RECAPS FROM JHAWK'S BEAK
The Bobby Heenan Shoot Interview
For a change of pace, I thought I'd take a gander at reviewing Bobby Heenan's shoot interview with RF Video, taped at the RF Video offices on 9/29/2001.
Normally I'd have the disclaimer that anything I review here is for sale or trade, but I don't want to get into copyright squabbles with RF Video. (However, should you happen to e-mail me requesting a trade, then hey.)
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the RF Video shoot interview series, basically, they take somebody in the wrestling business and interview them about things such as their start in the business, good and bad things about their co-workers, backstage squabbles, what have you. They also show various matches and interviews from said person's career and intersperse them at various points of the tape, although most of them go at the end of the interview. So anyway, Rob Feinstein and somebody else (don't know who, don't care, so don't e-mail me) are conducting the interview.
But first, we get a classic Bobby Heenan promo, where he says he wants to write a column for the AWA's magazine. Mentions of The Fabulous Ones and Rick Martel peg this at 1984, probably two or three months before his jump to the WWF at the most. Nothing special.
"Pretty Boy" Bobby Heenan (w/The Blackjacks) vs. Cowboy Bob Ellis
From the 1970s, probably from Dick the Bruiser's WWA promotion in Indianapolis. This match is available on the Wrestling Gold series. Heenan comes out on crutches, saying he fell down the steps backstage. He practically begs for a six month postponement. The referee forces Heenan to wrestle anyway, and the ring announcer makes the introductions. One fall, 15 minute time limit. Heenan charges Ellis with the crutch, but he ducks and cleans house on the Blackjacks, then turns his attention to Heenan. Heenan does his classic retreat over the top rope, and complains to the color commentator long enough to get counted out at 1:04. Ellis is interviewed postmatch. The match is a DUD, but the segment's hilarious. Classic Heenan.
Now to the interview
Set up the ring in Indianapolis, carried jackets, etc. Was amazed that people could control crowd reactions just by asking for the opposite of what reaction he wanted.
Heenan got started as a manager because he wanted to wrestle but only weighed 180 at the time. All he had to do was act tough outside the ring and act cowardly inside. Nobody knows how to do that today because it's all T & A, and since you can't beat up a woman (at least without ECW) there's no payoff. "So you look good, like your honeymoon. Until the lights go off."
Heenan worked Indianapolis, St. Louis (as the territory's first manager ever), Minneapolis, Kansas City, Detroit, AWA, NWA, WWF, WCW, Georgia during Ole Anderson's reign, and Paul Boesch at Houston.
Says Ole Anderson had no respect for humans. "Had a size ten foot and a size 9 shoe. Nothing ever makes him happy."
Says there wasn't much money back then, but you didn't care because you loved it.
Says Ray Stevens took him under his wing, but other than that he learned by opening his eyes and seeing what was going on. Claims the underneath guys will always be underneath guys. All you need to be a worker is to put asses in the seats. "People say Hogan can't work anymore, but he still puts asses in the seats. He can work." Says Gorilla Monsoon told him if you're in the business for anything but money, you're in it for the wrong reasons.
Says he never traveled with Da Crusher and Dick the Bruiser, but they were easy to work with in the ring.
Says Ray Stevens was more fun outside the ring. Tells a funny story about Stevens' relationship with his wife. (Hey, some of you want to see this, I won't give all the road stories away.) "That's the kind of guy Ray Stevens was. Everything was fun."
Says Verne Gagne was strict, making you show up on time and work and weird stuff like that that nobody wanted to do. He paid well. Now you know Heenan was gone by the mid-80s.
Tells a funny story about how Nick Bockwinkel would ask the boys about something intellectual and Ray Stevens' reaction to it. Again, you gotta see of them for yourselves.
On Hogan in the AWA: Hogan was getting cheered too much as a heel, so he had to be a face. He was teamed with Johnny Valiant ("he couldn't get over turning on a light"), but he knew Hogan had it.
On Greg Gagne's push: "He (Verne) didn't push him enough. He should have pushed him off a cliff." Does says that Verne had to push himself. He owned the territory and the belt, so how else could he push himself? "He could have grown hair." The AWA folded because Verne didn't know how to keep up with Vince McMahon, which is why he left for the WWF. The AWA stood for "Alzheimer's Wrestling Association" or "All the World's Assholes".
Worked briefly for Eddie Graham as a "working vacation". Has heard Graham was strict, and says wrestlers tend to act that way because they work without insurance or benefits. But it's better than a real job.
Never worked for Stu Hart, but figures it was probably hell. "When you're about to land (in Canada) they tell you to set your watch back to 1949."
Says Hogan brought him into the WWF. Almost didn't go because he didn't want to work everyday, but he was making three times as much for Vince as he was for Verne.
On the Ken Patera-Mr. Saito incident: "Just another night out. Somebody got caught."
First met Vince during promotion for the Muhammed Ali-Antonio Inoki match. He and Bockwinkel introduced themselves to him and Vince shrugged them off, but Vince was nice once Heenan was working for him. "He's never been bad to me."
