There are few bonds in sports entertainment stronger than the ones formed between a professional wrestler and their manager. While the duties of a manager are highly exaggerated on screen, like with everything else in wrestling, there’s no way to fake the amount of time a manager needs to spend with their wrestlers, both on screen and off. Typically, managers and clients will travel together, and in rare cases, the managers have taken to their clients so warmly that they took the managerial duties literally, handling the wrestlers booking and other business arrangements altogether. In other cases, however, managers have outright despised the people they were told to work with, refusing to do anything for them at all, especially once cameras stopped rolling.
Generally speaking, there are two reasons for a manager not to like a wrestler they get paired up with. The first is professional, either feeling the client isn’t up to their caliber, or even that their client flat-out sucks as a performer. In these cases, maybe it isn’t fair to say the manager hated their client, but simply that they hated their job while linked with them. The second set of reasons is of the personal variety, with the wrestler exhibiting habits and characteristics that the manager found deplorable in one way or another, causing a legitimate hatred to brew.
Looking at the picture in full, sometimes it seems like the manager might be the hostile personality to blame, a fact that will no doubt become clear when certain names keep popping up throughout our list. Perhaps due to the giving nature required in a manager, the idea of an advocate outright despising their clients is actually pretty rare, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened enough times for us to talk about. It also explains why a select few haters tend to overpopulate the discussion. Keep reading to learn 15 wrestling managers who hated working with their clients.
15. Jim Cornette Hated Managing Mantaur
The whole point of a manager is to speak for a wrestler who either isn’t comfortable at performing interviews or has a character that shouldn’t be talking. The manager tries to enhance the wrestler’s presence without overtaking it. On the surface, the pairing of Jim Cornette and Mantaur fit this outline to a T, and yet the slightest bit of thought explains how and why it could never work. It’s okay if a manager is more charismatic or more famous than their clients at first, but the wrestler should be able to take the focus as soon as they step into the ring. Mantaur, being a literal Minotaur who mooed at his opponents, could never take the attention from one of the best managers in history. Jim Cornette knew this from day one, and it wasn’t simply his ego talking. The pairing didn’t work at all, with Mantaur never achieving any significant fame, and Cornette eventually dropping him to start managing champions once again. Reflecting on his career, Cornette would later call Mantaur the worst thing he was ever involved with, also claiming that he thought it was a rib when he first heard the idea.
14. Harvey Wippleman Hated Managing Giant Gonzales
There are certain elements to a manager’s job most fans probably don’t think about, such as how they cope with the reality some of their clients aren’t as talented as others. Match quality isn’t necessarily the most important aspect of wrestling, especially in WWE, but even in Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment empire, it plays a pretty huge role, and there’s not much a manager can do if their client simply sucks at their job. Plenty of managers on the list had this problem, though there’s a reason we’re bringing it up as the explanation behind Harvey Wippleman’s feelings towards Giant Gonzales. Perhaps it would be inaccurate to say Harvey hates or hated Gonzales, as the two in fact were close friends. At the same time, though, Harvey referred to Gonzales as “absolutely talentless” when it came to wrestling, going so far as to call him one of the worst WWE superstars in history. Like most people, Wippleman wasn’t exactly a fan of the body suit, either. Even if Harvey and Gonzales got along on their off time, with words like this, it’s hard to imagine Harvey having enjoyed his job during the years they were together.
13. Bobby Heenan Hated Managing The Red Rooster
Given their respective places in history, the fact Bobby Heenan hated The Red Rooster shouldn’t come as a huge shock. Heenan is often considered the greatest manager ever to live, while The Rooster has the far more dubious honor of being called one of the worst gimmicks ever bestowed upon a wrestler. The man beneath the red bill was Terry Taylor, a talented athlete who showed lots of promise during his time in the NWA and Mid-South Wrestling. The gimmick was pure character death, though, forcing him to literally cluck around the ring like a chicken while Vince McMahon and the other WWE announcers talked about how terrible he was at his job. Although the whole point was that Heenan was above the gimmick, wasting his time on instructing this rookie, he still hated that he was involved with it at all. Chances are, it wasn’t just Rooster’s jobber status that bothered The Brain, as Heenan also managed The Brooklyn Brawler and has had nothing bad to say about him.
