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RF Video Shoot Interview with Bobby Heenan


This interview was filmed at some point in 2002. It lasts about an hour and forty-five minutes long.
 



Heenan said he got his start in wrestling by setting up the rings and carrying the jackets in Indianapolis. When he saw matches as a kid, he was amazed by the control the wrestlers had over the crowd. He also jokes how he wanted to be a wrestler just so he could mess with people.

 

He started off as a manager and at the time, he only weighed 180lbs. He said the key to manage is to act like a wrestler and for a wrestler, it is to work like a manager. He said that is a lost art today and that everyone wants T & A instead of a manager.

 

He then said that he went from manager to wrestler as he wanted to make more money. He lists all the places that he worked as a manager and said that Paul Boesch in Houston gave the best payouts. He calls him a good man. When asked about working for Ole Anderson in Georgia, he said that he was horrible and had no respect for human beings.

 

He first traveled with Blackjack Lanza, Pepper Gomez, Wilbur Snyder, and Baron Von Raschke. He adds that he had fun but made no money. Heenan then adds that he should have spoken up more about getting paid more.

 

When asked who taught him to wrestle, Heenan said that Ray Stevens taught him a lot but you mostly learn by watching. He then said how you would get better if you wanted to be there. From that, he said that guys can work but not put asses in seats while Hogan can put asses in seats and not a great worker. Heenan then tells us that Gorilla Monsoon taught him that if you were in this business for anything more than money, you were a fool.

 

Heenan is asked about guys he worked with in the AWA. He liked the Crusher and thought he was easy to work with. He said that Ray Stevens was hilarious outside of the ring and that he told him to always have fun with what you do. He then tells a story of how Stevens told him that he had his first woman at age six and when Heenan asks him what he did, Stevens replied that he was too drunk to remember. He liked Verne then joked about how he would make guys do horrible things like show up on time and work. He liked Nick Bockwinkle then added that If you asked him for the time, he would tell you how to build a watch.

 

Up next is how Hogan was in the AWA. Heenan said that Verne wanted him to be heel and team up with Johnny Valiant, who he calls a horrible human beign. He then says that Valiant couldn’t get over by turning on a light. He knew Hogan would be a star the first time he saw him in the locker room at Georgia in 1979.

 

When asked if Verne pushed his son too hard, Heenan said that he didn’t push him enough and joked that he should have pushed him off a cliff.

 

Heenan said that Verne couldn’t change with the times and did not know how to go up against Vince McMahon’s showbiz mentality and that is what killed the AWA. He said that he left there because he knew they were going nowhere. He gives some names for the AWA like “Alzhimer’s Wretling Association” and “All the World’s Assholes.” He then adds that guys like Nick Gulas, Stu Hart, and Eddie Graham also struggled to keep up with modern times.

 

He said that he only worked a few times for Eddie Graham and said he was strict. Heenan then claims that wrestlers are flakes because the business makes them that way. They are not given any benefits and when they get paid, they spend freely. He also said that wrestlers are guys who did not want regular jobs. He never worked for Stu but thought it would be hell, due to the weather and travel. He jokes that when you land in Canada, they tell you to set your watch back to 1945. He adds that he likes Stu, Helen, and Bret.

 

He is asked how he wound up in the WWF. Heenan said that Hogan got him the job. He called Vince and was offered three times more than what he was making in the AWA.

 

He said that he first met Vince in Chicago. At the time, Vince was there for the Inoki/Ali stuff and at breakfast, approached Vince. He blew off Heenan but said that Vince was always nice to him when he worked for the WWF.

 

Heenan is asked about Big John Studd and Ken Patera. He said that Studd was too nice to be in wrestling and that Patera should have been a heel his whole life, stating that he was pampered from his days in amateur sports.

 

He is now asked if Hogan was difficult to work with. Heenan said that Hogan never changed and that guys did not like him because they were not able to work with him de to the fact they would not be able to draw money with him. Heenan said that the worst person in the world would have been working with him if they could draw.

 

When asked about Piper, Heenan said that he always knew he would get over as he could talk and that would get you more over than your work or physique.

 

Next, Heenan is asked how he became a good talker. He said that he learned to talk while shaving in the mirror. He said when you did that, you could be whatever you want and how you saw yourself is how the crowd would see you. He then adds how most interviewers today resort to using clich├ęs and they cannot get over. He finishes by saying that the wrestlers shouldn’t dress like the guys who buy the tickets.

 

Heenan was asked about Orndorff. He said that he was an intense guy who cared about how he looked and was concerned about his image. He adds that Orndorff always tried to improve and was a professional. He also said that he still speaks to him.

