Since there were so many good memories after reading Bayless’ transcript of his shoot 12 years ago I figured I’d pop up his full HoF speech. His voice is affected by his cancer but he’s still the Brain. Have a wonderful weekend BoD’ers!
was filmed at some point in 2002. It lasts about an hour and forty-five minutes
he got his start in wrestling by setting up the rings and carrying the jackets
in Indianapolis. When he saw matches as a kid, he was amazed by the control the
wrestlers had over the crowd. He also jokes how he wanted to be a wrestler just so
he could mess with people.
off as a manager and at the time, he only weighed 180lbs. He said the key to
manage is to act like a wrestler and for a wrestler, it is to work like a
manager. He said that is a lost art today and that everyone wants T & A
instead of a manager.
said that he went from manager to wrestler as he wanted to make more money. He
lists all the places that he worked as a manager and said that Paul Boesch in Houston gave the best
payouts. He calls him a good man. When asked about working for Ole Anderson in Georgia, he
said that he was horrible and had no respect for human beings.
traveled with Blackjack Lanza, Pepper Gomez, Wilbur Snyder, and Baron Von
Raschke. He adds that he had fun but made no money. Heenan then adds that he
should have spoken up more about getting paid more.
who taught him to wrestle, Heenan said that Ray Stevens taught him a lot but
you mostly learn by watching. He then said how you would get better if you
wanted to be there. From that, he said that guys can work but not put asses in
seats while Hogan can put asses in seats and not a great worker. Heenan then
tells us that Gorilla Monsoon taught him that if you were in this business for
anything more than money, you were a fool.
asked about guys he worked with in the AWA. He liked the Crusher and thought he
was easy to work with. He said that Ray Stevens was hilarious outside of the
ring and that he told him to always have fun with what you do. He then tells a
story of how Stevens told him that he had his first woman at age six and when
Heenan asks him what he did, Stevens replied that he was too drunk to remember.
He liked Verne then joked about how he would make guys do horrible things like
show up on time and work. He liked Nick Bockwinkle then added that If you asked
him for the time, he would tell you how to build a watch.
how Hogan was in the AWA. Heenan said that Verne wanted him to be heel and team
up with Johnny Valiant, who he calls a horrible human beign. He then says that
Valiant couldn’t get over by turning on a light. He knew Hogan would be a star
the first time he saw him in the locker room at Georgia in 1979.
if Verne pushed his son too hard, Heenan said that he didn’t push him enough
and joked that he should have pushed him off a cliff.
that Verne couldn’t change with the times and did not know how to go up against
Vince McMahon’s showbiz mentality and that is what killed the AWA. He said that
he left there because he knew they were going nowhere. He gives some names for
the AWA like “Alzhimer’s Wretling Association” and “All the World’s Assholes.”
He then adds that guys like Nick Gulas, Stu Hart, and Eddie Graham also
struggled to keep up with modern times.
he only worked a few times for Eddie Graham and said he was strict. Heenan then
claims that wrestlers are flakes because the business makes them that way. They
are not given any benefits and when they get paid, they spend freely. He also
said that wrestlers are guys who did not want regular jobs. He never worked for
Stu but thought it would be hell, due to the weather and travel. He jokes that
when you land in Canada,
they tell you to set your watch back to 1945. He adds that he likes Stu, Helen,
how he wound up in the WWF. Heenan said that Hogan got him the job. He called
Vince and was offered three times more than what he was making in the AWA.
that he first met Vince in Chicago.
At the time, Vince was there for the Inoki/Ali stuff and at breakfast,
approached Vince. He blew off Heenan but said that Vince was always nice to him
when he worked for the WWF.
asked about Big John Studd and Ken Patera. He said that Studd was too nice to
be in wrestling and that Patera should have been a heel his whole life, stating
that he was pampered from his days in amateur sports.
asked if Hogan was difficult to work with. Heenan said that Hogan never changed
and that guys did not like him because they were not able to work with him de
to the fact they would not be able to draw money with him. Heenan said that the
worst person in the world would have been working with him if they could draw.
about Piper, Heenan said that he always knew he would get over as he could talk
and that would get you more over than your work or physique.
Heenan is asked how he became a good talker. He said that he learned to talk
while shaving in the mirror. He said when you did that, you could be whatever
you want and how you saw yourself is how the crowd would see you. He then adds
how most interviewers today resort to using clichés and they cannot get over.
