RoH Straight Shootin’ Series with Jim Cornette and Bobby Heenan, Volume 1

This was filmed on 12/3/04

The interview was hosted by Gabe Sapolsky, although Cornette and Heenan really interviewed each other.

It runs for two hours and thirty-five minutes long

 

Cornette talks about how expensive it is in Philadelphia while Heenan tells us he is recovering from throat cancer and might be tough to understand.

 

Interview starts with Cornette asking Heenan about wrestling in Indianapolis and Chicago. Heenan said Indianapolis was not a great area and you either wound up there if you were starting out or ending your career. He started getting into the business at age 17 when he put up the rings. Cornette then asks him about the Bob Luce Wrestling Classics show and horrible their film-to-tape transfers looked while Heenan said he was a nice but bizarre man. Poor Heenan is really hard to understand here and the audio quality is not helping matters.

 

Heenan tells a story about managing the Assassins in Chicago as some huge lady in the crowd would hold a voodoo doll at him and pull his hair. One night, Heenan yelled at her to sit down and she ended up punching him out as Heenan was pouring blood from his nose as Heenan said that was how crazy the Chicago territory was. Cornette then talks about someone stabbing Blackjack Mulligan in Boston then Monsoon tossed the guy out of the ring but had no idea Mulligan was stabbed. It turned out the guy who stabbed him soaked the knife in pig fat and Mulligan ended up getting an infection from that. This leads to the guys talking about crazy fanbases as Cornette lists of the items he got hit with by fans including batteries, shoes, and a full jar of Vaseline. Heenan said one night ( I think he said Cleveland) the fans were throwing so much stuff at them in the ring he took his team (Nick Bockwinkle & Ray Stevens) backstage in the middle of the match and told the promoter to tell the crowd if they throw one more thing into the ring, they are leaving and will lose their money. He did and the crowd behaved the rest of the night.

 

Cornette tells a story about how he was managing the Midnight Express in a match that took place in a small college town in Texas. A group of kids apparently brought in a bucket of tennis balls into the arena and started pelting the Midnights and Cornette, who finally came to the conclusion that he could use his racket to prevent himself. Heenan then onw-ups him by saying how he got shot by an air-rifle in the elbow while standing on the apron in a match from Winnipeg. Heenan says he was pissing himself due to the pain and the doctor asked him if something was wrong as he joked that he always pissed himself this time of day on Thursday.

 

Heenan talks about how he hated the Valiants and tells a story of how he went to visit his mother in the ICU following a heart attack and when he got there, Johnny Valiant was there. Heenan said Valiant was really there because he needed a ride and knew that is where he would be. Heenan said that he ended up telling Dick the Bruiser he had a few guys that would be great for him and that was how he got out of managing the Valiant’s.

 

Heenan then says that the Sheik was the greatest heel in the business as he drew money for 40 years and never cut a promo. He also credits him for inventing hardcore wrestling.

 

Cornette talks about seeing Heenan wrestle in Indianapolis in all sorts of wacky matches, such as a judo jacket and a “ether” match. Cornette then talks about how they used ether on Tommy Rogers in a match but accidentally used the towel that was soaked with it and Rogers ended up sucking wind then dry heaving to the point they brought him outside to the back of the building. They were in Mississippi in the Summer and the building was not air conditioned and as Rogers was lying down, the wrestlers all left the arena and was stepping over him while the fans watched them go by.

 

Heenan puts over Cornette for being the greatest manager and having a “great command of the English language.” He also puts him over for being able to do interviews with David Crockett and for being able to shut him up.

 

Cornette comes back as he still wore his microphone that was clipped onto the tie and that leads to Heenan talk about the time while in the WWF that he went to the bathroom with the microphone still on when Vince and Linda McMahon had guests in the studio. Heenan said he was at the urinal and saying “come on big fella” and “let’s go back into the holster” when someone from the control booth asked him to turn his mic off. Cornette then asks Heenan about the night he swore on WCW when Pillman surprised him. Heenan said his neck was hurt and as a color commentator, he only called what was on the monitor. All of a sudden, Pillman pulled his coat down off his shoulders and that was when Heenan swore. After that happened, Heenan apologized to Bischoff, who had no idea what he just said.

