Let’s face it: not every pro wrestler in the world is necessarily a master of words. Luckily, the industry invented the concept of managers a very long time ago to remedy exactly this problem. The fact is, WWE superstars can’t do their jobs entirely inside the ring, pro wrestling only a small portion of what they do. Many people would argue sports entertainment has more to do with the promos and interviews that lead up to the matches. That being the case, suplexes and power bombs can only get an athlete so far, and if they can’t talk for themselves, somebody else needs to do the job.
Nine times out of ten, wrestlers who have managers are pretty happy about the arrangement. Even when things don’t go perfectly according to plan, it takes an especially horrible manager to drag down a decent wrestler. In fact, even some of the greatest WWE superstars in history have requested managers despite being perfectly able to handle their own talking. History has proven time and again that the only downside associated with managers is that some of them suck, obviously hurting the career prospects of all those involved.
Worse than that, when a good wrestler is paired up with a bad manager, it usually isn’t entirely their choice. Some higher-up probably thinks it was a necessity for whatever reason, leaving the wrestler feeling bitter in addition to resentful. While they don’t always speak up about it, fans can tell when wrestlers aren’t as appreciative of the managerial services being offered, if only because the pairings almost never result in good entertainment. Keep reading to discover 15 managers these wrestlers want you to forget they needed.
15. Alberto Del Rio – Zeb Colter
Given the way he talks about Vince McMahon and Triple H, it would be a fair guess to assume Alberto Del Rio dislikes most of what he was asked to do in the WWE Universe. It was his latest run with the company, in particular, that he has the least positive things to say about, and part of the problem was probably Del Rio getting paired up with Zeb Colter in the beginning. Many of Del Rio’s complaints about Triple H relate to the WWE COO’s low-key racism, so he probably didn’t love the fact that same concept was the basis of his pairing with Colter. From the beginning, Colter’s defining characteristic has been how he hates immigrants. Though the entire point of him managing Del Rio was that Alberto apparently was so talented it caused Colter to overcome his prejudice, the fact it was racially influenced at all still left most fans shaking their heads.
14. “Stunning” Steve Austin – Colonel Robert Parker
WWE revisionist history likes to pretend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was always wasted in WCW, and first things first, let’s clear up that misconception. Austin was, in fact, a pretty big deal in Ted Turner’s company from his very beginnings, winning the TV Championship early on and then following it up with Tag Team and United States gold. Along the way, Austin employed the help of two managers, Paul E. Dangerously and Colonel Robert Parker. There’s nothing wrong about Austin’s tenure with Paul E., but his time as Parker’s client didn’t go nearly as well. Austin didn’t quite fit in with the rest of Parker’s clientele, feeling like a big fish in a small pond, something that didn’t mesh with the fact he was supposed to be getting pushed at the time. Instead, Austin’s stock dropped so dramatically, WWE could pretend the WCW run was a total bomb.
13. Rusev – Summer Rae
Based on his current performances in the WWE Universe, Rusev is probably one of the few wrestlers on this list who genuinely requires the services of a manager. It’s not that his promo skills are horrible, but his character is improved immensely by having a beautiful woman sing his unique praises. The catch is that this said beautiful woman should probably be his wife, especially considering she happens to be available. Unfortunately, Vince McMahon apparently decided Rusev should not be with Lana, the woman he truly loves, splitting them up on screen and moving him to a new relationship with Summer Rae. As though that weren’t bad enough, Vince also made Lana start managing Dolph Ziggler. Clearly, none of the involved parties were too happy, and it showed in their work. Not letting it get them down, Lana and Rusev foiled McMahon’s plans by getting married in real life. They were back together onscreen in a manner of weeks.
12. Rob Van Dam – Ricardo Rodriguez
Down in ECW, the pairing of Rob Van Dam and Bill Alfonso was one of the most popular in the company. When RVD made his way up to the WWE Universe, many fans called for him to either reunite with Fonzie or at least find a new manager since his interview skills never quite lived up to his performances in the ring. Despite all this, when RVD finally found a WWE manager in Ricardo Rodriguez, very few fans of either man could defend the move. There’s nothing wrong with Rodriguez in the right setting, but he has absolutely no connection with Van Dam as a human or as a character. The only reason whatsoever these two got paired together was that RVD had previously feuded Alberto Del Rio, and as soon as that program was over, so was their partnership.
