I’m quite late — two months!?! — in getting up another post about the late Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and the mark he left on the fans in Boston during his WWF heyday in the 1980s.
The first time I ever saw Heenan live was at the old Boston Garden, when he appeared as a manager at a house show in March 1987, just a few weeks before WrestleMania III.
Heenan managed Hercules and Paul Orndorff, who teamed up with Adorable Adrian Adonis to face Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and Billy Jack Haynes in an elimination match. It remains one of my favorite personal matches I ever saw live, largely because it was allegedly Piper’s final match in Boston before his scheduled “retirement” at Mania. The crowd was into the idea Piper was done wrestling, so it was a cool atmosphere. Heenan’s team lost, with Hogan as the last man standing.
While most of Heenan’s time in Boston was performing as a manager, “The Weasel” wrestled twice at the Boston Garden — and he actually won his first bout, defeating Salvatore Bellomo in October 1984. Two years later, Heenan teamed with King Kong Bundy and Big John Stuff to lose to Super Machine, Big Machine, and, ummm, Piper Machine in October 1986.
In fact, as far as I know, that night was the one and only appearance of Piper Machine ever in the WWF.
Heenan had many nights of color commentary duty at the Boston Garden for the old NESN house show tapings, joining Gorilla Monsoon at ringside. It was a role he became well known later for, and when WCW Monday Nitro would tape TV in Boston at the TD Garden, it was Heenan again on color commentary.
Perhaps my favorite local Heenan memory wasn’t from Boston itself, but nearby Worcester. In July 1989 — at my first WWF TV tapings — I was in the crowd at the Worcester Centrum (now known as the DCU Center) when Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard defeated Demolition to win the WWF Tag Team Title. Heenan managed Anderson and Blanchard, known collectively as the Brain Busters.
That match made history because it marked the end of a record-setting, 478-day run for Demolition as tag champs. That milestone help up until 2016, incredibly, when The New Day broke the record and held the tag team belts for 483 days.
“The Brain” — whose real name was Raymond Heenan — was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.