SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every Wednesday and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
News of the Week
Can WWE, specifically Vince McMahon, somehow turn Jinder Mahal’s SmackDown Live racist promo into a positive?
In a promo that screamed Vince Kennedy McMahon, Mahal not-so-cleverly noted that Shinsuke Nakamura always “rook” the same, and even compared Nakamura to Karate Kid sensei Mr. Miyagi.
WWE can go one of three ways with its response to the promo. The first option, which has been known to happen within the realm of the WWE Universe, is to pretend the interview never happened. It simply no longer referenced, and seemingly fade away from existence.
The second choice is to pin the whole ordeal on Mahal and label his character a racist, which would be a missed opportunity.
The third choice, which would be more complex, is to have Nakamura respond next Tuesday on SmackDown. This would give viewers an opportunity to hear Nakamura reply to the racist comments, and allow viewer the opportunity to connect with him on a deeper level.
Wrestling mirrors society, and racism exists throughout the world in 2017. Allowing Nakamura a chance to genuinely combat these claims, instead of a quick scripted reply in a backstage interview, would turn this entire promo into a positive.
The passing of Bobby Heenan this past Sunday left a hole in the heart of the wrestling world, and particularly with Heenan’s close friend “Mean” Gene Okerlund.
“Bobby is a big loss to our industry,” said Okerlund when reached at his home in Florida. “Some of my fondest memories go back to when I initially started working with Bobby Heenan in 1971 in the AWA.”
Okerlund shared that he was amazed at Heenan’s talent behind the camera and on the microphone, as well as by what Heenan could do wrestling in the ring.
“Bobby could also push the right buttons to get people to dislike him or perhaps one of the guys he was managing,” explained Okerlund. “He could turn up the heat when needed. Heenan was the best.”
Heenan, Okerlund noted, was born in Chicago and raised in Indianapolis, and entered the wrestling business with only a junior high education.
“Bobby starting bringing the jackets back to the ring for Dick “The Bruiser” back when he was about 14 or 15 years old, and that’s how his career in wrestling started,” said Okerlund. “He certainly made his mark on the industry.”
Heenan managed Big John Studd at the original WrestleMania against Andre the Giant in a “Body Slam Challenge”, but is fondly remembered for his work two years later managing Andre at the famed WrestleMania III against WWF champion Hulk Hogan in the Pontiac Silverdome.
“That, of course, is one of the most epic matches of all-time in our industry,” said Okerlund. “I don’t know if it was the greatest match, but it certainly had all the drama and intrigue that any match could possibly have. Bobby did so much to set that match up the right way.”
When asked what he would miss most about Heenan, Okerlund did not hesitate with his reply.
“I’ll miss the laughs, the good times, the comradery,” said Okerlund. “When you spend 300 days a year for years with someone, you get to know that person pretty well. Bobby had some really difficult years in the final years of his life, but I saw him and I’ll tell you: he was a trooper. I don’t think most people would hold up like he did and stay as positive as he did.
“I want to remember him as the entertainer, as “The Brain” and the “Weasel”. Bobby is going to be missed.”
In other news…
• The Villain” Marty Scurll was introduced into the Bullet Club by the Young Bucks in May, and has significantly raised both his own profile and the prestige of the group with his presence.
Scurll will meet the wildly talented Chuck Taylor this Friday at Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor pay per view. Taylor has tasted success nearly everywhere he has wrestled, and is even the PWG champion.
“This match with Chuck really excites me,” said Scurll. “Not because last time we wrestled Chuck put me through hundreds of drawing pins [known in America as thumb tacks], but because Chuck represents the new talent coming in to ROH. Even though he’s a veteran, he’s a new, fresh and, most importantly, hungry talent who wants to impress on a big stage. Chuck proves a great contrast to ‘The Villain’, but will realize quite promptly that if he tries any of that numpty comedy stuff he does on the indies, he will be met with a dry slap, and I mean that.”