11. Rick Rude – Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Most of the managers on this list are going to be pretty bad, which makes sense given the nature of it. Even a wrestler who doesn’t necessarily need one can benefit from their presence, especially if they happen to be one of the best of all time, which almost everyone agrees Bobby “The Brain” Heenan most certainly is. The one person who takes contention with that statement was apparently Rick Rude, himself now a WWE Hall of Famer. Rude was instantly paired up with Heenan upon his arrival to the WWE Universe, though he wasn’t at all happy about it, feeling his own considerable skills on the microphone meant he didn’t need the help. While that may be true, Heenan has managed people like Ric Flair and Nick Bockwinkel, who also didn’t need the help yet were able to turn the combination into the stuff of legends.
10. Bertha Faye – Harvey Wippleman
Immediately upon her debut, Bertha Faye was unlike any woman the WWE Universe had ever seen. Big, strong, dressed in black, and wearing wild face paint, Faye introduced herself by attacking WWE Women’s Champion Alundra Blayze and legitimately breaking her nose, a show of brute force female wrestlers before her would never dare attempt. Truth be told, we’re not so sure about her microphone skills, in general, and this type of character works well with a manager, so the idea of giving her a mouthpiece wasn’t a bad one in and of itself. Unfortunately, McMahon didn’t simply give Faye a manager; he gave her an entirely new character along with it. No longer was she a hulking Monster Ripper. Faye became the “Queen of the Trailer Park” in love with Harvey Wippleman. Not only did it kill her career in America, but Faye also found the ordeal insulting, calling it reductive and restrictive.
9. Mr. Perfect – Coach John Tolos
Perfect. Adjective. According to dictionary.com, it means “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.” Vince McMahon, on the other hand, seems to define it as “ideal in every way except on the microphone.” In all fairness to McMahon’s strange decision, Mr. Perfect proved he could work well with managers more than once, from The Genius and Bobby Heenan to his time with Rick Rude in WCW. However, there was nothing positive about Perfect’s relationship with Coach John Tolos. Perfect was plenty talented on the mic himself, to begin with, and Genius and Heenan were at least creative enough they could make just about anything work. Tolos was such a weak manager that the fact that his client was a microphone master didn’t help in the slightest, his damning presence dragging the both of them down until he left Perfect alone.
8. The Hardy Boyz – Michael Hayes, Terri
Looking at The Hardy Boyz today, it feels a little out of place they made their WWE debuts as jobbers, not to mention the fact that they did so separately. Given this unscrupulous introduction, it makes sense they needed to switch gears considerably in order to become a legitimate force in the company. Step one to making the Hardyz a threat was simply putting them together as a tag team, but the brothers were still pretty inexperienced on the microphone, so “The Freebird” Michael Hayes was brought in to give them a jumpstart. Hayes was a pretty great mic worker in his day, yet something about the pairing just didn’t work at all thanks to him having nothing in common with the grungy Hardyz. Their next manager, Terri, was just as incompetent and irrelevant, not helping their careers in the slightest. Thankfully, next up was Lita, and she sent them into the stratosphere.
7. Lo Down – Tiger Ali Singh
For all the negative things this list has to say about some manager-client pairings, at least most of them made some semblance of sense. In theory, managers can take on any client and justify it by saying they thought the move would make them money, and the same holds true from the wrestler’s perspective. All that said, putting D’Lo Brown and Chaz together with Tiger Ali Singh failed in every sense of the word. Singh’s shtick was never making money; it’s that he had all the money in the world and wanted to prove people from the Middle East were superior to Americans. Neither Brown nor Chaz had any cultural connection to the area, and all three had their careers suffer for it. D’Lo had it worst of all, having rapidly shot up the card throughout 1999 until Lo Down stopped his career dead in its tracks.
6. The Undertaker – Brother Love
Who doesn’t appreciate it when someone says “I love you?” Well, in the real world, that sentiment sure is nice, but it doesn’t always fit in with the WWE Universe. Certain wrestling characters, in particular, look like they’ve never used nor heard the expression, and everyone’s favorite undead zombie, The Undertaker, is high atop that list. Bizarrely, it was Brother Love who introduced The Dead Man to the world at the 1990 Survivor Series, although the partnership didn’t last much further beyond that. Almost instantly, Love also debuted Paul Bearer, passing over Undertaker’s contract in the process. It’s a good thing he did because Bearer and Undertaker would go on to dominate the company in a manner Love never could have. Once Bearer proved his team with Taker was the real deal, fans forgot about everything that came beforehand, and it might be a fair guess that The Undertaker loves that most about him.
