5 Best AEW Managers (2019-2022)
AEW has accrued a healthy pool of managers in its short history. From mentors to legends, to hype men, and all the nuances in between — let’s spotlight the best managers to have left their mark in the young promotion.
(This list will favor managers who have more or less committed to the role and have stepped away from regular competition.)
5) “Smart” Mark Sterling
“Smart” Mark Sterling debuted with top clientele like MJF and Jade Cargill. While MJF doesn’t benefit from having a manager, Cargill’s sass on the mic definitely grew partnering with Sterling. Unfortunately, he doubled as both lawyer and spokesperson. And a guy like that doesn’t make it to the good times long term.
Since then, however, he has committed to a regular managerial role, starting with Tony Nese and Josh Woods. Sterling is a classic nuisance on the mic and certainly over delivers in this role with currently less-than-prolific clients.
“The Icon” may still deliver top-level performances in the ring, but we can’t deny his effectiveness in his primary role as mentor. “Being accompanied by ‘The Icon’ Sting…” followed by the excited cheers of thousands adds so much weight to a match. His mentee/protégé, frequently touted as an AEW “pillar,” would have been fine regardless. But Sting, on his own, changes the atmosphere in any building, elevating everyone he shares the stage with.
3) Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn may be an imposing, immovable big man in the ropes. But we love him best as a stage dad. Whether as a mentor to his sons Colten and Austin, or as “Daddy Ass” to his adopted sons in The Acclaimed, Billy still finds a way to push today’s tag teams to the next level. His ability to go from comedy act to stern dad to utter raging giant makes for great chemistry with any partner/opponent.
He may not have been your father, boy, but he was your Daddy.
The ultimate ride or die. Originally debuting in AEW as Britt Baker’s personal makeup artist, Rebel was the goofy sidekick to Baker’s freshly-conceited persona. Rebel played up this contrast so well and excelled anywhere else she was needed. “Assisting” the doctor mid-match, being a hilarious co-host on The Waiting Room. But most importantly, accompanying Baker on her rise to the top of the division — yes, as a “manager,” but ultimately as a friend.
Rebel (along with Tony Schiavone) did a lot to prevent Baker from being seen as a one-dimensional pro wrestling narcissist. When you think about it, Rebel doesn’t actually have much to gain (goals-wise) from being out there with Baker. She just looks like she’s there to support her friend and be a goof to the camera.
With the muscle Jamie Hayter added to the group, Rebel’s mere presence on promos brought a charm to the initially silent Hayter. The Killer and the Pillar may be a top act now, but Rebel’s pure friendship is a glue that ties things together and keeps it stronger. In a world of coaches and mentors, sometimes all you need is a Rebel.
1) William Regal
Lovely and effective as the others on this list are, none of them offered as much depth as William Regal. Regal debuted a main event faction straight away in the Blackpool Combat Club, which continues to thrive with his departure. It’s not a lesser feat if you don’t, but the man had about 10 months to make a mark, and always being in prominent stories certainly helped.
When he seconded BCC members for their matches, Regal was a delight on commentary. He would talk about Bryan Danielson being the perfect wrestler, Jon Moxley being the craziest maniac one had to overcome. Regal would remind us how Claudio Castagnoli ended his career with a double stomp to the head. For Wheeler Yuta, Regal’s commentary would shift to that of a coach, praising Yuta for applying the things he’d been taught. Regal also only ever had positive things to say about BCC opponents, reiterating that he doesn’t blame them for unsportsmanlike tactics because they make BCC better in the end.
In effect, when he wasn’t touting his faction or flirting with Excalibur, it felt almost as if he was coaching future BCC opponents on-the-air: which is coaching essentially the entire roster. Regal’s influence as a coach/mentor figure in AEW is felt significantly. But perhaps never as viscerally as in the “Scars” promo. In it, he (along with the rest of BCC) is seen personally coaching and ruthlessly sharpening Yuta, as Regal calmly talks about “taking people’s skin off.”
Regal did it all, from memorable in-ring segments to under-the-radar vignettes. Commentary to coaching. Blackpool Combat Club to MJF. William Regal is, quite unfairly, the pinnacle for AEW manager performances.
Marko Stunt and Christian Cage both shined in managerial roles for Jurassic Express, but were never truly inactive wrestlers.
Sonjay Dutt, with his childish antics with The Acclaimed this year and Dax Harwood’s daughter last year, might be an underrated stooge in AEW. Say what you will about his group, but without Sonjay Dutt, that whole operation loses its soul.
Brandon Cutler falls under both categories above, but given his contractual role in The Elite, it’s much clearer that he’s a manager. Also, have you seen the exclusive match footage he puts up for free?