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10 overlooked managers you need to know
Names like Capt. Lou Albano, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Paul Heyman are the first that come to mind when considering the small fraternity of men who have achieved tremendous success based on their managerial exploits.
Still, there are plenty of charismatic guiding lights who led their charges to championships and main events, but rarely get the credit they deserve. Here, WWEClassics.com honors 10 individuals who have been overlooked by many, yet achieved a respectable amount of notoriety for their clients.
A sly yet charismatic visionary, The Jackyl first appeared before WWE fans in the late 1990s as the leader of a group of South African mercenaries known as The Truth Commission. Although the group’s overall impact was slight, The Jackyl emerged from the stable as a major player — a rarity for managers.
Eventually glomming onto The Truth Commission’s most intimidating member — the massive and unstable Kurrgan — The Jackyl soon formed an entire band of social rejects he dubbed his Parade of Human Oddities. Lording over his freak show like some deranged carnival barker, the loudmouthed manager had one of the “Attitude Era’s” sharpest tongues before he eventually lost control of his charges. A relationship with The APA followed, but that too would sever, signaling The Jackyl’s exit from WWE.
“Number One” Paul Jones had a nearly 20 year ring career before deciding to test the managerial waters during the 1980s. Dangerously effective in the Mid-Atlantic and WCW territories, the villainous Jones’ most notable issue both in and out of the ring was against “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant. That rivalry ended with Jones getting his head shaved, courtesy of Valiant. Regularly warring with other heroes like The Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes, Jones was always backed by his intimidating “Army,” the ranks of which included The Masked Superstar, Baron Von Raschke, Ivan Koloff, Abdullah the Butcher and Manny Fernandez.
In both World Class Championship Wrestling and Mid-South Wrestling there was a man who was hell-bent on establishing himself as the world’s top manager — General Skandor Akbar.
Managed himself by Fred Blassie in WWE in the late 1970s, the cunning sheik from the Middle East gathered his charges together in a group he dubbed Devastation, Inc. Wherever Akbar went, his rotating cast of terrors — including Kamala, One Man Gang, and King Kong Bundy — would follow. Still, as dangerous as his men were, Akbar could be even worse as he lurked at ringside, waiting to fling fireballs at unsuspecting victims.
It’s a rare day when the services of a reigning Intercontinental Champion fall into your lap, but such was the case for Coach in 1991. A chronic, whistleblowing motivator, Coach acquired Mr. Perfect as his client from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who moved onto becoming a broadcast journalist.
Of course, every wrestling historian noticed that it was John Tolos under the concealing hat and glasses of Coach. Once known as “The Golden Greek,” Tolos had been a star alongside his brother, Chris, in the ’50s and ’60s. His tenure as a WWE manager proved to be less impactful — he disappeared soon after an injury sidelined Perfect and a role with The Beverly Brothers fizzled out — but his deranged gym teacher persona was hard to forget.
Few managers enjoyed the longevity of Gary Hart. For more than 20 years, the Chicago native plied his managerial trade successfully throughout such areas as World Class Championship Wrestling, Southwest Championship Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic, Georgia and Florida. A constant thorn in the side of fan favorites like Sting and The Von Erichs, Hart backed a who’s who of talented individuals, including bizarre attractions like Kamala, The Great Kabuki and The Great Muta.
Starting out in the industry as a referee, Bill Alfonso’s key to success became his handling of ECW's top three performers. Using a whistle to lead in his charges, Fonzie first represented The Human Suplex Machine known as Tazz. The two ran roughshod over the extreme outfit before Alfonso shocked ECW fans by siding with Tazz’s most hated rival, Sabu.
Also backing the dangerous performer’s on-again, off-again tag partner Rob Van Dam, Fonzie became ECW’s top manager. Alfonso was undoubtedly obnoxious — he always managed to rub the ECW fanbase the wrong way, no matter how popular his charges were — but he found the right formula to succeed more than anyone expected him to.
"Wild" Red Berry
One of the first individuals to make the transition from active wrestler to manager, “Wild” Red Berry imparted both his mat knowledge and his mastery of underhanded tactics to some of those most reviled competitors of the 1950s and ’60s.
Berry had been a nine-time NWA Light Heavyweight Champion before he backed the villainous Australian duo known as The Fabulous Kangaroos. Under Berry’s guidance, Al Costello & Roy Heffernan became the top team in wrestling, but he soon transitioned to WWE where he managed the giant pairing of Killer Kowalski & Gorilla Monsoon to the now defunct WWE United States Tag Team Titles.
A notable part of Berry’s ensemble was a jacket he wore with the words “I am right” emblazoned on the back. More times than not, he was.
A virtual unknown to the managerial ranks, Frenchy Martin surfaced in WWE rings in late 1987, accompanying Dino Bravo to ringside. Bravo was the only talent that Martin managed in his WWE career, and the two French Canadians enjoy a measure of success during their partnership.
With the massive Bravo guarding him, an arrogant Martin would enrage WWE fans by carrying a sign saying that “USA Is Not OK.” When interviewed, he would converse exclusively in French, further annoying the masses. Bravo eventually ditched his countryman for the obnoxious Jimmy Hart, but his union with Martin was always his greatest.
Known as “The Manager of Champions” during the 1960s, Bobby Davis was the most colorful manager of his time. Flamboyant and cocky, Davis was a master at inciting the fans just by opening his mouth and speaking down to them.
Davis’ big mouth was backed up by the in-ring talents of “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. The first WWE Champion complemented Rogers’ arrogant style perfectly, and it was not uncommon for Davis to interfere in his charge’s matches to ensure victory. Davis is one manager who could undoubtedly fit into today’s WWE landscape quite flawlessly.
In 1995, an attorney by the name of Clarence Mason entered the WWE picture when he was introduced as the legal counsel of Jim Cornette and his stable of imposing Superstars, including Owen Hart and The British Bulldog.
Mason’s desire to become less of an ambulance chaser and more of a manager peaked in 1996 when Faarooq entered his employ, and The Nation of Domination was born. The controversial group gave the outspoken lawyer his greatest exposure before he was dismissed in ’97. Mason reemerged in WCW years later under the name J. Biggs and backed both Kanyon and the tag team of Stevie Ray & Big T, but he disappeared from sports-entertainment altogether soon after.