It has been roughly over a year since I have taken the time to sit down and write an opinion piece. This is partly due to my complicated work schedule, but a big part of it has been because I just have not felt inspired to write one. For those who follow the site, it was no secret that for a year I fell off the wagon and stopped watching wrestling.
At the time of my departure, it was due to a stale product that did little to hold my interest. But, like many times in my life, I came back full circle. There were a couple reasons I started watching faithfully again. For starters, the crop of new talent that came from the Indy scene could not be ignored. Another reason was the prominent role that managers have had as of late.
The return of these people behind the wrestlers brought me back to the beloved times of pro wrestling that I hold so dear to my heart. Growing up I got to see true masters of the craft make an average guy good, a good wrestler a great, and a great wrestler a legend. There were many good managers during WWF's heyday - guys like Harvey Whippleman, Slick, and Jimmy Hart. But, the one man who mastered the role and is no doubt the greatest manager of all time Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
While you can debate which wrestler was better than the other, even the most suborn historian would have to say that Heenan redefined the role, and made the manager's role truly stand out. Throughout Heenan's career he managed such greats as Nick Bockwinkel, Stan Hansen, Mr. Perfect, Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, and the names go on and on.
It is true he managed a few stinkers. The few that stand out in my mind were forgettables like The Missing Link, and “The Red Rooster” Terry Taylor. With all that said though, if you were part of the Heenan Family you were given instant credibility. While it didn't mean that grappler would have instant success, he would at least be given the chance to succeed.
I can go on and on about Heenan's accomplishments. In fact, I have a couple times in articles about him when I wrote on a more regular basis. I will however refrain myself this time around because this article is also about another legend in the making: Paul Heyman.
Like Heenan, Paul Heyman clearly stands out above today’s group of managers. In fact if you look at the careers of both men from the perspective of the managers role, they have a lot in common. Heyman's work on the stick as of late is nothing short of remarkable. From the moment he speaks, he has the fans eating out of the palm of his hands.
He generates more heat than wood stove and he has the knack to make who ever he is representing that much better. Most fans know the work he did for Lesnar (A guy who cant cut a promo to save his life). But, he has turned this dullard on the stick into a larger than life character not once, but twice.
He also can take a crap storyline and turn it to solid gold. Most notably to me was the whole WWF vs. WCW vs. ECW wars after Vince bought WCW and ECW. Also, like Heenan he has a formidable list of guys who he managed during his long illustrious career. Some of the notches in his belt includes guys like Mark Callous (The Undertaker), Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Arn Anderson, and Brock Lesnar to name a few.
While it is true some of these stars were already made guys before he stepped in, he was able to take even the biggest names and give them more notable heat. To be fair, Heyman couldn't make the magic happen for some of today’s stars, like Ryback, and Curtis Axel. He did however, for a brief moment, make them more interesting.
It is almost as if both Heenan and Heyman were cut from the same cloth. Now, to say that Heyman has accomplished more than Heenan in the managers role would be a sin. I would have to see him do it for another five years or so before I could even tease that he is as good, or better, than Heenan.
That does not mean that he can't do it though. For the first time ever in my many years of watching pro wrasslin’, I find myself thinking that maybe just maybe someone can top the work of “The Brain.” Heyman has brought the role of manager back to full swing, and the WWE is starting to see how great the benefits can be for wrestlers who do not have the ability to cut a promo.
Lana is the most recent manager to step into the scene, and I think she has a lot of upside. But, I think she will not be the last to come in as a mouthpiece for some guys who can use that extra push. This recent push for managers is because of the work of one man and one man only: Paul Heyman.
When all is said and done and Heyman retires, I truly feel we may see the new standard set when it comes to the managers role. But, even if he does not top Heenan, it does not change how great he is and the importance he has brought back to the position. Enjoy the work of Heyman while you can folks, because like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan there will only be one like him and once he is gone he will be missed.