12. Ricardo Rodriguez Hated Managing Rob Van Dam
Certain wrestlers simply don’t make sense with certain managers, and no recent example has been more indicative of this problem than when Ricardo Rodriguez was paired with Rob Van Dam. For the majority of Rodriguez’s career, he was known as the personal announcer and manager of Alberto Del Rio. Almost three years to the day after their debut together, Del Rio turned on his long time ally after Rodriguez inadvertently cost him a match against RVD. On a very basic level, it made sense for Rodriguez to aide Van Dam against Del Rio. Unfortunately, their personalities were so disparate and unrelated in every way that the pairing simply didn’t work. Rodriguez knew this from the start, admitting he didn’t understand why they were together during later interviews. To show how little he understood it, when first told about the idea by Dean Malenko, Ricardo assumed Malenko was playing a joke on him, because it didn’t make any sense. Ricardo repeatedly had to ask Malenko questions while it was happening, since he couldn’t figure the pairing out even as the weeks dragged by. Even with these problems, Ricardo says he never had problems with Rob personally.
11. Ted DiBiase Hated Managing The nWo
Even with all of his millions, Ted DiBiase couldn’t save himself from being the only manager on this list to hate an entire stable worth of clients. Granted, it wasn’t entirely the nWo’s fault, as DiBiase has gone on record to say he hated absolutely everything he did while in WCW. The nWo was still the low point for him, though, as he felt his reputation as one of the best managers in wrestling put him on a level well above standing in the corner and nodding while Hulk Hogan did all the talking. In Ted’s own words, he wasn’t Virgil, and if was hired to do the talking, WCW had to let him talk. Instead, WCW made things even worse, adding Eric Bischoff to the group and having him do even more talking, pushing Ted further to the back where he would stand around and do nothing. Earlier in their careers, Ted and Hogan did great business together, which made DiBiase forever grateful to him, so he probably isn’t included in the equation. However, DiBiase was open about hating managing the rest of the nWo, with Bischoff standing out as his least favorite client. Not coincidentally, it was only a few months after Bischoff started appearing with the group that DiBiase asked to be taken off screen.
10. Freddie Blassie Hated Managing Dick Murdoch
If all you knew about them was their respective wrestling careers, you’d probably think Freddie Blassie was the real life jerk who made life hell for the lovable “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch. According to Blassie, he never did anything to deserve Murdoch’s ire, but that didn’t stop Murdoch from treating him poorly from the day they were first paired together. Blassie managed Murdoch early on in Murdoch’s career, but not so early that Murdoch hadn’t become a regional star in certain areas. Murdoch thought he was a big enough star not to need a manager at all, and thus never accepted Blassie’s services on screen or off. Blassie returned the ire, devoting a chapter in his autobiography to the few superstars he didn’t like as much as the others, and spending most of the pages writing about Captain Redneck. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Murdoch’s personal life, as he was one of the most virulent racists in wrestling, and reportedly a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Having managed a number of African American superstars, most notably Muhammad Ali, Blassie could understandably have had some problems with this element of Murdoch’s life, on top of whatever professional quibbles they had at the time.
9. Luna Vachon Hated Managing The Insane Clown Posse
Despite how controversial The Insane Clown Posse are in the music world, most wrestlers who have worked with the psychotic rappers have been pleasantly surprised by their professionalism and understanding of sports entertainment. The ICP certainly know a lot about the business, as they’ve run their own wrestling company, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, since 1999. One performer who seemed to disagree with this assessment, however, was Luna Vachon. For unclear reasons, Luna went from being a challenger to the Women’s Championship to dancing around with the Oddities, and yet the only part she complained about was the ICP getting involved and ruining the fun. Luna didn’t go into detail on why, but shoot interviews made it overwhelmingly clear she hated the two, especially Shaggy 2 Dope. The Oddities were also co-managed by Sable, who’s presence meant hatred was going both ways in this stable, given her well-known problems with Luna. Still, they don’t come near Luna’s issues with Shaggy, which apparently were so severe Luna had a standing open challenge against him to a shoot fight up until the last years of her life.
