Managers in professional wrestling are long-lost artists. Paul Heyman is our only real manager left in WWE, fulfilling this role for countless stars over the years—Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, and Big Show among them. Now, however, Heyman refers to himself as an “advocate” and not a manager. Managers are often associated with bad guys (“heels” in wrestling terms). They usually distract the referee or hand over weapons in order to help their in-ring competitor win. When a manager works with a good guy (or “babyface”), they’ll often act as a talent spokesperson. On either side of the ring, popular managers have the ability to get a reaction from a live crowd. They get attention on their wrestler, building name awareness and popularity. Managers are key elements in WWE, adding an extra layer of entertainment. Below I’ve got four talents who either need to come out of retirement or take up the mantle.
Angle may never compete for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania again, but we can dream that maybe he’ll return as a manager. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see him manage a bright-eyed new comer, competing against an anti-America bad guy? Angle won an Olympic gold metal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics. He’s a former WWE Champion, WCW Champion, TNA Champion. All of this aside, here’s the most important thing: he was a major star during professional wrestling’s most popular years in the late 90s and early 2000s. Video vignettes of Kurt Angle coaching fresh faces like Adrian Neville, or Jack Swagger could breathe life into careers. Ideally they’ll find a new, young talent with an amateur wrestling background and an American heritage. From there they’ll bring in the Olympic hero as his coach. And he’ll defeat the likes of Alexander Rusev. The story writes itself.
The Miz has been compared to Paul Heyman in the past because it’s so easy to dislike him. The Miz has nothing on Heyman’s microphone skills (I mean, who does?), but he does get a strong reaction. Perhaps he should be repackaged as a representative for other talent. A former Money in the Bank winner, the Miz headlined Wrestlemania 27 and defeated John Cena for the WWE championship. He has so much potential and so much history with the company. To not use the Miz as an annoying, troublesome bad guy for years to come would leave money on the table.
Shawn Michaels (Heartbreak Kid, HBK) retired from in-ring competition at Wrestlemania 26, after he was defeated by the Undertaker in a Streak vs. Career match. Even though he’s retired, the Heartbreak Kid could return in a managerial role. Michaels is regarded, by many, to be the greatest all-around professional wrestling performer of his generation (the 90s and early 2000s). He stole the show in his day, going above and beyond. Success will come when the WWE finds a young superstar-in-the-making that is willing to do everything and anything to steal the show every night. Ideally he’ll have the same intensity and fearlessness that Michaels exhibited in the mid 90’s. Then they can match that newcomer with Shawn Michaels. It’s like free money.
William Regal should hold a special place in the hearts and minds of professional wrestling fans. He’s been around for as long as this form of entertainment has existed. Regal has done so much for the business. His performances, in any role, are always incredible. Regal (now 46) has been wrestling since his start at age 15 in Britain. His wrestling career has seen many high points (and some low), but he has earned the respect of the entire WWE universe. I can think of no better man to mentor Adrian Neville or a repackaged Wade “Bad News” Barrett.
Managers in professional wrestling enable new superstars to get attention. Their name recognition gets reactions from fans, helping to build up new faces and competitors. Stars from the past like Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, JBL, Ron Simmons, Billy Gunn, Finlay and Christian have name value. While it may no longer be appropriate for them to compete in the ring, they can add a ton of value ringside.