Bobby Heenan - Food for thought
By ALEX RISTIC -- SLAM! Wrestling
(Editor's Note: This interview was conducted two days before the Women Of
Wrestling Unleashed PPV
Every humanoid out there has been wondering what's happened to Bobby
"The Brain" Heenan since being unceremoniously dumped by World
Championship Wrestling a few months back. The mere mention of his
name had wrestling news sites abuzz as it was announced that he
would be doing a favour for Women Of Wrestling owner David McLane and
appearing on the fledgling company's first ever Pay-Per-View, Unleashed.
Well, many a scribe has had the itch to get inside Heenan's head and see
what makes "The Weasel" spin the wheel - which is basically our way
of saying what makes him tick. Afterall, "The Brain" is a legend in
wrestling. His witty commentary has been known to save many a broadcast and his ability to get workers over or help them attain heat has been
forever documented in the annals of wrestling.
So, being the wrestling junkies we are at SLAM! Wrestling we jumped at the chance to talk to Heenan and one of the questions on everyone's mind is why
are you doing WOW?
"After 35 years of watching half naked men (wrestle), why not watch
beautiful women do it?," Heenan said.
Good point. It becomes obvious very shortly into the interview that
Heenan's wit is still razor sharp, not having been dulled by age, or
being forced to sit out of the wrestling actions for awhile. And
according to "The Weasel" (his other nickname from his tenure in the
World Wrestling Federation), he doesn't plan on getting dull either. He
went into the Unleashed PPV prepared and boned up on his knowledge of
"I've been watching the tapes of the last couple of weeks. I think it's
going to be a good thing. I think it's going to be fun. I don't think
it's going to knock Vince (McMahon) out of the market, like I don't
think the XFL is going to knock the NFL out of the market, but it's TV
programming. It's another avenue for people to be entertained. That's
all it is. If anybody looks at as anything more than that, they're
stupid. It's just entertainment."
So, what match are you most looking forward to then?
"They're going to shave a girl's head (Ice Cold, as it turned out),
whoever loses the fall. I want to see that. Bald headed women aren't
pretty. They'd look like (Mean Gene) Okerlund without a moustache."
As many of you have heard over the Net, the WOW show was heavily
maligned, but not due to Heenan's commentary, which has been listed in
several re-caps of the card as being one of the few highlights. Don't
look for his commentary to be a regular staple of the broadcasts though,
at least not yet.
"Let's see what happens. I'm open for anything. I'll do commercials. I
want to do voice-overs. I want to diversify myself and just do things
outside the wrestling business, as well as in the wrestling business. I
just want to have now. It's my time in life to have fun, and that's what
I want to do."
That last statement is in contrast to his final days in WCW. According
to Heenan, he's looking, now, to avoid past situations he found himself
in. Indeed, Heenan goes on record as saying that the vast majority of
his time in that promotion was not very fun at all. At what point did he
"About six months into the job. I realised that the knowledge I had in
wrestling, in working for the AWA, working for the WWF, and the NWA,
when I came to this production crew and the way they produced wrestling,
it wasn't what I liked. It didn't make sense to me and I was never
comfortable with it. And they didn't like me either. I would never knock
the WWF. You know why I never did? Because I was there for ten years. If
I knock them, I knock me. It's like the woman who says, 'I was married
to him for 20 years, he fooled around on me from Day One.' Then why'd
you stay, bimbo? So I was paid by Turner's people to put over Turner's
product and that's what I was paid for. No ever told me to knock Vince
(McMahon), no one told me not too; I just didn't do it."
This interview was not designed to slam any wrestling promotion but
Heenan's last few years in the business had been spent with WCW, so it's
only logical that many questions about his tenure there are going to pop
up, such as why they released him from contract.
"I had one year left on my contract and they didn't want to honour it,
because they wanted a younger look, they wanted a more MTV looking guy,
so they hired (Mark) Madden. Then they took me off of Thunder, because
they put Stevie Ray on and wanted to see how he would do as a
commentator. Eventually I ended up doing nothing, I had one whole year
left on my contract and I was going to retire anyway. I just didn't like it
there. I wasn't having fun there. I don't want to work unless I have
fun. I didn't have fun there. I never had fun there. The only reason why
I went there was because I got a cheque every weeks and benefits. That's
the only reason I was ever there."
And things didn't get any easier more recently as Vince Russo also
jumped ship from the WWF to the WCW a little less than two years ago. To
Heenan, Russo wasn't all that he was hyped to be.
"Russo wasn't there when we were doing good business. Russo was a writer
for (McMahon) at a magazine and when Vince Russo came on board he
didn't write the shows, he gave ideas. (McMahon) critiques everything -
believe me. Nothing goes on there, nothing you see has not been seen by
Vince McMahon. So when Russo and those guys came to WCW they thought
they had a free hand. I just don't think they were that talented at what
He also has some criticisms for some of his most recent colleagues as
well, after starting off by mentioning who he admired most when working
in the announce booth.