Thoughts on early managing in the WWF: Studd was too nice to be in the business. Patera should have been a heel all his life because he was always miserable.
Revelation time: Hogan's not actually that bad a guy. "People don't like him because they never got to work with him." Advises those who don't like Hogan that "if you could have drawn money, you'd have been there. The only reason you couldn't work with Hogan is you couldn't draw money."
Never discussed money with anybody because somebody is going to get mad if they find out someone else is making more.
Says Jimmy Snuka was a hell of an athlete.
Remembers Roddy Piper as a youngster of 190 pounds. Piper would wrestle anybody for the experience and had a great mouth, which is sometimes a better asset than ring skills.
Reveals he has TMJ, a nerve disorder in his face and neck that has caused him to slur his words a bit. Was about to have surgery. After this was taped we found out that Bobby's been diagnosed with throat cancer. Get well soon, Brain, we need more people like you. Learned to talk by shaving and looking in the mirror. Everybody does the same interview and uses cliches. Nobody who knows how to get over knows how to be creative.
Advice for the young guys: "Put a .38 through the roof of your mouth. Wrestling's over." Says wrestling is done because the fans know too much. "We showed the people how we do our tricks." Says Houdini and Blackstone couldn't make money revealing their tricks. People who started badmouthing the business couldn't work (Eddy Mansfield, I'm looking in your direction).
Was amazed at the crowd at WrestleMania III. Andre knew it was his last run because he just couldn't get around anymore.
Heenan said the business would have been OK if they'd smartened up the TV people, but not the fans.
Says Paul Orndorff was always a professional.
Says Andre hated people because he was tired of hearing the same questions and knew he only had so much time to live.
Did the Weasel Suit Matches because he always did what he was told.
Kayfabe is dead. Very rarely in the old days did faces and heels go to bars together. They protected the business because if people thought it was fake they'd stop buying tickets. "The funny thing is we never said it was real. You said it was fake. Right?" Compares it to Tom Arnold coming on the air at the beginning of Roseanne and saying they weren't really married. I thought they *were* really married. Maybe I heard him wrong. Says faces and heels were probably arrested hundreds of times before Duggan and Iron Shiek, but the WWF was getting popular so it got publicity.
Says The Missing Link wanted Heenan to be his manager...as in a business manager. Heenan didn't do that or promote because he didn't want to be responsible for other people's lives.
Says he helped produced interviews while he was working for the WWF. Nobody could produce The Ultimate Warrior because "he was too good for the business". I think he was sarcastic. Vince allowed guys to do their own thing if they wanted to.
Got into announcing by taking over Prime Time while Jesse Ventura was filming Predator. Also covered for Jesse for MSG shows and was given Wrestling Challenge. Thinks Ventura's problem with Hogan was Ventura being jealous of Hogan. Jesse was a great talker, but when the bell rang, it was over. He could draw people, but he couldn't entertain you in the ring. But Bobby can't be governor, so no disgrace to Jesse.
Gives nothing but praise to Gorilla Monsoon and nearly chokes on his words through the whole segment. They never rehearsed anything for Prime Time Wrestling, and would even make things up just before filming. He tells a funny story about a Halloween episode they did. Gorilla was upset about a Tucson shoot because he missed the Super Bowl. Being the Brain was a great gimmick because if something goes wrong, big deal, it works for the gimmick.
The Rosatti sisters were friends of Vince McMahon--real fans--who got TV time. Way too much, in my opinion.
Says Terry Taylor was never going to be a top guy so he became a rooster. Steve Lombardi didn't know how to be a Brawler. "He washed his shirts! Nobody watches their shirts, you're a brawler!" The only difference between a cab driver and a limo driver is the outfit.
Says he doesn't like Terry Taylor because he lied to him in WCW. "It was trivial little kid shit, and that's why he's where he is."
Liked announcing better because he didn't get touched.
Made more money managing in the main event. Only managed the Red Rooster for TV time.
Tells a funny story about Studd cutting Andre's hair, then a funnier story about Andre drinking in the first class section of an airplane.
Vince came up with the Bobby Heenan Show, but USA nixed it because they didn't realize it was still wrestling. Thinks it could work now, but you couldn't time laughs without an audience. The guests (aside from Jamison) were real people they found on the street. Says the porno queen (Heather Hunter) wasn't sexy because she was underdressed. She's in porn, Bobby, her entire job is to be naked. You're right though.
Rick Rude didn't want a manager because he felt he could get over on his own, but if Vince thought so, he'd have been on his own.
The Ultimate Warrior didn't understand the business. Tells of when The Ultimate Warrior would work too stiff with his clotheslines against Andre during a run of house shows until Andre merely stuck his fist out into his face. The next night, Warrior comes in slowly, taps Andre, and Andre looks down at Heenan and says "He's learning." Says you couldn't have a good match with Andre unless Andre wanted you to. Tells of instances of Andre being rough with Jake Roberts and The Iron Sheik.
Heenan was only put with Flair because Flair wasn't free from his contract yet. Flair was a fun guy to manage.
