Wrestling managers are kind of a lost art form today. Sure, there are still a handful around, but back in the day, they were almost as much a part of the show as the people they managed. They would cut promos for their charges, interfere when necessary and sometimes even launch a feud on behalf of their grappler.
But who are the best of the best?
In ranking the Top 50 Wrestling Managers, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories looked at the following criteria:
What did they contribute to the people they advised?
How memorable were they, overall?
Were they able to enhance the reputations of the men and women they represented?
Please note: This is primarily a list of managers from the 1980s onwards, so it's likely missing some of the golden era managers. We've included a handful of valets, bodyguards, advisors, advocates and other "heaters" on this list, acknowledging that they sometimes perform a similar role to traditional wrestling managers.
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Ready? Here we go!
After toiling as the preliminary wrestler Leaping Lanny Poffo in the 1980s, Poffo became The Genius in the WWF. His cap and gown persona got under the skin of fan favorites such as Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake, especially when The Genius was managing the likes of Mr. Perfect and The Beverley Brothers.
Good friend of Wrestling Merchandise and Memories Stu Stone was named Manager Of The Year for 2014 for the role he performed in Championship Wrestling From Hollywood and other territories. Among the members of his "Family Stone" were Adam Pearce, Othello, Eric Watts, James Morgan, Matt Striker and Brian Cage.
Sweet 'n' Sour Larry Sweeney began his career as a wrestler but branched out to become a top manager in promotions such as Chikara and Ring of Honor. His clients included Chris Hero, Matt Sydal, Dan Puder, Brent Albright, Eddie Edwards and others.
A veteran referee, Bill Alfonso arrived in ECW in 1995 as a heel ref because he insisted that wrestlers (gasp) play by the rules. With an annoying coach's whistle around his neck, Fonzie soon became the manager of ECW's Taz, leading to managerial opportunties for hardcore icons Sabu and Rob Van Dam as well.
Throughout her managerial career, Missy Hyatt has been at the center of controversy (a good trait for a manager to have). She has represented boyfriends and husbands such as John Tatum and Eddie Gilbert, as well as Sting and Rick Steiner. In WCW, Hyatt managed The Nasty Boys and in ECW, The Sandman.
Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie
Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie has the distinction of being high school friend of Saddam Hussein. After a career in the ring, he began as a manager in the late 1980s, guiding The Iron Sheik, Crusher Blackwell, Ken Patera and others. In the WWF as General Adnan, he managed Sgt. Slaughter.
WWE Hall of Famer Chyna debuted in the WWF in 1997 as the bodyguard of Hunter Hearst Helmsley, moving to a prominent role in the formation of D-Generation X. Later on, The Ninth Wonder of the World briefly managed Billy Gunn and acted as Eddie Guerrero's "Mamacita."
Dutch Mantel stepped back from his wrestling career in the mid 1990s to become Uncle Zeb in the WWF, managing Justin Hawk Bradshaw (JBL) and Jacob & Eli Blu. Years later, he returned to WWE as the outspoken Zeb Colter, where he managed Jack Swagger, Cesaro and Alberto Del Rio.
Don Callis first became a manager in the WWF in the late-1990s, known as The Jackyl and seconding the likes of The Truth Commission and The Oddities. In ECW (as Cyrus), he managed The Network as a quasi-authority figure. More recently, he's been in the corner of AEW Champion Kenny Omega (while working in Impact).
While Maria Kanellis began her WWE career as the ditzy backstage interviewer, she eventually grew into a role managing the likes of Santino Marella, Dolph Ziggler and Matt Hardy at various times. More recently, she came into her own as manager of her husband Mike "Kanellis" Bennett in ROH, TNA and WWE.
James Mitchell, also known as The Sinister Minister and James Vandenberg, began his managerial career in Smoky Mountain before going to WCW, ECW and TNA. His demonic clientele has included Mortis, Wrath, Mikey Whipwreck, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Raven, Abyss, Rellik, Judas Mesias, Black Reign and Vampiro.
Slick arrived in the WWF in 1986, "buying" half of Classy Freddie Blassie's interests in The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff and Hercules Hernandez. Shortly thereafter, The Slickster expanded his empire to include Butch Reed, Boris Zhukov and One Man Gang/Akeem. Later on, he managed Kamala.
WWE Hall of Famer Lita is almost as well-known for being a manager as she was an in-ring competitor. In ECW as Angelica, she managed Danny Doring and Roadkill. During her years in WWF/WWE, she was a driving force behind the success of Matt and Jeff Hardy, as well as Edge, Essa Rios and Kane.
The first of several Four Horsemen alumnae on this list, WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard first became a manager in AEW in 2019, guiding the career of Shawn Spears. He has since added FTR (Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler) to his clientele, a throwback to his legendary tag team with Arn Anderson.
Luscious Johnny Valiant
WWE Hall of Famer Luscious Johnny Valiant became a manager after his in-ring career ended, beginning with representation of a heel Hulk Hogan in the AWA. In the WWF, Valiant led Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake to the WWF Tag Team Titles, and did the same for The Destruction Crew in the AWA.
