During the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross looked over the career of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Ross also mentioned how Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan were considered lifers in the WWE to him, and he was surprised when they left for WCW. He said Vince McMahon was confident that when Okerlund’s contract was up, WCW would pay him more than WWE could.
“He said, ‘I’m not going to renew Okerlund. He doesn’t know it, but I’m going to help him get a lot of money,’ ” Ross said. “I said, ‘How are you going to do that? ‘Well, I’m going to let the other guy steal him. His contract is going to lapse, he’s going to be able to go wherever he wants and [WCW] will think that they’re stealing one of my primary faces and voices, then they’re going to pay a lot more money than I will be able to pay him here. It will be a great payday for Gene.’
“I don’t know that that was the same case with Bobby [Heenan]. Bobby was getting increasingly more challenging to work with for some people in the company, not me. When the light came on, he never phoned s*** in. He was always on top of his game.”
Ross continued to mention how much he enjoyed working with Bobby Heenan. He said working with The Brain felt long even though they only worked together for a short period of time.
“We were only together for a few short months,” Ross said. “They were as memorable a few short months as I’ve had in my entire career, and I’ve had a long career. It seemed like we worked together forever; it was that good.”
JR also said that AEW has made it a goal to bring back managers to pro wrestling. He said it’s been Tony Khan’s mission to showcase managers in AEW, and Ross criticized WWE for not having many outside of Paul Heyman.
“Here in AEW, Tony Khan is trying to reinvigorate managers,” Ross said. “With Tully [Blanchard], Arn [Anderson], and Vickie Guerrero, he’s trying to regenerate that role. There was a time that managers fell out of fashion. Does WWE have a dominant manager right now? Paul [Heyman] is the exception. It’s a short list, is my point.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.