Welcome to the first edition of The Wrestling Corner, where we chat about our love of wrestling — and sometimes what it is doing wrong. This week, it is all about something AEW is doing very right and WWE might want to take notice of itself.
The return of managers.
However, these are not the managers of yesteryear, as AEW is working on bringing managers to a new generation of wrestling fans — fans that might not remember Bobby The Brain Heenan and Captain Lou Albano.
Fans of old-school wrestling might remember the managers of yesteryear. These managers served one purpose — they helped put over wrestlers who were not able to do it themselves, mostly due to a lack of mic skills.
An example is General Skandor Akbar from Mid-South Wrestling in the ’80s. He came in and managed monsters like Kamala, One Man Gang, and more. These monsters could destroy anyone in the ring, but they didn’t talk.
That is where Akbar came in. He made people absolutely hate him, and vicariously hate the men he managed. Therefore, Devastation Incorporated became the stable that made the babyface’s lives a living hell.
Move over to WWE and things were a little different, but similar as well.
There were a ton of managers in old-school WWE. Some of them, such as Mr. Fuji and Captain Lou Albano, managed wrestlers similar to those of Skandar Akbar — men who couldn’t talk.
However, fans hated Mr. Fuji, so they hated his wrestlers (such as Demolition). Fans loved Captain Lou, so they loved his charges (such as The British Bulldogs).
With that said, the most popular manager in WWE history was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and he managed people who couldn’t talk (Hercules, King Kong Bundy) and people who were great promos by themselves (Ric Flair, Rick Rude).
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan cutting a promo on Hulk Hogan on behalf of Andre, The Giant! Heenan had the gift of gab! Anytime he touched a microphone, the results were classic! There will never be another Bobby Heenan!??#bobbythebrainheenan #meangeneokerlund #andrethegiant #wwe pic.twitter.com/DMBY83w5bA
— FlashbackWrestling (@FBWPodcast) April 21, 2019
But it was still the same. Fans hated Bobby Heenan and they wanted anyone he managed to get beat. Putting a wrestler with Heenan meant they were immediately hated.
AEW changing what managers mean
When asking older wrestling fans what they miss the most in today’s wrestling scene, managers rank right up there with legit tag team wrestling.
However, managers have been gone for so long that they are not the heel magnets they used to be. Even Paul Heyman, who is the advocate for Brock Lesnar, is not able to bring the heat to other wrestlers, as he tried before with Cesaro and Curtis Axel.
AEW has brought back managers but in a different way.
Tully Blanchard was the first manager to arrive in AEW. He, in his prime, was one of the best talkers in the business and he even had a manager in JJ Dillon. However, he is not there to talk for Shawn Spears. He is also too respected to bring major heat to Spears.
Instead, Blanchard does what many old school managers like Jim Cornette and Jimmy Hart used to do. He interferes for his charge. But that’s not his main purpose.
— Daily DDT (@FanSidedDDT) November 10, 2019
Blanchard is a “mentor” for Shawn Spears and his entire gimmick is teaching Spears what he needs to do to become a star.
Now, Arn Anderson — who ironically was Blanchard’s old tag team partner — is the “coach” for Cody Rhodes. See, Cody doesn’t need a mentor at this stage of his career, but Anderson does something different.
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) January 2, 2020
In an interview after Cody beat Darby Allin on AEW Dynamite this week, Anderson said that he scouted Allin and knew what Darby would do in the match. When Allin went for the Coffin Drop, Anderson recognized what was coming and yelled for Cody to get his knees up.
Cody did and won the match. Arn Anderson said it was thanks to him working with Cody as a coach, to help him better understand his opponents.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) January 2, 2020
Tully Blanchard is called a mentor and Arn Anderson is called a coach but they are the same thing. They are respected and successful veterans who are teaching this generation tips and tricks to make them even better in the ring.
There are still evil heat seekers as managers in AEW, such as Brandi Rhodes with the Nightmare Collective and Bunny with her husband Blade and his partner The Butcher. But Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson are a new breed of managers.
AEW has brought back managers with a different slant and it is a perfect way to reintroduce them to the professional wrestling world.
What are your thoughts? Do you miss wrestling managers? Do you think they should make a comeback? Let us know on our Facebook page.