8. Bobby Heenan Hated Managing The Valiant Brothers
Regardless of his status as the greatest manager of all time, Bobby Heenan’s irascible and often angry sense of humor paints the picture of a man who easily forms grudges, and thus this second appearance of his on our list isn’t his last. It might be his least favorite, though, as in this case Heenan wasn’t managing one person he didn’t like, but two. Early on in Heenan’s career, managing tag teams was the norm, though his least favorite of the bunch were The Valiant Brothers. The future WWE Hall of Fame tag team at that point consisted of “Handsome” Jimmy and “Luscious” Johnny, and the young man then known as “Pretty Boy” Bobby Heenan couldn’t stand either one of them. Heenan and The Valiants were allies while working for the small Indianapolis based World Wrestling Association, a fact relevant to their situation because neither of the Valiants could drive, leaving Heenan to handle all of their boring travel through empty Indiana roads. Heenan also said the Valiants simply weren’t fun in general, a fact he never let go of even thirty plus years later, after having managed dozens of wrestlers he actually liked.
7. Stacy Keibler Hated Managing Shawn Stasiak
In all fairness, Stacy Keibler has never given any interviews to confirm or deny this one, but the time she spent on screen with Shawn Stasiak was so uncomfortable and difficult to watch that most fans were able to figure it out on their own. The two were paired from the dying days of WCW and again into the early months of the Invasion, with WWE at least wise enough to drop the romantic angle of the storyline that made it so obvious the two weren’t meant for one another. The problem was that either because Stacy was a bad actress, or maybe because she simply didn’t like Stasiak, whenever the two were supposed to hug or show affection for one another in any way, the look of disgust on Keibler’s face became palpable. Eagle-eyed views could tell she always turned her head when they were allegedly kissing, and suffice to say, the pairing wasn’t helping their careers, so it’s not like Stacy had any motivation to try and mask her displeasure. Perhaps related is the fact two of Stacy’s best known couplings, with David Flair and Test, were based on the fact she actually dated those wrestlers while they were together, while she and Stasiak were merely forced to pretend they were.
6. Percy Pringle Hated Managing The Dingo Warrior
Death has a way of whitewashing the misdeeds of the deceased, which is why polite fans try and gloss over the fact the majority of the wrestling world hated The Ultimate Warrior while he was alive. Included amongst this batch was the usually lighthearted and friendly Percy Pringle. Pringle managed Warrior during the latter’s run as Dingo Warrior in World Class Championship Wrestling, at a time Pringle was also managing Buzz Sawyer and Matt Borne. While Sawyer and Borne were infamous for their talents as heels, Pringle felt that Warrior simply had no talent as a wrestler, calling a chain match between his then client and George Wells one of the worst matches he had ever seen. Even given this experience, when the tables were turned several years later and Pringle was feuding against The Warrior as Paul Bearer while managing The Undertaker, Pringle was ready to sing a different tune. Though he still thought Warrior couldn’t wrestle, Pringle acknowledged they made lots of money together, and thus was willing to forget about their icy history near the start of Warrior’s career.
5. Harvey Wippleman Hated Managing Bertha Faye
The creation of Bertha Faye has been called one of the meanest things Vince McMahon ever did, and with good reason. Before being saddled with the gimmick “Queen of the Trailer Park,” Ronda Singh had been famous in Japan, Canada, and Puerto Rico as a dominant wrestler called Monster Ripper. In WWE, she was a joke with a horrifically offensive punch line, especially to the performer. While it made sense that Ronda would hate the gimmick, it wasn’t necessarily fair of her to take it out on Harvey Wippleman, who was simply doing his job as her schmuck boyfriend. That’s exactly what she did, though, with the two forging one of the most contentious relationships ever shared between two sports entertainers who were supposed to be in love. Ronda wasn’t too harsh on Harvey, simply calling the whole affair reductive and insulting to her talents, but Harvey has repeatedly spoken out about how much he hated her, devoting a whole chapter of his autobiography to the subject. Wippleman called Ronda a “smelly, alcoholic, argumentative, know-it all person,” more or less accidentally defining the idea of hatred while doing so.