Heenan broke his neck in 1983 and quit managing in the early 90s due to the pain.
Has nothing but praise for Curt Hennig.
In the ring, loved working with Red Bastien, Pepper Gomez, Greg Gagne, and Jim Brunzell. Didn't like working with Warrior because he had no respect for wrestlers. Pat O'Connor once told him, "Why not learn how to work? That's how you make your money."
Heenan's favorite WWF angle was working with Andre against Hogan.
How was Japan? "Full of Japs." Working there was OK. You work for a month and go home.
Nobody in the locker room cared when the sex scandal broke out. "What would the reaction be if they found out somebody in the music industry smoked dope?"
Discusses the long stretches of non-stop working, including Neidhart working almost three months without a day off and one stretch in Georgia where Heenan worked every day from February to Thanksgiving.
Says Haku was a class guy.
More praise for Vince McMahon.
Liked The British Bulldogs and thinks they were the first team to work like a tag team.
Heard stories of Randy Savage's poor treatment of Elizabeth, but said if Savage was so concerned about how the boys would treat her he shouldn't have brought her in.
Says Sid took offense to Heenan making an on-air comment that implied he was stupid. I guess the truth hurts. Also discusses Kanyon's gimmick and says he suggested Kanyon suck up to the crowd and then bitch when he got booed. Says Kanyon just wasn't ready to be elevated.
Says Jake Roberts was tremendously talented but had a lot of psychological problems.
Hasn't seen Beyond the Mat, or watched any wrestling movie or read any wrestling book. Feels they're only there to make the business look bad and he can look bad on his own.
Liked Arn Anderson more than Tully Blanchard, but was close to Tully's dad.
Left the WWF on good terms. Wanted to take a year off to be closer to his daughter, but accepted the WCW offer when it came. He was still closer to his daughter and he got paid.
Said Eric Bischoff originally asked Heenan to do just the Sunday night show until Ventura left the company. He got three raises so he doesn't have any problems with Eric. But there's no comparison to Vince. "Whoever made the decision to beat Goldberg, that was bad. But whoever OK'd it...that was worse. That's what killed the wrestling business." Tells how Goldberg and Mark McGwire were talking prior to a game, and nobody from WCW even filmed it while Vince would have produced it. Vince cared more because it was his own money while Eric used Ted Turner's money.
On the Brian Pillman incident: Was watching the monitor and thought it was a fan. He was worried about his neck and cursed at him.
Has no idea why wrestlers try to get over by going after broadcasters when they're rarely on camera, especially with everybody getting out of limos. Tony Schiavone didn't like the fans and refused to tell Heenan or Tenay anything. WCW wanted things to look like a shoot, but Heenan wouldn't say anything because he couldn't react to something that never happened.
Steve McMichael got the Nitro job because he was up for an Emmy for doing football on the radio, but it bombed. "Bobby Heenan cannot do hockey. I can't even pronounce the names." Says Mark Madden only got on the air because they wanted an "MTV look". "Yeah, that's a good look."
We're at the halfway point, so we go back to Bruiser's WWA and another match from the Wrestling Gold series.
Little Bruiser, Da Crusher and Dick Da Bruiser vs. The Blackjacks and Bobby Heenan
Why yes, Heenan is countered with a midget Bruiser lookalike, thank you very much. Jim Cornette once said this is one of his favorite matches, but why I don't know.
Little Bruiser challenges Heenan before the bell, and he gets it. Heenan goes to his knees to be his size, and Little Bruiser hits a cheap shot dropkick. I always wondered why we were supposed to cheer the faces when they often cheated more than the heels. Pretty much what you'd expect here. Anytime Big Bruiser and Crusher are in, Heenan isn't, at least not for long. Little Bruiser shows he's the template for Little Beaver by coming in at will and getting cheap shots in on the Blackjacks. I repeat, why am I supposed to cheer for Little Bruiser? Hell, I was 8 years old at WrestleMania III and was pissed that Bundy didn't splash Little Beaver. Oh, you mean there's a match? Sorry, they're either brawling, resting, or setting up for a midget run-in. The heels finally isolate Crusher, but Bruiser immediately heads to that corner and attacks. No wonder this fed died out in the late 70s. Heenan comes in against Crusher, and Little Bruiser runs in and bites him on the ass. So Vince got the idea for The Bushwhackers from this match too? The announcer shows that all he cares about is his paycheck by saying "What a great six man tag team match this is" every minute or so. Lanza is legal now, and walks into the wrong corner to be cheap shotted by...you guessed it, the guy who shouldn't be anywhere near the ring with these guys. The heels can't even be heels, because everytime they try they get thwarted. It looks like the nWo when it started getting old the first time. Heel miscommunication spot...Heenan is bumping like a madman as usual. Heenan juices during a brawl on the floor (where all we saw were arms flying while the camera was focused mostly on Little Bruiser being by himself in the ring). Don't ask me where it rates on the Muta scale, I've never seen that particular blade job. Little Bruiser holds Heenan up while Big Bruiser and Crusher whip the Blackjacks into him. Little Bruiser then goes to the top, hits both Blackjacks with flying bodypresses for separate two counts, then goes up top and splashes Heenan (who is being held down by Bruiser and Crusher) for the pin at 11:46. No heel offense=bad match. *, and that's being generous since I like Heenan and the crowd was into it. They try to salvage heel heat by having the Blackjacks take out Little Bruiser and lay out Crusher, but it's too little too late.
