Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling

Michael Steven Manna (October 9, 1971) is an American professional wrestler, better known by the ring name Stevie Richards. Also known by his ring names, Steven Richards and Dr. Stevie, Manna previously worked for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and, briefly, World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He held the WWE Hardcore Championship 22 times and was a two-time ECW World Tag Team Champion.

Professional wrestling career

Stevie Richards was trained at Iron Mike Sharpe's wrestling school in Brick Township, New Jersey after being discovered by Dan Haney of the World Wide Wrestling Alliance based out of Colmar/Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

Extreme Championship Wrestling

On February 25, 1992, Richards participated in the first ever Eastern Championship Wrestling (Extreme eventually replaced the Eastern) match, in a 20-minute time limit draw with Jimmy Jannetty. When it was announced that Scott Levy, then known by relatively lightweight gimmicks (i.e., Scotty 'the Body' Anthony, Scotty Flamingo, and Johnny Polo), was coming to ECW, Richards began adopting and mocking those gimmicks. One of the first things Levy did in ECW in his new gimmick as Raven was thrash "Stevie Flamingo" soundly. From that point on, Richards acted as a flunky for Raven in ECW, calling him "Boss". While teaming with Raven, Richards won the ECW World Tag Team Championship on two occasions. The team lost a dog collar match against The Pitbulls.

Richards was also part of the Blue World Order (bWo), a parody of the New World Order. Richards, with the Blue World Order (bWo), was one of the first ECW performers to perform on World Wrestling Federation (WWF) programming during a cross-promotional appearance for Barely Legal in 1997. He would defeat Little Guido in a one-on-one match from the Manhattan Center.

The highlight of his ECW career was perhaps participating in the main event of the first ECW pay-per-view, Barely Legal. He wrestled Terry Funk and The Sandman in a Three Way Dance to determine the number one contender to the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Richards lost. Richards suffered a neck injury in a Fatal Four-Way match against Terry Funk, Sandman and Raven, which would require numerous surgeries to fix.

Richards would also do a telephone line for ECW under the name, Lloyd Van Buren with former Ring of Honor booker Gabe Sapolsky. However, he did not wrestle under that name.

World Championship Wrestling

In May 1997, Richards suffered a neck injury so severe that he announced his retirement, before recovering and signing with WCW. He wrestled briefly as a member of Raven's Flock but failed his physical exams and left WCW in December of the same year. Richards commented on The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD that Raven had told him that he was only there to be his "bitch lackey", and that he would get him fired if he pushed for more of a larger role, knowing both would suffer for demanding more than what was above their current status.

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment

Imitations; Right to Censor (1999–2001)

In 1999, Richards would sign with the WWF in a full-time capacity. He made his WWF debut on the August 15, 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat, helping out his old tag team partner, The Blue Meanie. The two briefly became a tag team before Richards took on the gimmick of an impersonator. Mocking various then-current characters, he appeared as an Acolyte, a Dudley Boy, and a member of the Brood until briefly settling on Mick Foley's old Dude Love persona. Once he was done with the Dude Love character, Richards would go on to portray Test, Chyna, and Chris Jericho before suffering an ankle injury. He returned to a stint on WWF's tertiary shows (Jakked and Metal), in which he largely found himself on the losing end of several matches.

Richards returned to the main roster later that year with an entirely new look and gimmick, cutting his hair short and wearing a suit and tie, and cutting promos condemning the risque content of WWF's programming and preaching conservative values (mocking the WWF's then-problems with the Parents Television Council organization). He became a full-fledged heel forming a stable known as the Right to Censor, changing his ring name to Steven Richards and becoming a manager and partner for his recruits, including The Godfather (renamed the Goodfather), Bull Buchanan, Ivory, and Val Venis. When Chyna was featured in Playboy magazine, Richards demanded a match between Chyna's associate Eddie Guerrero and Val Venis. After Chyna had pantsed Richards leaving him in his white socks and blue briefs, costing Venis the match, Richards and his stable feuded against her.

