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Wrestling / Bobby Heenan

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The Brain

"A friend in need is a pest."

Raymond Louis Heenan (November 1, 1944 – September 17, 2017), better known as Bobby "The Brain" Heenan was one of Professional Wrestling's most famous managers (and possibly the most successful), working throughout WWE's "Federation Years" of the '80s and '90s as the manager of many a great wrestler and tag team, often running his collective of wrestlers under the name of "The Heenan Family". The Family was constantly opposed by Hulk Hogan, and many of the wrestlers Heenan managed met with bitter defeat at Hogan's hands, despite Heenan's efforts to tilt the odds in their favor.

Aside from his managerial duties, Heenan was also a color commentator; he was one-half of (arguably) the greatest commentary duo in the history of the industry (with the late Gorilla Monsoon), and he also worked for WCW for a number of years. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.

Heenan passed away on September 17, 2017, at the age of 73. He had battled throat cancer for 15 years.

"Read my tropes, you humanoids":

  • Acrofatic: Could take insane bumps in his rare matches that seemed to defy gravity at times.
  • Arch-Enemy: Dick the Bruiser, The Crusher, Tommy Rich, and most especially Hulk Hogan. His hatred for Hogan extended from WWF into WCW, to the point that Hogan's Face–Heel Turn to the nWo actually made Heenan turn face.
  • Bad Boss: Implied. When he and Gorilla were on commentary and he'd be praising some heel and talking about possibly managing him, Gorilla would ask how much of the guy's earnings Heenan would take for himself.
  • Bad Santa: Famously on the Christmas Day, 1989, episode of WWF Prime Time Wrestling, where Heenan — dressed as Santa — openly mocked the tradition and declared there was no Santa, riling Roddy Piper up enough to get his ass kicked. The skit and the WWF were widely criticized for this episode, given that many viewers in the audience were children who still believed in Santa. Of course those people missed the point that Bobby had always been portrayed as The Gadfly and a Jerkass, so the kids would have no reason to believe him.
  • Big "NO!": When Hogan beat Ric Flair at Bash at the Beach 1994, Heenan responded with a series of these.
  • Big "YES!": The 1992 Royal Rumble, which was won by Ric Flair. The pinnacle of his announcing career was capped off by over half a dozen of these:
    Bobby Heenan: YES! YES! YES! YES! YES, YES, YES! HE DID IT!
  • Biography: His 2002 autobiography Bobby The Brain: Wrestling's Bad Boy Tells All.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The fun thing about this job is that he could trash awful wrestlers and claim it's in-character.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
    • An American version, with Heenan as the Boke to Gorilla Monsoon's Tsukkomi. Happened practically once a match:
      Bobby Heenan: <outlandish or absurd remark>
      Gorilla Monsoon: (exasperated) Will you stop?!
    • He did the same routine with Tony Schiavone, although since Heenan and Schiavone didn't have the same chemistry that Heenan had with Monsoon, they didn't come up with any memorable exchanges. Whereas Monsoon would seemingly try to shut Heenan up, he did it in a way that fed Heenan to retort, so they would keep volleying insults back and forth. Schiavone would act like a brick wall and shut down any attempts by Heenan ("no, it's not", or "shut up.") to get a similar flow going.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • At WrestleMania VI in 1990, was managing the WWE World Tag Team Champions the Colossal Connection (André the Giant and Haku) against the challengers Demolition. After the Demos won the match and the titles, after Andre's attempt at interference backfired against Haku (who had wrestled the entire match himself due to Andre's physical decline), Brain got in Andre's face and yelled at him for costing them the titles. Andre proceeded to slap the heck out of Brain, thus turning himself face, and left to the cheers of the crowd.
    • When Heenan's client Mr Perfect agreed to be Randy Savage's tag partner in his match against Razor Ramon and Ric Flair at the 1992 Survivor Series, despite the former's attempts to dissuade him, an enraged Heenan slapped Perfect. Perfect proceeded to grab him by his shirt collar and dumped water over his head as Heenan pathetically begged for mercy.
  • Cassandra Truth: Had bashed Hulk Hogan for years as a bad person, then ended up looking like he was right when Hogan turned heel, launching the nWo. In fact, that night, when Hogan came out, ostensibly to aid the faces, Heenan (to the derision of the other commentators) was the only one to actually ask whose side Hogan was actually on. The line was unscripted, though, and earned him a reprimand from management for nearly giving the twist away. That said, according to Heenan's book, WCW boss Eric Bischoff imposed that kind of Genre Blindness on the announcers, since he wanted them to call the action as if it was a "shoot" (real). Heenan said he told Bischoff that they'd never seen a shoot and that if they saw one they wouldn't know it. So it's very likely Heenan was relying on his character's hatred for Hogan to take him through that spot and trying to sound utterly obnoxious about it all the while so the inevitable Hogan save could make him look like the foolish heel again…and then Hogan dropped the leg and proved the bitter fool correct and he reacted accordingly.
