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There Can’t Be A Paul Heyman Without A Jim Cornette

I am pretty sure Jim Cornette’s mother would be happy with this story. The man who referred to his mother like you would refer to the love of your life has had a large impact in the wrestling business as one of the best spokesmen in the industry.

Cornette, the ever antagonist and supporter and manager of the Midnight Express, Sherri Martell, Big Bubba Rogers, Buddy Landel, Adrian Street, Christopher Daniels, and Jeff Jarrett, is staple in the historical success of professional wrestling. If we are going to pay homage to Paul Heyman for being of the best manager or one of the best managers in the business, then we must do the same for the loudmouthed, over eccentric and ever so cocky Cornette.

As a manager and creative writer, he has worked for Jim Crockett Promotions, World Championship Wrestling and the WWE, and from 1991 to 1995, was the owner of Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He has also worked as an on-screen character in an authoritative role; as “Commissioner” of Ring of Honor (in a previous stint with the company) and “Management Director” (and off-screen road agent) for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

Can you believe Cornette actually got his start in wrestling as a photographer?

As we have discussed before, a manager is somewhat like a storyline agent for an actor or an athlete; he helps his client to book matches and appearances, and otherwise works to further and guide their career.

Within the context of storylines it is the manager who positions their charge for title opportunities, decides whom to trust as an ally, and generally acts as a mouthpiece on their wrestlers’ behalf. Outside of storylines, a manager’s job is to help the wrestler they’re paired with get over. For this reason, managers are usually paired with wrestlers who the writers feel have great potential, but need a little help to the top. For example, if a wrestler can perform well in the ring, but lacks the gift of gab, a manager will cut promos for him.

Often the very act of aligning oneself with a manager, or conversely breaking away from a manager they’ve worked with, can change a wrestler’s alignment, making them a sudden fan favorite or villain. Both Heyman and Cornette have done that over their careers possibly better than every other male or female to fill the manager’s roll.

While the basic goal of a manager is to give his or her wrestlers a push never changes, how they go about it will depend on several factors, especially alignment. A heel manager, for example, may have their wrestler constantly duck tougher opponents while cheating to help them win when they do actually wrestle.

 A face manager, however, may spend the majority of their interview time talking about how tough their wrestler is and going out of their way to find bigger and better opponents to challenge, as proof.

When I think of the best managers in wrestling history, it is a surety that both Heyman and Cornette are near the top. While Cornette appears to have set the tone for a more fiery Heyman to come along and steal the thunder (Cornette used to swing a racket, Heyman yielded a cell phone for the longest time) of his predecessor.

If I ranked the top 10 managers of all time, mine might be something like this…

  • James J. Dillon
  • Paul Jones
  • Oliver Humperdink
  • Jimmy Hart
  • Paul Ellering
  • Jim Cornette
  • The Grand Wizard
  • Paul Heyman
  • Capt. Lou Albano
  • Bobby Heenan

Wrestling is odd in that it is cyclic with the types of characters who grace the squared circle as well. Managers are not immune to that as well. Paul Heyman is every bit as much of the managers behind and in front of him on this list. However, in all honesty, unless there was a Jim Cornette, would we have ever seen a Paul Heyman to begin with?

Think about it.

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