Stevie Night Heat (2002–2004)

After the Right to Censor stable broke up, Richards found himself off programming for a short time. Not long afterward, he cut a promo condemning The Undertaker for brutally attacking the Right to Censor, causing the group to disband. When Undertaker confronted Richards, KroniK attacked him. He quickly confirmed his alliance with the WCW tag team, thus becoming a de facto member of The Alliance and managed them briefly before they were quickly released. Richards remained on the brand's "B" shows until Team Alliance lost at Survivor Series in 2001. Richards was fired along with the rest of the alliance roster by Vince McMahon until Ric Flair was able to save his job and get him drafted over to the Raw brand. There, Steven Richards began using the gimmick of a psychotic jobber and became a twenty-two-time Hardcore Champion trading it several times with Bubba Ray Dudley, Booker T, Crash Holly, Shawn Stasiak, Justin Credible, Bradshaw, Terri, and Tommy Dreamer. Richards would team with Justin Credible to lose to The Big Show in a 2 On 1 Handicap Match on the Heat before Backlash in 2002.

Richards eventually formed an alliance with Victoria in late 2002 as a psychotic couple helping each other win their matches. Richards also helped Victoria retain her WWE Women's Championship. It was also around this time that Richards would first proclaim himself the General Manager of Heat. During a match on Heat with Heidenreich in November 2003, Richards almost broke his neck when Heidenreich botched an Electric chair maneuver, but Richards was not seriously injured and continued to compete on Heat and occasionally on Raw in late 2003-early 2004. As Victoria started to make her latest face turn, the duo quietly separated. In August 2004, Richards began dressing in drag as "The Mystery Woman" and helping Victoria win matches. He was finally unmasked at Unforgiven when saving Victoria from Tyson Tomko and then heel Trish Stratus, but ended up being squashed in an impromptu match to Tomko. Richards would then go on a long losing streak on Heat in late 2004 into early 2005.

Reunion of the bWo (2005–2006)

Richards's role as a jobber has been at times physically tasking and he was legitimately injured during the Raw debut match of Chris Masters in February 2005, after a botched Polish hammer. After returning from injury, Richards faced Masters in a rematch but lost to Masters for a second time.

Richards made an appearance at the ECW reunion event ECW One Night Stand in 2005, reuniting with his bWo comrades and proclaiming "We have only three words for you. We're – taking – over!" Richards then went on to drop The Sandman with a Stevie Kick. Richards was traded to SmackDown! on June 30, 2005 and reprized the bWo group with Nova and The Blue Meanie. At the Great American Bash, the bWo lost to The Mexicools (Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, and Super Crazy) in a six-man tag team match. Richards went on to become the main eventer of WWE Velocity (much like his time on Heat) and began slowly dropping the bWo gimmick as he jobbed to the likes of Hardcore Holly, Vito, and Booker T. After a while, Richards would not be used on SmackDown! or even Velocity as he seemingly disappeared for over half a year. Richards made his return to the ring during an 18-Man pre-show Battle Royal before WrestleMania 22.

ECW (2006–2008)

Shortly after the introduction of the ECW brand in 2006, Richards left the SmackDown! brand to join the ECW brand, starting with the WWE versus ECW Head to Head show on June 7, 2006. Richards went on to appear on ECW's weekly show under his old ring name of Stevie Richards. Richards soon returned to his heel persona, selling out the other ECW Originals and siding with the newer stars. He picked up his first win on ECW's weekly show on September 5, 2006, against Balls Mahoney, after interference from Kevin Thorn, who was feuding with Mahoney at the time.

Richards was part of the new ECW brand's first pay-per-view, December to Dismember, defeating Rene Dupree in a pre-show dark match. Other than this contest Richards did not appear on ECW between September 2006 (when he joined up with the first version of ECW's New Breed - Test, Mike Knox and Hardcore Holly) and February 2007 (when he lost to CM Punk for a second time). Richards appeared as a Lumberjack in the pre-WrestleMania 23 Lumberjack Tag Team match. He would then go on to lose to CM Punk a further three times. In mid-2007, Richards turned face again due to fan reaction, and teamed with Tommy Dreamer against the New Breed on house shows, replacing The Sandman (who was drafted to Raw) in the ECW Originals.

Return to SmackDown! and departure (2008)

Richards returned to SmackDown in November 2007. He only competed in two matches before being released.

