Judge Ike Oden is what you'd call a wrestling manager's wrestling manager. Except for the part about wrestling managers.
"I'm having the time of my life up here!"-Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, WWE Hall of Fame induction speech.
Courtesy of WWE comes Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, a two disc set celebrating the life, career, and seminal achievements of wrestling's most hated heel. Packed to the gills with six hours of content, the DVD features a biographical documentary, interviews, promos, commentaries, and matches that made Heenan one of the greatest managers—and villains—of all time.
You know, for a company that has more or less monopolized the sport that is professional wrestling, the WWE certainly doesn't rest on its home video laurels. This is yet another great retrospective DVD set from the studio, this time focused on the controversial, albeit lovable, Bobby Heenan.
First, let's discuss the documentary. At roughly an hour long, the piece is efficient, well-paced, informative and (most importantly) entertaining as hell. To be honest, the biographical documentaries featured on these sets are often more fun than the wrestling matches being touched upon. This one explores the life and times of Bobby Heenan thoroughly, from his childhood roots in 1950s vaudevillian wrestling to his ladder climbing in the AWA to his rise as WWE's most hated (and well-respected) manager.
Featuring interviews from Heenan's family, friends, and colleagues (with a heavy emphasis on Vince McMahon), the bio tells you everything you've ever wanted to know about "The Weasel." It's a little shallow at times, lacking direct input from Heenan himself (said interviews were discarded for deleted scenes for some reason), but is an effective look at a versatile entertainer in the field of pro wrestling.
Of course, this centerpiece is only the tip of the iceberg. As mentioned, we're treated to nearly five hours of bonus content. Disc One's bonus content features deleted documentary material, interspersed with extended Heenan sketches (most of which pair him with seminal wrestling commentators "Gorilla" Monsoon or "Mean" Gene Okerland). The documentary material is as strong as the main feature delving closely into Heenan's family life, particularly his relationship with his daughter (who herself had an amusing childhood career in the WWE, as shown in the material).
The skits, however, might be tedious to anyone who doesn't view them with retro-wrestling tinted glasses of nostalgia. The pieces are heavy on slapstick, one-liners, and gimmicks steeped in the sort of vaudeville that made Heenan such a unique personality. That said, when viewed in an hour long block, the result can be a bit polarizing. It's not what I would call funny, per se, but in context to the WWE, Heenan's biting sense of humor made him a force to be reckoned with.
This truth is no more evident than on Disc 2, where we get to the meat of the wrestling. We're treated to three hours of classic Heenan matches, including appearances in Tuesday Night Titans, Wrestlefest, Wrestlemania, and Royal Rumble. The quality of the matches starts out pretty rough in the AWA era, but gets progressively better. These matches are a veritable who's-who of classic wrestlers, from Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior to Abdullah the Butcher and Sgt. Slaughter. Heenan wrestles in five of the seven of them and provides his requisite color commentary on the pay-per-view matches. As a result, we're given a varied disc that carefully highlights the wrestling, managerial, and "journalistic" (Heenan's term) prowess of The Brain that's tons of fun.
Technically, WWE delivers the goods yet again. The video quality on the documentary is an impressive anamorphic transfer. The matches themselves are full frame and come from some rough, archived sources, so expect a few '70s-era, bootleg-style transfers. The sound mix is equally strong, providing a solid, clear 5.1 mix that's come to be expected.
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Scales of Justice
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