Last week on the 11th anniversary of the introduction of the general manager post to WWE programming, I ranked the RAW general managers, and most of you Cagesiders seem to agree that Eric Bischoff, the first RAW GM, was the best (or at least your favorite). The next day (or later that week if you count TV), SmackDown got a general manager of their own, and people weren't all that happy with Vince's choice to run the blue show either: Stephanie McMahon, four months removed from being fired following losing a triple threat match on RAW for the then-WWF Undisputed Championship.
Stephanie would be the first of seven people to be pegged the general manager of SmackDown, giving the post a sense of stability in a chaotic WWE Universe. So, just as I did with their RAW counterparts, here's a ranking of the SmackDown Seven...general managers.
- Teddy Long (GM from 7/29/04-9/21/07, 4/10/09-4/1/12, 4/26/13-7/12/13). When you have not one, but two multi-year stints as general manager, you get #1 by default. He was an odd choice at first to replace Kurt Angle, but it turned out it was more or less the role he was born to play, even if he does have a penchant for making tag team matches, or if he was really pissed off at someone, making them go one-on-one with the Undertaker. His most recent brief three month stint as general manager was due to the actual GM, Booker T, suffering a torn triceps muscle. It took a heart attack to end his first run, a kick to Zack Ryder's groin by Eve Torres to end the second, and a stunning announcement by Vince McMahon to end the third. Seriously, the man should have the job forever...or at least as long as he wants it. #BringBackTeddyLongPlaya
- Stephanie McMahon (GM from 7/18/02-10/19/03). At least Teddy Long isn't the only one to have his GM post taken from him by Vince McMahon. VKM's daughter suffered the same fate fourteen months after he hired "daddy's little girl". Fans shit-canned the decision to make Steph the Smackdown boss, but over time, fans actually warmed up to her (well, about as much as two divorcees agreeing to remain friends would, I suppose) if for no reason other than Stephanie wasn't Eric Bischoff. Or Vince McMahon for that matter. And during Stephanie's time as GM, her roster was much, much better than Eric's on RAW (this is fact, don't attempt to dispute it). And it helps that Paul Heyman writes the shows. Just saying. Perhaps more ironic than the billion dollar princess' run ending at the hands of her father was that days later, it would be Daddy Dearest walking her down the aisle as Stephanie and Triple H got married. No. Not awkward at all.
- Paul Heyman (GM from 10/23/03-3/22/04). One of the biggest reasons why Smackdown was seen as the superior show in the early days of the brand extension was the man formerly known as Paul E. Dangerously, the manager with the bulky cell phone and the man who fronted the original ECW for most of its existence. Just like Eric Bischoff on RAW, Heyman was a natural as the heel authority figure because he had experience as a heel authority figure during his times as a manager. Heyman's run saw the rise of both the late Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit to championship glory (though Benoit had to leave to get his), as well as the beginning of John Cena's rise to becoming the face of the WWE. Plus, no one could yell one name in such a convincing and guttural manner as Heyman would for the WWE Champion at the time, Brock Lesnar. But when Heyman's name got pulled out of the tumbler at the 2004 Draft Lottery to be transferred to RAW, he decided quitting was a better option than working for Eric Bischoff.
- Vickie Guerrero (GM from 9/28/07-4/6/09, 7/19/13-present). Vickie Guerrero is the Wade Phillips of the NFL. She's just successful enough to keep getting work (kayfabe speaking), yet fails so often. Counting her three runs on RAW, Vickie Guerrero is on her fifth run as a WWE general manager. If you wonder why people say the heel authority figure trope has jumped the shark, this is why. But she wasn't always getting nuclear X-Pac level heat. She got her first gig after Teddy Long damn near kicked the bucket on his wedding night (wresling weddings, I tell you). Almost immediately, fans smelled a rat, and that rat came to fruition during the holiday season in 2007 when Edge backdoored (figuratively...and perhaps literally) his way to the world heavyweight championship when he began a tryst with the "grenade". Vickie herself suffered the wrestling wedding curse when her would-be husband got busted for cheating with Alicia Fox (yes, THAT Alicia Fox). The two eventually worked it out and for a brief period of time, ran both RAW and Smackdown before deciding to trade in her Smackdown gig for her RAW one. Vickie quit after being humiliated in a hogpen match (and by Edge the next night-in reality, she left to spend more time with her family. It lasted all of six months.).
- Kurt Angle (GM from 3/25/04-7/22/04). Until the computer and AJ Lee came along, Kurt Angle may have been the oddest choice for general manager ever. In reality, it kept Angle on television rather than have him miss time following Wrestlemania XX after his neck problems began to resurface. He had a bit of a Lex Luthor quality to him during his brief run, but his brief run also gave us Kurt in a wheelchair, John Cena stripped of the United States Championship, Luther Reigns, and him getting chokeslammed off a ledge to the worst exhibition of a prone body perhaps in wrestling history (or at least recent memory). And Vince McMahon, miracle healer.
- Booker T (GM from 8/3/12-7/19/13). This was an even odder choice for GM, but it was basically done to get Booker away from the announce table. Because Booker doing color commentary...yeah. He was GM for nearly an entire year (his last three months he wasn't even around for due to triceps surgery), yet I can't remember one significant moment from it. That's pretty sad.
- John Laurainitis (GM from 4/2/12-6/17/12). The same can be said for the uncle of an NFL linebacker and brother of a Road Warrior. But the man behind "People Power" did his best stuff on Monday nights.