Former manager and color commentator Bobby “The Brain” Heenan died on Sunday at the age of 73, according to World Wrestling Entertainment. His cause of death was not announced.
Arguably the greatest WWE manager ever, Heenan’s notoriety took off when he formed the “Heenan Family” in the mid-1980s after getting his start in the American Wrestling Association. His stable of wrestlers included the likes of WWE Hall of Famers Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, Mr. Perfect and Andre the Giant.
Heenan would be alongside Andre the Giant during his famous feud against Hulk Hogan, culminating in their WrestleMania III match where Hogan body slammed the 520-pound behemoth.
Heenan was dubbed “The Weasel” by former AWA wrestler Dick the Bruiser and his character managed to live up to the nickname thanks to his quick wit and a sharp tongue that often found him seeking protection from the babyface.
Heenan’s skills on the microphone translated smoothly to the broadcast booth as he earned a new nickname: “Broadcast Journalist.” He would go on to work with Gorilla Monsoon as the duo formed impeccable on-air chemistry. For as good as Heenan was as a manager, he was even a better color commentator. After leaving the then-WWF in 1993, Heenan joined World Championship Wrestling where he would become one of the voices of “WCW Monday Nitro.”
In 2002, Heenan was diagnosed with throat cancer and his health issues continued to mount. Heenan underwent reconstructive jaw surgery in 2007 that drastically changed not only his physical appearance but zapped him of his greatest asset – the ability to speak on a consistent basis.
Former WWE announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund spoke with Sports Illustrated earlier this year about Heenan’s legacy:
“Bobby was, without a doubt, the quickest mind I’ve ever worked with on the set,” said Okerlund. “Bobby is the Aaron Rodgers of managers in professional wrestling – Rodgers works magic on the professional football field, but Bobby Heenan did the same thing in a wrestling ring, in a television studio, on a radio program, and he could do the same thing in a newspaper layout. He was a great communicator, and he knew how to generate heat with fans. People loved to hate Bobby Heenan.”
Following the news of his death, the wrestling community shared their thoughts via Twitter:
RIP Bobby "The Brain" Heenan – one of the GREATEST and most influential personas our business has ever known. pic.twitter.com/BUDikV0z2X
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) September 17, 2017
Today we lost one of our legends.
Im just happy the last words I said to him were, "I love you Bobby."
RIP Bobby Heenan pic.twitter.com/ofqi6IJguD
— Bubba Ray Dudley (@bullyray5150) September 17, 2017
Bobby Heenan died today and it has left me very sad. He was the best of the best in the biz and a friend. RIP Bobby. Praying for you Cindy pic.twitter.com/T8wuFAYuST
— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) September 17, 2017
The news of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan's passing today gutted me.
I loved our time together.
No one ever did it better than the Wease.
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) September 17, 2017
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