once the Sheik made it clear he might be able to do that, a legendary manager came running.
The Four Horsemen
Led by Ric Flair, enforced by Arn Anderson, and containing any number of extremely charismatic followers, it could easily be said The Four Horsemen were the last group to actually require the services of a manager. On the other hand, with as much golden success as the group achieved, not to mention all the ladies dying for their phone numbers, it made sense they’d have someone around to handle the business matters. While a constantly fluctuating roster means the Horsemen almost never had the same members, one manager in particular was there at the beginning.
Taking a page straight out of Rocky IV, it was inevitable that a big hulking Bulgarian Brute would have a smoking hot blond standing at his side. Based on the interplay between Dolph Lundgren’s and Brigitte Nielsen’s Ivan and Ludmilla Drago, Rusev represents a Red Scare for the modern era, and the woman he has talking for him beams with pride every time the superiority of their homeland is proven. Still relatively young, Rusev and his manager have plenty of time to ascend the card further, and area already a force to be reckoned with.
Allegedly standing nearly eight feet tall, Giant González has gone down in history as the tallest performer ever to work for WWE. Unfortunately, many fans have also been calling him one of the absolute worst, pointing towards his matches with legends like Ric Flair and The Undertaker as the worst of either man’s career. Without a doubt, González was entirely about image over actual ability, and it was unlikely any manager could save him. In the very least, the manager he chose created an interesting contrast, the giant standing next to a so-called pee-wee.
From 1963 to 1971, every manager in the WWE Universe, not to mention the wrestlers themselves, had the same goal in mind—defeating Bruno Sammartino and ending his landmark seven year reign as World Champion. Countless men attempted the feat, some with managers and others by themselves, and it wasn’t until Ivan Koloff finally dropped a lucky knee from the top rope that someone finally pulled it off. Even happier than Koloff was his nefarious manager, who has told tales of virtually causing a riot with their victory celebration.
Superstar Billy Graham
Too sweet to be sour and with pythons so big fans knew they were capable of some serious power, “Superstar” Billy Graham was a trendsetter and innovator who changed the face of wrestling entirely. Prior to his day, bad guys weren’t allowed to be flashy and charismatic, let alone funny, which was one of the key character traits Graham shared with his legendary manager. Through their combined forces, Graham was able to defeat Bruno Sammartino for the WWE Championship, easily making both locks for the Hall of Fame.
Having friends in the right places can make a middling wrestler a top contender to various championships, and being besties with Hulk Hogan was nearly enough to make Brutus Beefcake a main event talent upon arrival. No smoke and mirrors was able to cover up his less than Hulkamaniacal charisma, and the fact Beefcake wasn’t particularly special in the ring either made him a tough sell for even the Hulkster. To make his top star happy, Vince McMahon still gave Beefcake a decent push, but not without a manger to do his talking.
The Great Muta
In their decades of existence, the National Wrestling Alliance had never seen a wrestler anything like The Great Muta when he made his long awaited American debut. Granted, Muta’s style was almost wholly original, and to an audience outside of his homeland, decades ahead of its time. However, a handful of similar minded superstars had made their way through the mainstream wrestling scene before, and Muta called upon whatever similarities they had to establish himself as quickly impossible. Included in this effort was taking on a legendary manager known for helping out foreign talent.
Generally speaking, someone calling himself the most charismatic superstar in WWE should probably be able to speak for himself. Granted, Shawn Michaels was more than capable of doing so, and yet for whatever reason, Vince McMahon decided to slate him with a handful of managers throughout his career. First up was Sherri Martel, but the person we’re asking about stood by HBK’s side at his peak, during his first reign as WWE Champion. This manager directly helped the boyhood dream come true, despite few fans understanding what he had to offer.
The Road Warriors
Hitting the ring to the unmistakable sound of “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath sent an immediate message The Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal, were two men not to be messed with. Heck, most of their opponents should have known that the moment they name themselves after the second Mad Max film. Hardly ones to rely merely on pomp and circumstance, the Road Warriors kept their destructive streak going from bell to bell, and were pretty good at describing what they did afterwards, but that didn’t stop them from hiring a manager to help with the job.
