Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is unquestionably the greatest wrestling manager in history. Heck, we even named him as much in our Top 50 Wrestling Managers list some time back. In addition to being a top-notch manager of champions and one of the wittiest interviews ever, The Brain was also a memorable color commentator and even a part-time competitor with career highlights in the AWA, WWF and WCW. Shortly before his passing in 2017, he granted us a brief e-mail interview, which stands out as a career highlight.
In ranking the Top 50 Bobby The Brain Heenan Memories... well, this is really a list of my own personal reflections, so it won't adhere to the usual standards of rankings and formulas that are usually used in these Top 50 lists.
Please note: Having been a wrestling fan for the past 30 or so years, I don't have many memories of Heenan in the AWA or earlier in his career (though I do include a few I've seen thanks to the magic of YouTube and WWE Network). So while there were surely some tremendous Heenan memories before 1985... most of them aren't reflected here. I also elected to remove any Heenan appearances on Arsenio Hall, Regis & Kathie Lee, Family Feud, David Letterman, Politically Incorrect, etc.... even though they were amazing, I'm sticking to the squared circle here.
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Ready? Here we go!
"I am not a weasel!"
One of Bobby Heenan's best qualities was his ability to handle punishment, be it physical or verbal. In 1985, he and client Big John Studd appeared on WWF's Tuesday Night Titans program, and host Vince McMahon brought out a child and his ferret, forcing Heenan to declare that he looked nothing like a weasel.
Selling a slave?
In 1988, Bobby Heenan was the manager of Hercules, and the two appeared on an interview set with The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and Virgil. DiBiase explained that he had always wanted his own personal slave, and that Heenan had sold Hercules' contract to him for that role. Hercules was not pleased.
"Wrong again, Brain"
One of my favorite episodes of Prime Time Wrestling was on May 16, 1988. Gorilla Monsoon was on a fishing and Bobby Heenan couldn't handle hosting the show himself. Whenever Heenan tried to introduce the next match, the writing across the screen would say "Wrong again, Brain" to Heenan's dismay.
Gorilla position in heaven
The Monday after Gorilla Monsoon passed away in October 1999, WCW announcers Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan paid tribute to the legend. Heenan did the bulk of the tribute due to their close friendship, and said that the pearly gates of heaven would be renamed to "The Gorilla Position."
Revenge of the Rooster
After Bobby Heenan was dumped by The Red Rooster, the two met in a match that went on right before the main event of WrestleMania V. It may have been because Heenan was injured in an earlier match by The Ultimate Warrior, but The Rooster was able to quickly defeat his former manager in only 31 seconds.
"You're Fired!" (Part 1)
The first time that Paul Orndorff fired Bobby The Brain Heenan, it was on an episode of Tuesday Night Titans in 1985, in the weeks following the first WrestleMania. Orndorff was visibly upset by how Heenan was describing the outcome and eventually fired The Brain before storming off the talk show set.
While Bobby Heenan's commentary work in WCW wasn't the most memorable, his call at Bash At The Beach in 1996 is remembered to this day. As Hulk Hogan entered the arena to aid WCW instead of the invaders Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, Heenan said "Whose side is he on?" potentially spoiling Hulk's heel turn.
Pop goes The Weasel
Greg Gagne was the first wrestler to battle Bobby Heenan in a "Weasel Suit" match when the two clashed in 1980. Although Heenan didn't stand a chance of winning the match, Gagne won by putting The Brain to sleep with a sleeperhold. After he was revived, Heenan was wearing a weasel costume to the fans' delight.
Surprised by Santa
The Prime Time Wrestling episode that appeared on December 25, 1989 featured a special appearance by Santa Claus (a/k/a Bobby Heenan). Throughout the how, Santa kept insulting Rowdy Roddy Piper, who was speaking from a different set. Eventually, Piper had enough and showed up to attack The Brain.
The King of England
SummerSlam 1992 was one of the more memorable among WWF/E's annual event, in that it took place in front of a packed Wembley Stadium in London, England and featured many unique matches. Bobby Heenan, announcing the event with Vince McMahon, declared himself to be the new King of England.
