We were the lowest form of life on the planet. We were just the ham and eggers of the world. We were simply the humanoids.
And we loved it.
This past weekend, the wrestling world lost a true icon in the industry with the death of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan after a near 16-year battle with cancer. He was 72.
It’s at this point where I would normally highlight some of the high points of Heenan’s career. This is where I would fondly remember that time or two where he made us laugh, made us angry, and made us laugh.
But how do I do that? How do I bring it down to just a few moments? If you put 1,000 wrestling fans in a room and asked them for their favorite/funniest Bobby Hennan memory, you are likely to get at least 999 unique responses…each being just as funny as the last.
Superstar Billy Graham had a book and DVD released entitled 20 Years Too Soon : The Billy Graham Story. And he was, The Superstar displayed a charisma in the 70s not matched until Hulkamania hit. The same could be said about Heenan.
We were graced with the best years of Heenan’s WWF career an era where mic work was necessary, but not exactly a strong suit. I mean, I loved The Ultimate Warrior growing up but his promos in the 90s are comedy pieces today. I don’t have a copy of the syllabus by any means, but I think the promo class down in the Performance Center probably incudes sometime watching the stars of the Golden Era to see what NOT to do on a promo.
His greatest moment as a manager came in what was arguably the biggest main even in WrestleMania history. The WWF was still trying to plant its flag as a national/worldwide form on entertainment. The event and match that seemingly put the company over that threshold was the epic clash of WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs the undefeated 8th Wonder of the World in Andre the Giant who had recently added on a new manager, the hated Bobby Heenan. The Brain’s promos on Hogan more than helped the final push to bring in a record 93,000+ crowd in the Pontiac Silverdome. One of WrestleMania’s lasting images is Andre being carted to back yelling at Hogan while Heenan is just slouched over with his head in his hands. The man knew how to sell a moment.
Watching the interviews given his The Brain’s self -titled DVD WWE released in 2010, several current and former stars commented on how Bobby was the quickest on his feet with a comment. Could you image that mind…or…um…Brain…in this day and age? Most of WWE programming is now done on the mic. Imagine if Heenan had his Heenan Family running Raw and/or SmackDown Live. Just imagine Bobby on the mic and then handing it off to his top protégé…Kevin Owens! Owens was born to be a part of The Heenan Family.
Unfortunately, it’s just a pipe dream and all we have are the shows on the WWE Network. If you are looking to do some Weasel reminiscing, I recommend WrestleMania 8. It’s considered a mid-level WrestleMania compared to the 32 other WrestleMania options, but just listen to the commentary. From calling Reba McIntyre “Ariba McIntyre” claiming that she was Tito Santana’s sister to saying that (remember WrestleMania 8, held in Indianapolis, was in 1992 and Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers were one of the top programs in college basketball) HE was Indiana’s favorite Bobby! And those were just the tip of the iceberg!
The best part of the commentary from the night was the back and forth from what I consider, and many agree, to be the greatest commentary team in history – Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. The two best friends brought their chemistry in front of the camera and it showed. The two seemingly opposite personalities were a perfect match. Monsoon passed in 1999. I still get chills when in his 2004 Hall of Fame Speech, Heenan said that there was only one thing missing that night, he wished Monsoon were there. With the stars that are up in Heaven at this point, they can finally put together a proper pay-per-view show with a proper commentary team.
Bobby’s mainstream career would end with six years of WCW service. Once Monday Nitro was added to the WWE Network, I immediately wanted to go back and relive the era of the nWo from its genesis. Going through the initial invasion of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, one thing jumped out to me.
I am not going to say that Heenan MADE the nWo the success that it ended up being, but my goodness, his facial expressions and his reactions to the “unscripted” scenes he was witnessing helped the case that Hall and Nash were indeed outsiders trying to invade and take over WCW.
So much could be said about the legacy of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. He was the most entertaining character in a time where entertainment was added into professional wrestling. You knew he was a bad guy, you knew you were supposed to hate him, but his quips were just to good not to chuckle at.
There is no “Managers Mt. Rushmore” that doesn’t include him. There is no “Commentators Mt. Rushmore” that doesn’t include him. He was The Brain, and there will never be another one like him. (As I typed that, I could hear Heenan’s voice in the back of my head responding with a quick “Thank God!”)
Rest In Peace Mr. Heenan … and thank you!