Gary Hart is widely considered to be one of the most influential and percipient figures in wrestling history. Some modern fans may not be aware of his major contributions to the genre, including as a booker in territories, such as WCCW.
In fact, Hart is responsible for booking the legendary Freebirds vs Von Erichs rivalry, that essentially defined the promotion. Most associate Gary Hart with his role as a manager. Here is a list of 10 notable grapplers whom had their careers guided by Gary Hart, at one point in time.
Though, short-lived, Gary managed Larry Zbysko, upon coming into Crockett Promotions in the late 80’s. In some ways, Zbysko and Hart, seem like a natural fit. However, Zbysko possessed superior mic skills, that didn’t necessarily call for a mouthpiece, like Gary Hart. Larry Zbysko, would go on to become a fixture for the Monday Nitro broadcast team. He is of course, most notable for his record breaking rivalry with the late Bruno Sammartino.
Kevin Sullivan and Gary Hart, seem like a terrible tandem on paper. An imposing and diabolical duo is precisely what they were in the mid 80’s, as part of an ICW faction, that also included, Mark Lewin and Bruiser Brody. Possibly due to them being almost too alike, Hart and Sullivan would have an on screen falling out, which resulted in Lewin, turning on Hart as well. Looking back, one can’t help but marvel at the concept of Sullivan, Brody, and Hart, all being aligned. Kevin Sullivan would go on to become one of the head bookers for WCW, following in the footsteps of his one time manager, Gary Hart.
One Man Gang
During his well documented tenure in WCCW, Gary Hart managed a slew of wrestlers. Among the daunting villains that Hart represented, one of the most imposing, was One Man Gang. One Man Gang would eventually go on to greater fame in the WWE. He wrestled under the OMG moniker initially, but would go on to portray, Akeem, the African Dream. Some viewed this gimmick as a “rib” directed at the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Whatever the case, One Man Gang likely benefitted a great deal, from being under the tutelage of Gary Hart.
Dusty Rhodes And Dick Murdoch
It may come as a surprise to many, that Gary Hart, once managed, none other than son of a plumber, himself, Dusty Rhodes. Early in his career, Dusty worked as one half of a heel tag team, alongside, Dick Murdoch. The Texas Outlaws, were managed by Hart, but were so good in their roles, that they begin to garner the approval of fans. It was inevitable that the beloved, “American Dream’ would become one of wrestling’s all time great bayfaces. It’s rather interesting to look back, and imagine an alliance between Rhodes and Hart, both of whom were great bookers, in their own right.
Gino is largely considered to be one of the more tragic stories in wrestling history. He possessed all of the intangibles to become a top star, of his era, and would have likely been just as successful in modern times. Gary Hart, managed both Hernandez and Chris Adams, while they were a part of World Class Championship Wrestling.
It’s easy to see just how highly, Hart regarded, Gino, when you see him get visibly emotional, during the WWE produced WCCW documentary. It’s quite jarring to come to terms with just how much unrealized potential, Gino Hernandez, had.
Though it was only briefly, Gary Hart did manage the Hardcore Legend, Terry Funk, during the late 80s in NWA/WCW. Terry had recently began a feud with Ric Flair, which would eventually see Sting, The Great Muta, and The Four Horsemen, all get involved. This was all part of a bigger storyline, that was designed to get Sting over as the main attraction in the company. Though, relations between Funk and Hart, always seemed tentative, at best, their shared contempt for Flair, drove the partnership. This is just one more example of the iconic figures that Gary Hart, was associated with, throughout his illustrious career
The Great Kabuki
Even by today’s standards, The Great Kabuki has to be considered one of the most far out characters in wrestling history. With his signature green hand paint, and accompanying mist, Kabuki was a shocking and unsettling site. Gary Hart managed Kabuki in WCCW, and the two have become inextricably linked, ever since.
One of the most anticipated clashes in company history was during the David Von Erich Memorial Show, which would see The Great Kabuki face off against the equally mystifying, Kamala. The combination of Hart and Kabuki, is one that has to be seen, to be fully appreciated.
Abdullah The Butcher
Because of his penchant for being paired with wild and exotic personalities, Gary Hart was a natural fit, as the manager of Abdullah The Butcher. Abdullah is a tale of two men, as outside the ring, he was known as lovable and jovial, but inside the ring, he was a bloodthirsty savage. While in WCCW, Gary Hart would accompany Abdullah for his violent series of matches with Bruiser Brody. The backstory was intriguing, as Hart had also, briefly managed Brody, prior to managing, Abdullah. To this day, “Abby,” as he is affectionately referred to by fellow wrestlers, is still considered one of the most dangerous and unhinged competitors ever.
The Great Muta
When it’s all said and done, Gary Hart may be most synonomous with The Great Muta. Though Hart spent more time managing other wrestlers, his time with Muta was arguably the most well documented. The Great Muta is considered to be one of the greatest and most fascinating Japanese wrestlers, of all time. He blended incredible athleticism and an undeniable mystique, that captured the imagination of fans, around the globe. Hart was fond of recounting a story, in which Muta potentially saved many lives, during the inaugural Halloween Havoc in 1989.
During an electrified cage match, there were some decorative items, attached to the cage, that had caught fire. Springing into action, Muta used his signature green mist, to extinguish the flames, before they were able to spread. Hart would beam with pride, as he rehashed Muta’s quick thinking, when every moment, counted. It’s clear that The Great Muta, held a special place in Gary’s heart.
WWE’s Golden Era featured plenty of amazing managers who would fit right in with today’s New Era. These 1980s icons would be perfect for WWE in 2021!
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