On a very special episode of “Not About Wrestling”, Chris and Steph take a trip back to 1989 to revisit a failed idea that might have been way ahead of its time.
In the mid-1980s, Vince McMahon numerous concepts to make wrestling more mainstream. One of those ideas was WWF Tuesday Night Titans (TNT). McMahon hosted this wrestling interview and variety show, often bringing on current WWE talent for weird sit-down discussions or parodies like Fuji Vice staring Mr. Fuji and Don Muraco as Miami Vice rip-offs.
The show never really took off but McMahon always loved comedy and tried to recreate the feeling of Tuesday Night Titans using the incredibly comedic presence of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
Heenan, co-hosting Prime Time Wrestling at the time along with Gorilla Monsoon. McMahon needed a place for a returning Roddy Piper and inserted him as the third host. Piper and Heenan began to “feud” on Prime Time, causing Heenan to leave and create his own show.
For four episodes of Prime Time, “The Bobby Heenan Show” was given the final half-hour of airtime. The episodes aired from July 17 until August 7th, 1989.
The best way to describe “The Bobby Heenan Show” is to combine “The Larry Sanders Show” and “The Howard Stern Show” and mix in David Letterman’s “Stupid Human Tricks” segments.
All of the guests on “The Bobby Heenan Show” – and their talents – were real and most guests were probably unaware that they’d be made fun of by Bobby Heenan on broadcast television.
The Rosatti sister served as the Oinkettes on the show. All of the women were really sisters and longtime wrestling fans from New York.
Vince McMahon took a liking to the sisters and always gave them front row tickets to New York shows. Heenan made sure to point out in his autobiography – “Bobby The Brain: Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All” – that the Rosattis “weren’t rats” and “didn’t do anything with the boys.”
John DiGiacamo, who played Heenan’s sidekick Jamison Winger, was discovered by Vince McMahon at a murder mystery dinner show. –
The show only lasted four episodes and was canceled for several reasons.
First off, the ratings. According to a PWI Torch newsletter from that time period the ratings “drop off almost 1/3 when the Bobby Heenan Show comes on.”
The second reason was due to “miscommunication” between the WWF and USA Network.
According to Bruce Prichard on his “Something To Wrestle” podcast, someone internally in the WWF was supposed to tell USA Network that the last half hour of Prime Time Wrestling would be “The Bobby Heenan Show,” didn’t notify the network.
Prichard said that the network was angry that no one told them WWF would be doing the show.
The network also wanted Heenan back hosting the show and didn’t want viewers to have to wait until the last 30 minutes of the show to see Heenan.
Prichard said everyone in WWE was heartbroken when they couldn’t do it anymore.
Prichard remembers, “we didn’t even know what the show was it was just bad television on purpose.” He also said the idea was about ten years before its time and if the show happened later it would have been really over with fans.
In his autobiography, Bobby Heenan shared that Jim Troy, a senior Vice President with Titan Sports, was the person in charge of handling the USA Network deal but Troy never bothered to tell the network.
In “Bobby The Brain: Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All”, Heenan explained that, “McMahon had a contract with USA Network for two hours of wrestling. USA claimed that they weren’t getting two hours of wrestling but 90 minutes of wrestling and a half-hour of The Bobby Heenan Show. That was a different program in their eyes.”
Another interesting note about Troy, before joining Titan Sports, he was hired by McMahon to be the head coach and general manager of the Cape Cod Buccaneers of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. McMahon was part owner of the team. After the team folded, Troy joined Titan in the Senior VP role.
A former hockey player, Troy was also instrumental in convincing McMahon to test the pay-per-view market, which we all know led to a small gathering called WrestleMania. Troy left the company in 1990 after getting his ass beat by Koko B. Ware in the middle of a hotel lobby. Troy allegedly told Koko that what he did was fake and hockey was real fighting. Koko beat Troy’s ass so bad that the hotel walls were stained with blood.
Heenan wrote of experience hosting the show that it was fun but hard to do at first.
“There was no audience and no band,” explained Heenan. “I was making fun of these people on the show, but there was no timing and no one laughing. It was like looking into a mirror and telling yourself jokes.”
In this episode, Steph and Chris discuss the four classic episodes – all of which are available on the WWE Network – and have a good laugh about the elderly stripper, the porn star, the cringy mother and daughter comedy team, and the sheer brilliance that was “The Bobby Heenan Show.”