While it's hard to fathom for fans just getting into wrestling today, managers were once a hugely important part of the business.
A promotion's top heel pretty much needed a scurrilous manager to ensure that they'd get jeered, and that the odds were seemingly stacked against the valiant babyface. And if the manager had a "stable" or "family" of wrestlers that would help protect each other? Forget about it. Instant heat.
I'm definitely not the first person to say this, but a lot of today's performers in WWE and TNA could benefit from having managers of their own. Sure, there have been a handful of attempts over the years, but if you could get someone with the charisma and talent of a Bobby Heenan in the corner of someone like a Big Show? That's a license to print money, my friend.
That's the good thing about The World's Greatest Wrestling Managers, a DVD that WWE released in mid-2006: it's a look at a simpler time in wrestling, and some of the cornermen and women who thrived in that era.
Weighing in at a paltry single disc (very chintzy by today's WWE standards), the DVD doesn't really give you a ton of material. The disc is broken into about a dozen sections, with Todd Grisham doing a decent (albeit goofy at times) job of stringing it all together.
The bulk of the disc is dedicated to mini-biographies of managers such as Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Captain Lou Albano and Classy Freddie Blassie. To their credit, WWE managed to get interview footage with most of the managers here (including comments from Blassie months before he died) , mixed in with commentary by the usual DVD suspects, such as Tazz,John Cena, Michael Cole and The Brooklyn Brawler.
The most surprising participant, however, may be Vince McMahon, who has high praise for nearly everyone profiled, including Jim Cornette and Paul Heyman, both of whom were no longer WWE employees by the time this disc came out. That says to me that Vinnie Mac has (or at least had) a sweet spot for the managers.
While long-time fans may know all about the managing careers of Heenan, Hart and Albano, other stories are more obscure. For example, "Golden Boy" Arnold Skaaland led the careers of the two longest-reigning champions in WWWF (and WWE, for that matter) history, and The Grand Wizard managed his share of nefarious charges. And while every old-school wrestling fan remembers/had a childhood crush on Miss Elizabeth, a biography like this reminds the viewer why she was so important to the wrestling industry.
Personally, I would have liked to see more on the managers I don't know much about, like Oliver Humperdink, J.J. Dillion or Skandor Akbar. Or those whose managing careers weren't hugely successful, such as Debra McMichael, Slick or Colonel Robert Parker. But I suppose most of the top managers have Hall of Fame rings for a reason....
The only manager with a mix of 'positive' and 'negative' reviews is Sunny, mainly over how she pissed away what was a very promising career. But that's only discussed after it's shown how she defined what a Diva is.
The extras are a little on the scant side, but some are definitely worth checking out.
Fuji Vice was a segment from WWF's Tuesday Night Titans show starring Mr. Fuji and Magnificent Muraco in a Miami Vice spoof that is so terribly cheesy, it's actually good. Ditto for the "investigative report" by Mean Gene Okerlund from around the same time period, in which he invades the corporate headquarters of Jimmy Hart's Hart Foundation (in reality, it was a talent agency, chosen seemingly because the walls were pink, matching Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart's trunks).
There's also a "weasel suit" match between Heenan and Greg Gagne that is actually quite funny, and a tuxedo match between Cornette and Heyman that was featured on a WCW pay-per-view back in 1990 (and you wonder why they went out of business!). The rest of the segments are only mildly interesting and help to illustrate what made managers such as Blassie, Elizabeth and Sensational Sherri so unique.
Overall, is this a "must-have" DVD? Not at all, and unless you find it second-hand or in a bargain bin somewhere, I probably wouldn't bother. But it serves its purpose as a fun little nostalgia trip that will distract you just long enough for your opponent to cheat behind the referee's back.
The World's Greatest Wrestling Managers