Bobby "The Brain" Heenan

Interview with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
Lekisha F. Oliver


Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and I sat down about three weeks ago for an interview. Before reading this interview, I must admit that this was one of the most entertaining and eye opening interviews that I have ever conducted. Bobby goes into some detail about his cancer, his problems with his broken neck before WrestleMaina II, and many stories that should make the book. Stories from the road, where he would like to be in the wrestling business? Check out this interview, Bobbys site at and send comments to

Without further ado, the Belle of the Brawl gives you, Bobby "The Brain" Hennan.

Lekisha Oliver [Belle of the Brawl (BB)]: How are you doing?
Bobby Hennan (BH): "Well I got up. So thats a good start."

BB: First off, everyones been asking how you have been lately.
BH: "Well, Ive been doing good, you know? I mean it could be worse. I could be taking a dirt nap."

BB: After the surgery, a lot of people were wondering when you would be returning to the WWE, if ever.
BH: "Well, Im finished with my chemo, and my radiation. I had surgery on the 13th of March. And itll be about November when Im back to 100%, if Im ever 100% again, but the only problem Im having right now is theres some words Im having trouble saying. But itll get better, but other than that, Ive lost about 50 pounds and I feel pretty good. As far as me going back to the WWE, I dont think I will. I dont think I can get involved in a weekly thing and be under contract. Its a different product from when I left. Id rather do other things in life. Maybe do commercials, or represent a product. I might even write another book. But right now, Im getting ready to go on tour with this book. "

BB: When does it come out?
BH: "It comes out on the 28th of August."

BB: Whats the title of the book?
BH: " Bobby The Brain: Wrestlings Bad Boy Tells All." Its the only real thing in wrestling."

BB: Well at least youll be able to actually get your story out there.
BH: "Sure. And people deserve to read some inside stuff. They supported it all these years, and nobody ever gave them anything. And, you know, were not wrestlers. If you want to see wrestling, go to a high school gym. Were actors and were very good at what we do. Weve never been recognized publicly for what we do. People see us as like circus people or something like that. "

BB: Many people have watched you as a wrestler, as a manager, and also as a commentator. Which do you favor more and why?
BH: "Commentating."


BB: Yeah?
BH: "Absolutely. You dont get picked up and tossed around as much. Sure. Wrestling was my second favorite. Managing I hated because youve got your back to the fans, and the people are kind of worried about people like Mr. Perfect. Everyone knew they couldnt beat Perfect. But they knew that they could send the women and the children out to beat me. You stand there with your back to something like three-fourths of the building, trying not to worry about something like someone trying to reach out and do something to you. But people that do that stuff are cowards. But commentating was the most fun."

BB: You recently got to call the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania. What was it like working with people like Gene Okerlund again?
BH: "Gene and I have been friends for over 30 years. He only lives about 50 miles down the road from me. We talk occasionally, and play golf, were good friends. We had just come from WCW where it was like going from T-Ball to playing for the Yankees. And, it was just a different production. Some people I had known for years were there, and they made you feel loved. It was just a completely different atmosphere than what I was used to the last 6 years. It was fun to work with professional people."

BB: What in your opinion was the ultimate downfall of World Championship Wrestling?
BH: "Easy, it was mismanaged. Vince McMahon owns the WWE. Thats his baby, thats his child. Hes invested billions in it. Hes not going to let it roll on its back and die. WCW was handed to Eric Bischoff. He was a commentator when he came there. The only reason he was made Executive of the place was because nobody wanted the job. Its like somebody asking me if I wanted to be President of the United States. Why would I take a pay cut and move into a bad neighborhood?! SO Bischoff takes this job and gets all these guys like Hogan, Savage, Hall, Nash, and these Luchidore wrestlers. "Well why use these Mexican wrestlers?" Well, there happens to be a lot of Hispanics in this country, and in fact, the number one TV station and radio station in Los Angeles is Spanish. Thats a good draw, were in this business for ratings. I figured what put the nail in the coffin was when they beat Bill Goldberg. I mean, Ive only seen this one other time in my life, when everyone was so solidly behind someone, and that someone was Hogan. People used to stand outside the building with posters and signs at four in the afternoon and we didnt go on the air until like 8pm. They were all chanting "Goldberg, Goldberg." I mean, he was next in line, and this organization didnt know what to do with him. Guys were jealous because he was making all this money after only being in the business for so long. Hey, you make what you can. Now everyones mad at the baseball players. What happens when you give a twenty-five year old player $5 million? Hes going to make mistakes. And whos representing him? Attorneys. So there you go. And thats what happened to WCW. It was run by people who had absolutely no knowledge of the business."