He finishes by saying that the wrestlers shouldn’t dress like the guys who buy
asked about Orndorff. He said that he was an intense guy who cared about how he
looked and was concerned about his image. He adds that Orndorff always tried to
improve and was a professional. He also said that he still speaks to him.
that Andre the Giant hated people and was always rude when approached.
asked about kayfabe and protecting the business. He mentions that kayfabe does
not exist anymore and how when he started, they protected the business and had
the mentality they could not sell any tickets if they knew it was all fake. He
then adds that stuntmen don’t show how to perform stunts.
that he did not like managing the Missing Link. He notes how Link once told him
to get his boarding pass for him because his character didn’t speak. Heenan
notes how he would have hated to have been an actual manager for people,
comparing it to an adult babysitter.
asked if he had other behind the scene roles. He said that he produced
interviews in the WWF. He said that most of the guys were easy to work with but
the Ultimate Warrior could not be produced. He didn’t mind when guys like Piper
and Lou Albano did their own thing. He said that Vince didn’t mind if the stars
went off and adds that you need to treat people differently to run a business.
that he got the Primetime Wrestling job when Jesse Ventura left to film the Predator.
After that, he went on to do commentary on Challenge and the Madison Square Garden
shows. He is then asked about the tension between Ventura and Hogan. Heenan
said that Ventura was jealous of Hogan because he wanted to be like his idol,
Superstar Billy Graham, but Hogan was more popular. He also said that Ventura could
talk but once the bell rang, Ventura couldn’t stay over because he was not
entertaining and never bumped.
calls Gorilla Monsoon one of the best friends he ever had. He puts him over for
being kind but always honest. He then said that they never really rehearsed for
Primetime Wrestling and just winged it right before the show and whenever they
messed up, they would just laugh it off. He always looked forward to being with
speaking about Monsoon, Heenan said that he always told him that wrestling was
entertainment. He then said how he loved the “Brain” gimmick as if he screwed
up it didn’t matter as he was expected to be stupid. He then says how guys care
too much about their image nowadays.
about the Terry Taylor/Brooklyn Brawler feud, he said it was an embarrassment.
Heenan said that Taylor was never going to be a top guy and Lombardi could not
brawl. Heenan then makes a comparison between a limo and a cab driver by
stating the only difference between the two is that the limo driver wears a
suit. He then briefly mentions how Taylor was a liar to him in WCW.
that the Andre haircut angle was the one that stuck out the most and jokes that
Studd had the hair for so long that it started to turn gray. He then tells a
story when he as flying with Andre, who liked to have a few drinks in the
morning. He was approached by the stewardess when he was struggling to lift the
arms of the seat and asked for a screwdriver. After fifteen minutes, she came
back with an actual screwdriver instead of the drink. Andre then asked her what
she would have brought him if he asked for a bloody mary.
how the “Bobby Heenan Show” came about. He said that it was Vince’s idea. The WWF
had a contract with USA for two hours of wrestling and cut Primetime Wrestling
to an hour-and-a-half to make room for the show but USA didn’t consider the
show wrestling and it was scrapped after four episodes. As far as the show, he
said it was hard to time laughs without an audience. He also like Jameson and
said that Vince picked him out.
that Rick Rude was hard to manage because he thought he could get over on his
own. Rude thought Heenan was trying to steal his heat.
another story about Andre. When he was working with the Ultimate Warrior, Andre
was getting upset because he didn’t like to be clotheslined and wanted to time
when he leaned on the ropes and that was hard to do with the Warrior, who would
run at him full speed ahead. One night, Andre put up his hand and stopped
Warrior in his tracks as he attempted a clothesline. The next night, after Warrior
clotheslined Andre the way he wanted to, Andre leaned over to Heenan and said
that he was learning. Heenan said that if Andre didn’t like you, he would try
to ruin your matches. He would mess with the Iron Sheik and Heenan said that
Andre hated him because Sheik would take advantage of the jobbers. Heenan said that
most of the jobbers were awful wrestlers but they also had full-time jobs and
basically just wrestled on the weekends. He then says he always wondered why
they would give them spots, knowing that they couldn’t work a lick.