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • Obviously not as much as an announcer (aside from his infamous run-in with Brian Pillman), but as a manager he was known to be a tad colorful at ringside.
    • Part of his rant at André the Giant prior to André's face turn at WrestleMania VI included repeatedly yelling at him "I'M THE FUCKING BOSS!" 1990's, very PG, kid-oriented WWF no less!
  • Comically Missing the Point/Literal-Minded:
    GORILLA MONSOON: "I'd hate to be in the Macho Man's shoes right now."
    BOBBY THE BRAIN HEENAN: "Of course he wears a Size 12, you wear a Size 16."
  • Deadpan Snarker: A grandmaster of it.
  • Dirty Coward: Heenan's career as a wrestler could mostly be described as this. He wasn't even that bad, which really made it worse. He could try to put up a fight but against any opponent who could legitimately hurt him Heenan would try to back out of the match or take a count out loss.
  • Dirty Old Man: While certainly never to the extent of, say, Jerry Lawler in WWE, but, he had his moments:
    • During the Jacqueline vs. Disco Inferno match at WCW Halloween Havoc 97, Jacqueline suffered a nipple slip while executing a Russian Legsweep, and Heenan said, "Replay!"
    • Tony Schiavone asked Heenan why he didn't clap for the Nitro Girls' dance routine on the August 16, 1999 episode of WCW Monday Nitro. His answer: "It's impossible to clap with only one hand."
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The This Tuesday In Texas pay-per-view event where Jake Roberts slaps Miss Elizabeth across the face (after forcing her to beg for Randy Savage's safety). Even he seemed shocked that Roberts put his hands on a much smaller woman, and was sure that he was going to DDT her into oblivion.
    • While he was already established as anti-nWo, his Tranquil Fury moment at the parody of Arn Anderson's retirement speech also could qualify. "It's not funny anymore...not when you know Arn Anderson like we do..."
  • Fun T-Shirt: His collection of garish sweatshirts on WWF Prime Time, ranging from Ivy League schools (Harvard, Princeton), to the China Club, MENSA, etc.
  • The Gadfly: This was pretty much his role on commentary in WCW, especially with Tony Schiavone, as he'd tell Blatant Lies or do anything he could think of to provoke/crack up/annoy him.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Told Vince Mcmahon "I hate a guy with a big mouth" at Summerslam 1993. Vince responded "Me too."
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Could be considered this during the days of Hulkamania as The Man Behind the Man to Hogan’s many adversaries.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Rhinestone-covered tracksuits, gold medallions, glitter jackets, fat bowties, and a Tony Clifton ruffled shirt that would embarrass a 70s prom date. And this was in the days of Nitro, when Jimmy Hart wore a bland suit to work.
  • Ironic Nickname: Inverted, as judging by his look and personality, he's a none-too-bright commentator. But every now and then he'd let slip a dry remark, revealing it to be an act.
  • Jerkass: Naturally, given his status as a heel. Bobby is arrogant, selfish, cowardly, cheap and is contemptuous of anyone he deems beneath him (which is most people) and a suck-up to superiors. Out of character, he said there's a HUGE difference between Raymond Louis Heenan the man and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan the character.
  • Legacy Character:
  • Motor Mouth: An amalgam of every annoying sports agent on Earth. It was also one of his greatest strengths as a manager.
  • Neck Lift: Was on the receiving end of many of these, usually when he tried to interfere in his wrestlers' matches and the face would catch him.
    • Heenan suffered a neck injury during the AWA's 1983 tour of Japan, which eventually resulted in him being declared "hands-off" (i.e. wrestlers couldn't manhandle him anymore). Brian Pillman apparently wasn't made aware of this before he grabbed Heenan by the neck on the January 23, 1996 Clash of Champions.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When The Undertaker and Paul Bearer were guests on the June 29, 1992 episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Heenan—who had disparaged the two the previous week—is unusually critical of the heels while praising the faces, a change that the other panelists note, though Heenan insists that nothing's wrong—as 'Taker glares at the Brain from across the table.
  • Only Sane Man: Became trapped in this role at WCW. Like most ex-WWF guys on the roster, he was hired solely for name recognition, as Bischoff and others delighted in making him look utterly impotent (i.e. literally handcuffing him to the desk, or having Madusa dose him with WCW cologne with zero provocation).