Scurll spent last week in Paris, and even he was surprised at the reach of wrestling fans, and the notoriety of Bullet Club and the Being The Elite web series, when he was recognized as “The Villain” in the City of Lights.
“I actually got recognized whilst I was on the Eiffel Tower,” said Scurll. “The fan asked for a picture with me, on one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, and I found that hilarious.”
In terms of building the “Villain” brand, Scurll noted that he has always believed that presentation is everything.
“Why do you think I have such an elaborate entrance and ring gear?” asked Scurll. “It is to establish ‘The Villain’. Let the people know who he is. Every time I see wrestling on the TV no matter what company it is, I see Villain shirts in the audience, so I guess that’s living proof. You’ve just got to engage the people. Give them some depth. Give them something to care about. At least I hope people care about me. The mysterious bird gentleman.”
During John F. Kennedy’s presidential inauguration in 1961, he cut a promo where he stated, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Scurll brought a similar mindset to his entrance into the Bullet Club.
“My mind set was, ‘How can I add to this group? How can I make it better?’ rather than what can it do for me,” said Scurll. “I loved the angle we did for it. That was all down to myself, the Bucks and Kenny. We came up with it all. I wish every pay-per-view we do could end on such an amazing cliffhanger. We made Bullet Club the number one trend in the world for a short period. That’s badass. That’s what every pay per view should aim to do.”
Scurll’s goal remains regaining the World Television title, but he also has his sights set on eventually claiming the ROH world title.
“I feel I was well on my way to making that TV title belt just as important as the heavyweight belt before I lost it,” said Scurll. “Plus, because I still keep such a busy schedule around the world, I would take that belt everywhere with me representing the company. I even got it on a commercial for Topman Suits.
• Rob Van Dam will be in Los Angeles this Sunday for an event with WWE stars, but it will not be No Mercy.
Booker T is running a fundraiser with all proceeds benefiting victims of Hurricane Harvey on Sunday at Lucky Strike Hollywood in LA, and includes an evening with Kurt Angle, Corey Graves, Goldust, and RVD.
“When Booker calls and says he needs a favor, I’m in before I know what it’s about,” said Van Dam. “This is a really good cause. Booker lives in Houston, and he is very much part of their community. He is even trying to be their mayor and the city really loves him. He said he saw a lot of people get their stuff flooded out, and it’s always good to help people. This is a night to raise funds, with an auction, and I’ll bring some of my wrestling gear.”
The 46-year-old Van Dam, who last wrestled with WWE in 2014, noted that he is still active in the wrestling ring, but there are no plans to return to WWE at the current moment.
“I’m looking at 24 matches, all international, booked over the next 12 months,” said Van Dam. “I don’t have any plans to share, but there is always a possibility of a return."
“I’ve talked to WWE recently, but it’s about the new video games that are coming out. That was more of a business talk about that, but when the business is right and it’s the right time to go back, that, of course, is then always a possibility.”
Van Dam noted he will not be going to the pay-per-view, but is looking forward to raising funds for those adversely affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“Booker T is among the closest of my friends, so I’m looking forward to seeing him, and it’s going to be a fun event,” said Van Dam. “It’s a great cause, and it’s going to be a real good chance to give back.”
• John Cena’s theme music, “My Time is Now”, is currently being used as the soundtrack for a Toyota commercial.
Cena’s voice is also heard singing the lyrics in a song that is well-known to wrestling fans, but this time used as the background for an advertisement for the 2018 Toyota Camry that has appeared on CBS during several high-profile NFL games in the past two weeks.
• The build for John Cena vs. Roman Reigns at No Mercy this Sunday is complete, with Cena missing the go-home Raw before the pay per view for WWE goodwill work in China.
Cena and Reigns spoke with conviction throughout the build, and it is critical for today’s wrestlers to sound like they believe what they are saying. However, the reason it was also so over was because it was Cena and Reigns, who represent two of the biggest stars in the business.