General Skandor Akbar
General Skandor Akbar's Devastation Inc. faction was a staple of World Class Championship Wrestling for many years - a group of evil henchmen willing to do Akbar's bidding. Members of the group included Cactus Jack, Steve Austin, Dr. Death Steve Williams, The Missing Link, The Great Kabuki and many more.
WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race became a manager in the early 1990s after retiring from in-ring competition. He began his managerial run leading Lex Luger to the WCW World Championship, and he was also in the corner of World Champion Big Van Vader, Mr. Hughes, Vinnie Vegas and Yoshi Kwan.
Sir Oliver Humperdink
Sir Oliver Humperdink was a manager whose career began in the 1970s and spanned nearly three decades. He guided the careers of heels such as Bugsy McGraw, Ox Baker and One Man Gang, as well as being road manager to The Freebirds. In the WWF, he managed Paul Orndorff and Bam Bam Bigelow.
WWE Hall of Famer Sunny began her career in Smoky Mountain, managing Chris Candido and Brian Lee. She traveled with Candido to the WWF (as well as ECW and WCW) and also provided Sunny days for clients including The Bodydonnas, The Smoking Gunns, The Godwinns, LOD 2000 and Faarooq.
Ohhhh yessss! WWE Hall of Famer Paul Bearer began his managerial career in the early 1980s as Percival Pringle III, managing the likes of Rick Rude, Lex Luger, Kamala, Steve Austin and The Dingo (Ultimate) Warrior. Later, he famously represented The Undertaker (and Kane and Mankind) in the WWF.
WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Fuji was called The Devious One during his post-wrestling career, blinding opponents with salt and whacking them with his cane. Besides managing Yokozuna to two WWF Championships, Fuji also represented Demolition, Magnificent Muraco, Kamala and The Powers of Pain.
While Miss Elizabeth's managerial career was mostly defined by her support of real-life husband Macho Man Randy Savage, she was also part of a series of storylines that helped define the WWF during the mid- to late- 1980's. She also managed Hulk Hogan briefly and in WCW, managed Ric Flair and Lex Luger.
Following his wrestling career, WWE Hall of Famer J.J. Dillon became known for managing The Four Horsemen (including Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham and Ole Anderson). Dillon also represented Abdullah The Butcher, Buddy Landell and Outlaw Ron Bass over the years.
WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart began his career in Memphis and moved to the WWF and WCW with his ever-present megaphone to cause distractions. Some of Hart's biggest clients include Hulk Hogan, The Honky Tonk Man, The Hart Foundation, Greg Valentine, The Giant and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers.
Although he may best be remembered for founding ECW, Paul Heyman has been a manager on and off since 1987. Paul Heyman Guys have included The Original Midnight Express, The Samoan Swat Team, Ravishing Rick Rude, Stunning Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbsyzko, 911, Sabu, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Cesaro, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.
Also known as Bert Prentice, Christopher Love was a mainstay in Memphis throughout the early to mid 1990s and later became an announcer and booker. Among those the effeminate Love managed were The Glamour Girls, The Dragon Master, The Eliminators and Tully Blanchard.
For the better part of a decade, Truth Martini was one of the main managerial force within Ring of Honor, managing many of the promotion's top heels. His House of Truth clients over the years have included Roderick Strong, Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal, Jimmy Jacobs, Matt Taven, Christopher Daniel, Rhuno and Zach Gowen.
Wrestling superstar Virgil was in the corner of WWE Hall of Famer The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase for the bulk of DiBiase's WWF run. Virgil also was in the corner of Rowdy Roddy Piper (in drag as Virgilina), nWo stablemates such as Stevie Ray and more recently, Ted DiBiase Jr.
A huge backer of Canadian wrestling talent, Coach Scott D'Amore began managing in Border City Wrestling before bringing his Team Canada stable to TNA in the early 2000s. D'Amore managed a slew of former and future World Champions in TNA, including Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Rhino and Jeff Jarrett.
A fairly recent addition to this list, Montel Vontavious Porter has performed as both a wrestler and manager as part of WWE's Hurt Business faction beginning in 2020, guiding the likes of Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. He played a similar role in TNA in 2015 with his group The Beat Down Clan.
Colonel Rob Parker
Colonel Rob Parker (a/k/a Continental standout Robert Fuller) shared his secret recipe with many heels in WCW during the mid 1990s, including Sid Vicious, Stunning Steve Austin, Harlem Heat, Arn Anderson and Buckhouse Buck. Parker was also briefly a manager in the WWF, advising Jeff Jarrett as Tennesee Lee.
Lana made her WWE debut in 2014, managing her future husband Rusev to a long undefeated streak. By 2019, The Ravishing Russian dumped her hubby (in storyline) in favor of Bobby Lashley, and has also been in the corner of Dolph Ziggler, Tamina and Natalya over the years.
In WCW, Terri Runnels was known as Alexandra York, the brains behind The York Foundation stable, a group that included Michael Wall Street, Thomas Rich, Terrence Taylor, Richard Morton and Mr. Hughes. In the WWF, she managed then-husband Goldust as well as Perry Saturn, Raven and Meat.
