This an article I wrote for What Culture. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the grade to be published on the site apparently. Nevertheless, I have decided to post it here. Let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy reading.
Managers have played an important part in the history of professional wrestling. Unfortunately, they seem to be approaching extinction in the modern day WWE. Nonetheless, the greats of the past will be remembered for decades to come.
To be a great manager, you need to be annoying. Nobody remembers the vanilla characters hanging out at ringside, banging on the apron and cheering for the hero. They remember the despicable men and women who do every single thing they can to secure the win for their client. Most of these managers take a little trip down Annoying Lane on the way to greatness
We’ve had screamers, whistle-blowers and megaphone fanatics. You love to hate them, and that’s what makes them so great. The most memorable managers stir up a frenzy in the crowd, pull off dastardly schemes and drive everybody crazy. They usually have a prop of some kind, or an annoying voice. The more you boo them, the better job they are doing.
I wonder if you can guess who is the number one.
10. Paul Bearer
I’ve included this man on the list to pay tribute, if nothing else, to his legacy. He could be annoying, but the reason he is so low down, is because he rarely overstepped the mark. You could say WWE did so when they used his death rather explicitly in the feud between CM Punk and Undertaker earlier this year, but by all accounts, it’s exactly what he would have wanted. He knew just how to get great heat, and had no qualms with going close to the grain to get it.
However, this list is about characters who make it hard to watch. He rarely did that, but he had his moments, as all managers do. His legendary catchphrase “Oh yes!” could be both amusing and infuriating. As a child growing up watching during the Attitude Era, I would often lament his presence on my TV screen, although probably not so eloquently. He would get right under my skin, particularly when he was put between Kane and Undertaker. He always seemed to be stirring things up between them both and doing something despicable to one of them. He comes in at Number 10, because most of the time, his antics attracted good heat, not annoying heat.
I feel sorry for Hornswoggle. It’s not his fault that he is on this list. It’s down to the powers-that-be at WWE. Personally, I feel above laughing at a guy because he is small, and let me tell you, that is the one solitary reason why he is on television: to be laughed at. When he appears at live events, even little kids don’t seem mesmerized by him anymore. Rey Mysterio is only a bit taller, and he can actually wrestle. Any adults that do enjoy his gimmick obviously enjoy laughing at midgets like they’re back in the circus tent.
When he would come out with Finlay or DX, he would just destroy any credibility they had. It’s like screening Shutter Island with a little Finding Nemo gif running in the middle of the screen throughout. His presence is distracting, in a bad way. If there was any money to be made from dressing up a small American guy in a leprechaun costume, it’s been exhausted now.
I can understand the sympathy that people have for the actual guy, and I feel that too. He should be given a job in the company because he clearly loves the business, but he does not need to be accompanying anyone to the ring or appearing in backstage segments. It’s cheap laughs, not good laughs.
8. AJ Lee
Firstly, I’m a big time AJ Lee fan. I love her for too many names to mention. I’ve been particularly pleased with her most recent run as Divas Champion. She has been competing well in the ring and cutting some great promos. Her “pipebomb” against the Total Divas cast was just beautiful to hear. Despite aligning herself with Tamina Snuka recently, she has looked good since vacating Dolph Ziggler’s side.
When she was following Dolph to the ring every week, her own career seemed to become more and more irrelevant. She understands the art of the manager and can draw good heat. She does however, have that tendency to annoy. When she joins the announce table, she can come across as too shrill for me at times. I know that she is supposed to make me hate her, but it can get too much. I must say I’m usually a big fan of the skipping, but I know a lot of people aren’t.
Nonetheless, as long as she stays within the ropes as much as possible and let’s her work do the talking, she won’t have to worry over this conundrum. As a manager, she can flirt with “the line”. Besides, she is far too talented a wrestler to be standing or skipping outside the ring all the time, even if she does look great in those short shorts.
7. Jim Cornette
Jim Cornette is widely recognised as one of the best managers in the history of professional wrestling. He wasn’t a bad promoter either, as his record shows. The man understands the business and knows exactly what heat is and how to get it. During his run managing The Midnight Express, he perfected the role of slimy, little rat faced manager and set the bar high for future generations. There aren’t too many like him, and that’s why he gets so much respect from his peers.
As I’ve mentioned, it’s incredibly easy to go from good annoying to bad annoying, but this man rarely went over to the dark side. He could work the fans into a frenzy, and get them to pay their hard earned money in the hope of seeing him get beat up. He would usually wriggle his way out of it, and when he didn’t manage that, it was so much more special a moment for the fans to savour.
In more recent times, his shoot promos which you can find all over the internet, have made him a polarizing figure. Many people would call him annoying now, for his time outside of the ring. I’m not one of those people. I’m a big believer in Jim’s ideals.
6. Jimmy Hart
Jimmy Hart was one of the most successful managers in pro wrestling history, but boy was he annoying! Having watched back so many hours of footage from the old days, I’m glad to say I didn’t grow up during his prime. That must have been hell! I do understand that he did a lot for the careers of a lot of guys (Hart Foundation, Greg Valentine, Honky Tonk Man, etc) and he did get a lot of good heat on each of those guys when they worked as heels.