managing Flair, calling him a fun guy to be around. He also loved Curt Hennig.
that he stopped managing because his neck was acting up and when he was doing
commentary, he didn’t get touched by the wrestlers. For that reason, he liked
commentary better than managing.
favorites in the ring to work with were Pepper Gomez, Red Bastein, High Flyers,
and Mad Dog Vachon. His least favorite was Warrior because he had no respect
asked about the WWF Sex Scandal. Heenan said that no one in the locker room
cared and compares it to people in the music business finding out that
musicians smoke dope.
about several other workers. He liked Haku and called him the toughest man he
had ever met. He liked the British Bulldogs and said that they were one of the
best tag-teams of all-time and did stuff that other teams could not do. He didn’t
spend a lot of time with Randy Savage and Elizabeth so did not say much other
than he thought Elizabeth was nice and that he managed Randy’s dad in the 1960’s.
He calls Jake Roberts and Ted Dibiase the best on interviews. He then said that
Jake had a lot of mental problems. He liked the Brainbusters but said Tully had
a personality problem.
that he never read or watched a wrestling book or movie. He thinks that people
are out to knock them and said he can make a fool out of himself.
WWF on good terms but was tired of the traveling and wanted to take a year off.
WCW then made him an offer an it would put him closer to his daughter in
was started on the Sunday night show then moved to Saturday Night once Jesse
quit. He said that Bischoff was a used car salesman who got into wrestling. He
compares Bischoff to Walmart and Vince to Neiman Marcus. He then adds that the
decision to beat Goldberg is what killed wrestling. He brings up the difference
between WCW and WWF when telling a story of how Mark McGwire wanted to meet
Goldberg. McGwire and Goldberg were at the park and McGwire rubbed his bat on
Goldberg’s chest and went on to hit 70 home runs that year. Heenan said that
WCW did not send anyone in to film that where Vince would have had a camera
crew and produced multiple pieces.
about the incident at the Clash of the Champions between him and Brian Pillman,
Heenan thought it was a fan that grabbed him at first. He said that you watch
the monitors during the show and was worried about his neck when he was
that no one knew what they were doing in WCW. He said that Tony Schiavone was
the worst because he hated the fans and the wrestlers. He also knew all the
finishes and angles but would not disclose them to him or Tenay, because he
thought that knowledge was power.
he liked when Vince changed the concept of RAW. He then said that guys would
leave the room to get a beer during squash matches and would wait for the
interviews. He thought it made for better television. Heenan also adds that
there are too many PPV’s and that the TV is just as good as them so why pay for
something you can see on TV.
says that he never looked at fans as “marks” because those guys made them money
and allowed them to feed their families. He then makes a joke about relatives
saying how they are like fish in that after a few days, they start to stink.
Monsoon, Heenan said he kept in touch with him until the day he died. He
recalls the day of his last WWF appearance when he got tossed out of the
building on RAW. In the hotel, Heenan had a basket of fruit in his room and
asked Gorilla to come meet him and they met in the hallway and he said they
cried for an hour.
WCW, Heenan said he was constantly disrespected. One time, he came up with an
idea and proposed it to Bischoff and was told that he was just an announcer and
that we came up with the ideas. After that, Heenan said he lost all desire and
was just there for the paycheck and nothing else. When he announced, he wouldn’t
even get the booking sheet until the third match. Heenan is asked what he would
have done to turn around WCW and he joked that he would have rolled a grenade
into the dressing room.
him to manage but he declined and he was never told who he was going to manage.
that Scott Hall was very talented but listened to a lot of bad advice. He then
tells us that Hall hated the toothpick tossing routine but Heenan told him to
throw it into the camera and that worked. He said that Kevin Nash was big but
says that he does not take credit for getting anyone over as it would have had
to been due to the wrestler as well. He does add that the Valiant’s are the
exception to this rule, calling them useless.
says that he would have had Goldberg go 3,000-0 then actually brings up, while
prefacing that he is not trying to be racist, how TV is mostly run by Jewish guys
and that Goldberg was Jewish and that could have worked. He then adds that they
also could have used his football background to make him a star. He also says
that if someone wasn’t selfish, WCW would still be around today and 200 people
would still be employed.
how he got replaced by Mark Madden, he said that he called out sick two days in
six years. This time, he had strep throat and could barely talk and called
Schiavone. When he came back, he found out that Taylor replaced him.
