To say that Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was the greatest manager of all time is an understatement. Heenan redefined the role and became that all of his successors wanted to be. One of the world last one of the most dynamic personalities the wrestling business has ever seen. From his days in the AWA, to helping to launch the WWF(WWE) into the most dominant company in the world we could never get enough the man we knew as The Brain.
As kid who was introduced to pro wrestling in the 1980s, Heenan was a huge part how I viewed wrestling. If you rolled with him I probably didn’t like you even though I thought a lot of his jabs are people were hilarious. The Brain was a genius and knew how to get under the skin of fans of the heroes the company produced. Andre “The Giant” was one of the most beloved figures in the history of wrestling. Making him a bad guy was almost near impossible, except for associating him the Bobby Heenan. One Andre became part of the infamous Heenan Family he essentially joined the dark side to most fans.
The match that changed business model of professional wrestling was Hogan vs Andre at Wrestlemania III. Even match-up of wrestling’s two biggest icons needed the juice of Bobby Heenan. Whether it was Rick Rude, Mr Perfect, Haku or King Kong Bundy the presence of “The Brain” made you an instant star and was a usually a golden proposition. Bobby gave the fans the ultimate payoff for a heel manager. He a lot of times put himself in the line of fire and took some crazy bumps in goal of entertaining wrestling fans. Once that babyface wrestler finally got his hands-on man affectionally known as “The Weasel” the crowd went crazy.
As a fan, I grew to appreciate The Brain and his WWE work and as I grew older I was able to find his AWA stuff and got to really understand who he was. Whether he was working the Hall of Fame Blackjacks or Bockwinkel and Stevens as team and later Nick Bockwinkel as a solo star he always added something extra. There is no debate on who is the greatest manager of all time in pro wrestling. It’s Bobby Heenan and everybody else. The thing is we can’t just reduce his contribution to the business as a great manager. Bobby was one of the greatest all around entertainers ever.
From the late 1980’s and early 1990s Heenan steps away from being a manager day to day and commentator. There were not too many who could touch him behind the mic as he coined the title “Broadcast Journalist”. His pairing with the great Gorilla Monsoon is one of the most entertaining combinations in the history of the business. The timing between the two, with Monsson being the straight man and Heenan the comedy was legendary.
He and the Gorilla worked together on the syndicated Prime Time Wrestling and All-American Wrestling. The highlights of their shows were not the matches as much what was going to be said between those 2 men before and after the matches. There is nothing like Heenan calling the people “Humanoids” or “Ham and Eggers”. There will never be another Bobby Heenan.
Keith B. Holt
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