The concept of general managers was introduced to the WWE Universe in 2002, when the original brand extension draft left Vince McMahon feeling that he couldn’t control both the Raw and SmackDown rosters by himself. The first two GMs were Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon respectively, and those two both did a pretty decent job of setting the standard for what a GM should be. Dozens of other GMs would replace the two of them over time, though, and some of these future GMs were better than others. In addition to the two major brands, virtually every WWE program would eventually introduce a GM of its own in due time, and for whatever reason, many of these minor GMs didn’t seem to work out that well.
WWE has waxed and waned on the GM concept over the years, although nowadays it seems back in full force. Considering WWE is letting the GMs stick around despite how irrelevant the position is when they appear in constant agreement with the Commissioner, we feel like the idea probably isn’t going away any time soon. McMahon and company clearly are attached to General Managers clouding WWE storylines, and that’s not always a bad thing…although it was in the cases we’re about to discuss. Even the most diehard WWE supporters would have to admit certain GMs could be better left to the history books, and we’ll all just have to cross our fingers and hope all future GMs err away from the mistakes of the past. Keep reading to find out which superstars were given far too much power, and discover the 15 General Managers Vince McMahon wants you to forget.
15. Eve Torres
Considering how long it can take certain superstars to reach the top of the mountain, the rise of Eve Torres is nothing short of phenomenal. Eve won the 2007 Diva’s Search, and was the WWE Diva’s Champion by April of 2010 after only a very small amount of training. Eve’s role continued to expand far beyond what her experience level perhaps dictated when she turned heel in early 2012 and was named the Executive Administrator of both Raw and SmackDown. For some reason, Eve needed to wrestle Kaitlyn to turn this into a position as Assistant to the General Manager of SmackDown. After doing so, much like Dwight Schrute, Torres acted like the words “to the” didn’t exist, often making the big decisions on the show as if she were the one in charge. If the “assistant to” thing didn’t drag her down enough, Torres also continued competing in matches as though she were a regular competitor during this time, allowing her GM duties to fall by the wayside in a major way. Ultimately, Torres left WWE to focus on charity work, and evidencing how important her character was, it is probable that only a few fans even noticed she was gone.
14. Vickie Guerrero
The death of Eddie Guerrero left a huge hole in the WWE Universe, and in many ways, it was a classy move for the company to hire Eddie’s widow after his passing, if only to give her a steady paycheck to help her through hard times. That Vickie Guerrero would herself turn into one of the most hated heel authority figures of her generation was an unexpected positive side effect of the whole torrid affair, although her various tenures as GM weren’t all roses. It would be fair to admit Vickie Guerrero was a much better GM than most of the others on this list, and her tenure on top is remembered for dozens of great moments. However, that was all during her time as the GM of SmackDown.
Vickie was always a heel, and thus received some insults from babyfaces. However, things took a turn towards the offensive when she jumped to Raw, at which point said babyfaces seemed unable to focus on anything other than Vickie’s weight. True, she wasn’t as petite as certain WWE divas of the era, but many fans were heavily bothered by so-called heroes like Santino Marella and even John Cena mocking a woman for a mild at best weight problem seemed a bit uncouth. It was therefore probably better to focus on the positives of Vickie’s career, and forget her time on Raw altogether.
13. AJ Lee
CM Punk received an incredible amount of mainstream attention for his decision to leave WWE in early 2014, and he wasn’t alone. Punk’s wife AJ Lee also left the company shortly after her husband, but not before also making derogatory tweets directed at Stephanie McMahon in regards to a wage gap between the male and female talent in WWE. Lee officially retired from WWE and pro wrestling in March of 2015, and WWE has, in turn, more or less erased her tenure with the company from history. AJ’s time as the GM of Raw was quite some time prior to her departure from the company, but it still gets wiped from existence due to her involvement, regardless of how long ago it took place.