On July 24, Richards defeated Thorn in an upset after reversing a Crucifix powerbomb into a backslide pin. This was Richards' first victory on WWE television since September 2006. A week later a re-match took place throughout which Richards was dominated, however he defeated Thorn once again via roll-up. On August 7, he was ambushed by Thorn while giving an interview backstage. He would once again defeat Thorn on August 14 by disqualification after the referee declared a disqualification when Thorn continued to massively "destroy" Richards after Thorn had already won. He would then get revenge by ambushing Thorn while giving an interview the next week. Their feud would continue with Richards teaming up with Dreamer and CM Punk on different occasions against Thorn and Elijah Burke with Richards losing and winning a match. Richards was eliminated from the Elimination Chase for the ECW Championship on the September 18 edition of ECW. He was then absent from WWE programming due to having throat surgery.

Almost five months later, Richards made his return on the February 12, 2008 edition of ECW, defeating a jobber with his signature Stevie-T. He would then go on to beat another jobber, followed by a victory over Mike Knox (this was Richards last victory on WWE Television). In the following months Richards would compete in the pre-WrestleMania 24-Man Battle Royal, lose to Shelton Benjamin and The Great Khali, team with Kelly Kelly to lose to Mike Knox and Layla, lose to Mike Knox in a singles match and appeared as one of the fourteen ECW Superstars who faced Triple H and Mr. Kennedy in a 14 On 2 Handicap Match on Raw. Richards would commentate on the Extreme Rules match between Mike Knox and Tommy Dreamer on the 100th episode of ECW. He would remain with ECW in the June 2008 Draft, however would wrestle his last three matches with the company on SmackDown!. He lost to Vladimir Kozlov twice in July 2008. He wrestled what turned out to be his last match in the company, as he lost to The Brian Kendrick and was released from his WWE contract shortly thereafter on August 15, 2008.

Independent circuit

Before returning to the independent circuit, Richards suffered a collapsed lung that resulted when doctors were trying to diagnose a lung infection, causing him to have a chest tube inserted for several days. After recovering, Richards returned to wrestling for the NWA No Limits territory on January 9, 2009.

He also periodically wrestles for Maryland Championship Wrestling. Richards won the Force One Championship Wrestling Heavyweight championship on February 28, 2009 in Barnegat, NJ, defeating Danny Doring.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2009–2011)

On the February 12, 2009 edition of TNA Impact!, Manna made his Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) debut as Abyss's therapist, Dr. Stevie. For two months as Dr. Stevie, Manna's face did not appear on television, as the camera was always positioned behind him during his sessions with Abyss and eventually Daffney. His identity became officially known to the world when he interfered in Abyss's match against Matt Morgan at Lockdown in order to prevent him from using a chair, causing him to lose the match as a result. Stevie's role as a heel was solidified in the following month, when his sessions with Abyss started turning more and more abusive. At Sacrifice Abyss turned on Stevie and chokeslammed him onto a pile of thumbtacks, after he threatened Lauren Brooke, Abyss' girlfriend. On the May 28 edition of Impact! Raven made his return to TNA by attacking Abyss and aligning himself with Stevie and Daffney.

Stevie lost to his former patient, Abyss, at the 2009 Victory Road pay-per-view. Stevie would then claim his first victory in TNA on July 19 by defeating Cody Deaner with his new finishing move General Anesthesia in a match broadcast on TNA Xplosion and the TNA website. On the July 30 edition of Impact! Stevie announced that he was not done with Abyss and placed a $50,000 bounty on his head. Stevie would claim his second TNA victory on September 1 by defeating Jay Lethal via submission in another web match. After Lethal Consequences (Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed) and Jethro Holliday had tried and failed to collect the bounty on Abyss' head, Kevin Nash claimed the bounty at No Surrender by pinning Abyss in a Legends Championship match, even though the bounty was supposed to be paid for ending his career. Afterwards, Stevie tried to explain this, only to receive a Jackknife Powerbomb from Nash. On the following edition of Impact! Stevie managed to steal the money back after using a taser on Nash, but the short feud came to an end a week later, when Nash defeated Stevie in a Non-title match. On the October 8 edition of Impact!, Mick Foley announced that Stevie would serve as the special guest referee in the Monster's Ball match between Foley and Abyss at Bound for Glory. This match ended when Abyss pushed the interfering Daffney off the top rope through a barbed-wire board (giving her a legit concussion), chokeslammed the enraged Dr. Stevie onto a pile of thumbtacks and slammed Foley onto the barbed wire board, after which he covered Foley, pulled Dr. Stevie (still kayfabe knocked out) over, and used his hand to count the pinfall.

