The Many Jobs of Teddy Long
If there’s a dirty job in WWE, then there’s a strong chance that Theodore Long has done it.
The former General Manager of SmackDown may only have an ambiguous understanding of the role he will play in John Laurinaitis’ new “People Power” administration after Team Teddy lost at WrestleMania. Still, while the newly-minted General Manager of Raw and SmackDown may make life rough for his newest employee, it will not be due to Mr. Long’s lack of experience at any level of competition.
To see where Long’s career may be heading, it’s helpful to take a look back at where he’s been. From his exploits in the ring to his experience running WWE’s signature shows, Long has shown time and again that no task is too tough for a man of his talents. Here’s a look at how WWE’s symbol of swagger and endurance made it to the top of his profession.
Ric Flair’s Chauffeur
Teddy Long started out working odd jobs for the likes of WWE Hall of Famer Abdullah the Butcher and later as an NWA official. However, a day as Ric Flair’s wheelman drove Long to stir up some trouble.
Following his victory over Butch Reed at Clash of the Champions XIII, The Dirtiest Player in the Game reaped the benefits of an unusual match stipulation - Long’s services as a chauffeur for one day. Long fulfilled his obligation in the coming weeks by bringing a luxurious limo to pick up Flair, but he never picked up the rest of the Four Horsemen after some dubious car trouble left the “Nature Boy” stranded in the wrong part of town.
Long’s way with words is well documented by the WWE Universe, largely because WCW’s self-proclaimed “Godfather of Wrestling” never shied away from an opportunity to rock the mic before a capacity crowd or a camera crew.
In between his many roles at ringside, Long chimed in as a color commentator for WCW broadcasts. His pipes could be heard on various WCW programming in the late ‘90s.
Being a referee means calling every match down the middle no matter the consequences. Having developed a reputation as a straight shooter, Long seemed like a perfect fit as a match official.
Unfortunately, he forgot that the best referee is one who can make himself invisible in every bout. Instead, Long made a splash in his officiating debut by rushing in to count the pinfall for Ricky Steamboat’s NWA World Heavyweight Championship win during the Chi-Town Rumble. He then continued to stand out with a series of controversial decisions that reeked of personal bias. When Long awarded the NWA World Tag Team Titles to The Varsity Club at Clash of the Champions IV as a result of a bribe, he found himself out of a job shortly thereafter.
Long’s encore run as a referee in WWE went significantly smoother than his rocky tenure in NWA. From his first assignment at the 1999 Royal Rumble in a bout between X-Pac and Gangrel ( WATCH), Long kept things clean in the ring and did not succumb to the temptations that marred his past experience. He wore the official’s striped shirt until 2002.
A wise man one noted, “Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men.” For a sizable stable of WCW and WWE competitors, that one man turned out to be Teddy Long.
The capable leader harnessed the combined talent of Butch Reed & WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons as the pairing known simply as Doom went on to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship. He also brought The Skyscrapers to new heights and taught Johnny B. Badd how to be better than his competition.
In WWE, Long founded “Thuggin' and Buggin' Enterprises” and recruited the likes of Mark Henry, D’Lo Brown and Jazz to join its ranks. Long’s stewardship led Jazz to championship gold at Backlash in 2003 as she seized the WWE Women’s Championship, while Brown sustained a significant undefeated streak during his affiliation with the enterprising partnership.
Raw General Manager
Before Long ran SmackDown and ECW, Mark Henry called in a favor to give his manager the reins of Raw for one night only on Jan. 5, 2004. The World’s Strongest Man immediately reaped the benefits of the move as he received a title opportunity against Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton later that evening.
Or so he thought. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin introduced himself to Long and Henry as the new sheriff in town and advocated for Rob Van Dam to receive his rightful chance to challenge Orton. He later revised Henry’s title opportunity into a clash to decide the No. 1 contender.
Long did not sit idly by as Henry struggled to overtake Van Dam. As the temporary Raw GM, Long ordered that the match be restarted after RVD scored what appeared to be a victory. That maneuver did not go unnoticed, as Austin emerged at ringside on his ATV to prematurely end Long’s first and only official night at the helm of Raw with a Stunner.
SmackDown Assistant General Manager
Long’s first tenure as the General Manager of SmackDown came to an abrupt end due to health concerns, but he returned to stabilize Vickie Guerrero’s run as the steward of WWE’s signature show.
As SmackDown’s Assistant GM, Long could offer his insights on how things should run, although he couldn’t overrule what he perceived as the source of many of the show’s problems – Guerrero herself. Guerrero and Long clashed at ringside and backstage while Long, always the good soldier, begrudgingly agreed to do his boss’s bidding.
Their tumultuous working relationship came to an abrupt end on May 16, 2008 when Long tendered his resignation as Guerrero’s Assistant GM. ( WATCH) The decision paid off, as an opportunity that would arrive in one month’s time proved too extreme to pass up.
ECW General Manager
The home of hardcore competition opened its doors to a new leader in 2008 as Teddy Long became the new ECW General Manager. His arrival settled the feelings of anxiety and frustration in the ECW locker room as Long replaced Armando Estrada, a larger-than-life personality that used the lofty position to further his self-serving interests.
Though Long’s credentials came about from his old school education, he did not hesitate to bring innovation and style to ECW. He introduced a new design for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship belt following Mark Henry’s title win at WWE Night of Champions 2008. Long’s “New Superstar Initiative” uncovered and honed the talents of Superstars like Sheamus and Jack Swagger. He also groomed his Assistant GM, Tiffany, into becoming his replacement when Long left to resume his role as the SmackDown General Manager in 2009.
The WWE Universe knows that words alone rarely end rivalries between Superstars. Teddy Long can vouch for that philosophy, as he himself has stepped into the ring on many occasions to settle disputes with a show of force.
Few think of Long as the type to take control in a match, but his results speak for themselves – especially those pertaining to challenges from the Raw General Manager. Long pinned Eric Bischoff with a little help from The Boogeyman at the 2005 Survivor Series. He also capitalized on a ringside collision between Kane and Randy Orton to seize victory over John Laurinaitis on the March 29, 2012 edition of SmackDown.
SmackDown General Manager
For all of the achievements that Teddy Long has accumulated in his storied career, the SmackDown General Manager position appeared like the role he was born to fill.
Any concerns about Long’s ability to remain impartial in running one of WWE’s marquee shows went out the window on day one when he famously hit his predecessor, Kurt Angle, with a $5,000 fine for not arriving in his gear for his first day back as an active competitor. He brought that same no-nonsense attitude to his dealings with other SmackDown Superstars such as The Undertaker, Booker T and Mark Henry.
Long’s fair-minded form became his undoing, as Henry and Christian sparked an insurrection that aimed to overthrow the first person in WWE history to ever receive a second term as a GM. He managed to rally Booker T, Zack Ryder and Kofi Kingston and others under the banner of Team Teddy for his fight to become the undisputed GM of Raw and SmackDown.
Despite their best efforts, they ultimately came up short as the Superstars supporting John Laurinaitis prevailed at WrestleMania XXVIII ( PHOTOS) – leaving Long with an uncertain future in WWE.