The segments have been good, but still feel far more contrived than the work of CM Punk and even The Rock in their programs with Cena.
Part of the reasoning is because Reigns is not an equal of Punk or The Rock on the mic, but also because Cena is more confident and capable, with years of experience at his disposal, at responding to challenges rather than initiating.
• Jim Ross is a familiar face for wrestling fans watching college football on Saturdays, as Ross is back on the sidelines for his beloved Oklahoma Sooners. Unfortunately, JR hurt his back during a roll-up on the sideline of Oklahoma’s drubbing of Tulane this past Saturday, and he received an uncomfortable gash on his back.
“The play happened very quickly,” said Ross, who will have an in-depth interview on SI.com next Monday discussing his new book, Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but no big deal.”
A good illustration of this year’s Sooners squad, Ross explained, can be found in wrestling and is embodied in the work of Brock Lesnar.
“They practice, they play, they repeat,” said Ross. “Lesnar is a straightforward, no excuses, let’s-get-the-work-done kind of guy, and that’s just like this Oklahoma team. They practice, they play, they repeat. Oklahoma is the Brock Lesnar of college football, and it’s a good year to follow the Sooners.”
• Paul “Triple H” Levesque made a noteworthy announcement, stating that WWE is sending NXT coach (and former WCW star) Norman Smiley to the WWN seminar and tryout before the EVOLVE show this Friday in Livonia, Michigan.
“We’re happy to have Norman Smiley be a guest and attend the WWN Seminar/Tryout,” said Levesque. “I look forward to hearing his feedback as NXT continues to expand our pipeline of talent.”
EVOLVE founder Gabe Sapolsky also revealed that at least one individual from the event will be selected to become an NXT extra.
“Just being at an NXT taping is an invaluable learning experience that you cannot get anywhere else,” said Sapolsky, who just returned from last week’s NXT tapings in Florida. “This is a real opportunity to learn from an NXT coach and go to NXT.”
Sapolsky noted that sending Smiley to the WWN seminar symbolizes WWE’s commitment to developing talent the right way on the independents.
“Norman Smiley is an extremely valuable coach in the WWE system and plays a vital role in their talent development process,” said Sapolsky. “Bringing him into our WWN Seminar/Tryout for our roster, and anyone who applies and is accepted, is an invaluable learning experience, plus it spreads the word on how to get into WWE and how to be successful in WWE.”
In addition to the seminar, EVOLVE also has upcoming shows on Friday in Livonia and Saturday night in Summit, Illinois. Friday’s main event was originally scheduled to see Zack Sabre Jr. defend his EVOLVE championship against Davey Richards, but Richards suffered a serious knee injury that will reportedly sideline him for the remainder of 2017.
“Right now, we’re in the process of finding the best substitute on short notice,” said Sapolsky, whose Friday night EVOLVE 92 show on FloSlam.TV also includes WWN champion Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, Austin Theory, and DJZ. “If we need to, we’ll go back to the drawing board and see how we can re-work the card and deliver to make the card even better from within. Injuries happen in every sport, and the bottom line is that the fans who have already bought tickets to this event have committed their leisure time and money to us, and we owe it to them to deliver the best show possible.”
• MLW president Court Bauer is using his PhD in professional wrestling to build the card for One-Shot on October 5 at the Gilt Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. One-Shot is headlined by Ricochet vs. Shane Strickland, but also includes MVP vs. Sami Callihan and UFC fighter Tom Lawlor vs. Olympian Jeff Cobb.
“I’m a firm believer in having a balanced card,” said Bauer, who worked closely under Vince McMahon on the creative team in WWE. “We have a little bit of everything for everyone: the strong man, the high-flyers, the technically proficient talent, the big heels, the big mouths, and superheavyweights. We want variety, and that’s what I have missed in wrestling. We’re going to give the fans a card that is not monotonous, and will have a show that keeps flying and has great life.”