Coronation (Part 1)
On August 30, 1986, Bobby Heenan gathered all of the WWF's heels in the ring for the promotion's first-ever coronation. Harley Race, who had won a King of the Ring tournament, walked to the ring in a robe and crown as Heenan proclaimed Race to be "The King Of Professional Wrestling" to boos.
Mania make-out session
WrestleMania XX was Bobby Heenan's final appearance at Mania, but arguably one of his funniest. Jonathan Coachman was backstage looking for The Undertaker and came across Heenan and Gene Okerlund with their clothes disheveled - they had been making out with Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young.
Dropping an F-Bomb
Bobby Heenan's WCW commentary wasn't nearly as memorable as his work in the WWF. But during one appearance on Monday Nitro in 1997, The Brain was commentating at ringside when Brian Pillman suddenly grabbed Heenan on the shoulder, causing him to shout "What the f*ck are you doing?" on live television.
Hurt by Hogan
Nobody, whether they were a wrestler or manager, took better bumps than Bobby Heenan, which he proved in spades at WrestleMania II. At the conclusion of the main event steel cage match between Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy, The Hulkster cornered Heenan and beat him senseless within the steel cage.
Bobby Heenan's biggest client (in every sense of the term) was Andre The Giant, a partnership that lasted three solid years. But after Andre and Haku dropped the WWF Tag Team Championship to Demolition at WrestleMania VI. After the match, Heenan yelled at Andre and was slapped in the face for his troubles.
Heenan Family Values
Bobby Heenan would rarely bring his entire Heenan Family together for interviews, but there were a few key times. One time, The Brain brought Rick Rude, Hercules and Andre The Giant to support the recently-injured King Harley Race and yell "Long Live The King!" -- sadly, all those men are no longer with us.
"Now I have a Brain!"
While I'm certainly not aware of the bulk of Bobby Heenan's AWA work, one of the best promos I've seen was an in-ring interview with clients Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens. Declaring he was no longer "Pretty Boy" Heenan, Bobby explained his more famous nickname -- and that he was now using his brain.
Bobby Heenan always knew how to make a tremendous entrance, and nowhere was that more evident than at WrestleMania IX from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. While others came to the ring in togas and with gladiators in tow, Heenan arrived sitting backwards on a camel while feigning losing his balance.
WrestleMania IV was a little more humiliating for Bobby Heenan than the previous year's event. In a six-man tag team match, The Brain teamed up with The Islanders vs. The British Bulldogs (no relation) and Koko B. Ware. While Heenan got the surprise pin, he was attacked by The Bulldogs' mascot Matilda.
After years of toiling in the WWF without a single champion to show for it, Bobby Heenan walked his client Ravishing Rick Rude into WrestleMania V as the decided underdog. Despite being ravaged by The Ultimate Warrior throughout the match, Heenan helped snare Rude the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
Bobby Heenan's next singles champion in the WWF came from a man he didn't even manage at the beginning of the title match! Mr. Perfect and Tito Santana were in a tournament to win the vacant WWF Intercontinental Championship and Heenan emerged at ringside to assist Perfect in winning the championship.
The Real World's Champion
In September 1991, Bobby Heenan showed up on WWF television holding the NWA World Championship belt, which was the property of NWA defector Ric Flair. Heenan claimed Flair was the Real World's Champion and comparing Flair's belt to Hulk Hogan's was like comparing "ice cream to horse manure."
In December 1984, Andre The Giant chose S.D. Jones to be his tag team partner against Heenan Family members Big John Studd and Ken Patera. Jones didn't fare very well and soon, Studd, Patera and Heenan were triple-teaming the Giant, cutting Andre's iconic long hair, and keeping his locks as a souvenir.
Retired from Raw
Bobby Heenan's final night as an announcer on Monday Night Raw came on December 6, 1993. Gorilla Mnsoon had warned Heenan about his antics several times, and physically pulled The Brain from his commentary position and threw him out of the arena and into the streets. It was a memorable farewell segment.
