The two-disc WWE Bobby “The Brain” Heenan DVD set takes a look back at the career of arguably the greatest pro wrestling manager ever. The first disc is your typical WWE documentary which takes a retrospective look at the WWE Hall of Fame manager. But it is the second disc loaded with Bobby Heenan classics that makes this set worthwhile.
The first disc is done documentary style without hosts. The “Brain’s” former colleagues are interviewed as well as a few current WWE superstars who couldn’t weasel their way out of talking about Heenan. AWA fans in particular will love this set as there are plenty of AWA wrestlers who participated in the documentary. Some AWA veterans featured include former AWA world champion Nick Bockwinkel, Baron Von Rachke, Ken Patera, and Greg Gagne.
Unfortunately you probably won’t learn a whole heck of a lot of Bobby Heenan on the DVD that you don’t already know. There aren’t many fun road stories or backstage anecdotes that haven’t already been told. Heenan does not appear on the documentary due to his health but is represented by his wife and daughter who do a fantastic job. It was different and I kind of liked seeing the family’s view of life in the pro wrestling business.
There are obvious holes in Heenan’s story as told on the DVD. For one, they rarely touch on his time as pro wrestler before making it big. Otherwise the story was fairly accurate just without much detail in between. Heenan’s brief run in Georgia wasn’t mentioned which is odd since the WWE owns the video library. The highlight here and throughout were the various clips of Bobby Heenan promos and interviews from all of the territories sprinkled throughout the DVD.
Vince McMahon spoke of Bobby Heenan in the most glowing terms and called him “brilliant.” In watching the DVD you really appreciate just how talented Heenan was at going from wrestler to manager to commentator. The “Heenan Bump” was one of the great high spots of the 70s and 80s and is featured quite a bit in clips. One interesting fact revealed in the WWE portion was that Heenan was originally scheduled to manage Jesse Ventura but that changed when Jesse got hurt. There was no mention at all of the Heenan and Paul Orndorff relationship which was a bit disappointing since the two drew such big money against Hulk Hogan during that time period.
I am calling for a ban on Arn Anderson appearing on any more WWE documentaries. Arn continues to bring these WWE DVDs to a screeching halt when he speaks of pro wrestling as if it was real. That would be fine if it we were still in 1980. Look I am not expecting these guys to go on camera and totally expose the business, but don’t insult my intelligence at the same time. Newsflash Arn, the cat is out of the bag! Same goes with the director (wow anyone can get on these anymore) who also spoke about Bobby Heenan helping Mr. Perfect win more matches.
Bobby’s wife touched upon his difficult time in WCW. Even her brief mention of his difficulties barely scraped the surface of Bobby’s frustrations in WCW. I had Bobby on my radio show Pro Wrestling Radio a couple of times and he opened up quite a bit about his difficult time in WCW. Here is what Bobby said when I asked him to take me through a night of television in WCW beginning at 5PM.
“Around 5 or 6:00 I would find Mike Tenay and Tony (Schivonne). Tony was hard to find, he didn’t like to meet with us or anybody else. Then, Mike and I would talk about what we wanted to do, I’d put my tux on, go to make up. Everybody in there (make up) looked like Mount Rushmore. They couldn’t put their own make up, they weren’t going to put it on me. Nobody had any formats yet. “They’re still working on them. They have some changes to make.” 6:50 would come, we’d walk to our announce position and we had no formats. We didn’t know what was coming on first. The bell would ring at 7:00, they would move us around. “No, you sit on this side. We got your name underneath you for the television.” They had us in the wrong chairs. They had a Production Assistant. This woman that looked like, well I don’t even know how to describe her. She would always spill water on you or knock over something. Like Mr. Magoo. Whoever came out first, we’d talk about them, we didn’t know who was coming out, we didn’t know how they changed things. Then about the second match, the end of the first, or sometimes the top of the third if it was Monday Nitro, she’d come out with the papers and give them to you. Maybe 7 sheets. Now, if you had 7 loose pieces of paper where would you put the staple? She put it in the lower right hand corner. What are we from Tibet? Who reads like that? There is only one corner to put it in. You turn it from right to left. That’s the thing. Sometimes they didn’t have pens for us. Then we’d come back, there would be nobody to say, “Great show, you did great, how are you.” They’d walk right by you, like city of the living dead. ”
Overall the DVD was a lot of fun just for the Bobby Heenan clips alone. As a wrestling fan growing up in the 80s, Bobby Heenan was one of the first heels that I openly enjoyed. My friends and I would trade just the clips of Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon talking on Prime Time Wrestling and were constantly quoting “The Brain.” I have a feeling that there were many more “Brainiacs” like us around the country who couldn’t get enough of Bobby Heenan.
