Jim Ross on Bobby Heenan, Gorilla Monsoon

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July 31, 2012

Jim Ross remembers the late Gorilla Monsoon.

Gorilla Monsoon was like a father figure to me. The WWE Hall of Famer was as respected within WWE as any man that I was ever associated with, past or present. He cast a large shadow both literally and figuratively. Gorilla saw that I was a respectful veteran of 19 years in the business when I got to WWE and he couldn't have cared less from where I came. Again, with old school values, Gorilla Monsoon judged me on how I treated him and the WWE brand. Obviously, I treated both with great reverence and respect.

When fellow broadcasters like "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Lord Alfred Hayes gave me the proverbial cold shoulder when I first arrived in WWE, Gorilla vocally — and with authority — intervened to get both individuals to give me a chance to prove myself to them and not to prejudge me. Lord Alfred came around first. "Macho Man" took a little more time, but he eventually did as well.

The WWE television crew loved Gorilla as he was a father figure to them, too. Thanks to “The Big Ape’s” encouragement, I quickly became part of the WWE TV facility family and I proudly remain so to this very day.

Many of us still recall when young, fledgling, self-professed “hot shot” broadcasters would introduce themselves to Gorilla and he would turn to me and say for everyone to hear, “Don’t commit that kid’s name to memory.” Or he would tell said “hot shots,” “If I were you, I’d consider renting for a while. In other words, don’t buy any property.”

Gorilla taught me so much about the culture of the company and about the general philosophy of the business. He was old school through and through and could be harsh on talents whose bouts we broadcast in voiceover sessions for Wrestling Challenge and a litany of other programs. He could be so stiff that I would ask to stop rolling tape so that we could take a break and go sit at a picnic table behind the TV facility where Gorilla could vent to me about the talents that he thought were “phoning it in.” Then, with it out of his system, we would resume voiceovers and get our work done in a professional manner.

Jim Ross writes about his partnerships with Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon.

I’m relatively sure that if Gino, as many of us called Monsoon, had not been ill at WrestleMania IX that I would have never debuted at that major event.

There’s honestly not a day that goes by that I don’t think of one of the greatest influences and mentors in my professional life. A little of Gino died the day that his son and former WWE referee Joey Marella was killed in a tragic car accident at the tender age of 30. Gorilla Monsoon was never able to “kick out” of that devastating situation.

It saddens me that Gorilla’s twin grandsons, named Gino and Joey, never truly got to know their grandfather. The man born Robert Marella was a magnificent human being, friend and standup man of character and integrity.

I miss our football bets, the many Italian dinners we used to enjoy in Stamford, Conn., his advice and him always being in my corner when less than advantageous hands were dealt to me.

The Good Lord broke the mold when he made both Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon and I’m so pleased that on my journey in this genre that they came into my life and played such important roles. Coming to WWE in 1993, after 19 years in the business, was an amazing professional accomplishment, but calling Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon dear friends is perhaps the greatest blessing of them all.

Next timeVince McMahon.  

Click here to order J.R.'s famous BBQ sauce on WWE Shop and follow the WWE Hall of Famer on Twitter.

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Jim Ross Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Bobby Heenan Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Gorilla Monsoon Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles

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