Andre and The Brain
On February 7, 1987, Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant were scheduled to appear on Piper's Pit to discuss their differences. However, Andre brought out Bobby "The Brain" Heenan as his new manager, effectively turning heel. Heenan cut a promo saying that Andre was tired of The Hulkster ducking Andre's challenges.
Battle of the Docs
Bobby Heenan appeared on Prime Time Wrestling in July 1987 in a neck brace, and brought in "Dr. Von Braundberg" to claim The Brain had legitimately injured his neck. The doctor was outed as a quack, and the following week, Gorilla Monsoon brought in "Dr. George Nelson" to disprove Heenan's story.
Rage against The Machines
On August 2, 1986, Andre The Giant had been suspended and a masked newcomer named The Giant Machine seemingly took his place. Heenan was so incensed with the development that he introduced "Kim Duk" and "Pak San" from Korea -- King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd wearing paper bag masks.
One of Bobby Heenan's final appearances on a pro wrestling program was on TNA Impact on September 7, 2006, when he was trying to sign free agent Bobby Roode to a contract. Meeting in a limo, Heenan promised the future Glorious one prime real estate and cash if he signed with The Brain.
Wild west weasel
One of the more memorable episodes of Prime Time Wresting during its heyday featured Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon visiting the set of a cowboy movie. Heenan managed to weasel his way on the set as an extra, and ended up bungling each one of his scenes, including being caught in an on-set explosion.
Battling the Boss Man
During the fall of 1990, Bobby Heenan continually made fun of Big Boss Man's mother, theoretically to set up a rivalry between Boss Man and Heenan's charge Ravishing Rick Rude. However, Rude quit the promotion (in storyline, he was suspended for Heenan's remarks) and Heenan was left to fend for himself.
"You're Fired!" (Part 2)
Within the next year, Paul Orndorff and Bobby Heenan had mended fences but the relationship was beginning to sour due to Heenan's other client, Ravishing Rick Rude. During an interview segment on August 22, 1987, Orndorff told The Brain that not only was he on board with Rude, but that Heenan was again fired.
"She started it!"
Bobby Heenan was forced to leave ringside several times on Saturday's Night Main Event, but perhaps the funniest instance of it was when his charge Ravishing Rick Rude was taking on Dusty Rhodes. After Heenan interfered on Rude's behalf, he blamed Rhodes' manager Sapphire, yelling that "she started it!"
Warrior vs. Weasel
Eight years after the previous "Weasel Suit" match, the costume was dusted off again when Heenan met the up and coming Ultimate Warrior for a series of matches in the summer of 1988. Without having his client Hercules to protect him, Heenan was easily pinned by Warrior and stuffed in the weasel suit again.
Sneaking into Raw
The very first episode of Monday Night Raw aired on January 11, 1993, and Bobby Heenan was trying to get inside The Manhattan Center to be part of the festivities. Dressed in drag as commentator Rob Bartlett's aunt and then later as "Uncle Morty Feldman," The Brain was unable to enter the building.
On the March 1, 1986 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, Bobby Heenan managed The Magnificent Muraco against Hulk Hogan (instead of regular manager Mr. Fuji). It turned out to be a set-up, as Heenan's charge King Kong Bundy would attack The Hulkster, injuring his ribs with the Avalanche.
Coronation (Part 2)
Less than two years later, Harley Race was injured during a match with Hulk Hogan and unable to perform his duties as King. As a result, Bobby Heenan held another coronation on March 7, 1988, transforming his former tag team client Haku into King Haku, and setting up an eventual feud for when Race returned.
No debating it
In 1987, Ken Patera returned to the WWF after a stay in prison, threatening to get even with Bobby Heenan, who "sold him down the river" while he was locked up. The two men had a debate on WWF television, which ended with Patera wrapping Heenan's belt around The Brain's neck and whipping him around.
