“SLICK” MICK KARCH REMEMBERS HIS FRIEND BOBBY HEENAN

Posted September 18th, 2017 by 1Wrestling News Team

From the “Slick Mick Old School Wrestling” page:

There can be debate about who the greatest singles wrestler of all time is, or the greatest tag team of all time. When it comes to the sport’s greatest manager, there is no debate, there is no question, there is no controversy. It’s not even close. There are good managers and there are very good managers, but there is only one true great, in every sense of the word. That man is Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who passed away today after suffering through endless, debilitating and horrific maladies and accidents for the past 15 years.

I will not be posting a plethora of his career photos or a string of his greatest promos. It’s pointless for me to list the wrestlers he managed in the various incarnations of “The Heenan Family,” and during his early career. It isn’t necessary to talk about the championships his men won in various territories over the years. That information is already out here in script and video for all to see from this day forward. His body of work is unparalleled, pure and simple, and anyone who wants to see how it truly should be done should study Bobby Heenan footage. The man was, quite simply, a genius.

I want to focus on just how extraordinary a performer this man was. I have said before on many occasions that in my opinion, Bobby Heenan was the greatest overall performer in at least the last 60 years of professional wrestling history. He could do it all. As a manager, he would enhance even the most prolific stars of all time like Nick Bockwinkel, Ray Stevens, Andre the Giant, Curt Hennig, Ric Flair, The Blackjacks, Harley Race…the list goes on and on…with his brilliance both at ringside and in front of the camera. Likewise, he could elevate the competition by the way he cut promos to sell tickets. Even lesser talent that might not have even deserved to be in the same ring with the aforementioned stars, got the “rub” and credibility from Bobby Heenan. Case in point, when a certain wrestler had a gimmick in the AWA that was moderately popular but was stagnating because there weren’t many wrestlers who wanted to work with him, Bobby went to Verne Gagne and said, “I’ll get the kid over.” And he did.

Nick Bockwinkel said many times that Bobby’s in-ring skills as a wrestler were so good that if Nick or Ray Stevens happened to be unable to fulfill a booking, Bobby would step in and the match would be as good or better than what was originally scheduled. He was a machine. His bump over the turnbuckle onto the floor, seemingly without grabbing onto anything to slow his fall, was a thing of beauty. When he would use a “foreign object,” stick it back into his tunic and emphatically shake his head “no” with his platinum blond hair flying after he was confronted by the referee, it was magic. When he would be introduced and the fans would start their “weasel” chant, he would give them that glare and move his lips like he was calling them every name in the book (even though he was just mumbling.) It was a thing of beauty.

Fans who watched him from the mid-80′s in both WWF and WCW know what a sarcastic wit and hysterical comedian he could be. He could slice and dice someone with his words, sometimes bordering on the outrageous. His one liners and “zingers” were epic. As injuries were slowing his actual in-ring career, he transitioned from a hated heel to a comedic foil with just enough edge to still elicit the fans’ “ire.”

If you saw his career early on though, in the 60′s and 70′s, then you know the heat magnet he was. There are very few men in the history of this sport, if any, that had the wrestling fans in an absolute frenzy, often times rioting and wanting his head on a platter. As red hot as that was, sometimes it parlayed into very dangerous situations, such as the night he was hit square in the middle of the forehead by a lunatic wielding the claw end of a hammer. And no one will ever forget the bizarre incident in Chicago where shots were fired at Bobby and Nick Bockwinkel after a match against Verne Gagne.

My great friend and former AWA/WWF announcer Ken Resnick messaged me this evening. He sadly pointed out that so many of the real, honest-to-god greats from “our era” are no longer with us: Nick, Ray Stevens, Verne Gagne, The Crusher, Billy Robinson, Mad Dog Vachon, Dick the Bruiser, etc., etc., and now Bobby. It is so sad and so sobering on so many levels. It feels like pieces of our youth are being torn away piece by piece.

It would be preposterous of me to say I was “good friends” with Bobby Heenan. I wish I had been. I would have loved to spend hours talking about the business, the fans, the road stories. I was a peripheral buddy, someone in the business that watched him work when I was in my 20′s, and then had the absolute honor, privilege and blessing to do play by play with some years ago. One of the greatest thrills of my career, 20 minutes of calling a match with The Brain. My god, how lucky was I? Beyond belief. The last time I saw him in person at a “Heavy on Wrestling” event, Bobby greeted me warmly and with a handshake that did my heart good.

His physical setbacks for the past several years have been well documented. His bout with throat cancer, the surgery to remove part of his jaw which eventually made his speech almost unintelligible, (Nick Bockwinkel literally cried when I spoke with him in Atlanta back in 2011, lamenting the irony and sadness that a guy like Bobby, who had such a wonderful ‘gift of gab’ was now losing the ability to communicate), and the falls and broken bones that he had suffered in the recent past. It just doesn’t seem fair. And yet, God bless Bobby Heenan. There he was, still out on the fan convention and wrestling reunion circuit, greeting his fans and signing autographs until he would grow tired and had to cut things short. He may have been frail, he may not have sounded the same or looked the same as we wanted to remember him, but he was still Bobby. The wit was still there. The twinkle in the eye was ever present. At his most recent appearance at Cauliflower Alley Club, he responded to his standing ovation by flipping everyone off. Nothing else would have been appropriate. :)

And now, in a better place, in a bigger arena, it’s time for The Brain to climb up on the ring apron and distract Vachon, so Bockwinkel can clobber him from behind and score the pin. What a visual.

Safe travels, Bobby. There aren’t enough words. Not enough thanks.

Category: Wrestling.

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