Vince Russo didn’t have a clue and was a disgrace who thought he knew how to
that if he was approached for advice by the younger wrestlers, he told them
what worked for him might not work for them but if you pretended that what you
were doing was real, it would work out.
that he found out that Vince bought WCW when someone called him. He thinks that
Vince only bought it for the tape collection.
who was responsible for the failure of WCW, he said that it was the guy who was
in charge, which was either Bischoff or Harvey Schiller. He said that he did
not know about locker room politics as the wrestlers had a “do not enter” sign
on the door that was guarded by Doug Dillinger, who Heenan refers to as “donuts.”
Heenan then tells us that Dillinger used to be a cop but mainly just rode the
motorcycle at funerals.
about the different styles of wrestling. He said that they could have saved
money with the luchadores by having two guys and twelve different costumes. HE
then said that the garbage brawling got old quickly.
said that he never had talks with ECW. He called Vince when WCW went under and
had fun at WrestleMania but doesn’t want to work a full-time schedule on the road.
He said that he would like to do commercials and work on his book. He also does
not believe that wrestling will be around much longer because without
competition, Vince will get stagnant.
WrestleMania 17, Heenan said that he had a great time. He really liked the
Dudley’s, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko. He also had a great time catching
up with the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Hillbilly Jim.
working the WOW PPV. He then said that this is all entertainment and if you
want wrestling, go watch Iowa University.
about Mike Tenay and jokes that he is so straight-laced that he can make coffee
nervous. He then adds how he would love to do a radio show with him.
about using dated references in WCW, Heenan said that at times Bischoff told
him not to say anything.
that managing made him a lot of money and he chose to “trip and distract”
rather than attend law or medical school.
about his appearance on the “Arsenio Hall Show.” Heenan said that in the
dressing room, there was food and his wife wanted to take everything and he didn’t
think it was for him and told her to not take anything like the Valiant’s would
have. After the show, Heenan was hungry and he was asked if he got any food so
Arsenio sent him another basket and a doll for his daughter. Heenan calls Arsenio a class act.
is asked about several wrestlers. He said that Abdullah the Butcher was a fat
guy with a fork and called him useless. He calls Jerry Lawler a good hand and
said he was lucky to survive in a small territory. Heenan said that Memphis was
a place that you went when you started out or when you were finishing up. He said
that Don Muraco was a good guy and joked that he had good weed. He calls Jimmy
Valiant a pig. He also said that Mr. Fuji was a great guy and would paint your
nails or shave off your eyebrows if you went to sleep on the plane. He said
that David Schultz was a redneck before it became cool but also believes that
he thought wrestling was real.
says that he never liked Bruiser Brody, as he was selfish. He just wanted to
stick it to the promoter and would ruin matches and destroy territories for his
own reasons while disregarding the fact that other wrestlers had to work in
those territories and could be losing a job. Heenan believes that as a main
eventer, you owe it to the rest of the card to be professional and do what is
right instead of screwing over the guys who have to come back and work the
story of Owen Hart approaching him on his last night with the WWF. Owen asked
him why he was leaving and after Heenan told him, Owen said that he was going
to miss him and it would be a big loss and shook his hand. Heenan said that he
was not approached by everyone on his last day.
gives his thoughts on the “Montreal Screwjob” incident and said that id he was
Bret, he would have put over Shawn because he was in this for money. He says
that double-crosses happen everywhere. He then adds how if you were offered
$1,000 a week to do jobs and $500 a week to be the champ, some guys would still
want to be the champion.
the rumor that Andre was going to refuse to job to Hogan at WrestleMania III.