5. Shelton Benjamin – Momma Benjamin
As long as men don’t take the idea too far, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a proverbial mama’s boy. Our mothers brought us into this world and deserve our respect, barring any sort of unusual circumstances, of course. One such unusual scenario would be if a pro wrestler’s mother started showing up and yelling at him or her during their matches, which was exactly what happened to Shelton Benjamin circa 2005/06. Making matters worse, it wasn’t Benjamin’s real-life mother performing the role, but rather famed actress Thea Vidale, whom a good portion of the audience could recognize from her comedy career. Unsurprisingly, the pairing hardly made Benjamin into a star, as his momma would distract significantly from the great matches he was having and turn them into low-level comedy segments. Benjamin definitely could have done better without her, and there’s no secret why Vidale has never been asked back after the short partnership ended.
4. Triple H – Chyna
Not everyone on this list wants their managers forgotten for the same reasons. Also, not all the “managers” on this list are necessarily the most literal definition of that word, as there have also been a few valets, and in this case, a valet/bodyguard. On top of that, the reason Triple H wants people to forget he needed Chyna is the exact opposite of all other entries—he doesn’t want fans to realize how integral she was to his success. WWE likes to argue Triple H would have still achieved his success without marrying Stephanie McMahon, and that may be true. However, prior to teaming up with Chyna, he was an absolute nobody, receiving almost no reaction from the crowd. Chyna gave HHH an edge that helped him stand out and become a star, something he likes to forget about ever since leaving her in real life for his younger, more powerful wife.
3. The Rock – Debra
Even when Vince McMahon is at his absolute best, he can make decisions that confuse the hell out of people who have watched wrestling their entire lives. Take, for example, the main event of WrestleMania X7, The Rock versus “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It was the second WrestleMania showcase of McMahon’s two biggest stars, and they were almost guaranteed to have a fantastic match, not to mention incredible promos leading up to it. Neither men needed any help in achieving this, and yet, for some bizarre reason, McMahon decided this was the perfect time for Rocky to receive his first manager in the business, selecting Austin’s wife, Debra, for the role. The point was mind games with Stone Cold, and while the angle worked on that level, to say Rock didn’t need Debra’s help is the biggest understatement a person could possibly make. Suffice to say, Debra had almost no effect on the build, and her short time with Rocky is almost entirely forgotten today.
2. Steve Austin – Ted DiBiase
Oh, hell no. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is generally considered the most successful wrestler in WWE history from a financial standpoint, but it took him a few months in the company before his potential was truly understood. In fact, Vince McMahon almost screwed things up royally from day one, changing Austin’s name to “The Ringmaster” and pairing him up with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. There’s nothing wrong with DiBiase as a manager, but Austin absolutely did not need one at that point in his career. Instead, he should have been establishing himself as a threat to a new audience, slowly adopting the vicious killer persona that made him a star. The only benefit Austin received from this union was the Million Dollar Championship, a designation that already gets omitted from his career history. Aside from that, the best anyone can say about the partnership is that Austin wasted no time at all in becoming a star after they parted ways.
1. Shawn Michaels – Jose Lothario
A mystery wrapped in a riddle, the decision to pair Shawn Michaels up with Jose Lothario en route to his first run as WWE Champion simultaneously makes perfect sense on paper, and absolutely none in practice. Vince McMahon’s thought process when putting the two together was extremely simple—Lothario was Michaels’s trainer in real life, and mean heels could pick on the fragile old man to inspire sympathy and force Michaels to fight back. Unfortunately, Lothario possessed none of the charisma HBK had, and any interview where Jose did the talking immediately fell flat as a result. Even the way Michaels danced to the ring seemed less energetic when Lothario was around, probably because HBK felt his manager’s presence wasn’t necessary and might’ve hurt more than it helped. Some of his behavior in that era has been criticized for being egocentric, but in this case, he was absolutely right.