Hello loyal readers and welcome back to my personal stroll down memory lane. As always, this is not scientific in any way, there are no correct answers here. This is just my own personal opinion from my own experiences as a nearly thirty year wrestling fan. This week I have chosen to reflect on one of my favorite aspects of professional wrestling, the television commentator.
A good pro wrestling commentator can really enhance the experience of watching a match. Being there live is great, but an entertaining commentator adds a whole new dimension. And the truly great commentators can make even a bad match sound good. I always loved Joey Styles’ over the top style of calling a match. His outrage at every injustice was priceless. And I have yet to find a more enjoyably delivered catch phrase then “Oh My God”.
[adinserter block=”2″]Jerry Lawler is now more recognizable to an entire generation of wrestling fans as an announcer then as a wrestler. And of course there is Jim Ross. I was very tempted to go with Ross, as I have been a fan of his since back in the old NWA days. And he certainly is my number two choice. But I went a little different when I was thinking up my favorite. I had someone in mind who was entertaining, who was funny, and who made me laugh. And by those criteria, the only name I could go with was the one and only Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
I grew up watching the WWF in the early to mid 80’s. When I outgrew the “cartoon” style of the WWF I identified more with the more realistic NWA style of wrestling. But I still watched WWF programming, and Bobby Heenan was a big part of the reason why. I absolutely loved the way he and Gorilla Monsoon called a match together. Many people consider Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler to be the best announce team, but I will always go with Monsoon and Heenan.
The chemistry between the two was just amazing. When Heenan would make an outrageous statement I really believed that Monsoon was disgusted with him. Watching Michael Cole try to create tension with Lawler or Josh Mathews just makes me laugh, and not in a good way. Heenan played the bad guy role perfectly. No matter what the situation was, he was right and everyone else was wrong. It was that clueless confidence that endeared him to me. Quite simply, Bobby Heenan was the most entertaining voice in wrestling back then. The sounds of him making some over the top statement, like saying that Tito Santana signed an autograph with a can of spray paint followed by Monsoon’s exasperated shout of “Will You Stop?” brings a smile to my face even now as I write the words.
[adinserter block=”1″]When he moved to WCW in the 90’s, the voice was the same but the mood was different. As I later found out first hand on an episode of Pro Wrestling Radio (ding ding), Heenan disliked working with Tony Schiavone personally and within WCW’s dysfunctional organization in general. The contempt came through during the broadcasts and some of that old magic was lost. But I still found Heenan entertaining even to the bitter end. One strong memory I have from those broadcasts was the tribute Heenan gave after Gorilla Monsoon passed away. I defy you to watch the video and not start to get choked up yourself when you see the genuine emotion expressed by Heenan for his former friend. That is one of the reasons why I will always refer to him as “The Brain” and never as “The Weasel”.
So there you have it. This was my completely unscientific determination of the best pro wrestling commentator ever. Do you have a different choice for the top spot? Do you a favorite Bobby Heenan memory? How do today’s announcers match up to those of the past? Leave me a comment. I would love to know what you think. And keep on the lookout for the next edition of “The Best I Ever Saw”.
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.
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