BB: Well, I heard you werent exactly shocked when Eric Bischoff showed up on "Raw." It wasnt really that big of a shock, but it kind of shook some people up. Did you see it as step towards something different, or was it the kindergartners running the classroom again?

BH: "No, um, hes being used by the WWE to do something. Whether hes there to draw a number, I dont know. Hes not there because they like him, hes there because they can use him for something, and thats what this business is about. Dont worry as much about the horse as whats in the wagon. So they dont really care about you in any real business. They just use you. If you can get that in your mind that theyre using you for whatever money, thats fine. In my opinion, wrestlings over. Because if you want to see something real, turn on Cops, or Worlds Wildest Videos. You even turn on CNN. Theyve got live pictures of real things going wrong in this world. There you have a war starting up in Iraq, Israeli is fighting with Palestinians all the time. And just because they throw some fat slob with paint on his face Through a table, the people are gonna go nuts? I think its over."


BB: You dont ever see it coming back?
BH: "Back in the old day, you had four channels. ABC, CBS, NBC, and the independents. Now youve got 200 channels. Nowadays, nobodys got time to watch TV anymore. People are playing on computers. Plus theyre charging $10 for parking. $50 for the tickets, and $5 for the hot dog. By the time you leave the stadium, its time to take out a second mortgage on the home!"

BB: Thats about right.
BH: "Yeah, and you watch all this other stuff and they think thats real! And they dont take time to develop personality. You walk past someone on the street, you dont know who they are. There was a time when I was in the WWF when you walked through the airport, you had to get some security. I like to see a wrestler in boots and trunks. I like to know where hes from. If hes from Chicago, or Milwaukee. I wanna know if hes from Milwaukee, is a beer drinker, and likes to go bowling. He talks about this for four or five weeks and now everyone knows who he is. This guys a Polish guy from Milwaukee who likes to bowl. He starts talking about his 7-10 split and now his personality takes over. Now, you dont know where the guys from. He looks like hes fresh from the X-Games, looking like he fell off of his roller blades. Theyve got their hats on sideways. Maybe its more youth-oriented that it was before, I dont know."

BB: Well, youve seen it grow from "wrasslin" to wrestling, and now to sports entertainment. What changed have you witnessed that has made it better or worse?
BH: "Oh, its better. I didnt like the old product. Some people like the old Packers, or old Chevys. Me, I like new Mercedes. The sport changes with television, and TV is in its biggest change right now. It gets into more homes now. Before TV, you really couldnt get recognized. Now it goes from coast to coast, border to border. You can draw more money. You have to make your production better. That means adding pyro, lights, entrances. I remember doing TV in Pittsburgh when there were 25 people in the studio and they had things painted up with pink faces to make it look like there were 50. Thats what changed everything. The production changed everything. And the wrestlers are bigger now that they were before. Back then, a 250-pound guy was a big guy. Now you got 200 pound guys playing high school ball."

BB: You were saying that you have to look like a Rock or a Brock to make it in the business now.

BH: "Yeah, and Ive said it before. I wouldnt advise anyone to get into wrestling, because theres no benefits. If you break your leg or your back, thats it. I broke my neck in 1983. And I couldnt have my neck operated on until 1995, till I had insurance. It was like a pinched nerve all those years. The doctors done an MRI and it showed that I had broke two vertebra and I had to have two bones from my hip put into my neck. And the night before WrestleMania II, I was told by the WWF bookers that if I didnt make L.A. for the match with Hogan and Bundy, I would be let go. So, I left the hospital, flew from Tampa to L.A., went to the ring, worked the match, took a bump for Hogan. After that, I immediately caught a Redeye back to Tampa, went back to the hospital, and they said, "Where have you been?" and I said, "I went to L.A. to wrestle." They said, "Youre nuts!"I said, "No, its my neck." So you have to do what you have to do sometimes."

