There are very few people in the world that are universally seen as the greatest of all time at what they did.
Bobby Heenan is one of those guys.
As many of you have heard by now, Heenan passed away Sunday afternoon at the age of 73. He had been battling throat cancer since 2002.
Affectionately known as “The Brain,” Heenan managed multiple superstars to world titles in his illustrious managerial career, including Andre the Giant and Ric Flair. He also managed the likes of Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, and Harley Race, all of whom are WWE Hall of Famers.
It wasn’t just the who’s-who of guys Heenan managed that made him so special, though. It was everything he did, and mostly said, that made Heenan one-of-a-kind. His wit and humor on the microphone was second to none, as he helped elevate a whole generation of bad guys (or “heels”, for you marks) in the 1980s and ‘90s. The line “Ya listen to me, you’ll go to the top! You don’t listen to me, you’re never heard from again!” became etched into wrestling history.
His innate ability on the mic is stuff legends are made of. That’s why he was such a great fit with Gorilla Monsoon on commentary. There can be many debates on what the greatest commentary team in WWE history is, but that debate starts with Heenan and Monsoon. Heenan always defended the bad guys, leaving Monsoon in disgust. Their banter amongst each other would have everyone rolling, and is still funny to watch back to this day.
I’m too young to have experienced Heenan in his prime, but the memories he created live on through the people that saw him. When you hear people talk about “The Brain,” it’s only positive memories of a man that became the greatest manager in professional wrestling history.
If you think there’s a debate over that, well, you’re wrong. Without the greatness of Bobby Heenan, men like Captain Lou Albano, Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart, Paul Bearer, and Paul Heyman probably don’t reach the levels of success that they do. Heenan was a trendsetter, a showman, and, most of all, the best to ever do it.
Rest in peace, Brain. Thank you for giving us humanoids memories that’ll last a lifetime.