While this has nothing to do with the DVD I wanted to take a quick note to talk about my experiences with Bobby Heenan. I booked him on my radio show in 2003. Knowing he was undergoing treatment for throat cancer I had no idea what to expect. We talked before the show and he indicated that he wasn’t feeling well and asked we just go 15 minutes. I said sure. Once we got to 15 minutes I started wrapping up and Bobby said, “Hey let’s take some more calls.” I reminded him of his time limit and he said to forget it, he was feeling great, and wanted to talk to fans. That is what he did for an entire hour. As a huge Bobby Heenan fan growing up I was having a blast myself. After the interview when I thanked him for doing the interview he said, “Anytime you need a guest give me a call. Even if someone bails on you at the last minute.” I took him up on it a few more times and he was just as witty and fun as he was in his prime as a WWE manager. Those experiences with Bobby Heenan are without a doubt the greatest of my over 10 years of hosting Pro Wrestling Radio.
The second DVD features some of Bobby Heenan’s more memorable wrestling matches. The thing that becomes clear fast is that this guy knew how to draw heat. There isn’t a wrestling heel in the business today that could draw heat like he did in his prime. Bobby set the bar so high for pro wrestling managers that nobody even came close to touching it in my opinion. These are some very entertaining matches that showcase his skills as a professional wrestler, skills that were not nearly as appreciated as they should have been.
Overall this is a really fun DVD set. Anytime I can sit back and watch a couple of hours of classic Bobby Heenan is a good time. In addition to his classic WWE clips there are a ton of great AWA angles, matches, and interviews on the set. I know the holidays are over but if you can weasel one last gift out of your loved one or want to treat yourself, this one is well worth the price.
Disc 1 Documentary Chapters:
Manage like a Wrestler
Bright Lights, Big City
I Am Not a Weasal
Manager of Champions
The Bobby Heenan Show
Commentating with Gorilla
Hall of Fame
Disc 1 Extras:
AWA Manager of the Year 1976
AWA All-Star Wrestling – 25th December, 1976
The Wrestling Bear
“Honey, I’m Home!”
The Other Weasel Suit
“I Am Not A Weasel”
Tuesday Night Titans – 2nd October, 1984
Bobby Heenan & Gorilla Monsoon go to Busch Gardens
Prime Time Wrestling – 12th December, 1988
Get Your Popcorn Ready
Golfing Tips with Bobby Heenan & “Mean” Gene Okerlund
Sterling Farms Golf Course – October 1991
Bobby’s Big Entrance
WrestleMania IX – 4th April, 1993
Gorilla Monsoon Fires Bobby Heenan
RAW – 6th December, 1993
The Humor of Bobby Heenan
A Farewell to Gorilla
Nitro – 11th October, 1999
The Wedding Eulogy
WrestleMania XX – 14th March, 2004
Bobby Heenan’s Induction into the WWE Hall of Fame
WWE Hall of Fame – 13th March, 2004
Battle of the Managers
Bobby Heenan vs. Lord Alfred Hayes
AWA St. Paul, MN – 13th January, 1980
Weasel Suit Match
Bobby Heenan vs. Greg Gagne
AWA St. Paul, MN – 17th August, 1980
Hulk Hogan vs. Nick Bockwinkel & Bobby Heenan
AWA – St. Paul, MN – 2nd May, 1981
Bobby Heenan vs. Salvatore Bellomo
Madison Square Garden – 26th November, 1984
Weasel Suit Match
Bobby Heenan vs. Ultimate Warrior
WrestleFest `88 – 31st July, 1988
The Royal Rumble Match
Royal Rumble – 19th January, 1992
Commentary By: Bobby Heenan & Gorilla Monsoon
Gimmick Battle Royal
WrestleMania X7 – 1st April, 2001
Commentary By: Bobby Heenan & Gene Okerlund