Saturday, April 2, 2011

World's Greatest Wrestling Managers

Directors: Kevin Dunn
Distributor: WWE Home Video
Released: 6/06

Featured Talent
Captain Lou Albano, Steve Austin, Shelton Benjamin, Gerald Brisco, John Cena, Michael Cole, Bob Costas, Ted Dibiase, Danny Doring, Howard Finkel, Mick Foley, Todd Grisham, Jimmy Hart, Bobby Heenan, Hulk Hogan, Iron Shiek, Ken Kennedy, Jerry Lawler, Steve Lombardi, Theodore Long, Chris Masters, Stephanie McMahon, Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Gene Okerland, Bob Orton Jr., Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Bruce Pritchard, William Regal, Road Warrior Animal, The Rock, Jim Ross, Terri Runnels, Sharmell, Arnold Skaaland, Sgt. Slaughter, Trish Stratus, Joey Styles, Tazz, Triple H, Nikolai Volkoff, Harvey Whippleman

The Good
The WWE's expansive pro-wrestling library is something that are always trying to market. Who can forget all those Coliseum Video releases from back in the 80s with some pretty strange themes. This is a takeoff on that tradition and it is not without the campiness of those releases from over twenty years ago. Vince McMahon has the sharpest and best insight in this and it is one that is so often missing from his comments on WWE documentaries. He concisely explains a manager's job and is pretty blunt about the strengths and weaknesses of the managers covered here. It seemed not-so-surprising that female managers/valets are put over strongly as that is the norm in the WWE nowadays. The argument against female managers has been that it is not so easy when it is time for them to get their comeuppance and there is simply not the big payoff in the end. Although that argument is not stated here, it is certainly demonstrated and it should make a fan watching scratch their heads about current WWE “managers”. Particular highlights were demonstrating the mic skills of numerous managers, including Freddie Blassie, Bobby Heenan and Jim Cornette. It was also curious that the legacy of Sunny was fairly covered. The Paul Bearer transformation from Percy Pringle is also great to see because it is so unique. There are some neat questions posed, whether or not a manager needs to be/have been a worker, being the best one. This DVD pretty much delivers what you'd expect and it is fine, well-edited piece.

The Bad
The title is grossly misleading because this does not exactly cover non-WWF/WWE managers and worse yet it ignores the past of many of them. A short list of great managers who are not mentioned or even shown here - Saul Weingeroff, Gary Hart, Skandor Akbar, Sir Oliver Humperdink, Dr. Ken Ramey, Lord Alfred Hayes, J.C. Dykes, Professor Boris Malenko, Eddie Creatchman, Precious, George “Crybaby” Cannon and Robert Fuller. Now several of those people they simply don't have footage of, but others are just sad omissions. If they wanted to keep this purely WWWF/WWF/WWE managers than they should have done that. The idea that Freddie Blassie was the “first” manager is laughably ignorant because there were some legends (see above) that predated him. Seriously, they included Arnold Skaaland (a road agent) and left out even people like Slick, Mr. Fuji and Harvey Whippleman who while not the best were certainly superior to Skaaland. The commentaries from talent are largely good, although there is the usual kayfabe and Jerry Brisco nonsense and some horrendous decisions on what to wear for taped interviews. Todd Grisham, the host, only detracts from this and is given some stupid material to segue between segments. For extras, they have some matches that are largely dull and some promos and angles that are largely great. This may sound like a scathing or nit-picky review, but this DVD certainly has its flaws and a follow-up seems unlikely, which is sad. Hopefully Greg Oliver and Stephen Johnston have a PWHOF Managers book in the wings.

The Rating: ***1/2

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