"Sometimes I say things and the people I work with don't know how to
pick up on what I say as where Gorilla Monsoon was a pro. He was the
best I ever worked with in my life. Gorilla was the best, and Vince
McMahon is the best too, when it comes to putting over something he
wants to put over. The people I've worked with lately, they're just
taking their pay-cheque and going home, I think. They don't have any
creative ability, and that's how I feel. I'm not going to name names,
but they know who they are. "
Blackjack Lanza and Bobby Heenan from many years ago.
Russo tried to usher in an age of "crash TV" at WCW, which in itself did
not bother Heenan. As a matter of fact, The Brain says there's really
only one thing that bugs him about today's product.
"The wrestling we knew from studio wrestling - it's no longer ever going
to be like that. (McMahon) changed the whole industry. (McMahon) is a
genius. He's made it more corporate, more accessible for people to make
money, manufacturers, entertainment, just everything. He's changed the
whole realm of the business. Which is great. We're making more money now
than we ever made in our lives, because of Vince McMahon."
He continues: "The racy content never bothered me because I don't care
what people say. If you say whatever you want to say, it's not going to
affect me, it's going to affect you. I didn't care for all the ladies,
and all the jiggles, and all the girls that just don't look right. It
looks like you should be putting a dollar in their pants, then going
outside to try and find your Pinto and then go home. It didn't make
sense to me."
Many fans today have been brought up on the current product, where more
soap opera type elements have taken centre stage. But there are also
many out there who've been watching wrestling for years. As Heenan said
at the beginning of the story, he's been in the business for nearly four
decades. However, in all that time, one of the most famous things he's
been known for, at least when it comes to drawing heat, is the liberal
use of the word "humanoids." Heenan tells SLAM! where he got the
inspiration for using it.
"It just comes about by looking around and opening your eyes. You watch
a guy walking through a bus station, airport, cab stand, anyplace, every
one looks like a humanoid. They don't know how to travel. They've got
blue luggage, yellow luggage, a white sock on, and a blue sock, and
they're thinking 'I got another at home just like it.'"
Of course, while marks and fans will have they're own special memories
of Heenan, he has a few of his own.
"Well, going to the ring with Andre The Giant, in front of 93,000
people, in Pontiac (WrestleMania III), that had to be a highlight. Even
being in something that I wanted to be in all my life, wrestling - I got
to do that - that's a highlight of my life."
After looking back on his career for a while, it is now time to discuss
the future. If wrestling is not as ripe as opportunities as it once was,
how about Hollywood?
"Well, Hollywood's a hard thing to get into because you got be there,
you've got to read the parts, and you always got to be there on call and
stuff. I don't really want to do anything like that and be that
obligated to do something. I just want to pick up stuff here and there.
I want to enjoy my life now."
Indeed, Heenan has definitely put in his time in professional wrestling.
Backstage politics, feuding territories, fighting injuries - after
35 years you'd want your day in the sun too. And Heenan is not
apologetic about it either.
"I just want to do what I want to do. If I want to get up at noon, if I
want to get up on Thursday and go someplace I can do it. I don't have a
schedule anymore. That's what I mean by fun. If I want to pick up a job
with WOW, fine, if I want to pick up something else, fine, if I want to
do something else in commercials, fine. Whatever I want to do. I don't
want to be obligated to anyone, anymore."
Some of you may be wondering how Heenan can afford to do this. After
watching documentaries like Beyond The Mat, reading Mick Foley's
biography and having more of a spotlight on independent promotions over
the last couple of years, most everyone knows that it has been down right difficult for some wrestlers to make a decent living in the sport.
While things may have been more financially rosey for Heenan in the last
few years, it was definitely not that way when he started in the 1960's.
He's not called "The Brain" for nothing though, as he testifies that he
realised he had to start saving money early to be financially
"In my 20's, I listened to the guys in the car. I listened to the guys
who didn't have anything, I listened to guys that tried to make a life
for themselves, and I thought to myself in those days, 'I'm going to do
this. I'm going to save money and I'm going to be the boss.' Because
when you save money you're the boss. If you don't save money then you
have to do what they want you to do, and I don't have to do that. Now, I
can do WOW, I can open up a supermarket for chimpanzees, I can do
whatever I want to do."
We left off Heenan on a final question, and one that most every fan of
his has been asking. Is a return to the WWF, where many say he spent his
most entertaining years, an idea he would consider?
"Sure. Now if the money was right and the time is right. I don't want to
work every day, and I don't want to work for nothing. I don't care if you
give me a huge amount of money and want me to work everyday; I don't
want to work everyday. I have money, I've saved my money and invested
it. I'm doing this now for fun."
Bobby Heenan bio and story archive