Two weeks later Stevie assaulted Abyss, after losing a match against him, only to have Foley turn on him and save Abyss. The following week, Foley explained that he had played Dr. Stevie all along and had challenged Abyss to a match at Bound for Glory in order to test how tough he really was. Foley then booked Stevie in a match for the following week, where if Abyss was able to pin Stevie, he would have to leave TNA for good. On the November 12 edition of Impact! Stevie defeated Abyss to save his TNA career, when during the match the lights suddenly went out and when they came back on Abyss had been laid out. After the match Foley, who had been doing commentary during the match, entered the ring and attacked Stevie, when the lights went out for the second time. In the darkness someone threw a fireball on Foley's face and when the lights came back on it was revealed that the returning Raven had been the one, who had interfered in the match. Afterwards Stevie, Raven and Daffney re-formed their alliance and feuded with the duo of Abyss and Foley. During the feud TNA shot an angle, in which Stevie set Abyss on fire, that Spike wouldn't let them air on the channel and therefore had to be aired on the company's website. At Final Resolution Abyss and Foley defeated Stevie and Raven in a "Foley's Funhouse" tag team match to end the feud.

In 2010, Stevie had competed in only one match in TNA, a number one contender's tag team match, where he and Raven were squashed by the team of Matt Morgan and Hernandez, and only two other appearances in which he has tried to calm down an out-of-control Daffney. After months of being off television, Richards, now billed simply as Stevie Richards, returned on the June 24 edition of Impact!, appearing in the Impact! Zone crowd beside Raven and Tommy Dreamer. The following week the three were joined by Rhino. On the July 15 edition of Impact! Richards, Raven, Dreamer, Rhino, Brother Devon, Pat Kenney and Al Snow, led by Mick Foley, aligned themselves with the TNA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam by attacking Abyss and the rest of the TNA locker room, thus turning face. The following week, TNA president Dixie Carter agreed to give the ECW alumni their own reunion pay–per–view event, Hardcore Justice: The Last Stand, as a celebration of hardcore wrestling and a final farewell to the company. At the event Richards defeated P.J. Polaco. On the following edition of Impact!, the ECW alumni, known collectively as Extreme, Version 2.0 (EV 2.0), were assaulted by A.J. Styles, Kazarian, Robert Roode, James Storm, Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan of Ric Flair's Fortune stable, who thought they didn't deserve to be in TNA. During the assault Abyss came out, fought Rob Van Dam backstage and caused him storyline injuries, which forced him to vacate the TNA World Heavyweight Championship and led to EV 2.0 looking for revenge. On the August 26 edition of Impact! Richards volunteered to take out Abyss, but ended up beaten himself, when he attacked his former patient backstage. The following week on Impact!, Richards defeated Abyss in a singles match. After the match, Abyss was about to attack Richards with a board filled with nails, but was saved by EV 2.0's newest member Brian Kendrick. In late August Richards began writing a weekly health and fitness column for TNA's website. At Bound for Glory Richards, Dreamer, Raven, Rhino and Sabu defeated Fourtune members Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode and Storm in a Lethal Lockdown match. At Turning Point EV 2.0 faced Fortune in a ten-man tag team match, where each member of EV 2.0 put their TNA careers on the line. In the end, EV 2.0 lost the match and Sabu was released from TNA. After the match Richards challenged Fortune member and reigning TNA Television Champion A.J. Styles to a match on the following edition of Impact!. On the November 11 edition of Impact! Richards failed in his attempt to bring the Television Championship to EV 2.0 and was afterwards taken out of the ring in a neck brace, after suffering a storyline injury. On January 11, 2011, Manna announced that he had quit TNA Wrestling.

Garden State Wrestling (2010)

On August 28, 2010, Stevie Richards competed at Garden State Wrestling's "Blackjack Brawl" event in Newton, NJ, facing "Sweet" Bobby G in a match for the final spot in that night's main event, a "BlackJack Brawl" for the promotion's top title, the Garden State Championship. Richards was unable to defeat "Sweet" Bobby G, who went on to win the title in the main event.

Personal life

Manna joined the Stratford, Connecticut campus of Connecticut School of Broadcasting as an instructor. In September 2008 Manna was hired as Chief Technology Evangelist for PhoneFusion to help with upgrades and updates with mobile/cell phones, a trademark which was quite useful backstage in his wrestling days.

Wrestling facts

Championships and accomplishments

External links