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Remembering Bobby Heenan

I’m still young enough that Bobby “The Brain” Heenan’s prime was just before my time. When I was growing up and discovering my love for professional wrestling, he was a commentator for WCW, a job he later said he hated. That really sucks to think of. It sucks to think there was ever a time he felt unhappy about anything he was saying or doing because he brought so much joy to so many.

You all have your own unique memory of Heenan, some angle he was involved in, some match he disrupted, some bump he took, some promo he cut. I remember him best as a smartass announcer with the best comedic timing of anyone I’ve ever heard in wrestling.

He took genuinely great historical moments and made them even greater, which is just about the best compliment you can give to a commentator.


The genius of Heenan is on full display here. When Michaels embraces Jannetty, Heenan plays like that’s how it should be:

"Told ya. Told ya. See, one without the other isn't any good."

When Michaels reveals his ruse and superkicks Jannetty literally seconds later:

"Oh, I knew he was gonna do that. I just knew he was gonna do that. He don't need Jannetty! I've told you that, off and on."

Then, one of his greatest calls.

Michaels picks Jannetty up and drives his head through the window. Heenan, right after it (sic):

“Oh my god. Jannetty tried to dive through the window to escape. Did you see that? What an act of cowardism!”

What will always stick with me, though, my fondest memory of Heenan, are just seven words — his call when Hulk Hogan made his way out during a match pitting The Outsiders against Team WCW at Bash at the Beach in 1996. While Tony Schiavone and Dusty Rhodes were cheering his arrival, assuming he was coming to help the good guys, Heenan, who spent more time than anyone running Hogan down on commentary, reacted by saying “yeah, but whose side is he on?”

That night changed wrestling. It changed me. In its own way, it led me here, making a living writing about it. And what I remember most about it, what will stick with me more than anything else, is what Bobby Heenan had to say while it was happening.

He is so much more than that, of course. I can’t even imagine how many lives he touched, how many folks, like me, he made smile with only his words. The words of a man I never met, never even shared a room with, have had a very real impact on my life. That’s amazing.

Bobby Heenan was amazing.

May he rest in peace.

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