Bauer has produced the compelling MLW 360 videos that have effectively built interest in the Ricochet-Strickland affair with an authentic look at both competitors.
“It was an experience from my time doing UFC Fight Pass,” said Bauer. “We shot talent a certain way when it was fighters training for a big fight, and this allows people the chance to get to know them. When you start entering their world, you find so many interesting parts about the wrestlers that you otherwise wouldn’t have known, and you wouldn’t learn from a match. It’s an interesting part of their journey on this collision course, and it adds a sense of reality and something you can relate to at home.”
Bauer also announced on Steve Austin’s Unleashed podcast that Santana Garrett, who just competed in WWE’s Mae Young Classic, will have her one-shot at MLW opportunity against another MYC competitor in Mia Yim.
“One-Shot stands for opportunity, and it was definitely important to showcase today and tomorrow’s best women,” said Bauer. “Santana Garrett is a role model to a lot of young girls. Wrestling has come so far in properly representing women, and now it’s going to be even better. When you have the ‘Modern Day Wonder Woman’ in Santana Garrett, we have the best role model possible, and she delivers when the bell rings. I was very happy to make that announcement on Steve Austin’s show because Santana deserved the platform to be announced that way.”
The show, which will be available to stream online 72 hours after the event, will also showcase one of the best prospects to ever come out of Japan in the 20-year-old Jimmy Yuta, as well as another top prospect Maxwell Jacob Friedman.
“I see qualities in Jimmy Yuta that remind me of Ricky Steamboat,” said Bauer. “Mark my words, this kid is going to be a breakout star. He’s not currently on a lot of people’s radar, but he will be after October 5.”
One-Shot was designed to showcase today and tomorrow’s best, and provide fans with the opportunity to watch a diverse array of in-ring styles.
“We want this to be a show that celebrates where wrestling has gone and where it is going,” said Bauer. “Wrestling is in such a healthy place right now, all over the world, and it is amazing to see wrestling revive itself on a regional level. We’re thrilled to bring these talents to Orlando.”
So far, Bauer has delivered on his goal of creating a card worth watching. With an amplified interest in One-Shot, the question was raised if he would ever consider bringing MLW back full-time.
“Never say never,” said Bauer. “Never say never.”
• Former WWE wrestler and Tough Enough 3 champion Matt Cappotelli is in the fight of his life against brain cancer, and Ohio Valley Wrestling is running a “Matt Cappotelli Benefit Show” this Saturday at Davis Arena in Louisville with all proceeds going directly to Cappotelli.
Cappotelli is only 37 years old yet already in his second battle against brain cancer. He just finished 42 consecutive days of chemotherapy this past Monday, and is still raising funds through his GoFundMe to help cover the exorbitant medical expenses.
“For brain cancer, there is an oral chemotherapy drug, which is just like taking a vitamin,” said Cappotelli, who is currently forgoing radiation. “I do it at night to minimize the side effects. Luckily, I haven’t had any sickness, and I’ve been tolerating the poison pretty well. Overall, I’m very blessed and very lucky that I haven’t had any severe side effects.”
The generosity from people, including Rip Rogers and everyone involved with this Saturday’s OVW show, has overwhelmed Cappotelli.
“It’s extremely humbling,” said Cappotelli. “At times, I almost feel guilty; there are so many other people out there that need help like I do.”
Cappotelli made a point to also thank his wife, Lindsay, who, in wrestling terms, has given him the hot tag every time he has needed support and love.
“She’s the real main-eventer,” said Cappotelli. “We’ve been married 11 years, and we were married two months after my cancer was diagnosed. She’s been there through the thick of it, and she continues to be my rock star.”
Even for those who cannot attend this Saturday’s show, Cappotelli extended his deepest gratitude for everyone’s well wishes.