4. Paul Heyman Hated Managing Curtis Axel
The big repeat trend in this list has been managers simply feeling like they were above their clients, and the most recent example of this trend has been Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel. Heyman has become so iconic in his role as the advocate of Brock Lesnar that younger fans probably don’t even realize his career as a manager began in the 1980s, or even that he was the mastermind behind ECW. Young or old, most fans have also forgotten Heyman’s short tenure as the manager of Curtis Axel, a pairing that occurred simultaneously to Heyman continuing his relationships with Brock and CM Punk. Though Paul doesn’t seem to hate Axel on a personal level, he knew from the beginning that the pairing didn’t work at all, since he had absolutely no relationship with Axel, and he was a good friend to both Brock and Punk. Heyman also had little motivation behind the role, aware Axel wasn’t going to succeed on the level of his other clients.
3. Jim Cornette Hated Managing The New Midnight Express
No one hates knock offs more than the people who made the originals; even some of the originals are somehow involved with the new and unimproved version. This has pretty much always been the case in wrestling, with the epidemic of “New” tag teams sprouting in WWE during the mid-90s being the worst time to be a fan for people aspiring towards true originality. Trapped in the middle of this problem was Jim Cornette, who included wrestling knock offs amongst the many subjects of his legendary rants, while also being forced to manage The New Midnight Express, “Bodacious” Bart Gunn and “Bombastic” Bob Holly. Cornette had famously managed the earlier versions of the team, when it featured “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, “Sweet” Stan Lane, and Dennis Condrey. Although Cornette himself wasn’t around when Condrey formed the team with Randy Rose, his version with Eaton and Lane has become iconic with fans, and considered one of the best tag teams in history. With this reputation in mind, Cornette thought the New Midnights were a rib, and never considered them part of the team’s true lineage. Part of the problem was that, in Cornette’s words, Gunn and Holly were “glorified jobbers.”
2. Freddie Blassie Hated Managing Mr. Fuji
As one of the few wrestlers on this list to become famous as a manager himself, you might expect Mr. Fuji was paying attention when he had legendary managers himself, one of whom being WWE Hall of Famer “Classy” Freddie Blassie. Blassie managed Fuji during The Devious One’s time teaming with Professor Toru Tanaka, and though Blassie and Tanaka got along well, Fuji’s infamous reputation as a prankster immediately got him and Blassie off on the wrong foot. According to rumor, the very first thing Blassie told Fuji upon learning he was to manage him was a warning that Fuji’s ribbing ways wouldn’t fly with him. Naturally, Fuji’s response was to prank Blassie at every opportunity, infuriating Blassie to no end. Even with this animosity between them, Blassie was able to acknowledge Fuji was arguably a better performer than Tanaka. That didn’t stop him from preferring Tanaka anyway, though, thanks to the fact Tanaka was actually a professional, unlike Fuji.
1. Bobby Heenan Hated Managing The Missing Link
The third time is not a charm in this case, as Bobby Heenan’s final entry on this list is also his all-around least favorite client, The Missing Link. The Link was a character portrayed by Dewey Robinson, a decently popular wrestler in his native Canada who caught Vince McMahon’s eye while working in Texas by switching from his clean-cut image to the wild, painted, and out of control Missing Link. Instantly recognizable though he was, The Missing Link’s character meant he couldn’t speak, and thus he was given the best talker in the business so McMahon could ensure he’d become a star. It simply didn’t work out, however, perhaps in part because Link apparently wasn’t clued in on what exactly a manager was supposed to do. According to Heenan, Link thought Bobby being his manager on TV meant he was going to do absolutely everything for him in real life, including handling travel and even food arrangements. This was occasionally the case in smaller territories, or when managers really liked their clients, but it was hardly commonplace, a fact Link couldn’t comprehend no matter how often Heenan told him. For this reason and due to Link’s general downfalls as a performer, the pairing didn’t last long, and Link has mostly been forgotten outside of Heenan’s hatred of him.