Thursday 12 April 2012


With the recent reappearance of Abraham Washington on RAW it looks like WWE may have finally lifted its unofficial ban on the manager role. If that's the case then they've made the right call: a good manager can help disguise the weaknesses of a grappler by cutting their promos for them and getting them extra heat with antics at ringside. Reinstating people in the position will help the process of making new stars (which WWE seems to getting serious about) that much easier.
It's difficult to understand why WWE scrapped managers in the first place. The eighties and nineties saw Bobby Heenan, Jim Cornette, and Paul Bearer in prominent managerial positions helping to hide the weaknesses of both their charges and the men they were feuding with. That's an impressive list including big names such as The Undertaker, the Ultimate Warrior, Kane, and Vader among many others. Further down the card the likes of Tennessee Lee, Harvey Whippleman, and Paul Ellering helped out with the federation's mid-card.

These men were an integral part of the WWF product for many years but were gradually phased out during the popular Attitude Era. In their place came female valets: Debra, Trish Stratus and Terri Runnels being three of the most prominent. There was also Chyna, though she was an anomaly in that she was booked to physically involve herself in matches in a way most women in wrestling simply couldn't.
The female valet suited the racy Attitude Era far better than the likes of Paul Bearer and Jim Cornette. They may not have been quite as good at getting heat (although they could when booked correctly) but they were able to show some skin, which was then one of Vince McMahon's top priorities.
This approach gradually led to the situation we have now, where any Diva (WWE's term, not mine) with nothing to do gets paired up with a suitable male Superstar. That's a problem. Not because WWE's female performers aren't talented (they are, for the most part) but because they're being tossed out in front of crowds as an afterthought without a clearly defined character or motive. Nobody stands a chance of success in today's WWE without the support of the writing team.

Can Abraham Washington help Mark Henry become a world champion again?

In the last decade the only managers to appear on WWE programming have been Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman. Guerrero started her on-screen career as an authority figure on SmackDown and gradually morphed into a manager over time (and the main reason she's been able to maintain a position on WWE TV over the years is that her screeching and "Excuse me!" catchphrase draw such intense heat). Meanwhile the main reason Heyman was used as a manager was to disguise the general greenness of Brock Lesnar upon his debut in 2002. Were it not for Heyman 'The Next Big Thing' would have found success far harder to come by. 
When Abraham Washington returned to our screens and offered 'The World's Strongest Man' Mark Henry his managerial services on the April 2nd RAW the manager role received a ray of hope. I'm hoping Henry isn't the only one who gets paired up with Washington: established acts would be reenergised with the youngster at their side while newcomers would feel less pressure if they had somebody out there with them.
If Washington is deemed a success he'll have paved the way for more managers and agents to debut. There are plenty of men out there who don't have the WWE physique who could work as a mouthpiece for inexperienced newcomers. It would be a fine use of Michael Cole too. His antagonistic approach to play-by-play has been hampering RAW and SmackDown for too long. If he were a manager then the nonsense he spouts would at least be serving a purpose: it would rile fans in arenas rather than detracting from the enjoyment of those watching at home.
I'd like to see the role enter a renaissance period. It's high time managers made a return to ringside. Abraham Washington is a good start.

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