“I’m extremely grateful,” said Cappotelli. “People have taken time out of their day just to tell me they’re praying for me and thinking about me, it’s just amazing all-around. There are so many positive and good things that have come from such a bad situation.”
• The WWE just finished its first-ever all women’s tournament in the Mae Young Classic, but there have been questions as to why the tourney was named after Mae Young instead of the legendary Fabulous Moolah.
Moolah has been under scrutiny as allegations resurfaced that she sexually exploited female wrestlers, most notably from the family of “Sweet Georgia Brown” Susie Mae McCoy.
Moolah, who is a WWE Hall of Famer, passed away in November of 2007. WWE was smart to avoid using her namesake for the tournament, which could have caused an unnecessary distraction for the women who worked to make it such a tremendous success.
• WWE’s announcement on Monday that Starrcade will return as a SmackDown house show on Nov. 25 in Greensboro, North Carolina received overwhelming criticism for disrespecting what was once heralded as WCW’s signature show.
This would be akin to WCW putting WWE out of business, acquiring all of its assets, and then holding WrestleMania at the old Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on a Saturday afternoon in March.
While WWE is well within its rights to hold Starrcade, Ring of Honor world champion Cody Rhodes–whose father, the legendary Dusty Rhodes was the primary reason for the show’s success–tweeted a request to WWE agent and producer Michael “P.S.” Hayes that the show honor the “American Dream” by including Dusty’s oldest son, Goldust, on the card.
There is zero chance that Cody Rhodes will wrestle at Starrcade, but Hayes was clever to shift the narrative away from the WWE and instead put the focus on Rhodes’ response.
Starrcade is a major opportunity for WWE to stream a live show as a Network exclusive, and bring in a litany of former NWA/WCW stars–which has to include the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen–and should serve as reason to purchase the Network in November.
• In case anyone was still undecided about ordering Friday’s Death Before Dishonor pay per view, Ring of Honor play-by-play man Ian Riccaboni broke down and analyzed the world title match between Cody Rhodes and Minoru Suzuki.
“Suzuki’s only weakness when in Pancrase was his striking,” said Riccaboni. “But he has now made that one of his biggest strengths. It will be interesting to see if Cody looks to stand up and exchange strikes with him, and Suzuki is so dangerous because of his adaptability over the years.”
Suzuki is wrestling only his second-ever match on American soil, with the first taking place in 1992. The 49-year-old is one of the toughest men in wrestling, and he holds a 30-19 MMA record that includes two submission victories over Ken Shamrock during his prime in 1994 and ‘95.
“Suzuki is mercurial and he is incredibly dangerous,” said Riccaboni. “He is New Japan’s NEVER Openweight champion, and he has amassed this incredible resume. Somehow, he has found a way to use all of his knowledge and put the mental game at his fingertips, using all of great catch and freestyle wrestling to his advantage.”
Riccaboni confirmed that the affair on Friday will be an extremely difficult test for Rhodes.
“Suzuki can end the match at the blink of an eye,” said Riccaboni. “He can end the match at any time if Cody’s not careful. Cody has been able, especially recently, to use a stalling technique to his advantage, and he’s done it to guys like Sanada, Jay Lethal, and Christopher Daniels, where he slows down the match and keeps it on his game plan.
“Cody will need to control the pace and speed, because Suzuki is so dangerous. Suzuki is so fluid from how he moves from submission to submission. If Cody ends up in Suzuki’s vortex, we could end up with a new champion.”
• Silas Young enters the biggest match of his wrestling career this Friday at Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor as he looks to end a nearly year-long feud with Jay Lethal.
“This is a huge opportunity,” said Young. “Jay Lethal is a former Ring of Honor world champion, and he was also simultaneously World Television champion. This has the possibility of being a defining moment. A win would help fans and the Ring of Honor office recognize what they have in Silas Young.”
