Bobby “The Brain Heenan passed away today at the age of 73. Heenan is considered by many, including myself, as one of the greatest announcers and managers of all time.
Heenan grew to prominence in the AWA where he was the manager of Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens to multiple tag title reigns. He also managed Bockwinkel during his numerous reigns as AWA Champion. It was also in the AWA where, as manager to Bockwinkel, Heenan started his long feud with Hulk Hogan.
Heenan joined the WWF in 1984 and managed a stable of wrestlers known as the Heenan Family. The list of wrestlers he managed included Andre The Giant, King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson among others. Often times Heenan was the one selling his wrestlers matches to the public. Bobby Heenan being Andre the Giant’s manager was a critical part to Andre’s heel turn. And Heenan’s work on the mic helped sell the main event of Wrestlemania 3. Heenan managed Rick Rude and Mr. Perfect to Intercontinental Title reigns. He also managed The Brain Busters (Blanchard and Anderson) and Andre the Giant and Haku to tag team title reigns.
In 1991 Heenan retired from managing and became a full time color commentator. And once again, Heenan shined. He was the perfect foil to Gorilla Monsoon. The duos call of Wrestlemania 8 is tremendous. It was also during this time that Heenan introduced Ric Flair into the WWE as the Real World’s Champion. Heenan’s call of the 1992 Royal Rumble match is still one of my favorite wrestling memories of all time.
When Heenan left the WWF in 1994 he initially planned to retire. But WCW came calling and he decided to answer and was a commentator on Nitro from its inception to when he was released in 2000.
Heenan battled and beat throat cancer in 2002 and faced a handful of health problems up until his death today.
For my money, Bobby Heenan is one of the best pure entertainers that the world of pro wrestling has ever seen. The man was a comedic legend and his one liners and jokes were top notch. While Gorilla Monsoon may not have been the best play-by-play man, his pairing with Bobby Heenan was great and you knew that you would always be in for a treat listening to them on commentary. And you have to imagine that The Brain is already getting on Monsoon’s case up there in heaven.
Justin C (@JCWonka)