Where Are They Now? Harvey Wippleman

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March 20, 2013

“WWE was looking for a manager,” Bruno explained. “Sid went to [WWE officials] and said, ‘There’s a guy that used to manage me in Alabama and Memphis named Bruno. Why don’t we give him a tryout?’ ”

At first, Lauer had every intention of turning the opportunity down and staying in Memphis. But when Lawler, his longtime mentor, got wind of this, “The King” left him with no option.

“He said, ‘You mean WWE called and you’re not going to go?’” Lauer said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to stay here.’ Then he said, ‘You’re fired.’ He knew I was being stupid, and he was right.”

So Bruno headed up north, to Worcester, Mass., for his official tryout with WWE. With no guarantee of a job, he put it all out there for the WWE Universe to see.

“Mr. McMahon said, ‘Show me something I’ve never seen before,’ ” Lauer said. “I went out there and did an interview with Gene Okerlund. Eventually, Gene said something nasty and I just reached back and slapped him.”

“I got to the back and Mr. McMahon said, ‘Good interview, but I didn’t like the slap. We’re going to do the same thing tomorrow night, but I want you to slap him harder.’ “

After the tryout, Lauer headed back home, and found a WWE contract waiting for him. Soon, Lauer made his official WWE debut, donning a suit similar to TV star Pee Wee Herman’s, leading the WWE Universe to shower him with chants of “Pee-Wee.”

“At first they called me Henry Herman,” Bruno explained of his unique name. “But they thought it was too much like Pee Wee Herman; it would give away the hook. Then, I was Harvey Wipple. Another night, we went out for introductions and Gorilla Monsoon told Howard Finkel that I was Harvey Wippleman. He misspoke, but it was on TV and that was that.”

Chomping on a cigar that he used to puff disgusting smoke into the faces of the WWE Universe, Wippleman arrived on the scene in summer 1991 with Big Bully Busick in tow (WATCH). When the old-timey brawler’s career didn’t pan out, Wippleman took on the massive Warlord as a client (WATCH).

Not long after, Wippleman secured his first major signing when he procured the services of Sid Justice. In the midst of a heated rivalry with Hulk Hogan, the psychotic giant and Wippleman ran roughshod over WWE. Sid would destroy his hapless opponents, and then Wippleman would have them loaded up on a stretcher, hanging a sign that read “Call 911” around their necks. Of course, that was just the precursor to Justice sending them crashing off the gurneys, guaranteeing them a legitimate trip to the emergency room (WATCH).

Just months after his WWE debut, Lauer found himself walking to the ring with Justice in the co-main event of WrestleMania VIII against The Hulkster, in front of more than 60,000 people at Indianapolis’ Hoosier Dome. For Bruno, though, it was just another day at the office.

“It’s a privilege and an honor to be featured in a WrestleMania main event,” he said. “But I’m funny. I work just as hard if I’m in a National Guard armory in front of 90 people. It’s the exact same job, just on a different scale.”

After WrestleMania, Wippleman set his sights on another Superstar, who was just beginning to realize his true potential: The Undertaker. The scrawny manager found any beast willing to take on The Deadman, leading to some of the most unusual matches in WWE history. Up first was the Ugandan savage, Kamala (WATCH), who had to face his fear of death in the first ever Casket Match at Survivor Series 1992. After The Phenom vanquished Kamala, Wippleman searched the world for his next oddity, discovering Giant Gonzales, who stood in at nearly 8 feet tall (WATCH). The towering Superstar in the furry bodysuit was also no match for The Undertaker.

“He’s one of the Superstars where all of the hype is completely true,” Lauer said about The Deadman. “He’s a true legend.”

By 1995, Wippleman saw his time as an on-screen member of the WWE roster winding down. Although he managed a number of colorful Superstars, like Adam Bomb, Kwang and Well Dunn, while leading his main squeeze, Bertha Faye (WATCH), to the WWE Women’s Title (he even crooned her entrance music), Lauer felt he could contribute to the company in other ways.

“[Former VP of Talent Relations] JJ Dillon and a few others knew that I had quite a few years under my belt, so they gave me some other responsibilities,” he proudly said.

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