Back to the Brain...
Heenan never liked squash matches because it gave the average fan a chance to get a beer while he waited to see the interview. Better matches gave the fans something to see. Heenan reiterates that Warrior didn't care about anything but his image. Heenan says simply kicking out of a bodyslam would have buried the Warrior and killed his image. Never did it because the fans paid their salaries and fed them.
Liked the initial concept of Monday Night Raw, particularly the atmosphere of the Manhattan Center.
Heenan says there are too many PPVs, particularly when the TV matches are sometimes as good as the PPV. Four a year was fine, but with monthly pay-per-views, WrestleMania's the only one that matters.
Heenan kept in touch with Gorilla until the day he died, as his daughter called him the night before and said he was coming home. Rob and Heenan share Gorilla stories for a few minutes, which leads to Heenan discussing his last night with the WWF and Gorilla throwing him out of the arena. Patterson suggested Heenan have bras and panties in his bag for when it was thrown at him. "I said, 'Pat, I think when we pack for the road, we pack differently.'" Heenan then talks about saying goodbye to Gorilla at the hotel.
Heenan got no respect at WCW. He suggested that Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne come to the ring in an ambulance against The Nasty Boys and was told, "You're just an announcer, we'll come up with those ideas." "That's when I figured it out. Every two weeks, cash your paycheck." Talks about how disorganized WCW was. And if they think he's a jerk: "Is WCW still in business?" He used to care about the business until that. "Pay me, I'll go home." Heenan tried to entertain people because he knew some people didn't think it was real. Discussed how Brian Adams wanted Heenan to get him over because he was serious and then threw weak looking punches. "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit."
Says business improved with the arrival of Hall and Nash, and if produced properly Hall could be of use to the WWF. Nash was just a big guy, but Hall was charismatic. Heenan told Hall to do the toothpick toward the camera thing and got comfortable once he gained confidence.
Guys would ask him for advice and he said, "Pretend you're doing it for real." It doesn't necessarily work for everybody, but it always worked for him.
Doesn't want to take credit for someone getting over and likes to think they got over because they got over themselves. Said the Valiants couldn't work and could talk, but at the wrong times. "They were like your honeymoon. The next night's not that great."
Doesn't know how Bischoff changed when business went up because Bischoff never bothered to talk to anybody. "We were just lucky that we were number one for 81 weeks in a row." Said the Billionaire Ted vignettes and Goldberg made them number one. Says he would have made Goldberg 3000-0 and pushed his Jewish background, because that and his look would have been huge. Once he was beat, it cost over 200 jobs. They made him job not for his own good, but for personal gain.
Says he never had talks with ECW. Called Vince when he was released by WCW but outside of WrestleMania didn't hear anything from him. Said working WrestleMania was fun, but he won't go to the WWF if he has to work everyday. Wants to do personal appearances and that sort of thing, but doesn't want full-time work.
Thinks business will drop because the fans know what's going to happen, and Vince has no competition.
Heenan was phased out for missing two days in six years. One for his mother-in-law's funeral, another for strep throat. Madden replaced him the second time and that was it. Says Vince Russo had no idea about the business. Said he'd bet that McMahon used 1 out of every 20 good ideas Russo had and changed that one to what he wanted.
Heenan's favorite announcers to work with were Gorilla, Mean Gene, and Mike Tenay.
Heard about McMahon buying WCW through a phone call. Figured McMahon only bought it for the tape library. He's only using the underneath guys and it doesn't work.
Says he had fun at WrestleMania talking to the Dudley Boyz, Eddie Guerrero, Iron Shiek , and Hillbilly Jim, to name a few. Looked at it as an opportunity, but had to get out of the house because he's starting to see his wife as Nicole Simpson.
Said lucha libre was fine once in a while, but if they brought in two guys and 12 masks nobody would have known the difference. Questions how many times you can get hit with a garbage can or a guitar and not get hurt.
If he had to single out one guy for the downfall of WCW, it's whoever said "OK, we'll do that," whether it was Eric Bischoff or Harvey Schiller. Doesn't know who actually made those decisions, and doesn't think Turner even knew where his money was going.
Said the top guys had a locker room with a "Do Not Enter" sign on the door and "Donuts Dillinger" guarding the door. Reveals that Dillinger's duty as a police officer was driving the motorcycle at funerals. "There was no security there. How many times did you see somebody jump into the ring?"
Enjoyed the Women of Wrestling PPV. The women worked hard and David McClane treated him well. "It was no worse doing WOW than working a WCW match." It's entertainment. If you want to see wrestling, go to IU.
Would like to do radio, but would need to work with somebody because he can't talk for three hours.