  • Pet the Dog: The Brain's heart grew three sizes at WrestleMania VII, when Randy Savage accepted his defeat with grace and reunited with Miss Elizabeth. He also (reluctantly) acknowledged that Hogan defeating American traitor Sgt. Slaughter to win the WWF championship later in the card was a victory for America. Of course, he was back to his money-grubbing ways when the credits rolled, leading into his Schiff One-Liner.
  • Power Stable: The Heenan Family, in the World Wrestling Association in Indianapolis, the American Wrestling Association, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and WWE from the late 1960s until 1991.
  • Pretty Boy: He was billed as a pretty boy before he was billed as "the brain".
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: As a commentator, Heenan would make himself look either oblivious or seriously delusional, all for the sake of putting the heels over. In the WWF Prime Time segments with Vince and company, he dropped the act and behaved like his real self: a serenely-smug chucklehead.
  • Racist Grandpa: Heenan ripped on the faces a lot while a commentator, but none so much as Tito Santana. Interestingly, Tito was actually one of Heenan's favorite wrestlers in real life, and Heenan's constant ripping of him was an attempt to garner fan support for him.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: At WrestleMania V, former protege (turned face) Terry "The Red Rooster" Taylor squashed him in seconds, after Heenan charged a turnbuckle and fell down. A five minute match was planned, but Heenan did this improvised finish because the Ultimate Warrior (legitimately) hurt him earlier and he didn't feel he could do the planned match. Bobby became one of the Warrior's biggest critics. He felt that he was hurt because the Warrior was careless, and didn't seem to care a whit that he truly hurt Bobby in the match. According to Heenan's book, Vince McMahon told them that all they should need is 30 seconds.
  • Red Baron: "Pretty Boy," "Brain" (taken from Eddie Creatchman), "The Weasel" (imposed on him by The Crusher) which stuck with him as a derogatory nickname for the rest of his career. Roddy Piper called him "Boobs" when they did commentary together.
  • Shout-Out: After Wrath squashed Olympic bobsledder-turned-pro-wrestler Chip Minton on the December 3, 1998 episode of WCW Thunder, Heenan on commentary said, "So much for Rosebud."
  • Soft Water: Ad-libbed at WCW Halloween Havoc 95, after Hogan pushed The Giant off the roof of Cobo Hall at the end of their Monster Truck challenge. Believing him to be dead from the fall, Bobby asked what side he fell into, river or street (with the implication being that falling into the water makes recovery much more difficult). However, Eric and Tony did not appreciate him poking holes in this story's logic and cut him off immediately. "What difference does it make?" (A man is DEAD, Heenan!) Cue on-camera facepalm from the Brain.
  • Still Got It: Heenan proved he was still one of the best talkers in wrestling when he returned with "Mean" Gene Okerlund to do commentary for the Gimmick Battle Royale at Wrestlemania X-Seven. The massive cheers the crowd gave him when he came down the ramp speaks for itself.
  • Stunned Silence: The famous shoot with Madusa and a trash bin. Probably the only time in his life when Heenan was left speechless. As per usual on Nitro, he wasn't briefed on what would happen, so his reaction is genuine. (Bischoff and Steve "Mongo" McMichael are unfazed, swatting Madusa away like a fly at a picnic, while Heenan looks like he's been shocked with a cattle prod.)
  • Talk Show with Fists: In response to his snarking abilities and willingness to do virtually EVERYTHING to gain attention, Bobby Heenan was awarded his own talk show. Not an in-ring interview segment, not a "Piper's Pit" style roadshow, an actual hour long talk-show!
  • Tuckerization: Dick the Bruiser gave Heenan the name "Bobby" since he reminded Bruiser of "The Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers's manager Bobby Davis.
  • Unknown Rival: Bobby had a long history of speaking very negatively about Tony Schiavone, especially in Heenan's autobiography. Schiavone has claimed he held no ill will towards Bobby, and never did. He always speaks very highly of Bobby even to this day and never reciprocated the potshots.
  • Unrelated Brothers: with Jerry Heenan, real name John Hill, who, among other names, also did this gimmick as "Gentleman" Jerry Valiant, with "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant (real name James Fanning) and "Luscious" Johnny Valiant (real name Thomas Sullivan), who weren't related to each other either.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: While working for Dick the Bruiser's World Wrestling Association in Indianapolis in the 1960s, he once showed up for a match against "Cowboy" Bob Ellis on crutches, while pleading for a postponement (only four or five months!) Of course, Heenan "recovered" and tried attacking Ellis, who fought off both Heenan AND his Tag Team The Blackjacks by himself. Heenan took a bump over the top rope to the floor and got counted out while arguing with the commentators.


Video Example(s):


Andre the Giant Heel Turn

Documentary clip tells the story of Andre the Giant's Heel Turn against Hulk Hogan before Wrestlemania III.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / FaceHeelTurn

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