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MANAGERS: THE MASTERS OF HYPE

When Paul Heyman appeared alongside big Brock Lesnar on World Wrestling Entertainment television recently, it marked a return of the character of "manager" to the pro wrestling spotlight after being all but phased out during the late 1990's. Beautiful female "valets" in skimpy costumes had taken over the role of accompanying grapplers to ringside and occasionally interfering in the matches. To their credit, they do add a nice dose of eye candy and storyline possibilities to the overall product mix. But the re-emergence of former ECW guru Heyman (who started out his career as manager "Paul E. Dangerously") in front of the cameras with Lesnar clearly demonstrates just how essential this characterization is to the industry.

Of course a manager's primary role is that of a mouthpiece. It is his job to put over his man's storyline to the maximum effect. This is particularly crucial if a promoter wants to push a wrestler with enormous technical and/or aesthetic potential but who does not possess the necessary vocal skills or charisma required to get his character across. WWE's Lesnar, especially when he debuted, is a classic example of this which is why Heyman was brought in from his writing duties to help out. 

Back in the territorial days, the manager was an even more important player in the local promotion. Some might argue the MOST important. With various wrestlers coming and going throughout the years, the heel manager was utilized as the linking thread between all the different storylines. The most common formula used for this was the "stable," whereby the manager would band a handful of heels together in order to run roughshod over the babyfaces and wreak havoc within the territory. Variations of this theme are still used today. This clever convention allowed the members of the manager's stable to be conveniently interchangeable. So when a particular bad guy's push had run its course, he simply moved on to another area while a new monster was brought in to freshen things up while still maintaining the overall storyline of said manager's ongoing struggle to dominate the territory. In short, he was the agent provocateur around which almost every scenario revolved. 

On the Quebec scene, the manager's role was even more significant because of the language factor. With both English and French-speaking fans to cater to, the job was twice as tough because any manager who hoped to be successful here on a long-term basis had to be bilingual. A few managers who were closely associated with their wrestlers did occasionally make their way through Montreal from time to time. "Wild" Red Berry came in with the original Fabulous Kangaroos in the 1960s, followed by George "Crybaby" Cannon in the 1970s. In 1983, "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers showed up with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka when his hot WWF feud with Ray "The Crippler" Stevens was booked into the Montreal Forum. But these were merely cameo appearances. The true movers and shakers were primarily home grown talent.

One of the first and by far the best of this breed was Eddy Creatchman. Billing himself as "The Brain" long before the great Bobby Heenan ever did, Creatchman first gained real notoriety as the major thorn in the side of Johnny Rougeau during the late 1960's. Before that, Eddy had been a somewhat anonymous junior heavyweight. Following his retirement, he became a licensed referee with the Montreal Athletic Commission for promoter Eddie Quinn.  More...

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