Says his references could be outdated, but you don't see anything different. Bischoff booked a Mexican midget battle royal and told Bobby not to say anything because they didn't want people writing in. Takes part of the blame for not caring but says he had no reason to care.
Likes Jim Ross because he's always prepared. Paul Heyman's a nice guy but he's never worked with him.
Says he doesn't watch indy promotions.
Had a decision between going to medical school or "to trip and distract" and chose to get into wrestling.
Enjoyed working the Arsenio Hall Show, and tells a story of his wife stealing part of the gift basket of food.
Outside of that time Sid didn't want to look stupid, he didn't have heat with anybody.
Word association time.
Bruiser Brody: "Very selfish." Would try to screw the promoters over but didn't realize the guy in the opener needed that job to pay the bills.
Abdullah the Butcher: "Lazy." Big fat guy with a fork.
Jerry Lawler: "Fortunate." Managed to survive being raised in small territory. This leads to a story about working Memphis. Good people, but hillbilly mentality...no money.
Jimmy Valiant: "Pig."
Superstar Billy Graham: "Great talker."
Don Muraco: "Good guy."
King Kong Bundy: "Good guy." Heenan tells a funny story about Bundy on an airplane.
Dr. D David Schultz: "He was a redneck before rednecks were cool." Believed wrestling was real. Doesn't know if Vince put him up to slapping John Stossel, but knows he wouldn't unless he was told to.
Talks about the boys pulling pranks.
Guys got along better in the 60s because they all drove to the towns, and you learn to talk in the car. Now they fly to the towns and spend their time in the gym. Almost took steroids until Rocky Montero (old timer wrestler and boxer) told him it would screw up his kidneys, so he never took it.
Drinking in the old days was never a problem. There was a bar at every corner in Milwaukee. Guys stay to themselves so nobody knows whether they're doing drugs or not. If you're not getting a drink after the matches, you're drinking Ovaltine at 9:00 with Tony Schiavone.
Fritz Von Erich: Liked Fritz, but only knew Kerry as far as the sons went.
Bret Hart: Always wanted to know where he was going and what he was doing. The Owen thing was a tragedy. Owen was the only guy outside of some of the officials and road agents who said goodbye when he left the WWF. Doesn't know the whole story about Montreal, but Vince owns the belt so you do what he tells you. If Hart had the creative control clause in the contract, that's Vince's fault, but Bobby would have just done the job, taken the paycheck and gone home.
On rumors that Andre wasn't doing the job to Hogan: "Andre wouldn't have done that to Vince McMahon." Thinks Hogan was worried, but it was Andre's idea. He realized it was his last big payday and asked for Heenan to be his manager because Andre trusted Heenan. He just wanted to make his money on the way out.
Thinks Goldberg could be bigger than Austin if he was in the WWF.
Lou Thesz: "Lou Thesz was World Champion in 1937. I was jumping from ball to ball thinking about becoming a bastard." Thesz is a great guy, but his view of the business has passed him by.
Bruno Sammartino: "He's a good guy, but he's bitter about the business." Thinks anybody who got nothing out of the business should get out of it and if they made money at it, then shut up.
Called Vince McMahon Sr. every six months for years, but never went to the WWWF because he already had Blassie, Albano, and the Grand Wizard. Vince Sr. was going to bring him in around the time Vince Jr. took over but died while Heenan was in Japan.
On his broken neck: Was wrestling Onita and Haku in a tag match. I'm not sure if he means Atsushi Onita or not, hard to tell since I'm not exactly a Japanese wrestling expert. Haku slammed him and Onita came off the top with a legdrop, but landed on his face. Heenan couldn't get the surgery until he was working for WCW in 1995 because he didn't have insurance before that.
Never worked for Bill Watts because they worked every day and drove. "I wanted to work for the WWF, not Triple A."
The Sheik was his first friend in the business. Sheik would give him rides to the bus station so he didn't have to hitchhike home. Detroit folded because he ran out of ideas, but a 20-year run is nothing to be ashamed of.
The toughest species on the planet is women. "Who else do you know that bleeds for a week and lives?" I think you stole that off of South Park, Bobby.
Favorite promotion besides the WWF was the AWA. It was like a family. They played golf, had parties, and went out together.
When asked if he has any regrets, he jokingly wishes he was World Champion so he could make the same money and get screwed more. Then says he wishes he would have stood up for himself more.
Worked for Jim Barnett in 1979 and later for WCW. They ask Bobby for an impression and he says he'd have to rip off his shirt and pretend he was a lumberjack.
Would have liked to manage Hogan because that's where the money was and he was easy to deal with. Doesn't keep in contact with anybody because you'll wind up bitching about somebody or something.
Triple H dedicates himself to the business, but wishes he had a little more color. Thinks the Rock is great.
Thinks Vince would have done it without Hogan and Hogan probably would have done it without Vince, but the two of them together worked.
Message to the fans: "The magic is over. Everybody knows how we do the tricks. God bless the memories, and God bless the fans, and God bless America. NOW WHO PAYS ME FOR THIS SON OF A...?"