The dislike between Young and Lethal dates back nearly a year, and the 38-year-old, Wisconsin-bred Young, who refers to himself as the “Last Real Man”, is out to prove he belongs in the conversation of ROH’s elite talent.
“I don’t think Jay Lethal is unlikable, but he is unlikeable to me,” explained Young. “I’ve beat Jay Lethal in singles matches and in tag matches, but Jay Lethal is still getting opportunity after opportunity. I’ve been handing his ass to him, but where are my opportunities? That’s exactly what I am going to prove on Friday at Death Before Dishonor. Jay Lethal can call himself the ‘Greatest First Generation Wrestler’, but when it comes down to it, I’m just better than he is.”
Young wrestles angry and speaks passionately. As a recovering drug addict who struggled with heroin, Young refuses to allow his second chance at life to slip away.
“Wrestling completely changed my life,” said Young. “It took me a long, long time to get to where I’m at right now, and I’ve earned my opportunities. When I go out to the ring, I am passionate about what I do.”
Young also mentioned that people often ask what makes him the “Last Real Man”, and he shared an honest explanation.
“The way men conduct themselves these days is not how your father or my father would have done. I was born at the wrong time. I have a lot of different views on what makes a man, and a lot of what men do these days is flat-out embarrassing. People brag about ‘adulting’. Congratulations, you are an adult like the rest of us.
“This Friday night, I’ll introduce Jay Lethal to what a real man looks like. We won’t just have a wrestling match. I’ve already beat him in wrestling matches, so the way he still walks around and calls himself the ‘Greatest First Generation Wrestler’ is a lot of crap to me. Death Before Dishonor is a ‘Last Man Standing’ match, so the guy who can’t get to his feet is the loser. I’ll prove to him that, when it comes down to digging deep and being a man, he doesn’t have it in him like I have it in me.”
• Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard is back this Friday with a new podcast on Unforgiven ‘99.
“On the surface, Unforgiven ‘99 feels like a forgettable show, but it’s really at the height of the Vince Russo era in WWE and it’s right before Russo dips out in the middle of the night and goes to WCW,” said Thompson. “There was the craziness, or silliness, that was the ‘Kennel in a Cell’, and we’ll also discuss the months leading into the show and everything happening in the business.
“1999 was such a critical year in the wrestling landscape, not just for WWE, but also for WCW and ECW. There were lots of people jumping back and forth, the ‘Monday Night Wars’ were still rolling, and I’m looking forward to talking about the year 1999 and the show this Friday.”
Prichard was very close with the late Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who passed away this past Sunday, and Thompson revealed that next week’s show will be a tribute to Heenan.
“We’ll do a Bobby Heenan special on Friday, September 29,” said Thompson. “Bruce felt that this week would be too soon for him and he wasn’t sure if he could get through it. He wanted to wait a week, so you can look forward to the September 29 show being all about remembering the good times with Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan.”
Thompson and Prichard also head to Los Angeles for a live show this Saturday night at the Regent Theatre.
“It’s going to be one of our best live shows ever,” said Thompson. “We’ve got a lot of fun guests lined up, with some from the wrestling world and some from the entertainment world. There is a rich history with WWE and the west coast, with WrestleManias, Saturday Night Main Events, lots of pay per views, and lots of big time angles.
“This is the same weekend that WWE is pulling out all the stops for what has historically not been an ‘A’ pay per view, but when you look at this lineup, it sure does feel like an A-show. We’re excited to put on a great show on Saturday night.”
• Head writer Chris “DJ” DeJoseph touched on the behind-the-scenes features of tonight’s 101th episode of Lucha Underground, which will see the in-ring debut for ring announcer Melissa Santos.
“Marty the Moth continues to torment Fenix and Melissa Santos, which has led to the huge announcement that Melissa will not be a ring announcer in episode 101,” said DeJoseph. “Melissa will be a competitor in the ring to team with Fenix to face Marty the Moth and his sister Mariposa. A lot of Lucha Undeground fans are going to be super-eager to see Melissa compete, and see her prepare for her first in-ring action on Lucha Underground.”