Although she will forever be linked now to her husband Chris Benoit, Woman (a/k/a Nancy Sullivan) began her career as Fallen Angel in Florida managing Kevin Sullivan. She arrived in WCW in the late 1980s and became the manager of The Steiner Brothers, Ric Flair, Benoit and in ECW, The Sandman and Taz.
Following his career as a wrestler and announcer, Taz first became a manager in TNA, leading the careers of Samoa Joe and members of Aces & Eights. He resurfaced in All Elite Wrestling in 2020 to form a group known as Team Taz, guiding the likes of Brian Cage, Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs.
EXCUSE ME! Vickie Guerrero was already a part of WWE storylines after her husband Eddie Guerrero passed away in 2005. She soon turned heel on-air, sided with her nephew Chavo Guerrero and her clients over the years have included Dolph Ziggler, The Big Show, LayCool, Edge, as well as Nyla Rose in AEW.
Harvey Wippleman began his managerial career in 1986 as Downtown Bruno, where he led the careers of The Stud Stable, Cactus Jack and The Moondogs, among others. By 1991, he came to the WWF as the manager of Big Bully Busick, leading to gigs with Sid Justice, Bertha Faye, Mr. Hughes and Giant Gonzales.
Holla holla, playa! Before he was making tag team matches as SmackDown General Manager, WWE Hall of Famer Teddy Long went from disgraced referee to heel manager in WCW, leading Norman The Lunatic, Doom, The Skyscrapers and One Man Gang. He also had a managerial run for WWE in the mid 2000s.
WWE Hall of Famer Arn Anderson is much better known as The Enforcer of The Four Horsemen, but he's also been a manager. Double A was often in the corner of Ric Flair and after his in-ring career ended, he led Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko to tag team glory. In AEW, Anderson has been the Coach to Cody.
WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase dominated the WWF in the early 1990s with his Million Dollar Corporation. Those managed by The Million Dollar Man included IRS, Tatanka, King Kong Bundy, Bam Bam Bigelow, Sycho Sid and The Ringmaster. In WCW, DiBiase managed The Steiner Brothers and the nWo.
Kevin Sullivan began his career as an in-ring performer, but found a niche as the devil-worshipping Games Master. Leading heels in Florida and the NWA, Sullivan was manager of stables such as Sullivan's Slaughterhouse, The Varsity Club, The Three Faces of Faces and The Dungeon of Doom during his career.
While Stephanie McMahon may ultimately be remembered as an authority figure, her role in the corner of several top stars shouldn't be ignored. Since 2001, The Billion Dollar Princess has managed her husband Triple H, as well as Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins and her father Vince McMahon.
WWE Hall of Famer Sensational Sherri began her managerial career in 1986 in the AWA in the corner of Doug Somers and Buddy Rose. She moved to the WWF, guiding the careers of Macho Man Randy Savage, Ted Dibiase and Shawn Michaels. In WCW, she managed Ric Flair and Harlem Heat.
Gary Hart, the self-professed Playboy, was one of the most influential managers throughout Texas and Florida in the 1970's and 1980's (as well as being a top booker), managing talent ranging from Dusty Rhodes to Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bruiser Brody to Ivan Koloff and from The Great Kabuki to The Great Muta.
In the final years of his legendary career, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair began trying his hand as a manager, beginning with Big Van Vader in 1995. Later in WWE, The Nature Boy was in the corner of Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista, as well as daughter Charlotte Flair, and in TNA, he managed AJ Styles.
Precious Paul Ellering
WWE Hall of Famer Precious Paul Ellering is best known for managing The Road Warriors, wrestling's greatest tag team. He once led a faction that also included Jake Roberts, King Kong Bundy and The Spoiler. Ellering led The Disciples of Apocalypse, and more recently, The Authors Of Pain in NXT.
Classy Freddie Blassie
WWE Hall of Famer Classy Freddie Blassie went from being of the most hated wrestlers in history to one of the most hated managers. Among his clients were The Iron Sheik, Jesse Ventura, Blackjack Mulligan, Nikolai Volkoff, Big John Studd, Mr. Fuji, Dick Murdoch and a youngster starting out named Hulk Hogan.
Jim Cornette started his managerial career in 1982 in Continental and Mid-South before guiding in the NWA, Smoky Mountain and WWF. While his most famous clients were The Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane), he's also represented Yokozuna, The Heavenly Bodies and Vader.
Captain Lou Albano
WWE Hall of Famer Captain Lou Albano was known as The Guiding Light for managing 15 teams to the WWF Tag Team Championship. Plus he led Ivan Koloff to the WWWF World Title over Bruno Sammartino. Other clients included Greg Valentine, Superfy Jimmy Snuka and George The Animal Steele.
WWE Hall of Famer Bobby The Brain Heenan will forever be remembered ot only for his Heenan Family, but also his quick wit, evil intentions and willingness to do anything to get his clients over. Top names in his stable included Hall of Famers Nick Bockwinkel, Blackjack Mulligan, Blackjack Lanza, Andre The Giant, Big John Studd, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Paul Orndorff, Mr. Perfect, Harley Race and Ric Flair.