 

Heenan talks about more WCW stupidity, this time it was when the company announced that RAW was taped and Mick Foley was winning the WWF Title. Heenan joked about how no one would want to watch that when they could see the Disco Inferno in WCW. Heenan then said that night, they wheeled over a monitor of that RAW show during the broadcast and during Owen Hart’s match, Heenan accidentally called some of that on the WCW broadcast. Heenan also said that he would get the format for the WCW shows during the second match from some 400lbs diabetic woman that Heenan said was the dumbest person he has ever met. He tells a story of how she was on the floor eating tater tots and ice cream while they were waiting to board a plane in the airport.

 

They now talk about how they barely ever worked in the same territory together and only did very briefly in the WWF. Heenan then jokes around but says that he is a fan of RoH and thinks they will do good.

 

Cornette asks Heenan for some Ray Stevens stories. Heenan said his first wife was a women’s wrestler and joked that she looked like a combination of Lou Thesz and Chief Jay Strongbow. Heenan said he asked Stevens if she was scared of her as Stevens told him she had her on the ground, on her knees twice a week when he would crawl under the bed and she would get down and ask for him to come up and fight like a man. Everyone laughs at that and it was pretty damn funny. Heenan said that was how Stevens was as he didn’t care.

 

Heenan is asked why he left the AWA for the WWF. He put over Verne for being a good payoff guy, second best to Vince Sr and never had a problem with him but Vince was worknig a bunch of times a night as a manager and a wrestler but not getting paid more.  He also saw that the AWA wasnt going anywhere so he called up Vince and got a start date. When he did, Verne called him in the office and Heenan said he had a blade in his pocket. He walked in the office where Verne put his hand on the door and suggested to Greg that they toss him out of the window. Heenan told him to go right ahead as he would make his wife a very rich woman. Verne asked him why he was living as Heenan told him his reasons so Verne offered him $2,500 a week without any more spot shows. However, Heenan knew once he burned his bridge with Vince he’d keep on decreasing his pay until the point it was at the time.

 

They talk about wrestling today as Heenan says the guys at indy shows do not even look like wrestlers as they work in tennis shoes and football jerseys, giving off a vibe of back yard wrestling. It leads to talk about how the world is changing and making it tougher to get “heat” in wrestling while Cornette says despite what Vince Russo said, there needs to be heels and faces as that is reality based, no matter what Russo says. Heenan talks about how Russo has no business in wrestling and should be selling memorabilia as he knows nothing about it at all. Cornette then talks about how unless you have worked in wrestling then you have no idea how it works, using an analogy of how just because he has been driving all of his life doesnt mean he should be working for Ford Motors developing cars for them. Heenan said everyone wants to be something there not.

 

The guys now talk about how guys look the same today and there are no more people who look like Abdullah the Butcher among others. Heenan also said that Andre refused to get photographed with anyone taller than him, which is what Vince Sr. told him to do. Heenan said that Manute Bol would go to the shows at the Cap Centre in Baltimore where Andre refused to be in the same photo with him.

 

Cornette and Heenan talk about working the fans and guys like the Sheik would legitimately scare people. Heenan also said one guy asked him where he was from and when Heenan said Beverly Hills, where is character was from, the guy stated he lived there too and asked what street. Heenan joked with him that he lived behind the “Hollywood” sign and worked in sales, where Heenan proceeded to tell the guy he sold turnbuckles and backdrops.

 

Heenan believes that Shane McMahon could become a great manager as he can take bumps and act cocky.

 

Cornette is now asked questions by Heenan. He said that the worst team he ever managed was the New Midnight Express as no one wanted to be part of that team and the concept was awful. He also talks about the Headhunters in the WWF as they wrestled Davey Boy Smith & Owen Hart, who Cornette managed. He said Davey & Owen wanted nothing to do with them and the match was awful.