Not a Perfect day
In 1992, Randy Savage asked Bobby Heenan affiliate Mr. Perfect to be his tag team partner against Heenan Family member Ric Flair and Razor Ramon. Perfect accepted the proposal on Prime Time Wrestling and as a result, Heenan went ballistic with the idea, arguing wih Perfect and turning him into a babyface.
It was at WCW Clash of the Champions XXVI on January 27, 1994 that Bobby Heenan made his first non-WWF appearance in about a decade. While Mean Gene Okerlund was introducing the show, Heenan walked out on stage, saying he'd come to WCW at the request of "Ted and Jane" before calling the show.
The Narcissist debuts
For weeks leading up to the 1993 Royal Rumble, Bobby Heenan appeared on WWF television to hype his newest client, a man initially known as "Narcissus." By the time the Rumble happened, his name was changed to The Narcisisst, which ended up being the debut of former WCW World Champion Lex Luger.
One of the highlights of the 1988 Slammy Awards was a recurring joke between Hacksaw Jim Duggan and King Harley Race. Duggan and Race (along with Heenan) ended up brawling backstage throughout the show, with Heenan as the butt of visual gags, such as being hit with pies and falling under a donkey.
Bobby Heenan's first appearance in a WWF ring in roughly eight years happened at WrestleMania X-7, where he and Mean Gene Okerlund were the surprise commentators for the Gimmick Battle Royal. Heenan came up with tons of one-liners about The Iron Sheik, Repo Man and even Okerlund himself.
WrestleMania III was arguably one of Bobby Heenan's biggest nights, even if the win-loss record didn't reflect that. Of matches involving his top clients Hercules, King Kong Bundy, King Harley Race and Andre The Giant, only Race got a "W". Andre, of course, lost to Hulk Hogan in the night's legendary main event.
The First Nitro
While Bobby Heenan barely made it to the debut of Monday Night Raw, he was a prominent part of WCW's Monday Nitro debut on September 4, 1995. Acting as a "broadcast journalist" for the announce table, Heenan constantly butted heads with his broadcast colleagues Eric Bischoff and Steve McMichael.
Shortly after Ravishing Rick Rude struck gold, Bobby Heenan's next pair of champions were crowned on July 18, 1989. His team of The Brain Busters (Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson) outsmarted WWF Tag Team Champions Demolition by winning the title despite one of the three falls ending in a DQ.
Wonderful heel turn
One of Bobby Heenan's many dirty tricks paid off in 1986. After Paul Orndorff fired him, The Brain constantly taunted Orndorff, saying he was too dependent on his new friend Hulk Hogan. But at the end of a tag team match on WWF television, Orndorff turned on Hogan and sided again with Heenan.
"I knew he was gonna do that!"
One of Bobby Heenan's most memorable lines on commentary was during the segment that Shawn Michaels turned on Marty Jannetty in late 1991. Heenan told fans that he knew The Rockers were better together, until Michaels superkicked Jannetty, at which time Heenan said "I knew he was gonna do that!"
The Bobby Heenan Show
In July 1989, the WWF decided to give half an hour of their Prime Time Wrestling block (without alerting the USA Network) to something called The Bobby Heenan Show. The talk show featured comedy, non-wrestling guests and the debut of Jamison. Unfortunately, the show only lasted four episodes.
"Not fair to Flair!"
Bobby Heenan's comedy performance at the 1992 Royal Rumble is the stuff of legend. Ric Flair entered the match at # 3 and was a longshot to survive the entire match and win the WWF World Championship. Heenan's commentary was priceless as he screamed and shouted with each near-elimination of Flair.
Hall of Famer
March 13, 2004 may have been Bobby The Brain Heenan's greatest moment in the wrestling industry, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame some 50 years after he began in the business. Heenan's speech was arguably the greatest in Hall of Fame history, with The Brain not letting a voice ravaged by throat cancer get in the way of keeping the audience (and fellow inductees) in stitches for over 20 minutes, proving why he was one of the all-time greatest.