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You Cannot Have Paul Heyman without Gary Hart

There isn’t a lot more we can say about Paul Heyman that has not already been said of him over the course of this professional wrestling career.

The modern day Bobby Heenan, the best wrestling manager of all time, the greatest heel manager of all time, one of the greatest wrestling characters ever developed.

All those accolades should be bestowed upon Heyman, and then some. While he is not the flashy Jimmy Hart or the ruthless in ring performer-turned manager Mr. Fuji or the sexy (there is nothing sexy about Paul Heyman) Missy Hyatt, he is the package of the sum of many parts, which include Heenan, Slick, JJ Dillon, James Mitchell and one Gary Hart.

While the others on the list comprise his routine, it may be Hart’s presence in the former ECW founder that personifies him best in his pursuit of destroying CM Punk.

There was “Playboy Gary Hart” the wrestler and Gary Hart the manager – each helped to captivate fans in wrestling’s golden years. Gary Hart started out as a wrestler in 1960 in Chicago, but in the late 1960s, he became a manager called “Playboy” Gary Hart.

And in the 1970s and early 1980s, he became the single most hated manager in the NWA. He was to wrestling fans in Texas and Florida what Capt. Lou Albano, The Grand Wizard and Freddie Blassie were to the WWF.Whether it was chasing Jimmy Valiant in North Carolina or trying to destroy Dusty Rhodes in Florida, Gary Hart became the booker for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW; then known as Big Time Wrestling) in 1979, a position he held on and off until 1987.

Hart is largely credited (alongside Bill Mercer, Fritz and David Von Erich) with the success of WCCW, as 1982-1985 are largely considered to be the “Golden Years” of the promotion. Hart created the classic feud between the Von Erichs and the Fabulous Freebirds, as well as introducing memorable characters like the Great Kabuki, the Great Muta, King Kong Bundy, the One Man Gang and the Samoan Swat Team. Hart additionally managed talent such as the late “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez and “Gentleman” Chris Adams.

Hart’s stable of wrestlers, many from Asia, were brought in one by one to do damage to anyone in their path. Much like Heyman and the angle with Punk.

From Kendo Nagasaki to Kabuki to Muta to Al Perez to Rick Rude to who ever he could get to align with him, Hart always hard one bad ass wrestler who could look the part and make fans’ mouths drop to the floor. Heyman has also done that with the likes of Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel and now Ryback. And while Punk will never achieve immortality as Dusty Rhodes has (two different generations), the concept is the same. The suits, well planned and thought out vignettes with the monotone voice and the sinister look in their eyes are dead on perfect.

Hart, who was known for delivering excellent ringside interviews (as spoken on his Wikipedia Page), participated in one of World Class’ most famous outside the ring interviews, when he sat down with Bill Mercer in a 1985 interview outside of Hart’s home to talk about his rift with Adams. The interview, which was done on one take, featured Hart pounding the glass table continuously with his fist, calling Adams an egotistical maniac but a very bright young boy, then berating Gino Hernandez calling him a moron and a young punk that is nothing in the wrestling business.

As the interview wound down, Hart went on a tirade, vowing revenge against Adams while shoving the tableware and ice tea away and then throwing the table in disgust.

All of these components are Heyman at his best and Hart does not get nearly enough credit he deserves as a manager of the greats and the man who helped to launch the fertile and devious mind of Heyman. It’s a shame to admit thievery is the best form of flattery.

But in this case, taking a little bit of Gary Hart and every other manager mentioned in this blog has given us arguably the greatest wrestling character of the past decade.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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