He was one of the managers you jeered during the early 90s as he managed a series of superstars, including many that tried to take on The Undertaker. Today we ask ‘Whatever Happened to‘ Dr. Harvey Wippleman.
While the 80s was somewhat of a golden era for wrestling managers, their significance began to wane as wrestling entered into the 90s. the likes of Bobby Heenan hung up his, well, whatever the utensil is of a guy that manages wrestlers and lesser, more comedic based, managers came onto the scene.
In fact, one came on to the scene that will be best remembered by many for the way that WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel announced him, the emphasis on questioning the ‘man’ part of his surname infuriated Wippleman but in no small part helped ingratiate him with the fanbase.
Bruno Lauer was born in Pennsylvania on 27 October 1965. At the age of 14, he got his break in the business through free admission to shows if he helped take the ring down at the end of the show. He would later tour with the company and adopted the in-ring name, the less than flattering, Lennerd Spazzinsky.
By the mid-80s, he found himself in one of the hottest territories: Memphis. Here he performed under the guise of ‘Downtown Bruno’ and would be one of the most important heel managers at the time.
He would then tour the Southern promotions for much of the remainder of that decade. It was, in fact, in Continental Wrestling Fedaration that he would first team with Sid Eudy, best known to wrestling fans as Sycho Sid, who at that point was wrestling as Lord Humongous.
Fast forward a couple of years and in 1991 Eudy helped bring Lauer to the World Wrestling Federation. He first charge there was Big Bully Busick but he disappeared quickly. Thanks to Slick turning face, Wippleman began managing The Warlord.
But it was the management of Eudy that gave him his biggest early break. When Sid turned heel, he started working a program with Hulk Hogan which led into WrestleMania VIII and a big pay day for both.
However, Sid left soon after and Wippleman was thrust into managing Kamala, who was in a programme with The Undertaker. For a number of years, the legendary Taker would be at the forefront of Wippleman, and his charges’ attention.
After Kamala was bested by The Undertaker at Survivor Series 1992, Wippleman brought in a ew wrestler to feud with him: the near eight-foot-tall Giant Gonzales. It was during this time that we had arguably the worst WrestleMania bout of all time, the pair’s class at the ninth instalment of the event. During this time, he would also offer his managerial service to Mr Hughes, briefly, and to Adam Bomb from 1993 until his face turn in 1994.
Tragedy was to strike in 1994, hitting both the Lauer family and that of WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon. On 4 July 1994, Lauer was driving with WWF referee Joey Marella, who was driving. Tragically, Marella fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the car. Fortunately for Lauer, he was wearing a seatbelt. Sadly, Marella was not and died as a result.
In the same year, Wippleman also participated in a memorable programme with Finkel, which started at WrestleMania X and culminated in a tuxedo match at an early 1995 edition of Monday Night raw. Five-star classics they were not but entertaining exchanges nonetheless.
The in-ring work was, somewhat mercifully, fleeting and he soon returned to management duties and even, for the first time, had some title success when Berth Faye, his on-screen girlfriend, defeated Alundra Blayze at SummerSlam 1995 to win the women’s title. Upon dropping the gold, both were removed from TV – with Faye leaving the company and Wippleman focussing on being a road agent and an occasional referee.
Some six or so months later, Wippleman began making appearances on WWF TV criticising the referees. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon rewarded him by making him an official referee. One of the most memorable moments during this time was when he acted as a ‘scab’ during the WWF referee strike in September 1999, including at the Unforgiven event.
The following year Wippleman would once again have success in the WWF’s women’s division but this time around it involved winning the title himself, in drag as “Hervina” in a “Lumberjill snow bunny” match. Thus becoming the first man to hold the gold but it was short lived, losing it the very next night. After words, he would resume a more backstage role with only the occasional, fleeting, appearance on-screen.
Most of his future appearances were comedic or for nostalgic reasons – such as managing Kamala during the gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-seven or being in the corner of the likes of the Brooklyn Brawler during Raw ‘Old School’.
His autobiography ‘Wrestling with the Truth’ was released in 2008. To this day, Wippleman works in a backstage role with the company. He occasionally makes on-screen appearances in the WWE and also appears from time to time as a manager in the Memphis area.
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to?’ pieces here.