Bobby “The Brain” Heenan has a legacy as one of the greatest managers in all of pro wrestling. He has managed some of the greatest wrestlers of all time across multiple promotions such as WWA, AWA, WCW and the WWF (now known as the WWE). The Brain’s contributions were so large that some of the wrestlers he managed wouldn’t be the same without him, such as Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair, to name a few.
Although Heenan’s biggest contribution to the wrestling world has been as a manager, he also excelled as a commentator. Although he may have slipped a little during his twilight years in the WCW, Bobby’s commentary for WWF was some of the greatest in wrestling. For many who grew up during the 80’s wrestling boom, The Brain and Gorilla Monsoon were the voices of wrestling for the better part of a decade. There hasn’t been any announcer quite like Heenan in recent years, until a few weeks ago when All Elite Wrestling accidentally discovered it already had its own Heenan on their roster.
Due to the social distancing practices currently in place, AEW has found itself with a limited talent pool and production crew to work with. With Jim Ross unable unable to attend most of the tapings for Dynamite, AEW has had to experiment with different on-screen talent taking over his position beside Tony Schiavone. It’s tried Kenny Omega and Cody in the past, but as of now it seems like AEW has found its new go-to man on commentary with Chris Jericho.
Jericho has always been charismatic on the mic — whether he was a heel or a face, his promo work has always been top notch. While in AEW, Jericho has shown a flair for hyping up his younger Inner Circle teammate and protege, Sammy Guevara. While Jericho has shown signs of great promise in potentially moving into a managerial position post-retirement, it isn’t his managerial potential that has drawn comparisons with the late Bobby Heenan. It’s been Jericho’s work on commentary for AEW which has ended up being a surprising revelation.
Jericho’s witty remarks and sarcastic reactions have drawn comparison to Bobby Heenan’s commentary style. Heenan’s constant banter with Gorilla Monsoon was often a nightly highlight on WWF programming back in the 80’s. Jericho has shown a similarly snarky persona while on commentary, with Tony Schiavone serving as Jericho’s “Monsoon.” Tony himself once teamed up with Heenan during his run for WCW.
AEW seems to have hit gold with the current pairing of Tony and Jericho. Its previous commentary team always lacked the quick wit and cohesion that the current team provides. Jim Ross, while one of the greatest commentators of all time during his prime, has often found himself lost or stumbling during his commentary for All Elite. His partner Excalibur, while a very good commentator on his own, has so far failed to build any chemistry with JR and Tony.
Jericho, on the other hand, has managed to transition seamlessly into the role of commentary while still being a full-time wrestler. His twisting of the facts, dry humor, and constant playing up of the heels has been one of the best parts of Dynamite since the empty arena era began. It is unclear if Jericho will reprise this role when broadcasting and production goes back to normal. However, if and when he does eventually retire from full-time wrestling, AEW will be relieved to know it already has its next commentary genius in waiting. In Jericho, AEW has just unwittingly discovered the next Bobby Heenan.
With social distancing restrictions in place, AEW has had to adapt to a smaller crew. However, this has led them make a great discovery by accident.