Heenan said that Andre knew this was his last chance for a big payday.
believes that if Goldberg started off in the WWF, he would get over more than
Austin. He says that Austin swears a lot and that Goldberg was a bigger guy.
broken neck, Heenan said that it occurred in Japan when Onita landed on his
head after a middle rope leg drop in 1983 but he didn’t get it fixed until 1995
when he went to WCW.
how women are the toughest species on earth because they can bleed once a month
for a week and survive.
a union would never happen in wrestling because no one would trust each other
and guys would end up getting blackballed.
had interest working for Watts as he did not want to work seven days a week.
have liked to manage Hogan as he could have made a lot of money and he was easy
to travel with.
a Jim Barnett impression then jokes about where the pacifier went when he was a
about the current stars in the WWF. He likes HHH but thinks he needs to lose
the black trunks and the water. He calls the Rock a great talker.
that he has no regrets but wihsed he would have stood up for himself and others
about getting paid better.
closes with Heenan saying the magic is over as everyone knows how they perform
the tricks. He says that he is writing a book and blesses the memories and the
insightful and hilarious the whole time. He did not hold any grudges and seemed
genuinely happy about his career. I highly recommend this interview, which was
a breeze to watch.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan is arguably the greatest manager in wrestling history.
My formative years of watching and witnessing wrestling were very often narrated by Bobby. He was that scumfuck manager that you loved to hate. I started watching wrestling right around 1988, 1989, and Bobby was at the forefront of the WWF manager hierarchy. Sure, you had Slick, you had Jimmy Hart, guys of that ilk. Hell, you even had Baron Von Raschke managing The Powers of Pain, albeit briefly. But as a child, no one quite popped, no manager hit a nerve quite like “The Brain.”
This is Bobby Heenan’s first book, published in 2002. What you should not expect is a long, detailed memoir of Bobby’s career. Far from it. The book does not even break 200 pages. Instead, what it is, is this: It is some of Heenan’s greatest career memories, littered with the wit and witticism that is uniquely Bobby Heenan. So, basically, we breeze through his childhood and his early years of the business in short order. He was born Raymond Heenan, raised in Indiana. When Bobby was one, his father abandoned the family, and was never seen again. Bobby’s mother Millie and his grandmother raised him, for better or worse. Young Ray Heenan was captivated by wrestling at a young age, to the point where he dropped out of High School to pursue his lifetime vocation. He cut his teeth in some regional Indiana and Illinois independents, as well as a few dates in the AWA. From day one, Bobby was not so much a wrestler…he never really received a formal in ring training. Instead, Bobby Heenan was a manager, and his first Chris Markoff and Angelo Poffo. Now, these chapters are not necessarily littered with what Bobby did and when in his first few years in a wrestling ring. In what becomes a running theme of the book, its the lighter side, the zanier side, of wrestling, both in ring and, more importantly, out of the ring, that is highlighted. The ribs. The drinking. More ribs. The seedier characters of the mat game. Some pulled pork and a side of more ribs. You get the picture.
The AWA Chapter is where the book really starts to get into a groove. Now, there is not a whole hell of a lot in any one chapter in this book, because, as I said, its a very short book. But you get some excellent stuff here. Bobby did a lot of traveling there with the Crusher and Nick Bockwinkle. Bobby transformed into the lead heel manager in Minnesota, and loved the experience, for the most part. His most famous charge was AWA Champ Bockwinkel, and he was in Nick’s corner for a series of matches that changed wrestling. This needs to be addressed.
The matches I am talking about are the Bockwinkle-Hogan series, which many people point at as the death of the AWA (which is bullshit, may I add. Its part of the problem, but not the whole cause). Now, Hulk Hogan actually writes the foreword to this book, and does a passable job. But Heenan LOVES Hogan, and does not say one bad thing about him. This also becomes a recurring theme of the book, as Heenan effusively praises two people (the second is forthcoming) and slags just about every other person, even though many of us now know otherwise regarding the two Heenan cronies.
Heenan does offer some excellent insight into the AWA in those Hogan years. He actually offered the best, and most rational, reason of why Hogan refused the AWA title and soon left. Basically, Verne Gagne wanted Hogan, as his champion, at his beck and call, and wanted Hogan to have no part in Japanese bookings. Well, by that point, Hogan did big business in Japan, so he refused. Shortly thereafter, he was making millions for Vince McMahon, and the rest, so they say is history. Did I also mention that Bobby Heenan, Gene Okerlund, and “Dr D” Dave Schultz were right behind Hogan on the primrose path to New York? Well, shit, I should have, because that is exactly what happened.
