JG's Columns
JG's Ten Old School Managers For Ten Current Stars
By James Guttman
Jan 4, 2012 - 1:44 PM

At the end of every interview, I ask the guest if they could choose anyone from any time period to work with, who it would be.  The reason I ask is because I, too, always try to picture perfect pairings from different times.  Some work.  Some don't.  But a select few are spot-on.  These ten examples of old school managers and current stars are just that.  Fire up the time machine, we're going all Bill an Ted on ya, baby!





Jimmy Hart and R-Truth


OK. Let's get it out of the way right off the bat. By now, you might have figured out the most obvious reason.


Yet? No?


I'll wait.


Yeah. You got it - Little Jimmy.


Jimmy Hart is Little Jimmy. Long before R-Truth came up with the strange catchphrase of "Little Jimmy", Jimmy Hart was Little Jimmy. Hell, before R-Truth was out of fifth grade, Jimmy Hart was Little Jimmy. He's been Little Jimmy for decades.


Gorilla Monsoon called him a "little runt." Bobby Heenan called him "a pipsqueak". But, in the end, they all referenced how little he is. For the sheer amount of Little Jimmy skits they could do with R-Truth and Jimmy Hart, this thing would be worth it.


"Shut up! Ya'll ain't Little Jimmy! HE'S LITTLE JIMMY!"


"You stay away from my Little Jimmy!"


And so on.


But, on top of that, there're many other reasons why this pairing could work. There's the musical angle of Hart and Truth collaborating on some Rock-n-Rap remixes. With The Mouth of the South and the Truth working together, we'd have a whole new genre of tunes that sound like a mix between the Sugar Hill Gang and the Four Seasons. They could call it "Hip-Hop-Doo-Wop".


Then there are the high intensity personalities both of these guys bring to the table. Hart's excitable promos mixed with Truth's insane bug-eyed promos would make for some…well, pretty excitable bug-eyed insane promos.


But, above all else, it's Little Jimmy, people!



Slick and Mark Henry


OK. Go ahead. Think I'm being racist. You know you are.


But then close your eyes and imagine it. Slick was made for managing Mark Henry. The damage they could have done would have been insane.


They're a natural fit. Henry, even with his current Hall of Pain monster push, always had an eye for the ladies just like that Jive Soul Bro Slick. Couple that with the gigantic former World Champion matching size with Akeem and Big Bossman, two of the Slickster's most successful protégés and you have a perfect pairing.


On the flip side to Slick having Mark Henry-esque clients in his past is Mark Henry having a Slick-esque manager in his. If it seems like he's already been managed by Slick, it's because he kind of has.

Teddy Long.


Think about it. All it takes is a pimp accent to change from the Smackdown General Manager to the Doctor of Style.


"Lemme holla at ya, playa!"


"Lehhhh-meee hollah atcha, playaaaaaahaa. Eh-heh-heh-hehhhhh!"

Told ya. 



General Skandar Akbar and Kane



For those who don't know who General Skandar Akbar is, let me tell you - I have no idea.


I mean, I was a big fan of his and even had him on for two interviews with the site. But the late General wasn’t someone you could just explain to a person. He dressed like he was from the Middle East, yet spoke with the voice of a trucker. All I knew about the good General was that he was evil. That was his thing. He was evil. No particular shade of evil. Just evil.


Same thing with Kane. The big Red Machine debuted as the bastard son of Paul Bearer and Undertaker's "mama". Burned in a fire as a child, he was kept in Bearer's basement. Then, we learned years later that he was actually out and about the whole time and dating a woman named Katie Vick. Oh - and he wasn't burned either.

Yeah. No idea what to tell you on that.


All we know about Kane for sure is - yup. He's evil.    Even when he's good, he's evil. It's a tongue-in-cheek wink to the crowd like, "Haha. I torture dogs and eat children. Hee hee!" Whether jovial or diabolical, all we know for sure is that he's evil.


That's why seeing these two together would have made perfect sense. Of course, that goes without mentioning that Akbar has managed the likes of Kamala, Missing Link, and even the Monster's undead brother, Undertaker.

Then again, Skandar also managed about 40 other people. Chances are, if Kane was active just a decade earlier and even so much as stepped foot in Texas for a Ron Paul rally, he'd have been managed by the General.


And it would have been evil.




Jose Lothario and John Cena


John Cena's really nice and I'm not sure why. I never got an explanation about why John is such a fine upstanding individual. All I know is that he rises above hate and doesn't even get mad when mobs of people tell him he "sucks". He sort of likes it. What a big grinning weirdo.


But imagine if you knew why. Imagine if this whole Fruity Pebble smile was due to the teachings of a mentor. A Mexican Mr. Myagi, if you will. Imagine if the go-to mentor of 1995 was the Mentor of Thuganomics today.


