Whether it be as a referee, a manager or the general manager with a penchant for tag-team matches (playa), Teddy Long has virtually done it all in professional wrestling. And now, you can add Hall of Famer to his list of accomplishments.
Starting out as a member of the ring crew in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985, Long learnt the ropes, both literally and figuratively, before eventually moving from assembling and de-assembling the ring and into the ring as a referee, stepping in last minute at the Chi-Town Rumble in 1989. Not long after, referee Long became a character, turning heel after favouring the bad guys, including helping Mike Rotunda and Steve Williams. Inevitably, this led to him being removed from refereeing duties and Long would eventually end up as a manager. Over the years, in both JCP and WCW, Long would go on to manage, amongst others, Doom, Johnny B. Badd, 2 Cold Scorpio, The Skyscrapers and Bobby Eaton.
In 1998, the referee jersey came calling again when Long debuted for the WWF, a role he would stay in for the next four years. He soon became a manager again, most usually in a heel role, managing names such as D’Lo Brown, Mark Henry, Rodney Mack and Jazz. More often than not, Long’s charges resided in the midcard, with championship opportunities – never mind successes – coming few and far between.
A drastic change of pace came in mid-2004 when Long was named the General Manager of SmackDown, a position he would he ultimately become most-known for. He was credited with the New Talent Initiative and New Superstar Initiative angles seen on SmackDown in 2005 and ECW in 2008, which saw the likes of Sheamus, Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne make their debuts. In 2007 Long was given a new storyline, one which saw he and Kristal Marshall become an on-screen couple. This led to a wedding segment in July, which ended with Long “suffering a heart attack”, however the angle never reached a conclusion due to Marshall leaving the company. Long was kept off TV for months after, eventually returning in November as the Assistant General Manager, leading to a power struggle between him and Vickie Guerrero over the running of SmackDown. This ended with Long quitting his on-screen role, and moving to the ECW brand as General Manager. He stayed there for 10 months, before returning to SmackDown as the General Manager again. Among many storylines given to Long, he went heel against the brand’s top star The Undertaker, returned to the babyface side against Drew McIntyre, and a lengthy rivalry with John Laurinaitis.
Long would make his last TV appearance in 2013, and was released from his contract nearly a year later. He has made sporadic appearances since; in October 2014 for the SmackDown 15th Anniversary show, once again opposing Laurinaitis, and in June 2016 on an episode of Raw, where he lobbied for another opportunity to be the General Manager of SmackDown.
Whether it be working on the ring crew, donning the stripes as a referee, or making the matches as General Manager, Teddy Long has gained the respect of fans and wrestlers the world over. With JBL and one of his former charges Ron Simmons inducting him, Long will now take his place in the pantheon of wrestling’s greatest managers, and a WWE Hall of Famer.