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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Manager's Corner: Bobby Heenan
August 20, 2003 by Kenneth Coker



This week's installment of the manager's corner features the heel machine of the WWF in the 1980's, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

He is a man whose wrestling career dates all the way back to the 1960's, feuding with the likes of everyone from Dick The Bruiser to Hulk Hogan to Kerry Von Erich, and many, many more along the way.

Mr. Heenan along the way has been honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club, as well as receiving the Tommy Award from European television for entertainment.

In his hometown of Indianapollis, Indiana, April 3, 1997 was proclaimed to be Bobby Heenan Day.

Yes, it has certainly been an illustrious career for the man affectionately known as "The Brain" and "The Weasel".

Bobby's managerial career began modest enough, as he worked his way up in Chicago and Milwaukee.

Heenan was very candid, and emotional, and it was not very long, until the AWA paired him with legendary AWA World Champion: Nick Bockwinkel, as well, as the AWA World Tag Champions of the time: Bobby Duncum and Blackjack Lanza.

Heenan was involved in a feud towards the end of 1983, while managing Nick Bockwinkel with a very popular AWA up and comer named Hulk Hogan.

Barely into 1984, and Hulk Hogan joined forces with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation. It was near this time, that at Hogan's urging, that Vince McMahon also pursued and hired "The Brain".

Bobby was thrust into a huge feud during his first year with the company, as he managed Big John Studd against the legendary wrestling attraction, Andre The Giant. The feud saw Heenan at his pinacle, as Heenan always protested that his "giant" (Studd) was better than Andre. In the end, "The 8th Wonder of the World reigned supreme, as he repeatedly downed Studd night after night.

During this time, Bobby also managed Paul Orndorff, as Orndorff attempted to wrist the WWF World Title from Hulk Hogan. Though unsuccessfull, this feud remains one of the highlights of the mid-80's for nostalgic WWF fans.

Around the middle or end of 1986, Andre The Giant grew tired of Hulk Hogan's reign at the top. The decision was made to turn Andre heel, as the giant ripped off Hulk's crucifix during an interview.

Soon afterwards, Bobby Heenan emerged as Andre's first known manager, and the man leading this oversized human against "Hulkamania".

The feud would culminate at WrestleMania III in the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, MI at a card that would set the standard for wrestling supercards for many years to come, and is still possibly the most hyped and anticipated card of all-time.

Heenan would stand behind Andre, as he continued to feud with Hulk Hogan throughout 1988. In the mean time, Bobby added Rick Rude as the Intercontinental Champion, and The Brain Busters as WWF World Tag Champions to his Heenan family, and at the beginning of the 90's, it looked as if "The Brain" had outsmarted the wrestling scene.

Near the beginning of the 1990's, Haku and Andre The Giant were teamed together to feud with the popular team of Demolition(Barry Darsow and Bill Eadie). The feud peaked with the Giant and Haku winning the World Tag Titles on an episode of WWF Superstars.

A crash course feud continued that culminated at that year's WrestleMania with Demolition regaining the titles. It was at that card, that Andre The Giant severed ties with Bobby Heenan and made his final face turn.

Bobby would manage through the early nineties when career plaguing neck problems would become too intense night after night, and Heenan would begin his work in the broadcast booth.

Prior to his managerial retirement, "The Brain" would manage one of the all-time greats in that of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.

Afterwards, in the booth, one of the most entertaining broadcast teams of all-time would emerge, as the late Gorilla Monsoon was teamed with Bobby.

The two hosted the popular WWF predecessor to today's Raw, entittled Prime Time Wrestling.

Heenan even had his own 30 minute talk show like segment for a short while, entittled cleverly "The Bobby Heenan Show", and it was on that show that longtime wrestling fans The Rosetti Sisters and the ultra nerdy Jamison made their biggest marks on the wrestling business.

The segment was shunned by the USA Network, who felt that they were paying for a 2 hour wrestling show, and that was what they should get.

In the mid-90's, Heenan made another change, as he went to Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bobby had been wanting more time to spend with his family, and with the WCW deal, he could work only television tapings, which at that time where once or twice a week or every two weeks at times for WCW.

Heenan was paired with Tony Schavione, most times, as he worked for the company until months before their demise, when he was replaced by the everfat and ignorant, Mark Madden.

Bobby was not happy with the WCW company structure, and on many occassions, Heenan has described the difference between WCW and WWF so large that WCW was a minor league equivalent to the Titan Sports mothership of the World Wrestling Federation.

Along the way, Bobby pinned his autobiography with Steve Anderson entittled "Bobby The Brain: Wrestling's Bad Boy Tells All."

The book is available via Heenan's personal website at www.bobbythebrain.com .

"The Brain" made a triumphant return to call the WrestleMania Gimmick Battle Royal alongside longtime broadcast collegue, "Mean" Gene Oakerlund.

However, bad news followed, as Bobby was diagnosed with throat cancer.

Heenan battled the crippling and deadly disease, proving to be the true champion that he is, and as of this past week, "The Brain" has announced that he has a clean bill of health, and is working on a second book with his co-writer from his first book, longtime PWI writer and cartoonist, Steve Anderson.

Looks like Bobby has "Weaseled" out of another situation, but this time we can only hope Heenan gets the last laugh.

Two weeks from now: The Manager's Corner will take a look at the life and times of the legendary "Hollywood Fashion Plate", "Classy" Freddie Blassie. It is one you certainly do not want to miss.

by Kenneth Coker..


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