End of interview, but we have action.
Dick Da Bruiser and Bobo Brazil vs. Da Original Sheik and Da Brain
Clipped action from White Sox Park in Chicago, sometime in the 1970s. This is used as a highlight thing off of something, and the announcer sounds like Wolfman Jack but without the personality. Outdoors means no fans are actually visible on screen, so I gotta say I love the canned heat. The announcer starts to sing "The Sheik of Arabi" during a stall session. Just to piss me off, I guess. Randy Savage is taking pictures at ringside. I mention it because it's more exciting than the actual match. Heenan is playing heel in peril and is merely bumping fodder for Bruiser and Brazil. Sheik finally comes in against Brazil and hits Bobo with his infamous pencil. Yes, fans bought that. This might actually be from the late 60s as Sheik and Bruiser still have some dark hair mixed in with the grey. Now Heenan comes in and begins bumping again. Normally I'd be pissed I'm not getting the whole match, but as DDP would say in this case, that's a good thing. Bobo with a series of Coco Butts and Heenan rolls out of the ring. Cheap shot by Sheik, and he pins Bobo at 6:26 aired. I was going to be generous with that one, but for the life of me I can't figure out what the finish was. DUD
Heenan badmouths somebody with no charisma that I don't recognize, which leads to a brawl. This was setting up some match, but for the life of me, I don't know what one. I think that's Dino Bravo, actually.
Mexican Strap Match: Da Brain vs. Pepper Gomez
Apparently the difference between this is the color of the strap. The Wolfman Jack wannabe said so. The rules are the same and everything. Another clipped match. Heenan gets to two corners but that's it. Gomez backdrops Heenan and ties his hands with the strap and gets to two corners. The announcer takes 45 seconds questioning the need for the referee, then says "It must be to say 'You've touched the second corner.'" No shit, Mr. Obvious. Who's buried in Grant's tomb? "Grant?" No wonder they pay you the big money. And apparently two minutes later, the referee's never stopped counting corners, as Heenan knocks Gomez into a corner and the ref ends the match at 3:53 aired. This is why strap matches suck. It's the same sort of finish every time. Not even a bump from Heenan outside the backdrop. DUD, but only because I don't give negative ratings.
Cage Match: Da Brain vs. Pepper Gomez
You've got to be shitting me. Again, this is clipped with a Wolfman Jack wannabe on commentary.
Heenan chokes out Gomez, then clip to the choke being in the corner. Heenan begins to pound away on Gomez and climbs the corner to try to take apart the cage. Clip to Gomez ripping the brass knuckles off of Heenan's hand (a trick that's sure to be stolen at No Way Out) and Gomez uses them on Heenan. Heenan juices as usual. Gomez is bleeding as well, to be fair. Heenan finally gains control with a low blow and stomps away at Gomez. We're in the 1970s, where men were men and sheep were scared. Gomez makes another comeback, still wearing the brass knuckles. Clip to Heenan trying to climb the cage, but Gomez knocks him off. Cover by Gomez only gets 2. Heenan tries to climb the cage again, but we clip to Gomez with an arm draped over Heenan. No count from the referee. Unless he did count, because the bell rings inexplicably at 6:12 aired. What is up with these clips? Still, best match of the tape so far. *
Sam Menacker interviews Heenan to hype Menacker/Dick the Bruiser vs. The Valiant Brothers in Ft. Wayne. Every so often Menacker begins to argue with Heenan. I think that's Lanza with Heenan, but I don't know for sure. Apparently Menacker has been getting involved in matches to counteract outside interference so Heenan decked him. Good interview, but we don't actually see the match.
Gordon Solie interviews Heenan and Killer Karl Cox in Georgia.
Later, Gordon is with Tony Atlas and some short blond guy I feel I should know but can't place. Atlas and the other guy challenge Heenan to get into the ring and bring a partner. Atlas: "Especially Cox, because I like that Cox." Atlas wants to team with Chuck and Billy now? Good thing Patterson never saw that interview or we'd have gotten nothing but Atlas-Adrian Adonis matches in 1986. Atlas just happens to have a contract handy, which Heenan signs without reading. Of course, it's Heenan and Cox against Atlas and Andre the Giant. Heenan throws a fit of course. Another good interview despite Atlas sounding like a slave in some B film.
Gordon Solie interviews Bobby Heenan and The Masked Superstar. Apparently Ole Anderson has booked himself into a face run, and Heenan questions how he can suddenly be trusted. Then Superstar (who was Bill Eadie, aka Demolition Ax) discusses his return to Georgia. They're hyping a six man tag coming up later that week. Heenan actually messes up the interview but sells it well.
Now an old AWA interview circa January 1983, where Gene Okerlund interviews Bobby Heenan, Bob Duncum, and Ken Patera. They're in an upcoming battle royal, but Heenan has to wrestle Buck Zumhofe and Duncum and Patera have to face Hogan and Tito Santana. Usual stuff here.