 

He said that Andre the Giant hated people and was always rude when approached.

 

Heenan is asked about kayfabe and protecting the business. He mentions that kayfabe does not exist anymore and how when he started, they protected the business and had the mentality they could not sell any tickets if they knew it was all fake. He then adds that stuntmen don’t show how to perform stunts.

 

He said that he did not like managing the Missing Link. He notes how Link once told him to get his boarding pass for him because his character didn’t speak. Heenan notes how he would have hated to have been an actual manager for people, comparing it to an adult babysitter.

 

Heenan is asked if he had other behind the scene roles. He said that he produced interviews in the WWF. He said that most of the guys were easy to work with but the Ultimate Warrior could not be produced. He didn’t mind when guys like Piper and Lou Albano did their own thing. He said that Vince didn’t mind if the stars went off and adds that you need to treat people differently to run a business.

 

Heenan said that he got the Primetime Wrestling job when Jesse Ventura left to film the Predator. After that, he went on to do commentary on Challenge and the Madison Square Garden shows. He is then asked about the tension between Ventura and Hogan. Heenan said that Ventura was jealous of Hogan because he wanted to be like his idol, Superstar Billy Graham, but Hogan was more popular. He also said that Ventura could talk but once the bell rang, Ventura couldn’t stay over because he was not entertaining and never bumped.

 

Heenan calls Gorilla Monsoon one of the best friends he ever had. He puts him over for being kind but always honest. He then said that they never really rehearsed for Primetime Wrestling and just winged it right before the show and whenever they messed up, they would just laugh it off. He always looked forward to being with him.

 

Still speaking about Monsoon, Heenan said that he always told him that wrestling was entertainment. He then said how he loved the “Brain” gimmick as if he screwed up it didn’t matter as he was expected to be stupid. He then says how guys care too much about their image nowadays.

 

When asked about the Terry Taylor/Brooklyn Brawler feud, he said it was an embarrassment. Heenan said that Taylor was never going to be a top guy and Lombardi could not brawl. Heenan then makes a comparison between a limo and a cab driver by stating the only difference between the two is that the limo driver wears a suit. He then briefly mentions how Taylor was a liar to him in WCW.

 

He said that the Andre haircut angle was the one that stuck out the most and jokes that Studd had the hair for so long that it started to turn gray. He then tells a story when he as flying with Andre, who liked to have a few drinks in the morning. He was approached by the stewardess when he was struggling to lift the arms of the seat and asked for a screwdriver. After fifteen minutes, she came back with an actual screwdriver instead of the drink. Andre then asked her what she would have brought him if he asked for a bloody mary.

 

Up next is how the “Bobby Heenan Show” came about. He said that it was Vince’s idea. The WWF had a contract with USA for two hours of wrestling and cut Primetime Wrestling to an hour-and-a-half to make room for the show but USA didn’t consider the show wrestling and it was scrapped after four episodes. As far as the show, he said it was hard to time laughs without an audience. He also like Jameson and said that Vince picked him out.

 

Heenan said that Rick Rude was hard to manage because he thought he could get over on his own. Rude thought Heenan was trying to steal his heat.

 

He tells another story about Andre. When he was working with the Ultimate Warrior, Andre was getting upset because he didn’t like to be clotheslined and wanted to time when he leaned on the ropes and that was hard to do with the Warrior, who would run at him full speed ahead. One night, Andre put up his hand and stopped Warrior in his tracks as he attempted a clothesline. The next night, after Warrior clotheslined Andre the way he wanted to, Andre leaned over to Heenan and said that he was learning. Heenan said that if Andre didn’t like you, he would try to ruin your matches. He would mess with the Iron Sheik and Heenan said that Andre hated him because Sheik would take advantage of the jobbers. Heenan said that most of the jobbers were awful wrestlers but they also had full-time jobs and basically just wrestled on the weekends. He then says he always wondered why they would give them spots, knowing that they couldn’t work a lick.

 

He loved managing Flair, calling him a fun guy to be around. He also loved Curt Hennig.

 

Heenan said that he stopped managing because his neck was acting up and when he was doing commentary, he didn’t get touched by the wrestlers. For that reason, he liked commentary better than managing.

 

His favorites in the ring to work with were Pepper Gomez, Red Bastein, High Flyers, and Mad Dog Vachon. His least favorite was Warrior because he had no respect for wrestlers.

 

Next, he is asked about the WWF Sex Scandal. Heenan said that no one in the locker room cared and compares it to people in the music business finding out that musicians smoke dope.

