Bobby “The Brain” Heenan Passes Away
Wrestling fans around the world were saddened to hear about the passing of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan yesterday. Heenan was 73. The guy was truly a one of a kind talent in the business. Know as one of (if not the greatest) villains in the history of the WWE, Heenan had a way of making you hate him, but love him at the same time.
Here's the thing about Heenan. You don't have to be a wrestling fan to appreciate his work. If you are an entertainer, no matter what form of entertainment, you want to evoke some kind of emotion out of the audience. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan knew how to do just that. He could make you hate him one minute, and love him the next. That's a gift. Anyone who is going into the entertainment business could learn a thing or two by studying up one Bobby's promo work. That's how you get an emotional response. The Bobby Heenan way.
Heenan was a decorated wrestler, manager, and commentator throughout his career. I began to really see a lot of Heenan's work while I was in college. My best friend, Jody Fleming, is a diehard Bobby Heenan fan. I didn't understand why until he and I would watch some of the classic wresting clips of him. Now, I could tell you about Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, but it wouldn't do him justice. Jody, however, can tell you why Bobby was important to the entertainment business, and what made him so great. This is what he had to say about the legacy of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
The world of professional wrestling lost a true legend on September 17, 2017. Some have been called the best wrestler in the history of the business, and many different men could arguably wear that crown, the same can be said for the greatest announcer of all time and so on and so forth...but as for the greatest manager to ever make that trip down the aisle, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is head and shoulders above the rest.
As the news of Heenan's death hit the world of wrestling, my thoughts went immediately to his natural ability to get a rise out of a crowd. Hogan could get the crowd in an uproar with a shirt tear, The Rock by raising an eyebrow, Stone Cold Steve Austin by the sound of glass shattering...all Bobby Heenan had to do was come through the curtain and the chant, "Weasel! Weasel! Weasel!" would commence. People hated the man. Or, more importantly, people LOVED to hate the man. He had a legion of followers, including myself, that couldn't stand to see him, but couldn't take their eyes off of him. His passion for the business was evident in the way he selflessly made a fool of himself. In any job that one may take on, the most selfless thing you can do is make others around you appear better than they actually may be, and that is what Bobby "The Brain" Heenan did better than anybody else.
To me, however, the one thing that separates Bobby Heenan from everybody else is a moment he shared on live television while working for the WCW. His best friend, and long time companion Gorilla Monsoon (who was a long time WWE employee), had passed away earlier in the day....and what does Heenan do? He gives a heartfelt farewell to his friend, on live television, while working for the rival company. His famous line from that same broadcast was this, "You know the pearly gates in heaven? It's now going to be called, The Gorilla Position. Goodbye my friend". He not only had class, respect for the business, but that moment truly gave us a glimpse into the heart of the man.
In his later years, Heenan's health began to deteriorate and from what I have been told he couldn't even make a sound due to his battles against throat cancer. The saddest thing to me is that a man that made a living and entertained his fans for years, with the use of his voice, was silenced forever due to his illness. With this terrible illness, what did Bobby "The Brain" do? He continued showing up at conventions and wrestling shows to do what he loved, entertain his fans. A lesser man could not have dreamed of that. Thank you, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, from all of your fans. I truly hope that when you entered the pearly gates, now called the Gorilla Position, that Monsoon greeted you with a "Will you stop?!?"... and you knew you had made it to the right place.
Heenan will truly be missed. I'm sure that there will be no debate when I say that he was the greatest manager in the history of the business.