Sunday, September 17, 2017

Two Short Bobby "The Brain" Heenan Stories

Earlier this evening, word spread across social media that former professional wrestler and manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan passed away. Heenan had been in questionable health for many years following a bout of throat cancer and several reconstructive surgeries on his jaw and face.

Going way back to the 1960's, I was a fan of professional wrestling. The feed we got in suburban Chicago was Bob Luce Wrestling. I grew up watching stars like Dick the Bruiser, The Crusher, Yukon Moose Cholak, Andre the Giant, Jimmy Valiant, The Blackjacks, Wilbur Snyder, Billy Red Cloud, Baron von Raschke, ... However, one of the most intriguing figures, and the man I consider to be the best professional wrestling manager in history, was Bobby Heenan. Heenan had the gift of gab and used it to fashion a hall of fame managing career. He was famous for a lot of big talk, but when finally cornered in the ring, he became the wimpiest, most timid man on the face of the earth, begging to not be hurt. He specialized in dirty tricks to help his wrestling "family," and could dive out of the squared circle faster than anyone if trouble was brewing and he was about to get pummeled.

In the early days, Heenan was known as "Pretty Boy" Bobby Heenan. In those glory days when he was managing tag teams like Blackjack Lanza and Blackjack Mulligan and the Valiant Brothers, he was by far the best interview in local wrestling. One of my favorite memories was a tale he told about being in a downtown Chicago store. At that time, Heenan's speech impediment was a little more pronounced, sometimes adding color to his many stories. In this particular instance, he claimed that he was beginning to go down an escalator and was pushed from behind, tumbling down the escalator to the floor. He couldn't see who was at the top who had done the pushing, but as Heenan related "And I saw a young boy standing next to me at the bottom of the escalator pointing up toward the top and saying 'Look, Mommy -- Bruither ... Bruither ...'"

A few years later when he was managing the Valiant Brothers, he and Handsome Jimmy Valiant were discussing their many problems with being such handsome dudes and with all the women they attracted.
This time, Heenan let Valiant take the verbal lead, saying "Sometimes we have to die our roots black just to get a little peace and quiet." And a quote I have adapted and used myself several times in my life: "Sometimes people say we are conceited. But the truth is, sometimes we don't even think we're half as great as we really are."

Heenan was among the best in the business at creating heat for wrestling matches, earning the hatred of many fans and the inglorious nickname "Weasel." In later years, he was an engaging wrestling commentator, especially when paired with his buddy, Gorilla Monsoon.

Rest in peace, brother Bobby, and thanks for the many hours of fun and delight you gave to me and to other wrestling fans across the world.


Anonymous KenP said...

Now that was a disclosure I had not anticipated

9:41 AM  
Blogger Iron Mike Sharpe said...

I like this video because the lead-in was an Iron Mike Sharpe victory.

10:21 AM  

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