However, there are times when it pains me to see him when I watch back those old pay-per-views. I guess that is the desired effect, so it’s hard to be to critical. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between whether a manager is doing a good job or just trying my patience. Even his look is enough to evoke rage – so annoying. His trademark megaphone earned him the moniker the “Mouth of the South” which I guess is a compliment. That megaphone did nothing but annoy, but you can decide whether or not that’s a good thing.
Melina has been hated by people on the inside and outside of the business for a long time, for various reasons. She politicking and bitchiness have well documented, and only Mick Foley seems willing to see the good in her. I’d say his motives are questionable. As an on-screen personality, I think she has had her highs and lows. When she had her final run in WWE a couple of years ago, I was glad to see her back around and thought she could offer a lot to the roster. She has since departed, probably because of her real life persona.
Before she was contributing to the Divas division so well, she was managing MNM (John Morrison and Joey Mercury) through a successful and productive spell as a tag team. One thing that didn’t seem to do them any favours at all, was the fact that Melina often stood outside the ring screaming for no apparent reason. As unique and hilarious as that sounds, it did get old rather quickly and seemed to alienate many fans, rather than rile them up. I have reason to believe that her character was only saved by her extremely hot ring entrance, among males anyway.
4. Bill Alfonso
The Manager of Champions began his career in referee stripes and had spells working for both WCW and WWF. He returned to that organisation (then known as WWE) for the One Night Stand pay-per-views in 2005 and 2006, managing Sabu and celebrating with Rob Van Dam, after he won the WWE Championship. However, it was the half a decade and more he spent working for the legendary ECW promotion that made him famous among wrestling fans.
He is starting in that company working as a referee and went on to manage guys like Van Dam, Sabu and Taz. His penchant for associating himself with success earned him his aforementioned nickname. He wasn’t just known as the guy who walked them to the ring though. He was known and hated by fans for being the skinny little twerp jumping on the ring apron and blowing a stupid whistle all the time.
Alfonso would blow that whistle non-stop. It must be one of the only sounds that can rival Melina’s scream and Hart’s megaphone in the annoying stakes. He drew good heat for his heel associates, but sometimes when you’re trying to settle down with a nice cup of tea and watch yourself a Texas Deathmatch, the last thing you want to hear is some idiot blowing a whistle!
3. Paul Heyman
He may be the genius who brought us ECW and the man who has made so many positive contributions to our business, but he is also known for his time managing various superstars. From WCW and the Dangerous Alliance, to his own promotion ECW, and his partnerships with Brock Lesnar, CM Punk and more in the WWE, Heyman has never had any trouble getting a few boos from the audience.
Paul E knows how to do the little things just right. His timing, his mannerisms, his tone. He has the power to pick up a microphone and speak to you, knowing that your blood will soon be boiling. I’m a Paul Heyman guy and a grown man. That didn’t stop me almost throwing my remote control through the television when he sat in his wheelchair and played wicked mind games with my hero CM Punk.
Heyman often aligns himself with big powerful guys who take care of business for him. This allows him to sink as low as he wants, and perform dastardly acts of evil against his enemies, without getting his comeuppance. When he does get it, it’s so rewarding. That’s what makes him one of the very best.
2. Michael Cole
Michael Cole can be annoying in at the announce desk, outside the ring or even inside it. We all know how wrong it can go when you take a non-athlete and put them in there hoping for entertainment. Sometimes it can draw great laughs. Sometimes it can be a good pay-off. The experience with Cole was neither. When aligning himself with Jack Swagger against veteran announcer Jerry Lawler, he just made himself so detestable that it genuinely made wrestling hard to watch.
Before then, he was equally annoying without even being on camera. While sitting at the desk playing his heel commentator role, he regularly went too far and made himself the worst part of the show. His constant Twitter references (which have been toned down), constant use of the word “vintage” and annoying man-crush on The Miz, made Michael Cole one of the most high-profile heels on the roster. Again, not in a good way.
I know many fans who actually stopped watching when it got too much, which wasn’t after long. I being the beaten wife that I am, continued to stick with it, and somehow survived to tell the tale. He has since re-occupied the role of neutral play-by-play man who barely conjures up anything deeper than indifference from me and most other fans – that’s much more like it.
He may not have been a manager most of the time, but as a general kiss-ass sidekick, he was as annoying as can be.
1. Vickie Guerrero
Saving the best until last, Vickie Guerrero is the undisputed most annoying sidekick, appendage, manager, whatever you want to call her, in history. Her time spent by the side of Edge, while also in the General Manager role (something she has also consistently done with equal success) brought her to prominence. She was shown as shrill, callous and not at all appealing in any way. The fact that edge would suck up to someone so disgraceful drew major heat for him as a heel. That’s the power of Vickie.
While managing guys like Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger, she showed off her talent for annoying people while at ringside. But, that’s not her best position. She occupies the role as stooge with much more brilliance. As a General Manager, willing to do whatever it takes to keep her bosses happy and keep herself in power, she really shines.
Vickie is often given a huge amount of praise for her contributions to WWE and I think that’s just. For the most part, she gets genuine heat from a live crowd unlike anyone else on the roster, past or present. She does however have the ability to annoy you like nobody else could. Her now famous “Excuse me” catchphrase was entertaining a while ago. Now it’s just irritating. Luckily WWE don’t shove it down our throats quite as much as they used to these days, so I’m not about to stop watching.
When it comes to making fans of any age or description boo and shout, there aren’t many people better than Vickie Guerrero.
Thanks for reading,