Big Boss Man
Demanding law and order be respected at all times has made police officers plenty controversial in the real world, and that’s the ones who aren’t corrupt. Throw in a menacing streak and disrespect for their own authority, and cops can be some of the worst villains around, in or out of the wrestling ring. Big Boss Man was introduced as one of the meanest and roughest former corrections officers in the prison system, with his manager presumably the one who convinced him to make the move towards the ring.
One was the Ax, and one was the Smasher, mix them together, and it was a walking disaster. Until very recently, Demolition were the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions in history, and even now that The New Day has broken their record, the team remain one of the most dominant ever to hit the WWE Universe. Initially, Demolition were managed by Luscious Johnny V, who didn’t waste much time before selling the contract to a second, longer tenure executive consultant.
Smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, and whacking himself in the head with a Singapore cane for fun, no wrestler defined the ECW ethos quite like The Sandman. Believe it or not, though, Sandman started out as a traditional surfer with his wife Peaches by his side. Before long, Peaches left The Sandman as he progressively turned into a bad boy, and a series of other female managers would gradually take his place. For the purposes of this quiz, think about who stood in Sandman’s corner when he won his first ECW Championship.
Using wrestling and personal history to his advantage, Umaga updated the gimmicks used by his uncles Afa and Sika during their time as The Wild Samoans. This was somewhat of a problem, considering more accepting times meant that an offensive persona like a savage was a bit upsetting to fans who identified with real Samoan culture. For Umaga to turn a questionable concept into a successful one, he needed a certain amount of finesse, and more than that, the verbal assistance of a unique manager.
In a classic bizarre WCW decision, when an athletic young superstar named Marc Mero presented the slightest bit of charisma, they turned him into a Little Richard impersonator named Johnny B. Badd. Because Mero/Badd was still talented and possessing a certain joy de vivre, he was able to excel despite the silly gimmick and become a decently popular superstar. When he jumped to the WWE Universe, though, Vince McMahon knew this silly Little Richard thing wasn’t going to work, instead having Mero revert to his real name and bring a beautiful blonde with him to the ring.
The Wild Samoans
Uncouth, unwashed, and somewhat slightly dazed, Afa and Sika needed more than a little help in making the trek to America, at least insofar as kayfabe was concerned. The so-called Wild Samoans may not have been historically or culturally accurate, but they did their best to live up to the name and gimmick, acting entirely uncultured in every way except the fine art of tearing apart their victims. This persona meant a manager was all but necessary, and lucky for them, one of the best in the business was said to scout them from the start.
Decried as a pretty boy when he began his ECW career, Tommy Dreamer was no stranger to female fans from the very beginning. Surprisingly, as he gradually shed that image in favor of a bloodstained hardcore one, the ladies only seemed to get more interested in the self-professed Innovator of Violence. Soon enough, Dreamer had multiple females working for ECW sitting in his lap prior to his matches, choosing him over their previous beau, Raven. Rather than name them all, this question is simply focused on the woman who stood by Dreamer the longest.
Back in the 1980s, the state of women’s wrestling in America was especially dire. Some might argue the genre barely existed, although in fact it had been around since wrestling’s previous explosion in the late ‘50s/early ‘60s, and was kept alive by The Fabulous Moolah from then. However, Moolah was about it for a mainstream female wrestler, and a massive change was needed to make the concept viable again. Luckily, along came the energetic and fashionable Wendi Richter, along with a certain celebrity manager who just wanted to have fun.
With Joey Styles regularly introducing him as “the most miserable son of a b---- on the planet,” one might assume Taz didn’t have many friends in ECW, or anywhere else for that matter. Oddly enough, it was exactly this mentality that lead to him acquiring the services of a certain obnoxious reformed referee. Once the two combined their forces, Taz began a path of destruction that would never truly end, at least until he left the company for greener pastures in the WWE Universe.