While AJ had plenty of genuine accomplishments during her stay in WWE, her time as the GM of Raw may actually be better left forgotten. Lee was a bright light of WWE programming when she was on the company’s good graces, with her unhinged character wrecking havoc on practically the entire main event scene, and her time as WWE Diva’s Champion being worthy of the record books. Unfortunately, AJ was heavily pacified upon becoming GM, and was even criticized for doing a poor imitation of the woman she would go on to condemn in Stephanie McMahon. Due to her inability to stand out in the role, even AJ’s strongest supporters would probably agree not to focus on her short saga as the boss.
12. Celebrity Guest Hosts
Despite fans long being vocal about how they often feel otherwise, WWE absolutely adores any attention they can get from mainstream celebrities. They’ve indulged in this fetish of theirs countless ways throughout history, and the most consistently irritating for fans of their product lasted from June of 2009 to May of 2010, when the General Manager position on Raw was replaced with a questionable carousel of celebrity guest hosts. In all fairness, not every single guest host was terrible at the job. When hosts were willing to play with their celebrity trademarks WWE style, the result was usually a fun show for fans of both WWE and the celeb. These weeks were few and far between, however, and fans were instead generally forced to sit through a barrage of backstage segments centered on someone who quite clearly had never watched a day of wrestling in their life. Eventually, WWE responded to the criticism by re-introducing a regular GM and taking away the guest star’s power, although fans would need to wait a few more years before the concept went away altogether.
The WWE revival of ECW was criticized for a litany of reasons during its brief four-year existence, and chief amongst those complaints was the fact the brand’s final manager, for nearly an entire year, was Tiffany. Obviously, all of the GMs on this list had some flaws, but one thing they all had in common was that fans at least had some idea who they were before they got the job. Tiffany made her debut in WWE as previous ECW GM Teddy Long’s assistant, and snuck her way into the full-time GM position when Teddy was promoted to SmackDown.
Despite nearly a year going by between her debut and her promotion to GM, Tiffany never quite did anything to make herself stand out. She remained unspectacular in her role on top, mostly announcing matches and barely interacting with superstars. Tiffany was actually injured during part of her year on top, but ECW was such a minor operation at that point, they didn’t even bother naming a replacement for her. Tiffany returned from her injury mostly to tell fans ECW was dead, and that it didn’t make her upset because NXT would be cool. Fans likewise were able to see a small bright side, in that they no longer had to deal with General Manager Tiffany.
10. Armando Estrada
The original ECW was a place of chaos, where the inmates truly ran the asylum, and little law and order was ever capable of prevailing. The company did have a few authority figures, although they typically had some direct and genuine relation to the company: ECW founder Tod Gordon, ECW executive producer/owner Paul Heyman, and even the representatives of The Network all had enough connection to the real product they were believable as the people in charge. Armando Estrada had absolutely no connection at to ECW when he was named the GM in 2007, and his tenure in the role practically killed his career in part due to that fact.
Estrada deserves a great deal of credit for getting himself over as a manager with a unique gimmick in the modern era, considering how few new managers the wrestling world, in general, has seen in recent years. Successful though his time with Umaga was, once he was left on his own, he was completely lost, and making him ECW GM only served to make things worse. Estrada wasn’t even given a chance, either, thrust into feuds with the lowest wrestlers on the ECW totem pole until he was fired from the role and then from the company in the span of only a few months.
NXT is the fastest growing brand in WWE, where future stars achieve their first taste of bright lights and glory, and therefore the General Manager should possess a welcoming attitude and represent an era of wrestling greatness. Initial GM Dusty Rhodes most certainly filled this role, and current GM William Regal is doing a sterling job in the position as of the writing of this article. The man who bridged the gap between the two, JBL, wasn’t quite as perfectly suited for the role.
JBL does have certain qualities in common with Rhodes and Regal, in that he achieved a great deal of success in the WWE Universe due to his talents in the ring and on the microphone. The difference is that while the other two respected wrestling tradition, JBL in character and in his true personality, always put himself above the rookies and newcomers to the wrestling world. JBL also continued his role as color commentator on Raw during his time in NXT, and strongly gave the impression NXT was some side gig he didn’t completely care about. Especially given how important NXT has become, they organization should never have a GM who cares as little as JBL again, and they’ll probably ignore the fact they ever did.
