Whenever Bobby Heenan was announcing, he was ready to lay a verbal smackdown. Simply, there was no one better at coming up with such clever lines on the fly as his improvising abilities were better than anything someone could have written down for him, and even better than most comedian’s meticulously thought-out comedy routines.
He was sharp, quick-witted, and blunt; never wanting to shy away from anything, always ready to cross the line. Wherever the imaginary line was drawn, Heenan would find a way to cross it, by way of being edgy, controversial, and, at times, downright offensive. Though he did not do it for shock value; he did knowing what he wanted to do: make the babyface more sympathetic, and the heel more hated.
The term “alternative facts” came out recently, though Heenan should be accredited for it. He was thee voice of distrust; a heavily biased announcer who had no problem bending and even snapping the eyes of reality.
Unlike his predecessors, Heenan viewed wrestling color commentary differently than sports color commentary. After all, a sports announcer needs to remain objective in his criticism to show that he is neutral on a game, because there are no natural heels and babyfaces in sports, both teams have a fan base. In contrast, wrestling has natural good guys and natural bad guys, meaning biased commentary is the best way to make wrestlers either more liked or hated. (also, a sports team cheating is rare whereas it’s common in wrestling).
As aforementioned, Heenan’s approach accomplished its objective more so than ever before, in addition to bringing more color and entertainment to the announcing both. He turned the booth into a three-ring circus, highly-entertaining trash TV.
In a normal announcing setting, both Monsoon and Heenan would have been fired in a New York minute. They sophomorically insulted each other; they belittled one another; they intensely argued with each other, and almost got into brawls…but it all worked perfectly. Heenan and Monsoon’s ongoing feud was typically more entertaining than anything going on in the ring, and nothing is better than an announce team that have the ability to make something “dead on arrival” entertaining nevertheless.
Many have tried to emulate Heenan but few have succeeded, for reason that it seems easier than it looks. Whenever someone is that over-the-top, that foolish, and that unreasonable – they’re almost certainly going to lose credibility and will be written off by the fans as a rambling buffoon (see JBL).
What separated Heenan from the rest of the pack was authenticity. He hid in his role so well that you could not separate the man from the character. He was so convincing in how he articulated himself that he truly seemed to be that in the dark; but, despite being so in the dark, he came off as a self-congratulatory know-it-all, who always smugly patted himself on the back for being right even though he was clearly wrong; and, because of his ingenious pure and utter ignorance, fans did not write him off; they truly despised him and therefore despised everyone he liked and liked everyone he hated.
In addition to being the greatest CC of all time, Heenan cemented himself as best manager too. Like he did announcing, he knew how to how to get people more over. He was a pure mastermind, knowing what to say and how to say it and what to do and how to do it. He also knew how to be slimy, how to have an inflated ego, how to be pusillanimous but try to come off as a tough guy, but most importantly, how to get his wrestler more over.
There is no doubt Heenan was an eccentric, whacked-out-of-his-mind oddball with mad scientist-esque IQ. He was unique, different, and truly one-of-a-kind and that is why there will never be someone quite like him again. Uniquely insane smart people are what make wrestling so highly-entertaining, but sadly, they are far from a dime a dozen. The good ones are rare, and the great ones are virtually nonexistent.Bobby Heenan did not choose wrestling. Wrestling chose him and that is why there will be never another. He is a virtually nonexistent breed and sadly only comes once in a lifetime.
RIP Bobby Heenan (1944-2017)