Jose Lothario was the trainer of Shawn Michaels. In the mid-90s, Michaels had a change of heart and decided to embrace his good side. After years of doing nothing but styling his hair and nailing every woman within earshot of the arena, this on-air "Boy Toy" was suddenly a Boy. No toy. Just a boy.


This boy had a dream and, for some reason, we were just learning about it now. Under Lothario's guidance, the HBK "Boyhood Dream" tour kicked off and we got a Michaels title reign to show for it.

Let's be honest, though. The whole thing was weird. Michaels had been a womanizing stripper guy for years. Now, he has a lucha libre role model walking him through the nuisances of life? How did we go from being Sensational Sherri's cougar food to Tuesdays with Morrie?


Now, John Cena, though - he's a Marine of a whole different color. He's tailor-made for an After School Special. Paired with Lothario, all his excessive babyface moves would make sense. He doesn’t want to disappoint his role model.


It would sure beat the current route he's taken - guy who defends everyone's right to hate him. Or, as mentioned at the start of this one - a big grinning weirdo.




Sensational Sherri and Dolph Ziggler



Speaking of Sherri Martel, would she be the most Sensational manager for Dolph Ziggler or what?


Now, I have to be honest. This one isn't fair. After all, Ziggler's chemistry with Vicki Guerrero is so damn perfect that it's a no brainer to pair him with the woman who paved the way for Vicki's "cougar" gimmick of today. Long before Guerrero, there was Sherri.


Although she also managed Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage, the Sensational One's pairing with Shawn Michaels is most remembered today. The way she fawned on her young beau was the stuff that eventually made her a Hall of Famer. There was an unstable quality that Martel had and it came across when she worked with someone she could defend. Think about it.


With DiBiase, the hook was money. With Savage, it was the royal throne. With Michaels, it was love. When her man had something she desired, she would do anything to back them up…and anything to hurt those who attempt to stop him.


Dolph's handling of Guerrero has been spot-on and the two have developed a relationship similar to the one Sherri would develop with her stars. The attention he gives her is always tempered with his own self-love. It's almost a favor every time he does happen to show her affection. Yet, she stays by his side and will do whatever it takes to see him succeed.


When you factor in the magic that a screaming Sensational Sherri introduction would do for Ziggler's promos, it almost seems a shame that the two came up in different eras.



Mr. Fuji and Brodus Clay



Dude, where the hell's Brodus Clay?!




Man. If anyone needs Mr. Fuji, it's Brodus Clay. After weeks of promised (and undelivered) debuts on Raw, Clay is still nowhere to be found. Amazing. What type of management does this guy have?


Say what you want about Mr. Fuji. He may not have had countless titles in his stables or a stellar roster of long-term clients, but he got those people on TV. There was a member of Fuji's crew on WWF Challenge every week. If he could do it for Pat Friggin' Tanaka, he could do it for Brodus Clay.


There are a few other things that make this pairing perfect. For starters, Brodus is a giant monster looking guy and Fuji digs those. Also, just close your eyes and hear the following sentence read out in a Mr. Fuji voice…


"Ah! Very good, boy-san!  Myyyyyyy Brodus Clay finish you! Ha ha ha!"


I mean, come on. Someone get Brodus a bag of salt and Mr. Fuji's cell number. Maybe then he'll get a match on TV already!

Coach and Jack Swagger



You might not know who "Coach" John Tolos is, so I'll tell you.


John Tolos was one of the greats from the 1960s. The Golden Greek was most well known for his amazing rivalry with Classy Freddie Blassie in California. Everyone had nothing but respect for his work.


"Coach" John Tolos was one of the dumbest gimmicks WWF came up with the 1990s. It made no sense and the people they put him to manage made no sense with him. None. It hurt my head at the time and still does today.

Now, when most people think of Coach, they think of…





Those two guys were "Coach" in name only, though. Coach John Tolos was hardcore into Coaching. He blew a whistle like Jimmy Hart yelled into a megaphone. It was persistent and followed by strange hand signals that were supposed to mean something but just looked like he was doing air-karate chops.


On top of that, Tolos was paired with three stars. The first was Mr. Perfect.


Yeah. Sit on that for a second. Let it sink in.


He was a "Coach". His job was to coach people and make them better than they already were.


So he managed Mr. PERFECT.




Also, he managed The Beverly Brothers. Although barely explained on TV, the Brothers were spoiled brats from Ohio - who wore strange wizard capes to the ring for some reason. That too makes sense because, as we all know, spoiled brats like it when old men blow whistles and yell at them while doing air-karate.


Unfortunately, there was no Jack Swagger back then. Swagger needs the Coach. He's been looking for him for years. I mean, hell, he went to a sports game searching for a coach and wound up bringing back some guy in an eagle costume, for crying out loud.  It's sad when you really think about it.  Something tells me this aimless student would much rather have a real genuine Coach in his corner, if he was available.


