With bright blue hair, face paint, half-shirt and Daisy Duke shorts, The Blue Meanie was an unmistakable character in the Land of Extreme.
A bizarre yet lovable character with a surprisingly perfect moonsault, the Meanie brought levity and low-brow performance art to the blood-and-guts milieu of ECW.
Alongside “Big Stevie Cool” Richards and “Hollywood” Nova, The Blue Meanie, known as “Da Blue Guy” formed the faction The Blue World Order, a parody of WCW’s New World Order. Their bWo t-shirts, mimicking the iconic nWo logo, became the best-selling merch in ECW history.
That’s why WWE asked The Blue Meanie, whose real name is Brian Heffron, to co-host the new ECW Unreleased Vol. 3 DVD and Blu-ray, along with Stevie Richards and “the voice of ECW,” Joey Styles.
Now a trainer at the famous Monster Factory Pro Wrestling School in New Jersey, Heffron recently chatted at length with SLAM! Wrestling about ECW Unreleased Vol. 3, and the enduring legacy of ECW.
In part one of our interview, Heffron discusses his ECW debut, his idol Bam Bam Bigelow, the science behind the moonsault, and the time he almost got arrested shooting a nude promo in a park.
Stay tuned to SLAM! Wrestling for part two, in which Heffron delves into the culture of ECW, his bucket list, how he trains aspiring young wrestlers, and why he believes he was born a decade too late.
SLAM! Wrestling: First off, congratulations on the fine job you did co-hosting the new ECW Unreleased Vol. 3 DVD and Blu-ray. You brought lots of great laughs and insight.
Brian Heffron: Ah, thanks man. WWE did a nice job honouring us with the blue cover art as well, giving the whole packaging a very blue theme. It’s very gratifying to be a part of it because I was very fortunate to be in ECW and work with one of my idols, Bam Bam Bigelow, because that’s who I felt closest to.
SLAM! Wrestling: Let’s start off, then, by talking about Bam Bam Bigelow, who’s featured in a couple matches on ECW Unreleased Vol. 3 against Cactus Jack and Shane Douglas. Why did you feel so close to Bigelow?
Brian Heffron: I was a big guy growing up and I could kind of move fast, kind of move pretty good for a bigger guy, a fat guy (laughs). But I never saw myself as a fat guy because I could also do things. There were some big guys in wrestling who could do only two or three things, but I wanted to be like Bam Bam Bigelow, who could move like a cat.
So Bigelow was a huge influence when I went to ECW, and I think he saw something in me because he would pull me aside sometimes and give me pointers. He watched one of my matches and said, “Hey man we’re big guys so there’s one thing, y’know, always keep your wheels strong,” referring to our legs. “Even if you ride a bike for an hour a day or do this and that,” he’d say, “because even if you’re not going to be cut and muscular like Lex Luger, you still need to be big and agile.”
I learned from him, if you get winded but your legs are strong, you’ll be alright. Because that’s the scariest part when you get winded and your legs feel like rubber and you just want to die. But yeah, he pulled me aside and said, “Hey man, keep your wheels strong.” Man, he pulled me aside a lot of times and gave me some good advice.
SLAM! Wrestling: What other personal insight can you share about Bigelow?
Brian Heffron: Bigelow was a very chilled-out guy. If you happened to be a rowdy guy before you get into wrestling, the wrestling business will kind of mellow you out because, I mean, you’re trying to conserve energy for the ring, throughout the day. So he was a mellow guy. You could have a really cool, chilled, mellowed out conversation with him. When he spoke, he had this low tone to his voice, but he knew when to turn it on as well, and he certainly did in front of the camera.
He was just a very good dude, man. He was always good towards the other guys, making them look good and passing on his knowledge to the next generation. And of course, everybody knows what he could do in the ring. He was a beast and yet he had that amazing agility and so many great moves in his arsenal like the moonsault.
SLAM! Wrestling: Your moonsault isn’t too shabby either! Can you explain the science behind the moonsault?