One fall with a one hour time limit: Ken Patera/Da Brain/Jesse Da Governor vs. Da High Flyers/Hulk Hogan
March 13, 1983 from St. Paul, Minnesota's Civic Center. Okerlund is the ring announcer here. Ventura is subbing for Bob Duncum, who's injured or signing with the WWF or something. The heels dedicate the match to Duncum because match dedications piss people off. The High Flyers are Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne, and (surprise surprise) they're the tag champs at this point. You know the balding yellow one, but he actually has hair here. Oh fuck, not Ron Tronguard on play by play. All six brawl as the bell rings and the faces clear the ring. Interesting to see Ventura and Hogan single each other out in that initial segment. Hogan does a Fargo strut on the apron, which is good for a laugh. Over 19,000 in attendance. The real number's probably around 6,000 or something, it's the AWA for chrissakes. Heenan outweighs Gagne by 12 pounds. Finally Hulk and Jesse start, and we cut to commercial. Back from break at the same spot we left (thank God). Tronguard refers to Ventura as Mr. V, and I might have to steal that from now on to save time. Hogan works on Ventura's arm and Mr. V tags out to Patera. Patera with a headlock, thrown off, and shoulderblocked into the wrong corner, and the faces go to work. Gagne tags in. Kneelift. Patera backs into the corner and the "weasel" chants start. Gagne works on Patera's arm now. Tag to Brunzell, who continues working on Patera's arm. Okerlund makes the 5 minute call as Brunzell works a hammerlock. The heels finally isolate Brunzell in the corner, and Heenan tags in. Heenan with some offense, but Brunzell reverses a corner whip and Heenan hits the corner hard. Gagne tagged back in, and he beats on not only Heenan, but Patera and Jesse too. Yeah, I buy that, sure. Patera runs in and beats on Gagne, but the faces make a save. The heels are getting only slightly more offense than the previous six man at this point. Things calm down, and Patera bodyslams Gagne for 2 and goes into a bearhug. We take another break, and an Eric Bischoff voiceover tells us this is shown for the AWA's 40th Anniversary. Pretty good for a fed that died at 31, huh? Now Ventura tags in and bearhugs Gagne, so we can officially call him a smaller Ricky Morton. 10 minute call from Mean Gene. Ventura with the inverted body vice. Brunzell makes a save, but Heenan comes in and prevents a tag. Gagne breaks free and tags Hogan but "Blind as a Bat" Robert Warren doesn't see it. Now Patera is in and beating on Gagne. Cover for 2 3/4. Ventura tags in and Gagne fights back, but just briefly. Choke lift by Mr. V. And a legdrop for 2. GIMMICK INFRINGEMENT! Tag to Patera, and a flying axhandle to the back. Punch to the midsection. Gagne slides underneath Patera's leg and the HOT TAG to Brunzell. Patera quickly tags out to Ventura, and Brunzell into the figure-four (or if you're Tronguard, an Indian deathlock. Save by Heenan and the crowd is nuts for Hogan. Patera tags in and suplexes Brunzell for 1, but Brunzell quickly tags in Hogan. Hogan cleans house on every heel, and here's our pier six brawl as Mean Gene makes the 15 minute call. In the midst of the brawl, Hogan slams Heenan and hits the Big Leg Drop for the pin at 15:33 (according to Mean Gene). Or 16:23 (according to Tronguard). Eh, we saw 14:34. Not bad though, especially for the AWA. **1/4 Huge postmatch brawl as usual for a six man tag.
20-man battle royal
October 17, 1982 from St. Paul. We join it in progress with 10 or 11 guys in. Early eliminations that we see: somebody (I was typing and didn't see who), Jim Brunzell, Greg Gagne, Jerry "Crusher" Blackwell and Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie (better known as General Adnan). Down to six, and Andre the Giant eliminates Bobby Duncum with a Big Boot. Heenan eliminates himself running from Andre, and Andre eliminates himself to chase Heenan to the back. So it's Hogan, Patera, and Nick Bockwinkel remaining, and you can guess the finish from here. Hogan eliminates Bockwinkel, then Patera, and wins in 5:29 aired. Battle royals suck. 1/2*
4 on 2 Handicap Match: Hulk Hogan and Andre Da Giant vs. Bobby Heenan, Bobby Duncum, Ken Patera, and Nick Bockwinkel
One guess who jobs here. Again from St. Paul, this time on November 28, 1982. We join in progress with Andre chopping at Heenan, who quickly tags Hogan. Now all six guys are in the ring until we eventually go down to Andre squashing Heenan in the corner. You can't even see poor Bobby, it's that bad. Bockwinkel tries to help, then Patera, but dice. Hogan grabs Bockwinkel, chokes him and drops it. Irish whip, thumb to the throat (what did Bockwinkel do to deserve this blatant cheating), but charges into the corner and misses. Hogan sells the shoulder as the heels take turns working over Hogan. The referee is Leo Nomellini, who had a successful career with the San Francisco 49ers before settling into a decent wrestling career. Apparently Hogan had "injured" this arm previously, which would have coincided with the filming of Rocky III. 15 minute call from Okerlund and Ron Tronguard informs us it's one fall, one hour. The heels are still taking turns working on Hogan's arm. Hogan takes Duncum over with armdrags (!) and tags Andre. Andre cleans house on all four heels then tags out to Hogan. Big Boot to Duncum, Big Leg, and at 2, ANDRE pulls Hogan off. Andre with Big Boots to Duncum and Patera, then he slams Hogan onto Duncum for the cover and holds off Patera and Bockwinkel so Nomellini can make the 3 count. Um...so Andre pulls Hogan off and then puts him on Duncum for the pin? I guess somebody was late making the save. Decent enough, but the finish confused the hell out of me. 7:04 shown. * And another postmatch brawl. Hogan was so over, only a moron would have kept him away from the title. Oh wait, Verne did. At least somebody who wasn't named Bobby Heenan got pinned.