 

He is asked about several other workers. He liked Haku and called him the toughest man he had ever met. He liked the British Bulldogs and said that they were one of the best tag-teams of all-time and did stuff that other teams could not do. He didn’t spend a lot of time with Randy Savage and Elizabeth so did not say much other than he thought Elizabeth was nice and that he managed Randy’s dad in the 1960’s. He calls Jake Roberts and Ted Dibiase the best on interviews. He then said that Jake had a lot of mental problems. He liked the Brainbusters but said Tully had a personality problem.

 

Heenan said that he never read or watched a wrestling book or movie. He thinks that people are out to knock them and said he can make a fool out of himself.

 

He left the WWF on good terms but was tired of the traveling and wanted to take a year off. WCW then made him an offer an it would put him closer to his daughter in Alabama.

 

In WCW, he was started on the Sunday night show then moved to Saturday Night once Jesse quit. He said that Bischoff was a used car salesman who got into wrestling. He compares Bischoff to Walmart and Vince to Neiman Marcus. He then adds that the decision to beat Goldberg is what killed wrestling. He brings up the difference between WCW and WWF when telling a story of how Mark McGwire wanted to meet Goldberg. McGwire and Goldberg were at the park and McGwire rubbed his bat on Goldberg’s chest and went on to hit 70 home runs that year. Heenan said that WCW did not send anyone in to film that where Vince would have had a camera crew and produced multiple pieces.

 

When asked about the incident at the Clash of the Champions between him and Brian Pillman, Heenan thought it was a fan that grabbed him at first. He said that you watch the monitors during the show and was worried about his neck when he was grabbed.

 

Heenan said that no one knew what they were doing in WCW. He said that Tony Schiavone was the worst because he hated the fans and the wrestlers. He also knew all the finishes and angles but would not disclose them to him or Tenay, because he thought that knowledge was power.

 

Heenan said he liked when Vince changed the concept of RAW. He then said that guys would leave the room to get a beer during squash matches and would wait for the interviews. He thought it made for better television. Heenan also adds that there are too many PPV’s and that the TV is just as good as them so why pay for something you can see on TV.

 

He then says that he never looked at fans as “marks” because those guys made them money and allowed them to feed their families. He then makes a joke about relatives saying how they are like fish in that after a few days, they start to stink.

 

Back to Monsoon, Heenan said he kept in touch with him until the day he died. He recalls the day of his last WWF appearance when he got tossed out of the building on RAW. In the hotel, Heenan had a basket of fruit in his room and asked Gorilla to come meet him and they met in the hallway and he said they cried for an hour.

 

Back to WCW, Heenan said he was constantly disrespected. One time, he came up with an idea and proposed it to Bischoff and was told that he was just an announcer and that we came up with the ideas. After that, Heenan said he lost all desire and was just there for the paycheck and nothing else. When he announced, he wouldn’t even get the booking sheet until the third match. Heenan is asked what he would have done to turn around WCW and he joked that he would have rolled a grenade into the dressing room.

 

WCW asked him to manage but he declined and he was never told who he was going to manage.

 

He said that Scott Hall was very talented but listened to a lot of bad advice. He then tells us that Hall hated the toothpick tossing routine but Heenan told him to throw it into the camera and that worked. He said that Kevin Nash was big but not special.

 

Heenan then says that he does not take credit for getting anyone over as it would have had to been due to the wrestler as well. He does add that the Valiant’s are the exception to this rule, calling them useless.

 

He then says that he would have had Goldberg go 3,000-0 then actually brings up, while prefacing that he is not trying to be racist, how TV is mostly run by Jewish guys and that Goldberg was Jewish and that could have worked. He then adds that they also could have used his football background to make him a star. He also says that if someone wasn’t selfish, WCW would still be around today and 200 people would still be employed.

 

When asked how he got replaced by Mark Madden, he said that he called out sick two days in six years. This time, he had strep throat and could barely talk and called Schiavone. When he came back, he found out that Taylor replaced him.

 

He said that Vince Russo didn’t have a clue and was a disgrace who thought he knew how to change things.

 

Heenan said that if he was approached for advice by the younger wrestlers, he told them what worked for him might not work for them but if you pretended that what you were doing was real, it would work out.

 

Heenan said that he found out that Vince bought WCW when someone called him. He thinks that Vince only bought it for the tape collection.

 

When asked who was responsible for the failure of WCW, he said that it was the guy who was in charge, which was either Bischoff or Harvey Schiller. He said that he did not know about locker room politics as the wrestlers had a “do not enter” sign on the door that was guarded by Doug Dillinger, who Heenan refers to as “donuts.” Heenan then tells us that Dillinger used to be a cop but mainly just rode the motorcycle at funerals.

