Yesterday, WWE broke the news of Mr. Fuji’s passing. The managers also happen to be some of the most underrated and looked over performers in the business. Without a good manager, it becomes almost impossible for a young star to get himself/herself over; in the past, most of the youngsters were paired with a manager to ensure that they aren’t thrown directly into the spotlight.
In WWE, there have been numerous instances when a superstar rose above the ranks, while being paired with a manager. The talents who are considered to be good, but green on the microphone are paired with others who can do the talking part. From “Classy” Freddie Blassie to “Captain” Lou Albano, there have been legendary figures who helped elevate the superstars’ careers in the company.
Today, we pay tribute to Mr. Fuji by taking a look at the top six managers in WWE history (in no particular order).
The story of “Macho Man” Randy Savage would be incomplete without Miss Elizabeth by his side. Through the good and the bad, Elizabeth and Savage exemplified the purity and goodness in all of us. While Savage had to battle his demons, Miss Elizabeth was never too far away from him, and the duo were part of numerous tear jerking moments during their time in WWE.
From the proposal that sent the fans into collective tears to the “Match made in heaven”, Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage were the perfect couple. While Savage had won major titles in the company, the one thing he cherished the most was his association with Miss Elizabeth – fondly known to the WWE fans as the First Lady of professional wrestling!
To create heroes, you need to have a dastard villain. There was a reason why WWE could build stars who transcended the company – including the likes of Hulk Hogan and later, Bret Hart. It was because during the 80s and 90s, the company was fortunate to have the “mega villains” – the Roddy Pipers and Mr. Fujis.
Known as “The Devious One”, Fujiwara was a heel wrestler, who later became a manager. Mr. Fuji had your vintage bad guy laugh, coupled with a sinister look. Fuji was also known for his antics off camera, which created a unique aura around him. Mr. Fuji learned the tricks of the trade from the very best – Lou Albano and Freddie Blassie during his days as an active wrestler.
Mr. Fuji would go on to manage the likes of Bob Orton, Kamala, Demolition and more recently, Yokozuna. Mr. Fuji was someone no one could trust, and his distaste for the Americans was well documented (kayfabe).
Paul E. Dangerously was a slimy character that no one particularly liked. He hit his stride during his time with Jim Crockett Promotions, where he managed the Original Midnight Express, and was involved in a memorable feud with the new Midnight Express, and their manager Jim Cornette. Both Heyman and Cornette would later face off in a Tuxedo match, with the loser leaving the town – a match Cornette won.
Today, Heyman manages one of the biggest stars in the sports entertainment industry – Brock Lesnar. While Heyman is relatively unpopular among his peers, who consider him to be two faced, no one would argue about his business acumen, and the fact that Heyman is arguably the greatest talker in the professional wrestling industry today.
If anyone wants to learn the craft of drawing heat from the fans, there is no one better to look up to than “The Brain”. Heenan started managing wrestlers during his stint with the World Wrestling Association, but found his comfort zone during his time with the American Wrestling Association. Known for his loud mouth style of trash talk, Heenan often found himself in the midst of predicaments, but off camera, he was one of the most liked personalities.
In WWE, Heenan managed the likes of Big John Studd, Andre The Giant, Paul Orndorff, Rick Rude and later, Ric Flair. In the 80s, Heenan had a long, drawn out feud with Hulk Hogan, resulting in Hogan’s popularity sky rocketing among the wrestling fans. Heenan would later try his hand in announcing, and his partnership with Gorilla Monsoon is considered by many to be the greatest announce team in wrestling history.
Much like Savage and Elizabeth, Bearer and The Undertaker complemented each other’s characters. Bearer, who used the name “Percy Pringle” before coming to WWE, worked with Championship Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling and United States Wrestling Association. During this time, he managed the likes of Rick Rude, Steve Austin and Luger.
However, his greatest stint came with WWE, where he managed the likes of the Undertaker, Kane and Mankind. The storyline between Bearer, Kane and The Undertaker is considered to be one of the greatest storylines in wrestling history, with Bearer finding himself in the middle of the angle. Bearer passed away in 2013, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014.
Jim Cornette is famous in the wrestling community for his colorful language, and his hatred for Vince Russo. Cornette, with his trademark tennis racquet became one of the most hated villains during his time with Mid South Wrestling, and later got into a memorable feud against Midnight Express and their manager, Paul Heyman.
Cornette was also a part of the booking committee of various promotions, as well as being a promoter himself. Cornette worked with Vince McMahon and WWE, and was on the creative team till late 90s. Cornette managed the likes of Owen Hart, Yokozuna and several tag teams during his tenure as a manager.