Brian Heffron: The science behind the moonsault is, it’s all in your hips. It’s in your hips and your chin. It’s the same theory as trying to throw a cat up in the air, and a cat always lands on its feet. Why? Because he points his chin to where he wants to go. And with the moonsault, once you jump, you go backwards but once you give your hips a little pop, that brings the other half of your body over, the splash part of it. If you point your chin left, your body will go to the left. If you point your chin right, your body will go right. If you point it straight back, you’ll do a real beautiful arc with your moonsault. It’s just a combination of jumping and knowing at the right moment when to kick it over into gear by popping your hips with the moonsault. And just making sure your chin is pointed perfectly straight, that way you can find your opponent a lot easier as well.
And I thank Bam Bam Bigelow a lot too for inspiring me to try it. The first person I ever saw do a moonsault was Lanny Poffo and thought, wow that’s cool, and then I saw The Great Muta do it and thought, man that’s amazing. And then when I saw Bigelow do it I thought, maybe a big guy like me can do it as well. So yeah, Bigelow definitely influenced and gave me the motivation to give it a shot when I started training with Al Snow.And everybody’s moonsault is different. Lanny Poffo kind of had his own signature with his moonsault, because when he went to do it he still had one foot on the second rope and one foot on the top rope, almost like a one-legged moonsault which is somewhat even cooler. In the great words of Gorilla Monsoon, it was very unorthodox.
SLAM! Wrestling: Performing your own style of moonsault, the “Meaniesault,” you would always put your hand on the corner post before you leapt…
Brian Heffron: Yeah, when I do the moonsault I climb up and get my two feet up there, I grab the bar that holds the post to the turnbuckle, and then I put my hand on the post and while I’m bent over I’m looking straight through my legs to make sure I know where the guy is. I’m visually measuring and I’m thinking, okay, do I jump 100 per cent, do I jump 75 percent? And depending on the ropes it might not even matter, depending on who tightened the ropes. I might hit it perfect and another time it might be a moonsault-head butt combo (laughs).
Some guys can stand on the top rope perfectly straight and I can’t, for the love of God I could never do that. But if you’re in the same ring every night like I was in ECW, then I had the luxury of hitting a pretty good moonsault each night.
SLAM! Wrestling: ECW wrestlers would often help set up and tear down the rings, right?
Brian Heffron: Yeah, especially in the beginning when ECW used to get their rings from Rocco Rock, who had a side business of renting out rings. But as time went on and the company started making a little more money, they invested in their own ring. They had one ring that they had full control of, and a lot of the young guys from the House of Hardcore were in the ring crew. Like you said, some of the referees were part of the ring crew as well, and some of the wrestlers like Spike Dudley and Bill Wiles, they were all ring crew also. Which served a dual purpose because they saved a little money on the travel, and they were contributing behind the scenes to the company as well.
SLAM! Wrestling: During one of the segments between matches on ECW Unreleased Vol. 3, there’s a shot of you in the crowd at an early ECW event, watching the debut of The Public Enemy. Tell us about the shows you attended as a fan before joining ECW.
Brian Heffron: I lived in Philadelphia and I’m a big fan of wrestling and the Philadelphia Phillies, so I went to a lot of games and ECW shows. I’m what they call a bleacher bum, and you know the section that’s facing the camera, you could see me there at plenty of those shows like Hustle City Showdown with the first Mick Foley versus Sabu match. You can kind of see me in the bleachers, and then, I was there for the chair shot heard around the world when Tommy Dreamer handcuffed Raven to the cage like a crucifix and hit him with that killer chair shot. I was in the stands for that as well.
And there’s some other matches besides the Public Enemy debut on the new DVD where I was there, like the Dean Malenko verses Too Cold Scorpio match, I was at that show. And I had been in the business maybe a couple months training with Al Snow, but I would always drive back to Atlantic City to visit family, and I planned my journey back to Ohio around ECW events where I would drive back home on a Monday, spend Monday through Friday with my family, Friday I would go to an ECW show, stay with my family, and then after the Saturday night show I would drive back to Al Snow’s school in Ohio, 13 hours later.
SLAM! Wrestling: Tell us how you eventually found your way onto the ECW roster.
Brian Heffron: Because I was always in the crowd, I would see the guys and they’d get familiar with me. And one of my — for lack of a better term — classmates at Al Snow’s school was John “Pee Wee” Moore, who was a referee for ECW. And one night he wanted to go back to Al’s gym with me from an ECW arena. So the show was over and he had to get paid, so I waited in the back and watched some of the guys do interviews, and they kind of saw me there with Pee Wee.