BB: Youve become one of the most recognized names in the industry.
BH: "Ive always said Id probably have a lot more fan mail, but I ran out of stamps."

BB: Everybody has their wild encounters with fans. Whats the most insane one youve seen
So far.
BH: "Im in Houston one night and this old lady walks up to me. She kind of looks like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies walk up to ringside and starts cussing me like a sailor. She finally spit at me and her teeth came out. And they bounced and landed right in front of me. I raised my leg like I was going to stomp on them, she turned and said, "Please, please, those are the only teeth Ive got." So I picked them up and gave them back to her. She took them, dusted them off, and put them back in her mouth and proceeded to tell me that my parents were never married. Oh was I laughing. I thought it could be worse. I could wake up in the morning and see her shoes on the floor and her behind me."

BB: Did you ever think of going to college?
BH: "I never finished the 8th grade. I quit school when I was 15. Its all in the books. I quit school to support my mom, my grandmother and my aunt. I just started working back in 1950."

BB: Have you ever considered going back?
BH: "No, by the time I was in my 20s I was geared for wrestling. Once I got established, I learned more in a weekend walking through an airport than most people learn in a lifetime of going to school. So, education is important, because you have to have it to get a decent job. People today just dont get by like I did. I didnt plan to be in this business. I just always liked it. If I didnt get into this business and only had a 7th grade education, Id probably be selling Id probably be the Ovaltine. Man. I could sell Ovaltine at a bowling alley. Have you seen the commercial?! Who the hell wants Ovaltine in a bowling alley??!! "Hi Im from Milwaukee, let me introduce you to the club members, while were at it, lets get a fresh gallon of Ovaltine in here." THEY WANT BEER! What kind of guy is this? He probably lives across the street from a daycare, and dresses up like a duck. And they never had a full shave did they? Always had a half shave and played a game called "Name That Sting". My luck. Id wind up as a porn star begging for work. "Heres your next one, Mr. Heenan, Miss Roseanne Barr." No thank you. Ill go to college, I swear. Ill be a brain surgeon in a half-hour. But no, Ive always like sports to. I never did anything competitive in my life. "

BB: Is there anything in the book thats going to shock people, or are they going to have to read the book?
BH: "Theyll have to read the book, because I dont know what shocks people. Its like I was on a plane one time and this lady sitting next to me says, "Do I have enough time to go to the bathroom?" I said, "Only you would know that. How would I know if you have enough time? Can you hold it for an hour? Is this going to be a photo finish or what? I dont know if youll have enough time" So, like I said, I dont know what shocks people and what doesnt. I think theyll enjoy it, because its not like 7000 pages of straight text. Theres pictures in it. And Hulk Hogan did the forward for the book. Nobody in my life has ever said anything that nice about me. So its very interesting to do. It tells about my cancer, and the time I dated the two Siamese twins. Yeah, the girl broke up with me because she saw I was going out with her sister. I used to go to England every 6 months so the other one could drive. Im sitting in the hospital watching all these kids with no hair, theyve got IVs in their arms, and theyre happy. And I dont know why. They havent lived long enough to do anything in this world. Theyre the tough guys in this world, those guys. I just find everything amusing. I just deal with it."

BB: Well this has definitely been one of the most entertaining interviews Ive ever done, and I want to thank you for that.
BH: "And its fun doing it nude, isnt it?"


BH: "Its fun doing it nude."

BB: Im not going there!
BH: "Next time we do this, well have a videophone."

BB: OK,.um..any final comments?
BH: "Yeah. I remember this fan of mine who had the letter "B" on each one of her you know and when she bent over, my buddy looked at me and said, "Hey, whos Bob?" Remember, friend in need is a pest."

BB: A pest, thank you very much.
BH: "Anytime."

Thank you to Bobby for this interview and I wish him all the best in the world.  You are welcome back anytime!  ~Lekisha