Tributes pour in as wrestling world mourns death of iconic manager and commentator Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan
The wrestling world lost an icon over the weekend.
Bobby Heenan—known to many wrestling fans as Bobby “The Brain” Heenan—died Sunday at the age of 72.
Heenan launched his career in Indianapolis, according to our media partners with the IndyStar, working with Dick “The Bruiser” Afflis from 1965 to 1974 in the Indy-based World Wrestling Association (WWA).
Heenan was born in Chicago and moved to Indianapolis as an adolescent. He learned the ropes, so to speak, while working as a stagehand at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. He would go on to antagonize crowds at Tyndall Armory, Bush Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center and Market Square Arena.
Heenan left the WWA to work for the American Wrestling Association in 1974, but became a household name in the 80s when he moved to the then-World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE).
Heenan managed several wresting stars, including Nick Bockwinkel, the Blackjacks, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard), Harley Race, and Andre the Giant.
Known for his sharp tongue, Heenan was a natural for the broadcast booth and became a commentator for the WWF. While he “retired” from managing in 1991 to become a full-time broadcaster, Heenan still dabbled in managing from time to time.
His verbal sparring with fellow WWE Hall of Famers Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund became the stuff of legend.
Heenan’s tenure with the WWF ended in 1994, when he debuted with rival wrestling league World Championship Wrestling. He stayed with the WCW until 2000.
Heenan was part of the original broadcast team for Monday Night Raw in its 1993 debut and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. He had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002 and had been in declining health in recent years.
He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Jean, and daughter, Jessica.
Several members of the wrestling community took to social media to pay tribute to Heenan.
Hulk Hogan wrote that he worked with Heenan from 1980 until his career ended and learned something new from his every day.
“Love u, my brother. RIP,” Hogan wrote.
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon called Heenan “one of the greatest managers and announcers in WWE history.”
Ric Flair referred to Heenan as “the greatest manager, one of the greatest announcers and one of the best in-ring performers in the history of the business.”