Then guys like Tazz and Tommy Dreamer would get used to me being around, so the seed was planted, and then one time I’m out in Michigan working for Sabu, ’cause Sabu starting running shows in the Detroit area. And he used a lot of Al Snow’s students, then he would bring in Dreamer, Tazz, he brought in Paul Heyman. So I did a match where Sabu and Paul Heyman ran in and beat me up and shaved my head. A while after that, Paul E. was sitting there one night and a light bulb went over his head, and he goes, “You’re that kid! We shaved your head!” And I was like, “Yeah, that was me!” And I think from that point he was like, well this guy’s willing to let me shave his head, he’d probably be a good soldier to have in ECW as well.
SLAM! Wrestling: Stevie Richards and Raven played a role in bringing you in as well.
Brian Heffron: Oh yeah, I met Stevie and they had me debut. I met them in Baltimore, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, and they asked me to be Stevie’s sidekick. I debuted October 26, ’95 and I was just the guy in the crowd with a half shirt and Daisy Duke shorts. And that’s the infamous night where Cactus Jack tried to hit Terry Funk with a flaming chair and Terry went up in flames and a fan reached over the rail and tried to pat him out. So I like to say we lit a fan on fire, but it wasn’t really our fault, the fan tried to reach over the guard rail and patted Terry Funk out with his bare hands. Needless to say that footage never made air. Yeah, somehow the tapes disappeared along with my debut (laughs).
SLAM! Wrestling: On ECW Unreleased Vol. 3, you mention that you debuted twice. Can you elaborate?
Brian Heffron: Well, a month goes by after that fire incident and Raven comes up with the character for The Blue Meanie, because he had just watched The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and the character I was kind of doing at the time was a little bit crazy, kind of like the character in the movie. And he thought of me when he saw the cartoon, so he’s explaining it to me and I’m like, great, and he goes well you’re not going to want to dye your whole body blue but you can just do your hair. So he pitched me the idea of being Stevie’s side kick and told me I was going to have to wear Daisy Dukes. I’m like, okay, we’re in ECW, so what’s the problem? (laughs) It’s an opportunity and it’s great. So that’s what I meant when I said I had the distinction of debuting twice in ECW, and that’s how I became Stevie’s lackey.
SLAM! Wrestling: Was there anyone else being considered for the role of Stevie Richards’ flunky?
Brian Heffron: Interesting enough, they had another guy in mind, one of Stevie’s friends named Wock, and this guy made me look small. But he couldn’t wrestle and he couldn’t take bumps. But the dude was a monster. I figured he had a much longer name probably ending in “ski,” like Wockowski or something, but they just called him Wock for short. He had the agility of an iceberg, though.
So Stevie was Raven’s lackey, and they wanted to have a lackey for a lackey. And it was kind of like one of those Russian dolls where you fit one on top of another on top of another, and I fit the description of what they were looking for. Unlike Wock, I was the right fit.
SLAM! Wrestling: On ECW Unreleased Vol. 3, you cut a promo in the nude slathered in some kind of blue goo. Tell us about that.
Brian Heffron: (Laughs) Yeah, I legit almost got arrested doing that! I was doing a parody of the Goldust naked promo, ’cause Goldust did a promo where he’s naked and just barely covered with the Intercontinental belt. So we thought, let’s do that! So I drove up to New York with Raven and Stevie and we did a bunch of promos but what happened is, I forgot the blue paint. I had bought it and left it on a counter at home, and I got up there and went, “Ah, I forgot the paint.” So we had to improvise, so me and Tommy Dreamer went to the local supermarket and got cake icing and blue food dye. And Tommy Dreamer, the hardcore icon, covered me in blue cake icing for a promo. Then we go to this little playground in the neighbourhood and we shoot the promo, we do a couple takes and we finally get the one take right and a big spotlight shines on me coming from a cop car. And I’m naked. And stupid me, instead of ducking down and covering myself up, I jump up and yell, “Oh my God!” I think I scarred the cop for life.
It must have looked like a demented movie set because there was Paul E., Raven, Stevie, Sandman, Sandman’s wife, their son Tyler, the film crew, and me naked covered in blue icing. So the cop goes, “I don’t know what you guys are doing but please stop, I don’t want to do the paperwork on this.” And then Sandman of course goes, “Can we do one more take?” And we’re like, “Shut up! He’s letting us go!”