Da Brain vs. Buck Zumhofe
Do we have to close with Buck freaking Zunhofe? Zumhofe was best known as "Rock 'n' Roll" Buck Zumhofe, who carried a boom box to the ring. Too bad he looked like a stoned version of Alan Jackson. Zumhofe lost any momentum he had with some jail time, which incidently didn't cost him his job, as he won the AWA Light Heavyweight Title in August of 1990. On the last ever AWA TV taping. The irony of it all. Anyway, this is from the Winnepeg Arena, I'd say around 1982 or so. It has a ten minute time limit, and if Heenan doesn't beat Zumhofe he has to wear a weasel suit, which should give away the ending right there. Stall session to start as Zumhofe runs from Heenan. Yes, ZUMHOFE runs from HEENAN. But he does hit Heenan with a dropkick for 2. Okerlund, doing double duty as commentator and ring announcer, announces 8 minutes are left. Bobby with a bodyslam for 1. Zumhofe back to running as Heenan gets frustrated. Lockup, headlock by Buck, throw off, backdrop by Heenan, Buck lands on his feet, dropkick, Heenan to the floor, 7 minutes remain. Series of dropkicks when Heenan returns to the ring, then a series of faceslams. Cover for a two count. Stomp to Heenan's stomach, but barely. Bodyslam. Stomp to the midsection again. One guy in the crowd chants for Bobby as a snap mare type thing gets two at the 6 minutes to go call. Zumhofe with a series of punches to the corner, whips Heenan into the other corner, and Heenan goes to the eyes. Knee to the back at the 5 minute call. Cover for 2. Heenan using standard brawling to work over Zumhofe, and another count of 2. Zumhofe makes a comeback. Turnbuckle smash. Punch, whip, dropkick, Heenan's head hits the turnbuckle. Heenan regains the advantage with 4 minutes left. Flying sitdown splash from the second turnbuckle for 2. On their knees, Zumhofe with punches and a 2 count. And Heenan comes back with a shot to the throat. Double-axhandle, and a near fall. 3 minutes to go. Bobby with an atomic drop for 2. Now it's Zumhofe with an atomic drop for 2. Why isn't Zumhofe just putting a chinlock on and letting the time run? Heenan goes to the eyes with 2 minutes to go. European uppercut by Bobby for 2, and Zumhofe coming back again. Clothesline by Heenan, and a near fall. Zumhofe ducks a clothesline and charges Bobby with a flying bodypress, and Zumhofe hits the top rope throat first and falls hard. Holy shit! Bobby covers at the 1 minute call, but picks Zumhofe up at 2, and guess how this one ends now. Punch. Knee to the midsection, cover, 2. Now Heenan's shocked. Bodyslam with 30 seconds left and a 2 count. 20 seconds. Suplex for 2. 10 seconds. Bodyslam, kickout, cover, kickout, time limit. Zumhofe is declared the winner for lasting the full 10 minutes, so Bobby must wear the weasel suit. Much better match than I ever anticipated. Good flow, no formula to it at all. *** Match even went a full 11 minutes, unlike the 6:35 it would have gone under WCW's accelerated stopwatch.
After the match, Heenan tries to back out of wearing the suit, but finally relents when promoter Wally Karbo (affectionately dubbed Wally Caribou by Jesse Ventura) threatens to ban him from Nick Bockwinkel's corner and suspend him. Luckily for Bobby he didn't have to wear the head. Zumhofe reenters the ring just so Bobby will chase him around while wearing the suit. Bobby takes off the suit to "weasel" chants.
Plug for www.rfvideo.com.
The Last Word: Top notch interview. You have to hear the stories I didn't relate, some of them are as funny--or more--than the ones I described. Also interesting to see Bobby Heenan in the ring, as I honestly expected mostly interviews and Heenan managing other people's matches. What is funny though is the disappointment in Feinstein's voice. You can tell Rob was hoping to ask who Bobby likes in the indies, and that got shot to hell when Bobby said he doesn't watch them. Also funny to hear Bobby say he started as a manager, only to have Feinstein ask about two minutes later, "So why did you make the transition from wrestling to managing?" Get past that and some of the awful awful matches and it's a solid way to spend 3 1/2 hours.