The Brooklyn Brawler
Typically, managers are supposed to elevate wrestler above their usual level, bringing out whatever hidden talents they may not be properly utilizing. Unfortunately, if a wrestler is particularly untalented and/or unspectacular and has no chance of improving, they can drag down even a Hall of Fame worthy manager to momentary irrelevant. That’s pretty much what happened when career jobber The Brooklyn Brawler lucked into having one of the best talkers in the business as his charge. Said manager’s intention was to prove he could turn anyone into a star, but ultimately, The Brawler kind of called his bluff.
Jumping from WWE to WCW and back again was pretty much an everyday occurrence back in the 1990s, so Jeff Jarrett was hardly special for doing it. The frequency at which Double J made the move was nonetheless unusual, and in order for him to pull it off, he needed to slightly reinvent his character each time he made a comeback. Initially, Jarrett was paired with manager turned wrestler The Roadie to moderate success, but it was his Attitude Era valet who kept him relevant for years to come.
The Bodydonnas claimed to represent physical perfection attained through constantly working out and keeping their bodies in tip top shape, and neither Skip nor Zip were going to prove assertion this to the mostly male WWE Universe. Sure, both were extremely talented inside the squared circle, bringing them to the WWE Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania XII. Even before Zip joined the fray, though, Skip was shacking up with a female Bodydonna who made their shtick extra clear to the men in the audience, and may well have found greater success as a manager when she left them behind.
Big Van Vader
Hailing from the Rocky Mountains and wearing a giant steaming mask during his entrance, Big Van Vader was a true monster in every sense of the word. Amazingly, on top of Vader’s impressive look, he was a remarkably agile and versatile performer, making him a top star wherever he worked. In the WWE Universe, Vader utilized the assistance of Jim Cornette to moderate success, but it in no way compared to what he achieved in WCW with someone else, who had recently retired from the ring and was ready to take a protégé.
The Fabulous Moolah
Reigning as the WWE Women’s Champion for over 27 years makes The Fabulous Moolah an easy contender for best female wrestler in company history, and more than that, she achieved the vast majority of her success all by herself. In fact, Moolah herself sometimes doubled as a manager throughout her long career, making her more likely to be an answer on this quiz than a question. However, the absolute peak of Moolah’s career was directly linked to the man calling her shots at the time.
Since breaking up the Prime Time Players and going solo, Darren Young has been struggling to advance his career with little avail. Despite his better efforts, Young simply didn’t have much going on for him without Titus O’Neil at his side, and a concerted effort was necessary to Make Darren Young Great Again. Luckily for Young, he had an old friend who happens to be a WWE Hall of Famer, who was willing to help him out in his journey up the card.
Although named after their Canadian homeland, The Quebecers true defining quality as a team was being incredibly irritating in their every actions. Both Jacques and Pierre excelled at technical wrestling and obnoxious behavior, yet their French background made it a little hard for them to connect with a crowd on the microphone. That the team eventually became multiple time WWE Tag Team Champions is a testament to their skills inside the ring and the work of a certain manager who kept fans entertained in between matches.
To this day, it would be hard to explain why exactly D’Lo Brown decided to team up with Chaz Warrington. For those who understandably can’t remember, Warrington was the former Beaver Cleavage, and Headbanger Mosh before that, so he at least had some credentials in the tag division. However, there was never any logical reason for Brown to give up on his solo dreams and form a tag team based on his finishing move. It made even less sense when they took on a completely unrelated relative newcomer as their manager.
Not coming to true success until he reached his early 40s, it could be argued Nick Bockwinkel was more retrospective and worldly than his average contemporary. That said, his age in no way hindered him from becoming legendary, as Bock won the AWA Championship multiple times and often defended it for record lengths at that. During his time on top, Bockwinkel was also known for his incredibly thoughtful and intelligent interviews, although he usually wasn’t alone when he gave them, and the man by his side certainly helped the reputation grow.