 

On the worst things they have ever done in wrestling, Cornette said it was managing Mantaur. Heenan talks about working in San Antonio managing Nick Bockwinkle against a guy who had no clue what to do. Heenan thinks his name was the Brown Owl and Bockwinkle would end up hurting himself whenever he put the guy in a hold and it got so bad that Heenan went backstage during the match and told the promoter, Joe Blanchard, he was not going out as this guy would ruin their careers. Blanchard then went out and apparently saw how bad the guy was and told Heenan to stay where he was. Heenan said his least favorite guys to manage were the Valiants as they kept on doing the same exact things in the ring. He also said they didnt drive so he had to and they were just not fun to be around.

 

Heenan says the dressing room is the funnest part of the business as that was when you told jokes and pulled ribs, adding that a good match was fine but having a bad match was terrible. Cornette says you learn more from a bad match while driving to the next town as if you had a good match, you would only talk about that as guys today are on planes and barely talk to each other at all.

 

They now talk about writers handing in scripts for the talent to perform. Cornette said he couldnt remember a 20 minute perform. Heenan said they tried to write lines for him on “Saturday Night’s Main Event” then told NBC Producer Dick Ebersol he would not be able to remember the lines so Ebersol told him to just be “Bobby Heenan” in his segment. Cornette then talks about how wrestling is more about “reacting” rather than acting as you need to show passion and emotion in your work. Cornette adds if you want someone to tell a certain story or joke they should paraphrase it to fit their character because if one person tells everyone want to say or do the product becomes homogenized.

 

Heenan talks about Wahoo McDaniel and how he would have been a World Champion but had a reputation of walking out of promotions and territories if he felt slighted on pay. Heenan also tells a story of how Wahoo came back in Georgia under a mask called “Mr. Columbus” so he decided to tie the back of his mask to the turnbuckle one night and Wahoo had to rip it off in order to break free. Cornette then said that when Wahoo came back to work as an agent in WCW, he told him and the Midnight express that he got them new contracts. However, Cornette and the Midnight Express were upset as they wanted to leave and work somewhere else. Cornette then tells a story about Wahoo drank a quart of motor oil for $100 when he was younger as Heenan cracks jokes about that. They put over his toughness as Cornette said a fan attacked him once and Wahoo knocked the guy two rows back with a chop.

 

They guys are asked about any “rib” stories. Heenan talks about jamming the airplane door bathrooms with nail files to lock it shut. He said he reached into the door and grabbed a kleenex then popped in the nail file just before Pedro Morales got there. Pedro kept knocking on the and thought someone was there as Heenan does a funny impression of that.

 

Cornette talks about the lack of good “blowoff” matches left in wrestling as Heenan talks about WCW and how they would have multi-man title matches were the champion does not get pinned and how the belt doesnt mean anything when that happens. Heenan then talks about Russo presuamably and how he wanted things to be “real” as he jokes about how you never go to a basketball game and hear someone announced as being from “parts unknown” or use an “Ass bump” in a fight. Cornette then talks about wrestling needing credibility within its own world as they have to make the incredible “credible.”

 

They close by talking about how much they enjoyed this interview and will be doing a Volume 2 soon.

 

Final Thoughts: Fun interview. Some of these stories have been told in other shoots but overall, these two were having a great time. There was no anger here by anyone and you could tell that Cornette really admired Heenan. Cornette also showed off his impressive knowledge of wrestling history as he seemingly knew most of Heenan’s pre-AWA career.

Sadly, Heenan’s aftermath of throat cancer made it difficult for him to talk so that combined with subpar production values made it tough to understand him at times. With that said, I do not felt like it took away too much from the interview.

I recommend this interview as it was loose and easy to follow. Plus, it is two greats at the craft telling insightful and hilarious stories. Both guys had a lot of fun with this and showed tons of mutual respect for each other.

Unfortunately, these interviews are tough to find as after a huge sale a few years ago, RoH does not really sell these on their sites. You can try highspots.com for some of the selections.