The WWE roster is composed of charismatic, energetic and interesting characters, many of which are criminally underutilized. WWE is also notorious for focusing on its main storylines, leaving little room for decent undercarder booking and TV time. As a result of that logic the underused superstars find it even harder to reach the spotlight, let alone the ring.
With the road to WrestleMania and its aftermath high on the agenda, pushing non main event talent at this stage is clearly far from being a priority. Questions come to mind, though: why have these superstars on the roster and not use them in a non-wrestling capacity? Why can’t they be given some small amount of TV time rather than none at all? What’s holding WWE back from showing them?
I think it’s time WWE explored the manager-wrestler combo more seriously as a solution, not only to showcase some of its forgotten superstars or those without storylines, but also as a means to compensate for some wrestlers’ weak mic skills, allowing them to seem more meaningful without even opening their mouths.
Paul Heyman as Brock Lesnar’s lawyer/manager is a great example. Lesnar alone is an intimidating and dominating presence, yet with Heyman at his side his strengths are magnified and his threat is even more credible. Sure, Heyman is a rare animal – he may be one of the smartest and most gifted talkers on the roster and few people can perform at his level – but that doesn’t mean those who are comfortable on the mic should be routinely ignored. WWE cruelly lacks managers. Heyman’s presence on TV is infrequent, Zeb Colter is nowhere to be seen, Lana is increasingly taking on a wrestling role. It seems only Ric Flair is appearing in a somewhat managerial capacity on a regular basis nowadays.
It’s a pity that talented talkers such as Damien Sandow, injured superstars such as Sting, or even retired superstars like Daniel Bryan don’t appear more often in the role. Managers throughout history have been some of the most memorable parts of the WWE. People like Bobby Heenan, Jim Cornette, Mr. Fuji, Paul Bearer and Jimmy Hart were all very charismatic managers, helping their clients climb the ranks of WWE, allowing them to succeed and even having an effect on the outcome of the match in some cases.
Managers get involved in feuds and propel storylines forward, they demoralize their clients’ opponents with promos. Heel managers draw heat for themselves or their clients. The most flamboyant of managers help add to the spectacle that is professional wrestling. Some managers have that ability to make an entire arena full of people absolutely hate them, or on the contrary build crowd support for their esteemed clients (Roman Reigns could do with a manager in that respect). The booking options involving ringside managers are numerous and one wonders why WWE isn’t tapping into this potential.
Take Daniel Bryan as an example. He’s now retired and WWE is debating what to do with him now in addition to his role as brand ambassador. Why not try him as a manager?
Bryan standing in a babyface’s corner is an appealing option. It would provide an up-and-comer or a struggling midcarder with a substantial boost. It doesn’t take great stretches of imagination to picture Neville getting a rub from being with Bryan and basking under the crowd’s inevitable “Yes!” chants. He may not be the best of mic workers, but as a coach it could be an opportunity to add to someone’s character. While training his client, Bryan could teach him a trick or two and add new moves to their arsenal. With some creativity and finding the right client, this role could work, at least in the short term.
We’re in an era where the ringside manager is vastly underused, and this could be a wonderful booking opportunity for WWE to explore once again.