 

He is asked about the different styles of wrestling. He said that they could have saved money with the luchadores by having two guys and twelve different costumes. HE then said that the garbage brawling got old quickly.

 

Heenan then said that he never had talks with ECW. He called Vince when WCW went under and had fun at WrestleMania but doesn’t want to work a full-time schedule on the road. He said that he would like to do commercials and work on his book. He also does not believe that wrestling will be around much longer because without competition, Vince will get stagnant.

 

Back to WrestleMania 17, Heenan said that he had a great time. He really liked the Dudley’s, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko. He also had a great time catching up with the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Hillbilly Jim.

 

He loved working the WOW PPV. He then said that this is all entertainment and if you want wrestling, go watch Iowa University.

 

He talks about Mike Tenay and jokes that he is so straight-laced that he can make coffee nervous. He then adds how he would love to do a radio show with him.

 

When asked about using dated references in WCW, Heenan said that at times Bischoff told him not to say anything.

 

Heenan says that managing made him a lot of money and he chose to “trip and distract” rather than attend law or medical school.

 

He is asked about his appearance on the “Arsenio Hall Show.” Heenan said that in the dressing room, there was food and his wife wanted to take everything and he didn’t think it was for him and told her to not take anything like the Valiant’s would have. After the show, Heenan was hungry and he was asked if he got any food so Arsenio sent him another basket and a doll for his daughter.  Heenan calls Arsenio a class act.

 

Now Heenan is asked about several wrestlers. He said that Abdullah the Butcher was a fat guy with a fork and called him useless. He calls Jerry Lawler a good hand and said he was lucky to survive in a small territory. Heenan said that Memphis was a place that you went when you started out or when you were finishing up. He said that Don Muraco was a good guy and joked that he had good weed. He calls Jimmy Valiant a pig. He also said that Mr. Fuji was a great guy and would paint your nails or shave off your eyebrows if you went to sleep on the plane. He said that David Schultz was a redneck before it became cool but also believes that he thought wrestling was real.

 

He then says that he never liked Bruiser Brody, as he was selfish. He just wanted to stick it to the promoter and would ruin matches and destroy territories for his own reasons while disregarding the fact that other wrestlers had to work in those territories and could be losing a job. Heenan believes that as a main eventer, you owe it to the rest of the card to be professional and do what is right instead of screwing over the guys who have to come back and work the territory.

 

He tells a story of Owen Hart approaching him on his last night with the WWF. Owen asked him why he was leaving and after Heenan told him, Owen said that he was going to miss him and it would be a big loss and shook his hand. Heenan said that he was not approached by everyone on his last day.

 

Heenan gives his thoughts on the “Montreal Screwjob” incident and said that id he was Bret, he would have put over Shawn because he was in this for money. He says that double-crosses happen everywhere. He then adds how if you were offered $1,000 a week to do jobs and $500 a week to be the champ, some guys would still want to be the champion.

 

He squashes the rumor that Andre was going to refuse to job to Hogan at WrestleMania III. Heenan said that Andre knew this was his last chance for a big payday.

 

Heenan believes that if Goldberg started off in the WWF, he would get over more than Austin. He says that Austin swears a lot and that Goldberg was a bigger guy.

 

About his broken neck, Heenan said that it occurred in Japan when Onita landed on his head after a middle rope leg drop in 1983 but he didn’t get it fixed until 1995 when he went to WCW.

 

He jokes how women are the toughest species on earth because they can bleed once a month for a week and survive.

 

He said that a union would never happen in wrestling because no one would trust each other and guys would end up getting blackballed.

 

He never had interest working for Watts as he did not want to work seven days a week.

 

He would have liked to manage Hogan as he could have made a lot of money and he was easy to travel with.

 

Heenan does a Jim Barnett impression then jokes about where the pacifier went when he was a kid.

 

He is asked about the current stars in the WWF. He likes HHH but thinks he needs to lose the black trunks and the water. He calls the Rock a great talker.

 

Heenan says that he has no regrets but wihsed he would have stood up for himself and others about getting paid better.

 

The interview closes with Heenan saying the magic is over as everyone knows how they perform the tricks. He says that he is writing a book and blesses the memories and the fans.

 

 

Final Thoughts: A tremendous interview. Heenan was insightful and hilarious the whole time. He did not hold any grudges and seemed genuinely happy about his career. I highly recommend this interview, which was a breeze to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. One of the best acquisitions Vince McMahon ever made.

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  2. I would love Bobby to be the Roger Ebert of wrestling - give him a website and Twitter account and let him go nuts.

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  3. YankeesHoganTripleHFanSeptember 26, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Still the best WW-BLEEP, oops did I say something wrong, Hall of Fame Speech ever.