Santos will engage in the same rules as every single Lucha Underground match: everyone is fair game, so she and Marty will undoubtedly have a moment together in the ring.
“It’s going to be an awesome treat for Lucha Underground fans as we begin the road to our 200th episode,” said DeJoseph. “I try to see over every creative aspect of the show, so I work closely with Melissa. She’s always had a special quality that’s made her a great performer, but we always really wanted to utilize Melissa in the vignettes. She’s incredibly talented as a ring announcer, but also as an actress and a performer, and she really shines in this episode.”
Four more episodes remain, and the Lucha Underground season finale is a two-hour special.
“The Gift of the Gods title is also on the line, which makes episode 101 even more interesting,” said DeJoseph. “We wanted one more big week after the 100th episode to bridge the gap to Ultima Lucha, which starts next week.”
• Global Force Wrestling now appears to be known, once again, as Impact Wrestling. The saddest part of the constant rebranding, which is a very dangerous game, is that the focus does not remain on the talent.
Very quietly, Dutch Mantel tapped into his decades of wrestling knowledge and oversaw a creative department that built compelling and entertaining storylines for Eli Drake, Bobby Lashley, EC3, Jim Cornette, Low Ki/LAX, and also highlighted Grado’s comedic abilities.
The company is producing an alternative for wrestling fans each Thursday on Pop, but with another regime change in the company and another rebranding, the focus remains on everything but the actual product.
• Stat of the Week: With a combined reign of 460 days and counting, The Miz surpassed the Honky Tonk Man to catapult himself into third place on the list of most days spent as Intercontinental champion. The Miz now trails only Don Muraco (541 days) and Pedro Morales (619 days).
The Miz and Maryse also announced they will be welcoming a child into the world, which is as good of an excuse as any to highlight George Mizanin, who is the father of The Miz.
• Al Snow’s weekly advice column, Inside Al's Head, encouraged wrestlers and wrestling fans alike to watch, enjoy, and study as much Bobby “The Brain” Heenan footage as possible.
“If you truly want to have a good time watching wrestling, find anything with Bobby Heenan,” said Snow. “He had such an awesome chemistry on-air with Gorilla Monsoon, and Monsoon was the perfect straight man for Bobby, while Heenan was the comedic heel for Monsoon. That was on Tuesday Night Titans on the USA Network, and Bobby even had his own talk show during Tuesday Night Titans. Find any of that anywhere you can.
Snow also touched on how Heenan began his career as a wrestler. Which created the foundation for his success in the business.
“Find when he was a wrestler,” said Snow. “That is a little rarer and harder to find, but search out when Bobby was a manager and when he was a wrestler. But not just the WWF stuff. Go back to AWA, go back to WWA, which was Dick the Bruiser’s territory in Indianapolis. If you want to be a wrestler, go back footage of when Bobby was a wrestler and try to understand what he really was doing. Watch the brilliance of the subtle things he does that would make an audience want to pay to see him get beat.
“’Heat’ is a want, a need, a desire that you build within an audience. “If the fans pay their money, there is the belief that heat is going to be paid off. Now, most managers’ heat relied on the babyface getting his hands on the manager. Once that was done, the heat was dead. You paid off the heat by giving the audience what they wanted to see, and they’re satisfied. Bobby Heenan was so good that he could get touched, and even put in a weasel suit by Greg Gagne in his AWA days, but you couldn’t kill his heat and he’d be just as hot as ever. That is a testament to his ability and talent. It’s a sad day to lose a guy like Bobby Heenan.”
Tweet of the Week
Those fortunate enough to attend Beyond Wrestling’s show this Sunday in Worcester, Mass. may be better able to answer this question after watching Chuck Taylor, Joey Janela, Joey Ryan, JT Dunn, and AR Fox in action.