8. John Laurinaitis
The first action of Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis was to fire WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross, and we might do well to end this entry right about there. Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot more to unpack about the nightmarish reign of Big Johnny, and the various awful angles he was involved with during his near eight months as the on-screen boss. The most irritating part of John’s reign is that he almost always seemed to be “under review” from some higher authority figure, undermining his power and making the entire concept of a GM turn into a huge joke while Laurinaitis held the title.
WWE COO Triple H, SmackDown GM Theodore Long, the nameless WWE Board of Directors, and of course, company owner Vince McMahon all stepped on Big John’s efforts of running Raw, although they all generally let him keep doing whatever he wanted to do, anyway. The result was the corporate structure of the entire company looking comically weak, and the one saving grace of the whole ordeal was that WWE acknowledged how bad a job he did in 2016, when John begged the McMahon’s for the GM title back, only to get kicked out of the building.
7. Booker T
Ask almost any fan to name twenty WWE Hall of Fame wrestlers that they felt were best suited to become authority figures, and almost none of them would put Booker T on the list. Booker is a legend in the industry and one of the greatest stars ever to come from WCW, but neither of those facts meant he was prepared to don a suit and tie while acting as the voice of reason on SmackDown for a little under a year. Book’s induction to the Hall of Fame occurred concurrently with his time on top, and quite honestly, it was about the only noteworthy part of his tenure, thereby proving our point.
Booker’s charm was his fire in the ring, his energy, and his fun-loving comedic personality, none of which were ever on display when he was forced to present an air of authority. It isn’t that Booker simply looked weird in a suit, but also that fans didn’t want to see him calm, cool, and collected, trying to conduct business. The one plus-side of Booker’s time as GM is that it didn’t particularly hurt his legend, and that it was far from the nadir of his career.
6. Brad Maddox
Both of the ECW GMs that made this list did so because they had no connection to the show they went on to control. Brad Maddox suffers the same pitfall, only he does so on a much grander scale, as Maddox became the General Manager of Raw only seven months after his debut in WWE as a referee. The fact he spent a few months as a ref might put him in slightly better graces than the authoritative debuts of Tiffany or Armando Estrada, but Maddox presented as a goof who couldn’t hold a job almost instantly after he first appeared, bouncing from Raw to SmackDown, and making him seem like the worst possible choice to be put in charge of the show.
Nonetheless, Vince McMahon made that exact choice in July 2013, and Maddox would hold the role of Raw GM until April of the next year. Maddox was particularly ineffectual in the role, and would disappear for months at a time while holding the position. The real reason McMahon wants you to forget about Maddox actually has nothing to do with his time as GM, though, and is far more related to his word choice during a WWE live event. Maddox referred to fans at ringside as “cocky pricks” in 2015, and was almost immediately fired as a result.
5. Bret Hart
It actually shouldn’t be too surprising that being a good wrestler doesn’t translate to being a good wrestling authority figure. The two are in a similar wheelhouse, but having a long career in the ring actually generally hurts one’s prospects as a General Manager, Commissioner, or otherwise, because fans will constantly be begging the superstar to get back into the ring and put the politics behind. This was certainly the case of WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart, despite the fact he absolutely never could’ve gotten back in the ring by the point in his career he was named GM.
Bret was one of the top WWE stars of the 90s, and his return to the company in 2009 was an appropriately huge deal, having come after years of well-known hostility between the two parties. The WWE Universe was happy to have The Hitman back, although the specifics of his return quickly put a damper on things. We’ll skip past the feud with Vince McMahon to the moment he was named the new GM of Raw, if only to highlight how quickly one happened after the other, making it an immediately confusing move. Beyond simply being very unfit for the role, Bret’s tenure as GM was shockingly brief, only lasting a few weeks before he was fired for letting the NXT rookies get out of control.
4. Donald Trump
For whatever reason, thus far on the 2016 campaign trail, neither Donald Trump nor his rivals have seen the need to bring up one of the most bizarre pieces of his resume: former Owner and General Manager of WWE Raw. No, really. Back in 2009, Donald Trump took time out of his schedule as a racist robber baron star to kayfabe purchase Raw from Vince McMahon, who turned around and bought his program back only two weeks later. Trump was the de facto GM of Raw during this time, and although he didn’t do very much with the role, the fact he was involved in such a major storyline at all is a huge blight on WWE to a good deal of fans.
