Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, considered the greatest manager in professional wrestling history passed away today at the age of 72. While the cause of death was not announced, Heenan suffered from various forms of cancer over the last fifteen years, most significantly in the throat area where his jaw was removed.
Like most wrestling managers, Heenan started off as a wrestler but it wasn’t long before he was managing and wrestling where he needed to. Despite the fact that Heenan was often on the losing end of most matches he performed in he was a very accomplished in-ring performer and many stated that Heenan was a better worker than most of the roster.
His first big exposure came in the American Wrestling Association where he was the heel manager of charges like the Blackjacks, Ray Stevens and Nick Bockwinkel. It was in the AWA where he would be dubbed the “weasel” by his foes, a nickname that would stick and draw heat with the fans.
Heenan was poached by Vince McMahon in early 1984 and was paired with Big John Studd who was feuding with both Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. He would later acquire more clients such as “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Ken Patera, King Kong Bundy and Harley Race, all of which would challenge Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
Heenan was pure heat. If you were associated with the Brain, you were tops on the heel list. It was with Heenan where Andre the Giant turned heel and challenged (unsuccessfully) Hogan for the title at Wrestlemania III, a match that is still considered to be one of the most iconic bouts in history.
When he wasn’t managing, he was commentary gold as both an analyst (or broadcast journalist as he referred to himself) and as the co-host with his off screen best friend, Gorilla Monsoon on Prime Time Wrestling. The two’s banter made for great television and it arguably has not been replicated since.
In 1991, Heenan retired as a manager and would concentrate on broadcasting, a role he would hold until 1993 when he left the WWF to join WCW, which allowed him to be closer to his family. He was the main color commentator there for nearly seven years.
Heenan would make his first appearance in eight years when he called the Gimmick Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 17 and he would make sporadic appearances after, namely at the WWE Hall of Fame where he would become an inductee in 2004 and would induct Paul Orndorff (2005), The Blackjacks (2006) and Nick Bockwinkel (2007) in the years after.
As mentioned earlier, Heenan was already suffering from cancer but even until the end he was appearing at various wrestling conventions.
Rest in Peace Brain; this is one humanoid who will miss you.