I bet he'd appreciate it more than Little Mister Perfectpants. Don't you?



Captain Lou Albano and Santino Marella


For the purposes of this one, we're talking about babyface Captain Lou. You know, the one who eats oversized chicken legs and protects Cyndi Lauper.   That Lou.


We're also talking about the babyface Santino Marella. You know, the one who plays an invisible trombone and turns his arm into a snake. That Santino.


Once you get past the Italian connection these two share, there are the gimmicks they played. No one was more into the silly stuff than Lou Albano. As one of the only good guy managers of his time, Captain Lou took on many clients. While it seemed natural that someone like George Steele would be crazy around the Captain, it wasn't limited to him. Regardless of the situation they were in, even guys like Andre The Giant and The British Bulldogs all had a more humorous demeanor when they shot promos by his side.


That's Santino's goal and no one could help him achieve that better than Albano. Hell, if he could make two surly Brits and a gigantic scary man with a comic book afro seem pleasant - Marella would be a breeze.



Freddie Blassie and Samoa Joe


What I'm about to say may sound anti-TNA, but what the hell. It's pretty hard to talk about TNA at all anymore without coming off anti-TNA.


Oh. I bet that sounds anti-TNA too.

Whatever. When I really picture a time period with both Samoa Joe and Freddie Blassie in it, I can't help but think it would do wonders for Joe's success in wrestling. Then again, I wonder if picturing Samoa Joe anywhere except for TNA would do wonders for his success in wrestling.*


*That was the anti-TNA part.


I'm serious, though. Imagine Fred Blassie standing besides Joe and shouting at whoever the next challenge was to face him. As the Samoan rings his hands and promises the Hollywood Fashion Plate that he'll squeeze the life out of the geek's pencil neck, we'd all be lined up to buy a ticket.


Blassie just worked well with brutal guys. There was always something scary about him. No matter how old he got, he just got scarier.


In 1994, I went to the WrestleMania X Fan Axxess convention. Fred was there too. Just a few years away from his passing, Blassie looked older than I remembered seeing him. He sat in a wheelchair adorned in one of his sequined jackets and just waved as many of us walked by. Even then - too old to walk on his own or take part in the festivities around him - Freddie had an aura that seemed to say, "I don't need to move to be able to kill you."


That was due to the groundwork he laid in his career. Classy Freddie Blassie  had such a storied reputation and had become such a brutal villain that his managerial presence was less of a cowering businessman and more of an on-the-attack psycho. As a kid of the 1980s, I always saw Fred as a friend's insane grandfather ready to hit us for leaving the back door open.


Hey, man. Why does your grandpa wear sequined jackets?


Because he's f**kin' crazy! RUN!


Samoa Joe needs a crazy grandfather who can keep him on track. Blassie had one goal - hurt people. Joe - same deal. It's a perfect match. If for no other reason  than to see Classy Freddie in a grass skirt and calling himself the "Samoan Fashionplate."



Paul Ellering and Abyss


Abyss is messed up. Can we agree on this? He's a giant psycho who used to live underneath a wrestling arena in a scary part of town and has brutalized opponents with every weapon he can find.


He's also worshipped Hall of Fame rings, hugged Zombies, and veered into goofiness more times than we care to remember.


Enter Paul Ellering.


For years, we thought Precious Paul was simply an enlightened manager who lead the Legion of Doom to violent stardom. He held his rolled up newspaper and shouted angry instructions as they ate all the teams in their way.


That would be the perfect manager for psycho looking-to-hurt-people Abyss.


Then, in the WWF, we learned another reason that Paul Ellering was around for the LOD. They, uh, loved him or something. Not sure. The group debuted solo in the company and found themselves booked into matches with everyone from jobbers to Demolition - who were slowly becoming just that themselves. They had it all together.


But a short time later, they brought Ellering back to "manage" them. Manage them what? It was obvious that they didn't need someone to get them contracts, since they were wrestling around the world. There was also serious doubt that he trained them in wrestling holds since they were the Road Warriors and he was some dude in a suit.


Soon enough, it became clear why they needed him back. Precious Paul Ellering went back to the hometown of Hawk and Animal and returned with a doll. Seriously. His name was Rocco and he was a ventriloquist dummy that they used to share their secrets with as children.


Again - seriously.


No word on who controlled the doll for the young Warriors - although most would guess it was Ellering. Also no word on what the secrets were - although most would guess that it had to do with the creepy dude making them talk to the doll on his lap.


Either way, Paul was more than a manager. He was a weird uncle with a Jeff Dunham twist.


And that would be the perfect manager for goofball-looking-for-a-father-figure Abyss.


Two men. Four gimmicks. And they all work perfectly together.   Somebody get that monster a dummy and a newspaper!


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