RIP: A life look at WWE Hall of Famer Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan

According to, legendary pro wrestling manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan died at age 73 on Sunday, Sept. 17 in Largo, Fla.

WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon Tweeted:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">One of the greatest managers and announcers in WWE history. Our thoughts are with the Heenan family. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) <a href="">September 18, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Heenan was one of the best heel managers all-time, succeeding at every level. When his managerial days ended, he did not. Heenan continued his broadcasting career in WWF (now WWE) and later WCW.

Calling the action and doing skits alongside Gorilla Monsoon in WWF, gold, pure gold.

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(At 6:09) Heenan blurted: “That Okerlund. When he was out here, he must have rifled that wallet of mine.”

WWE Hall of Famer Mean Gene Okerlund Tweeted:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Saddened by the news that arrived this afternoon from Bobby Heenans daughter Jess, that he has passed. Bobby and... <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Gene Okerlund (@TheGeneOkerlund) <a href="">September 17, 2017</a></blockquote><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>


Plus, the Rosati sisters.

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Success in this sport can be defined by how much a crowd boos or cheers a pro wrestler.

Not only did they boo Heenan at every sight, but (even better) they also chanted, “Weasel! Weasel! Weasel!”

The Weasel advised Ric Flair when Flair won the WWF title.

Flair, a WWE Hall of Famer, Tweeted:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Bobby Heenan... The Greatest Manager, One Of The Greatest Announcers, And One Of The Best In-Ring Performers In The History Of The Business</p>&mdash; Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) <a href="">September 17, 2017</a></blockquote><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Heenan did his job. He greatly helped elevate talent as a manager and as a broadcaster.

Fans loved to hate him. They were entertained.

Funny, sarcastic, witty, just quick on his feet mentally and physically. Wow.

He even rode a camel backward at Caesars Palace.

(At 3:50)

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WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross, who worked alongside Heenan at the announce table in WWF, Tweeted:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The news of Bobby &quot;The Brain&quot; Heenan&#39;s passing today gutted me. <br><br>I loved our time together. <br><br>No one ever did it better than the Wease.</p>&mdash; Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) <a href="">September 17, 2017</a></blockquote><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>


Legendary wrestling photographer/writer Bill Apter Tweeted his thoughts via YouTube video :

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href=""></a> BOBBY &quot;THE BRAIN&quot; HEENAN ..... My very sad &quot;Apter Thoughts&quot; ...</p>&mdash; Bill Apter (@apter1wrestling) <a href="">September 17, 2017</a></blockquote>

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I recall first learning of Heenan through the Apter Mags. Those were the wrestling magazines. i.e. “The Wrestler” and “Pro Wrestling Illustrated,” featuring the work of Apter. There was no Internet nor cable TV during those days. Pro wrestling, territorial, so the only way to know other groups and talent outside your territory was via the Apter Mags on sale at newsstands across the country.

In the Apter Mags, I saw a photo of Heenan with The Blackjacks (Blackjack Lanza and Blackjack Mulligan).

This pale-faced, bleach blonde hair, arrogant looking, monogram shirt wearing manager with two big, rough cowboys with black boots, black trunks, black vests, black gloves, black cowboy hats, and black mustaches. Different ends of the spectrum, but their collaboration worked.

Anything involving Heenan worked.

Born with a gift for gab, Heenan just had that knack for knowing how to get under your skin.


WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Triple H Levesque Tweeted:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"> of a kind. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Triple H (@TripleH) <a href="">September 17, 2017</a></blockquote>

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A Midwestern native, he got his start in pro wrestling in 1961, working in Chicago and Indianapolis. He paid his dues, carrying bags and jackets for wrestlers and selling concessions.

As a wrestler -- yes, he wrestled, too -- Pretty Boy Bobby Heenan was his first gimmick, which pretty set the tone for his schtick his entire career. The 6-0 heel grappler (turned heel manager), was a tough talking, big mouth who cowered in fear when being physically confronted.

Heenan could bump with the bets of them, and he took many over the years.

After working for Dick the Bruiser in the WWA in the Midwest, he began full-time duties for Verne Gagne in the mid 1970s in the AWA. The AWA was one of the top three companies at the time along with the NWA and WWF. In the AWA, that’s were the nickname “Weasel” was born. Wrestlers would call him that, and fans would cheer and laugh. Then they chanted and yelled that at him, and it infuriated him (as it should, part of the show). It added to his legacy as “Weasel” remained with him throughout his career.

In the AWA, he became a high-profile, rich snob from Beverly Hills, California. Who likes a rich snob? Surely not the working class who attended the AWA shows. Heenan played the part perfectly.

Heenan managed the arrogant, educated and loathed Nick Bockwinkel to the AWA title, beating fan favorite Gagne. That continuing feud made the AWA a lot of money over the years.

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When WWF went national, Heenan was lured into the company and worked there from 1984-93. In 1986, WWF owner Vince McMahon took full advantage of Heenan’s mic and comedic skills, and he became a color commentator in addition to his managerial duties.

In WWF, Heenan resurrected the Heenan Family, a stable of heel wrestlers. How about this list of Heenan stablemates in WWF: Big John Studd, Olympic Strong Man Ken Patera, Playboy Buddy Rose, Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, André the Giant, High Chief Sivi Afi, the Brain Busters (former Four Horsemen members Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), Ravishing Rick Rude, King Harley Race, the Islanders (Haku and Tama), Hercules, The Barbarian, Mr. Perfect, The Red Rooster Terry Taylor, and The Brooklyn Brawler.

In Hulk-A-Mania’s heyday, heel wrestlers wanted to work with Hogan, because that meant big bucks. Well, if you were managed by Heenan, that also meant big bucks, because an established wrestled managed by the irritating Heenan would quickly land a program with Hogan.

Heenan even managed Andre the Giant against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3 in 1987, before a record setting crowd at the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit.

Following his stint with WWF, Heenan signed with WCW in 1994, and he became a main part of broadcast team for something called, “Monday Nitro.” When WCW was beating WWF in the ratings of the Monday Night Wars, Heenan was one of the commentators on Nitro. He lasted until 2000.

In 2002, Heenan announced he had throat cancer. He battled that as well as other ailments and surgeries, always fighting.

Heenan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.

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He called himself “The Brain,” and he sure used his well, making him one of the best ever.


WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon Tweeted:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">&quot;I don&#39;t look at myself as a hero or smart person. I have a seventh-grade education, but I&#39;ve had a lot of fun.&quot;-<a href="">#RIPBobbyTheBrainHeenan</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) <a href="">September 17, 2017</a></blockquote>

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RIP Brain

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