Trump had been involved with WWE for decades before he “bought” Raw, having legitimately hosted WrestleMania’s four and five, and then become the center of attention during WrestleMania 23’s “Battle of the Billionaires.” Trump was even inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013, showing how deeply his ties bind with McMahon’s organization. Nonetheless, Trump spends enough time using his wealth to go places he doesn’t belong, so he probably should’ve just stayed out of the wrestling ring. As if his mere presence wasn’t enough, The Donald is responsible for introducing the horrible Guest Host era that we already mentioned, making his one significant act of power a terrible one.
3. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The idea that certain superstars simply aren’t cut out for authority roles despite their legendary status has been a trend on this list, and none exemplify this concept quite as well as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Austin ranks amongst the greatest WWE wrestlers of all time, with both Vince McMahon and Austin himself making unparalleled amounts of money during Stone Cold’s time on top of the company during the Attitude Era. One of the biggest roles in this success was Austin’s feud with McMahon, the ultimate representation of the blue-collar working getting his revenge against a megalomaniacal boss. However, this feud was also the reason Austin completely bombed as an authority figure, because no one could imagine “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as a corporate stooge.
Austin retired from the ring in March of 2003, after being defeated by The Rock at WrestleMania XIX. He returned to WWE only two short weeks later, when Linda McMahon introduced him as Eric Bischoff’s Co-General Manager of Raw. Not only was it strange Austin was working with the McMahon family, but also the idea of him doing anything aside from kicking Bischoff’s ass seemed out of character. Amazingly, WWE came up with an even worse authority role for Austin by the end of the year, when he started referring to himself as the “Sheriff,” although that role would be mercifully ablated in a manner of weeks.
2. Mike Adamle
Live television is hard, and everybody makes mistakes, such to the extent it could be considered a lucky miracle WWE’s countless hours of live television each week rarely ever feature production or verbal gaffes. One performer who was less fortunate in this field was Mike Adamle, who was arguably even better known for his constant mistakes on the microphone than anything else he accomplished in WWE, let alone his long career as a sports broadcaster prior to signing with the company in 2008.
Adamle’s infamous debut featured him mispronouncing the name of top WWE superstar Jeff Hardy, or as he said it, Harvey. Adamle transitioned into a role as the play-by-play announcer of ECW, and somehow continued failing upwards when he was announced as GM of Raw in July of the same year he debuted. Adamle’s only true contributions as GM were the alleged introduction of PPV quality matches to Raw and a brief feud with Randy Orton. The “Adamle Originals” as they were referred to fell flat due to the fact Raw had pretty much always contained the occasional PPV quality match, and the feud with Orton only served to make The Viper look spectacularly weak. Adamle resigned on camera in October 2008, and thankfully hasn’t been seen in the company again ever since.
1. The Anonymous GM/Hornswoggle
The only thing worse than the never ending Anonymous GM storyline that dragged down Raw for over an entire year was the outrageously weak payoff, where it was announced with virtually no aplomb that WWE’s resident leprechaun Hornswoggle had been behind the mysterious IMs all along. One thing the Anonymous GM had going for it was the fact fans hated the laptop meant to represent his or her power, and Michael Cole turned into one of the biggest heels in WWE as its spokesperson. The problem, though, was the obvious fact the Anonymous GM was a computer and not a person (until years later), so it could never actually get any comeuppance, and fans would never be satisfied by the payoff.
And that’s without even getting into the payoff itself, which was downright pathetic. WWE has a tendency for hit or miss humor, with Hornswoggle secretly being the little imp behind all the chaos falling firmly into the miss category. It made sense on a basic level, in that Hornswoggle was previously revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son. However, nothing else about the way either Hornswoggle or the GM have been characterized lead way to the possibility they could be one in the same, and unsurprisingly, WWE writers would indeed admit they came up with the idea way after the fact as a joke. Fair enough, because it would be hard to describe the Anonymous GM with any other word.