When many old-school wrestling fans look back on classic WWE managers, there were some huge names on the roster. Names like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Captain Lou Albano and Classy Freddie Blassie were all favorites for many fans. However, one name that is not talked about enough is The Grand Wizard.

Unlike many other managers, The Grand Wizard was never a professional wrestler himself before getting into the business. Despite this, he developed a perfect character as a handler and set the model for the many weasel handlers who followed in his legendary footsteps.


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Who is Grand Wizard in pro wrestling?

The story of The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart is well known, as he was in the music industry before he caught the eye of Jerry “The King” Lawler and was drawn into professional wrestling in as manager. However, two decades before that, Ernie Roth debuted a similar method. He was a radio disc jockey who caught the eye of promoter Jim Barnett, who convinced him to try his hand at professional wrestling. Much like Jimmy Hart years later, Roth was undersized at just 5-foot-7 and 130 pounds. However, Barnett came up with the idea of ​​making Roth a manager instead of a wrestler. Eventually, he took the name Abdullah Farouk and started directing The Sheik. The duo became an instant hit.

Abdullah Farouk’s wrestling persona led to several copycat managers, with General Skandor Akbar becoming the best of the lot. Both managers shared the trait of wealthy characters who dealt with monsters and tried to keep them under control, though both showed joy in letting their charges destroy anyone who stood in their way. Both men also had fans who hated them for what they perceived to be an anti-American character, even though Farouk was born in Florida and Akbar in Texas. However, while Akbar had a legion of monsters, Farouk had The Sheik, and that’s all he needed. It was during this time that Farouk also helped pioneer the idea of ​​a manager interfering in his wrestler’s matches. It was rare then, but it’s commonplace now.

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The Great Magician appears in WWE

Ernie Roth changed things when he came to WWE. It was here that he took on the name The Grand Wizard, which he did as a form of irony. Roth is Jewish and he took the title of Grand Wizard as a slam in the Ku Klux Klan, where he was a crazy manager who spoke loudly but couldn’t sustain it without help. It also introduced something else WWE fans had never seen before. He wore a shiny turban with sequins and feathers, wraparound sunglasses and sequined jackets. Years later, men like Bobby Heenan would show up as managers, but it was The Grand Wizard who pioneered it. When he cut his promos, it shocked the public and he made sure to go overboard at every opportunity he had, something men like captain Lou Albano would popularize a decade later.

The Grand Wizard ran big stars in the business. What made him even more hated was that no one had ever gotten hold of him. When evil Captain Lou would step in and cheat to help his wrestlers, he would get beaten up by the babyfaces and the fans loved it. Years later, Bobby Heenan made a career out of being humiliated by Hulk Hogan and other big stars. However, The Grand Wizard never understood what was happening to him, hiding behind his wrestlers and leaving them to cash the checks his mouth offered. He was a heat magnet, and there was hardly anyone working as a manager at the time who could draw the ire of fans like this man.

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The Great Magician’s Great Success in WWE

It almost seems unfair that no one talks about The Grand Wizard in pro wrestling anymore. He revolutionized the idea of ​​managers interfering in games. He pioneered the over-the-top showboat managers that fans wanted to see get their punishment, but still somehow got away with it. His promotions were second to none and he could sell a match and a feud as well as anyone, including Paul Heyman. The Grand Wizard has also had incredible success when it comes to his client’s title aspirations.

He made his WWE debut as a tag team manager. He led the incredibly successful tandem of Mr. Fuji and Professor Toru Tanaka to two different reigns as WWWF Tag Team Champions, first beating beloved chef Jay Strongbow and Sonny King, then beating the popular Haystacks. Calhoun and Tony Garea. It’s easy to believe that Mr. Fuji learned a lot from The Grand Wizard for his future career as a manager of tag team champions. The Grand Wizard then enjoyed even greater success when he managed Stan Stasiak to the WWWF World Championship against longtime champion Pedro Morales in 1973. It made him one of the most hated men in the entire world. world of professional wrestling.

He eclipsed that infamy four years later when he did the unthinkable. He took over as manager from superstar Billy Graham, and on April 30, 1977, he steered Graham to a win over Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Championship. The Grand Wizard had just led his second wrestler to a world title, and in this case, he ended Sammartino’s 1,237-day title reign — the last Bruno will ever hold. The last big moment of his career came when The Grand Wizard started managing Pat Patterson, and he became the first WWWF Intercontinental Champion. When WWWF wanted Patterson to be the fan-favorite, they just had to get him out of The Grand Wizard, and he was an instant babyface – though it ended with Wizard leading Ken Patera to a victory over Patterson for the title.

During his WWE career as a nanny, The Grand Wizard also handled names like Sgt. Slaughter, Killer Kowalski, “Crazy” Luke Graham, “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd and “Cowboy” Bob Orton. Unfortunately, The Grand Wizard didn’t live much longer after his run with Ken Patera. He died of a heart attack in 1983 at age 57. WWE honored him in 1995 when he was a third class member of the WWE Hall of Fame, inducted by his personal friend and former client, Sgt. Slaughter.