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  4. Good review Bayless. Its interesting hearing him talk about how they didnt think they could sell tickets if everyone knew it was fake. I guess the whole transition from protecting kayfabe to basically acknowledging its fake, in a fake sport just fascinates me.

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  5. Bobby Heenan is a national treasure.

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  6. It's funny but I actually prefer Ventura/Monsoon above all when it comes to calling matches but the all-time best performance from a team is undeniably Heenan/Monsoon during the Rumble match in '92. They played off each other tremendously and when it was reposted the other day, I watched darn near the whole thing over again just for their announcing.

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  7. The entire PPV, really, you could listen to it just as an audio file and be entertained. Hands down best commentary for an event ever.

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  8. Bayless, did they ask him about his Bash at the Beach call about Hogan?

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  9. This. Rumble '92 gave us one of the best Heenan/Gorilla exchanges ever:

    "Wait, so Virgil was number 23, so like 22 guys have come out in front of him?"

    "Yes...?"

    "Well WHO KNOWS how many bags he's gone through in the locker room!!!"

    "WILL YOU STOP?!!!?"

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  10. They did not. The only specific incident they asked him about was the deal with Brian Pillman.

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  11. Thanks. Im sure hes talked about it but ive never heard him address it.

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  12. You took the words right out of my mouth. Literally, I was going to post this word for word.

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  13. I was watching that match live...he really did flub up the surprise.

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  14. He did, but it fit his character...he ALWAYS would make fun of Hogan, call him yellow, etc. Thats why I am curious about how hed respond to the question about it.

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  15. I wonder what Schiavone's opinion of Heenan is?

    Heenan definitely could of been a stand up comic.

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  16. Favorite Heenan moment was Summerslam 89. After Rude lost to Warrior, Heenan starts giving this rambling interview and Gene says "get a hold of yourself! You're babbling man!" Kills me every time I watch it.

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  17. It was pretty obvious at that point anyway...


    However, Heenan had always said those things about Hogan anyway, so it made sense.

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  18. Love that..my favorite interaction between those 2 ever

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  19. When I think about Heenan managing Hogan....those two would have totally made that work...close your eyes and imaging Okerlund interview Heenan and Hogan.

    Love this interview, listened to it many times. Bobby used to live in my neighborhood although I might have seen him 3 or 4 times. Always regretted never walking up to him and saying hello.

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  20. I hate to be that guy but I kinda don't get it lol. :/


    Is he being racist or did Virgil had a deal back then with other people's bags?

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  21. I wonder if he even knew the secret, given what he says about Schiavone not revealing stuff to him.

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  22. I think he's being either racist or just a dick, implying that a perfectly virtuous babyface is in fact a thief.

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  23. Very nice review- this shoot sounds like a blast.

    I have a question about this bit:
    "He is now asked if Hogan was difficult to work with. Heenan said that Hogan never changed and that guys did not like him because they were not able to work with him due to the fact they would not be able to draw money with him. Heenan said that the worst person in the world would have been working with him if they could draw. "

    Are you saying that Heenan says that guy weren't allowed to work with Hogan because nobody thought they could draw money?

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  24. Thanks for the compliment. It is much appreciated.
    Heenan seemed to be saying that the guys who were jealous of Hogan were the ones that werent good enough to produce a feud that could draw any money at all.

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  25. It was about as racist as the million Mexican jokes he used to crack on Tito Santana.

    It's never the words, it's all about the delivery. The warmth in the delivery allowed the humor to shine through.

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  26. I'm pretty sure I saw Tony being very complimentary of Bobby when asked about it on Twitter.

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  27. RUDE NEVER GOT A PROGRAM WITH HOGAN AND HATED HIM PERSONALLY BOBBY IS WRONG HOGAN GOT A HUGE EGO AND IAM SURE THEY CLASHED HE IS JUST COVERING THINGS UP IMO

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  28. THE THINGS BOBBY SAID ABOUT HOGAN ONLY OUT FOR HIMSELF AND MONEY HUNGRY ETC AREN'T A WORK THEY ARE ALL TRUE

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  29. ITS REALLY NOT FAKE WHEN YOU HAVE GUYS BREAKING THEIR NECK AND HAVING MULTIPLE HIP AND KNEE SURGERIES WHATS FAKE ABOUT THAT?
    PREPLANNED BUT FAKE NOT!

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  30. Bobby cant stan him though i have heard him say so countless times

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  31. steamboat didnt get a match with hogan< does any one believe steamboat wouldnt draw?piper had several matches with hogan and never won he hated hulk for years as a shoot its well documented

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