Bobby has nothing but effusive praise for Vince McMahon Jr. and his grand plan for where wrestling was headed. This is another point of contention I have with Bobby Heenan. He states that McMahon was, more or less, a leader by reason, not volume. Less Vince Lombardi, more Tony Dungy. He states that McMahon was a joy to work for, a man who never yelled at him, took his opinion for all it was worth, and valued Bobby’s commitment. Yet, within the same two or three chapters, he says that he was disrespected by the front office for wanting to retire from managing people due to his neck and back issues. He states that “someone” stated to him, for example, that if he refused to manage Ric Flair upon Flair’s arrival in WWF in 1991, that Bobby would be fired. You see the contradictions here? Bobby has nothing but great praise and affection for his time in WWF. His favorite moments were WrestleMania III, where he managed Andre against Hogan in the biggest match of all time, and his broadcast career with Gorilla Monsoon. Heenan’s memories of Andre are priceless in this book. One time, a Japanese wrestler was attempting to get smart with Andre in the ring, namely, starting to shoot on him. Andre put him in a full nelson. Bobby asked him what happened next:
Andre: “I stood in front of him.”
Bobby: “What next?”
Andre: “I fell forward with him.”
Bobby: “What happened then?”
Andre: (holding his hand over his mouth and screaming:) “COMA!”
So yes, gentle viewers, Andre invented the move Miz uses today as the Skull Crushing Finale.
Heenan’s partnership with Gorilla Monsoon is legendary. Surprisingly, Heenan does not spend to much time on this. Maybe Monsoon’s death was still too fresh in his mind writing the memoir. He does relay some moments from Prime Time Wrestling, but not too many. This is the portion of the book that remains a little flat for my tastes. Those two were as thick as thieves, on and off camera. If WWE could even approximate one third of the chemistry those two had, Raw would not be so insufferable right now.
Eventually, WWF could no longer afford to pay Bobby’s salary, so off to greener pastures in WCW he went.
He fucking hated it.
Let me state this: Bobby Heenan has absolutely nothing positive to say about WCW, even though he was present for WCW’s hottest period, where they were handing WWF their ballbag in a sling. He actually goes as far as stating that the only reason WCW thrived was BECAUSE OF VINCE! OK, Bobby. He says the reason WCW thrived in that period was because Vince was crafting the “Billionaire Ted” Skits with Nacho Man and the Huckster. That is so wrong on so many levels that I cannot even begin to quantify it. He mentions how much of a douche he thought Tony Schiavone was (and those sections are pretty fun, admittedly). He barely mentions the NWO. He just heaps shit upon shit upon shit on WCW. I guess I can understand, but then there is this: he mentions the myriad problems WCW had…but never mentions Hogan. Here enlies my problem with the book. Heenan is too pro WWF and anti anything else. It comes off like Bobby was writing this book as a sort of mea culpa to Vince McMahon, begging him to PLEASE take him back. Its sad, quite honestly, and really detracts from some of the charms of the book. Then again, the character of Bobby The Brain was someone only looking out for himself, so maybe the obsequies sentiment was intended. I doubt it, as the first chapter of the book outlines Heenan’s return to WWF at WrestleMania 17, for the gimmick battle royal. It is really quite tragic that a mind, a talent, like Heenan felt the need to resort to this.
Overall, Heenan’s book is enjoyable. I would highly recommend every wrestling fan read it, especially those my age (32). It is tremendous fun, and, for the most part, enjoyable. But there are some parts of the book, in which I have outlined here, that make you wonder, “Who is the real Bobby Heenan?”
I mentioned earlier that this book was published in 2002. Bobby, in the epilogue, mentions he has developed throat cancer, but he will be alright. Well, ten plus years later, he seems far from alright. That is why I will give this book the benefit of the doubt. Read it, don’t buy, unless the proceeds go directly to Heenan’s medical bills. I have, and still do, love Bobby the Brain. And I wish him nothing but the best in his recovery. As sad as it is to watch.
Never mind fair to Flair. Be fair to Bobby.
The fun stuff about Prime Time Wrestling without all the matches dragging in down.
Long-time something something. I'm watching Summerslam '92 and Heenan mentions that Bret is on the floor right by him. It started me wondering when the commentators moved – full-time, unless for some kind of special circumstances – to sitting ring-side instead of watching from the heavens as I seem to remember Heenan & Gorilla doing at least some times. I don't have every pre '92 PPV to check but I'm sure I'm thinking of PPVs, not Prime Time.
So, yeah, do you know when the announcers finally moved down to ring-side permanently? In WWF specifically.