The wrestling world was shattered Sunday evening with the announcement that WWE Hall of Famer Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, widely regarded as the greatest manager in pro wrestling history, passed away following lengthy battles with throat and tongue cancer, as well as multiple jaw infections. The exact cause of death has not been revealed. Heenan was 73 years old.
Raymond Louis Heenan was born November 1, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois, but to the world he was known as Bobby, a career sports entertainer, from wrestler, to manager, to announcer. As a wrestler, he was known as “Pretty Boy” Bobby Heenan when he debuted in 1960. By 1967, he was both a wrestler and a manager, initially handling the tag team of Angelo Poffo (Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo‘s father) and Chris Markoff in Dick The Bruiser‘s promotion, World Wrestling Association (WWA). He would also manage the Blackjacks (Mulligan and Lanza) and the Valiant Brothers.
In 1974, he moved to the AWA, where he created his first variation of his stable, The Heenan Family, when he took on the managerial duties of Nick Bockwinkel and Ray “Crippler” Stevens, also adding Bobby Duncum and Blackjack Lanza. In 1975, he guided Nick Bockwinkel to his first AWA World title run and in 1979, his world champion Bockwinkel entered a feud with a young Hulk Hogan, setting up a lifelong feud against the Hulkster, in the AWA, WWF and WCW.
In 1983, Heenan was part of a large exodus of AWA talent to the WWF, as Vince McMahon Jr. began to take over the company from his ailing father, Vince McMahon Sr. Heenan was instantly pushed as the top heel manager of the company, with his new Heenan family constantly challenging Hulk Hogan for this WWF World title. During his WWF career, his Family included Andre The Giant, Harley Race, Ric Flair, The Brainbusters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard), “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Lex Luger, Haku, King Kong Bundy and more. His draw was so immense, that his managerial presence made huge stars out of such previous journeymen as Big John Studd, Hercules Hernandez, The Barbarian and The Brooklyn Brawler. His final client in the WWF was the introduction of “The Narcissist” Lex Luger in 1993.
In 1986, Vince McMahon began to put Heenan on commentary as the heel announcer, replacing Jesse “The Body” Ventura next to Gorilla Monsoon. The iconic duo are often regarded by most as the best commentary duo of all time. He would hold that position until his retirement in 1993 and departure from the WWF. In 1994, he was talked out of retirement by WCW and returned as a commentator only. He would become a vital part of WCW Monday Nitro and would remain with WCW until 2000, when he was released shortly prior to the WWE taking over in 2001.
Bobby Heenan continues to remain the standard bearer for heel commentators and managers alike, and his legacy will remain forever in the heart of pro wrestling, with performers and fans alike.
The Wrestling world was suitably shocked and saddened by the industry’s loss.
One of the greatest managers and announcers in WWE history. Our thoughts are with the Heenan family. pic.twitter.com/r9A3IJlSoP
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.
Bobby Heenan… The Greatest Manager, One Of The Greatest Announcers, And One Of The Best In-Ring Performers In The History Of The Business
Worked with Bobby Heenan from 1980 until my career ended,learned new things from him ever single day,love u my brother rip. HH
…one of a kind. pic.twitter.com/2uM1qpWHaF
Just heard the news about #BobbyHeenan deeply saddened. My thoughts are with Cindy and Jess. The Brain made Nitro the smash hit it was.
So stunned about Bobby Heenan–he formed in my mind as a fan AND performer what I thought a manager should be. Best ever. #LoveYouBobbyRIP
Such sad news. So grateful to have worked with wrestling's clown prince. He did it all and no one did it better. RIP Bobby Heenan pic.twitter.com/wku2notF2H
Bobby Heenan just passed away a few hours ago. He was the best ever at what he did.
Hearing of the passing of Bobby Heenan certainly brings sadness, but, being blessed to witness his genius 1st hand, also brings a smile, RIP
Rest in Peace Bobby Heenan. Such an important thread in the fabric that is the professional wrestling of my youth!
Saddened to hear of the passing of Bobby Heenan. "The Brain" did it all in the biz, in the most entertaining ways possible. #RIPBobbyHeenan
"If you're poor and you do something stupid, you're nuts. If you're rich and do something stupid, you're eccentric." – Bobby Heenan R.I.P.
Saddened to hear of the passing of one of wrestlings GREATEST, Bobby Heenan. https://t.co/chBwNG4PFq
Rest in Peace Bobby Heenan! Horrible news. You were the best. I love you. God speed sir!
Bobby Heenan was the measuring stick for pro wrestling managers … may the great one Rest In Peace ….
RIP to Bobby Heenan. The greatest wrestling manager of all time and an innovator of comedy in wrestling.
Bobby Heenan was pure magic. Out of all his talents, his ability to make anyone laugh will live on forever. RIP. pic.twitter.com/4N7eFz50qI
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
Blessed for The Brain to drop his wisdom that has stuck with me forever. RIP Bobby Heenan pic.twitter.com/KZHzTg1E2z
Sad news about Bobby Heenan, undoubtedly the greatest manager of all time. RIP
I often put on the 92 Royal Rumble as I'm falling asleep just to listen to Bobby Heenan's commentary.
You were the best and will be missed
We all have so many great memories of Bobby Heenan-whether ringside or on commentary. Either way he was simply the best
Hard to find words. R.I.P. Bobby Heenan. He was a father, brother, mentor and friend to me. Talent personified. I will miss you my friend pic.twitter.com/cVf9RTkVZj
Our thoughts go out to the family of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. No manager or commentator was ever better at entertaining us humanoids.
(1/3) When I was younger I got to sit on the set and watch Bobby Heenan write jokes to the PAs on a whiteboard, got the biggest kick outta'
(2/3) it. Nobody can touch him…ever. He's the Babe Ruth of managers. He made my generations childhood so much fun. I'm tuning into the
(3/3) WWE Network and watching him now. MAGIC. Be at peace Brain. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/Q7obtPla6w
Goodbye to another friend. Bobby Heenan has been my hero these past few https://t.co/loEkpSYnF8 he battled cancer with such defiance and
courage in recent years has mystified me. He was always sharp as a tack, and whether anyone, including him ever knew it, he was the absolute
absolute toughest man the wrestling world ever knew. Rest in peace Bobby, nobody will ever forget all that you gave. Bret
#RIP Bobby Heenan quite probably the greatest all around wrestling performer ever.
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