It’s a sad day for the world of professional wrestling, as legendary WWE Hall of Famer Bobby “The Brain” Heenan has died at the age of 73. While the role of the manager in wrestling has greatly decreased in recent decades, Heenan was arguably the greatest to ever practice the art. During the 1980s Golden Age of the then-WWF, Heenan was a constant thorn in the side of ultimate hero Hulk Hogan, managing an ever-changing stable of heels known as The Heenan Family. Nearly every member of the group challenged Hogan for his WWF Championship at some point, and Heenan was always there to both advise his clients and draw the ire of the Hulkamaniacs in the crowd.
Heenan first entered the wrestling business in 1960, catching his first big break in 1965, working as both a heel wrestler and manager. Whether in the ring or outside of it, Heenan was the consummate loudmouth, only to run away or resort to dirty tricks when physically confronted. It was during his stint in the AWA that Heenan acquired “The Brain” nickname, which stuck for the rest of his career.
By 1984, Heenan had arrived in the WWF, where he would find his greatest fame. While there, Heenan managed legendary wrestlers like “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Harley Race, and Ric Flair. Also, Heenan would manage Andre the Giant during the big man’s epic feud with Hulk Hogan, which culminated at 1987’s WrestleMania III. Former WWE announcer Jim Ross was the first to relay the news that Heenan passed away today, and it was then confirmed by WWE itself. No specific cause of death has been released, but Heenan had been dealing with various health problems since a bout with throat cancer in the early 2000s.
As famous as Heenan became as a manager, it’s equally worth noting his skills as a color commentator. When Jesse “The Body” Ventura left the WWF announcer booth in the early 90s, Heenan was tapped to take over as partner of play-by-play announcer Gorilla Monsoon. Great friends off camera, Heenan and Monsoon proved to be one of the most widely beloved announce teams in history, and upon Heenan’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, he expressed a wish that Monsoon had lived to see it happen.
Heenan eventually left the WWF in 1994, lured away by the big money contracts then-offered by rival company WCW. Heenan would serve as a commentator for WCW until 2000, and it would mark his last regular stint with a major wrestling organization. Heenan is survived by his wife Cynthia and daughter Jessica. “The Brain” leaves behind a tremendous legacy in the wrestling business, and will likely never be forgotten.
R.I.P. – Bobby Heenan – November 1, 1944 – September 17. 2017
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